Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Meeting Captain Chris Uehara

Posted by on April 7th, 2013 at 11:51 am

Capt Chris Uehara and I

Me and PPB Captain Chris Uehara at
Youth Services Division Headquarters.

On Friday I met Captain Chris Uehara of the Portland Police Bureau’s Youth Services Division. I won’t even attempt to recap why this meeting occurred; but suffice it to say, we didn’t come together for the best of reasons. That being said, we’re both glad that our paths have finally crossed.

Over the past week, I have been trying to understand why and how I made the mistake of publishing that story. Part of figuring that out has been to ask people that were either involved in the story (like Uehara) or who criticized me for it, how it made them feel. Capt. Uehara shared that he was a bit taken aback by the story because he felt the racial overtones surrounding it. We talked about that, and a lot more, during our conversation on Friday.

Capt. Uehara was born and raised in Hawaii (which he remembers as a huge melting pot of cultures and races where he got along with everyone). When he left the island and moved to Oregon, he was shocked when he was the subject of racial slurs and bigotry while in out in public. Those experiences have stayed with him and they formed the lens through which he read my story and its comments. As for my role in the story, Chris has been very understanding. “We’re good!” he kept saying, with his warm and engaging smile. I could tell he didn’t want me to beat myself up about it. I told him I was grateful for his understanding, but that I’m still working through it.

After we discussed the story, Capt. Uehara was eager to share the great work he’s been doing in our community. As Captain of the Youth Services Division, he and his officers handle a myriad of important issues — from runaways to school safety, domestic violence, and much more. (And as it turns out, Capt. Uehara is the officer who brokered the relationship with that down-and-out bike thief who wrote an apology letter to his victim back in October 2012).

On July 13th, Capt. Uehara and the Youth Services Division are organizing a “Bike Safety Fiesta” in the Cully neighborhood. He said was driving through the area recently and saw several young kids biking around with no helmets on. “I thought, I’m not going to wait until one of those kids gets hit.” Now he’s planning a huge event to get more helmets and bike safety education into the neighborhood, spread awareness of bicycling, and build community.

As I listened to Capt. Uehara get so excited about his work, I had a strange mix of feelings. Given what a stellar person he is, I was even more disappointed in myself for publishing that story. Yet at the same time, I felt optimistic. He inspired me to re-assess my role and my work in the community — which is something I’d been thinking about even before the events of this past week.

I don’t remember everything we said during our conversation (I wasn’t there to report on it), but I do recall Capt. Uehara saying that he and I getting together was a “sign” and was “meant to be.” I don’t usually believe in that sort of thing, and I’m pretty sure he was referring to how I could help him spread the word about his Bike Fiesta event; but in some ways maybe he’s right.

One thing Capt. Uehara and I have in common is the belief that the best way to build a great city is to first build a strong community. That has always been my goal with BikePortland, but it’s taken the incredibly humbling and revealing experience of this past week — and meeting someone like Capt. Uehara — to open my eyes and re-focus myself on how best to achieve it.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • 9watts April 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Nice work, Jonathan. In the end we’re all human.

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  • Dave Miller April 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Way to make hay out of this Jonathan. Seriously. Reaching out and having a talk is a great way to diffuse this overblown story.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Dave, I don’t agree with you that this story was “overblown”. It was a very big mistake from both a journalistic and cultural/racial sensitivity standpoint. I might share more thoughts about that in the future.

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      • chucklehead April 8, 2013 