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A Justifiable War

Michael Wang Memorial at Thomas and Dexter

Michael Wang Memorial at Thomas and Dexter

On Thursday, a man was hit and killed by an SUV as he was riding his bicycle through South Lake Union. That man’s name was Michael Wang, and he was hit by an SUV which did not bot her to stop. As a matter of fact, the driver has yet to be found. All we currently know is that the murderer was driving a brown SUV with tinted windows.

On Friday, I wrote a post titled “Die Fucking Asshole Car Drivers”. Later, I changed it to “Die Fucking Assholes”, then later simply to “Assholes”. None of them saw the light of day.

You see, I have a large number of posts that I’ve written, but never posted. I’ve had some issues at times because I’m a hyper-passionate person who wears my heart on my sleeve. Over the years, I’ve penned some of the most glowing reviews, but also some of the most angry diatribes to ever flow through an Ethernet cable. Far from being contrived or penned for effect, I can assure you that I meant every word of each and every one of those posts very sincerely.

At the time.

Three days later, after cooling off, sometimes I looked back and thought “You know, maybe wishing gonorrhea of the anus upon Steve Wynn was a little much. I can kind of see why people think I’m nuts. Perhaps I should sit on things a bit before reacting. Hell, I don’t know if gonorrhea of the anus is even possible.”

Now, in 2011, instead of writing things and hitting “post”, I write them to get them out of my brain, then I go do something else. I need to do this.

Once upon a time, I got my aggression out through music. I penned some angry, disaffected stuff back in the day, and I found that putting it through super-loud, highly distorted speakers, was the only marginally socially-acceptable way to get it out. When you stand on a street corner and shout obscenities, you’re an asshole. When you stand on a stage and shout obscenities, you’re an artist.

I mellowed over the years, but still, in my mid 30’s, I needed a stage from which to scream. Thus, to some extent, a blog was born. Instead of getting pissed off and reacting negatively in real life, I could write things down and ridicule whatever angered me, at which point I could sort of let it go.

My first reaction was not always the most rational reaction, though, so I eventually instituted a brief waiting period. This served me well last weekend after getting back from the block party. I was not kind to tattooed security girl in my first draft.

This week’s bicyclist’s death was, however, the most challenging non-post of all. I avoided online news and TV news so as not to get too angry about it. I didn’t want to be knee-jerk. Years ago I would have argued for revenge. I would have advocated that all downtown bikers carry U-locks at the ready to smash the window of every inattentive, dangerous driver that they encountered. There were times when I was a bicycle messenger that did exactly this.

Today, however, I will not go through the angry stuff. I’ve had a couple of days to sit on it, and I will simply offer the following:

I feel badly for Mr. Wang and his family. I’ve been hit by cars over a dozen times in my life, and there but for the grace of non-existent God go I. Even more, however, I worry about the Michael Wangs of tomorrow, and trust me, there will be more of them.

You see, Mr. Wang was not just killed by a criminal driver. Mr. Wang was killed by the government of the State of Washington.

The vast majority of people driving in Washington State, have no business driving anywhere. I know this, you know this, everyone reading my article knows this. Yet, every day, Washington State hands people guns loaded with a 3,000lb bullets, and turn them loose on the streets.

When those people shoot someone with those bullets, the State of Washington says “You did a bad thing, but check this out, if you give us $200, we’ll let you do it again. Hell, for $1,000, we’ll let you do it three more times before we even consider you a danger! Sweet, huh? Will that be cash or credit card?”

Dangerous drivers permeate the streets of Seattle, and the reason this happens is because the state willfully permits them to do so. Our elected leaders trade our lives for a bag of cash, and they do it each and every day.

Michael Wang Memorial at Thomas and Dexter

Michael Wang Memorial at Thomas and Dexter

If we really and truly wanted to stop senseless deaths, like that of Michael Wang, we could do it. Tomorrow. All it would take is two things:

1) A real, meaningful skills test to drive a private auto on city streets, similar to one required to drive a bus or a private airplane.

2) Lack of tolerance for “accidents”, again, at least on par with that of bus drivers or private pilots.

The cavalier nature in which people drive in this day and age is completely and utterly insane. Spinning rims, tinted windows, 500 watt sounds systems … an endeavor that used to require an abundance of skill and attention has been relegated to an afterthought.

This, in my opinion, is why a “War on Cars” has become valid. It’s become a good fight.

A large percentage of Washington drivers hate pedestrians, resent scooters, and think that bicycles are a symbol of terrorist-loving, tree-hugging faggots whose sole goal in life is the complete annihilation of everything that apple pie-eating Americans hold dear.

These drivers are known locally as “Pro-Tunnel”.

Downtown Seattle is the epicenter of alternative transit in the State of Washington, and motor-vehicle drivers that do not recognize this should not be allowed to drive anywhere near the urban core. In my opinion, Downtown Seattle should require a separate license altogether. A real license, not the “here you go until you kill a few people” kind.

In the last few months alone, I was almost hit by a driver in Belltown. I was almost hit by a driver at the Waterfront. I was almost hit by a driver near Olympic Sculpture Park. I’ve seen completely inexplicable and unwarranted behavior by drivers in Lower Queen Anne.

If Washington drivers harbor so much resentment toward bikers and pedestrians, why do they come here? Why do we allow them to come here?

Not even Pike Place, the largest concentration of pedestrians in the state, is off-limits to these pathologically hostile drivers.

In my view, Mr. Wang was doing the right thing. Instead of yap yap yapping about the environment like most people, he stopped spewing exhaust. Instead of whine whine whining about gas prices, he stopped paying them (thus helping to bring them down for everyone). Instead of boo hoo hooing about foreign wars he helped end them.

Hey, motor-vehicle drivers of Washington, what the fuck have you done?

If you are like 95% of Americans, the answer is: Not a goddamn thing.

You talk, rally, wag your finger, shake your fist, comment on blogs, write letters to the editor, and you pose and posture for the benefit of your friends and neighbors … then, you get in your car and drive. You can’t be bothered to get on a bike or get on a bus. You need air-conditioning and McDonald’s drive-thru to keep you fat, stupid, and happier than a pig in shit. After all, the game is going to be on in 10 minutes and you don’t want to be late. Go corporate sports team! Important issues are for someone else to solve.

Make no mistake about it, the State of Washington has blood on its hands every bit as much as the SUV-driving criminals that killed Michael Wang. The State of Washington knows that their driving test is a joke. The State of Washington knows that licensing is all about revenue and has nothing to do with safety.

They don’t care, though. There could be 1,000 Mr. Wangs each day, and they wouldn’t care. This is who they are. This is who we are. We build $3 billion tunnels not because it’s the best transit solution for Seattle, but because wealthy developers bribe us to give it to them.

Well, I say fuck them. In the most painfully identifiable orifice on the human body.

Thanks Mr. Wang, for doing the right thing. You will have a legacy. A good legacy. One of a man who not only talked the talk, but who walked the walk. You were too good for this corrupt nation of hypocrites and tinted-window having, SUV driving, spinner rim worshipping imbeciles.

Olympia, how many more people need to senselessly die before you remove your head from your sphincters and realize that private automobiles are the problem, and not the solution to ANY transit problem facing Downtown Seattle?

Instead of spending $3 billion on a tunnel to smooth the commute of city-hating suburbanites, maybe you can take that cash and buy a fucking clue you corrupt assholes?

That’s about all I can offer at the moment. I’m starting to get angry again.

Michael Wang Memorial at Thomas and Dexter

Michael Wang Memorial at Thomas and Dexter

Photos of Michael Wang’s Memorial: http://www.seattlerex.com/photos-michael-wang-memorial/

5 comments to A Justifiable War

  • Shamu

    Pet peeve of mine. An accident is something that’s out of your control like a tire blowout or sudden breakage of a component. Most everything else is correctly termed a collision.

  • Bob Smith

    I feel for Mr. Wang’s and his family as you do. However, you overlook the vast majority of drivers who don’t hit anyone, or don’t almost hit you. As nice as it would be to eliminate gas gulping cars and trucks, that is just a pipe dream for now as it would leave us naked and hungry in the woods, so to speak. Our needs cannot be produced, grown, manufactured, next door. And you can’t drive bikes and scooters in a foot of snow or in zero temps.

    • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

      You can ride in Seattle damn near 12 months out of the year with just a modicum of gear. Not on every day I will grant you, but certainly most. That being noted, are you against meaningful skills tests and license revocation for at-fault accidents? Is there any logical reason to turn vehicle cockpits into defacto living rooms complete with televisions and stereo systems? Would you like your bus driver to relax and listen to Lil’ Fucking Wayne with you in the back, or would you prefer he be kept enough on edge to pay attention?

  • Bob Smith

    I have no problem with better skill tests to acquire a license. All tv/dvd players i’ve ever seen faced the rear passenger compartment and i’ll bet you’ve driven your bike/scooter with headphones on more than one occassion, right. You, yourself posted recently that you turned into a one way street the wrong way. People make mistakes now and then. Consider the number of drivers and the number of miles driven and the impact is less than it seems. All i’m trying to say is your rant, while toned down from your original intent, is still a bit overboard.

    I drove a truck for over 20 yrs. and have seen it all. There are indeed some ugly drivers out there. They are in the minority by far though. I myself had only one small non injury accident while backing and i am very thankful for that.

    Have a great day Rex.

  • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

    You, yourself posted recently that you turned into a one way street the wrong way. People make mistakes now and then. Consider the number of drivers and the number of miles driven and the impact is less than it seems. All i’m trying to say is your rant, while toned down from your original intent, is still a bit overboard.

    I’ve almost been run over three times on foot and on two wheels in the past three months, and just last month I had to call 911 when I saw a truck drive straight into the back of a van. It’s very coincidental that I encounter something that occurs infrequently … so very often.

    People do make mistakes, but how do most drivers react the them? With the contrition and self-critique that I do? With a determination to improve themselves?

    Over the last 10 years, when I’ve almost been hit on two wheels, and I’ve hit my horn, a stunning number of times the drivers have reacted by flipping me off. Never once have they apologized, waved, or shown any contrition whatsoever.

    Why?

    Because automobile accidents have become an accepted part of the culture. You would be beside yourself if you learned that your airline pilot had been involved in 3 prior infractions, or if your bus driver had been involved in two at-fault accidents, but you don’t blink an eye when you learn that the lady in the Escalade next to you has done the same. It’s social conditioning.

    Now, you claim that the impact is less than it seems, but is this true?

    Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and injury for children between the ages of 10 – 19 worldwide. It’s the 5th leading cause of death for humans worldwide.

    In 2005 in the USA alone, 45,800 people died in automobile accidents, and 2.5 Million were injured. That’s Million with an M. Slightly less than 1% of the population (and almost 2% of the driving population), each and every year. One out of every 100 people will be hurt by a car. Each and every year. Some minor problem.

    That’s fifteen 9/11′s each year. An event that changed our culture and caused the widespread abolition of human rights in this nation ostensibly to make us safer.

    Ironic, no?

    I respect your opinion, but I’ll stand by my article. I honestly don’t think I’m overstating the problem.

    If anything, I’m understating it.

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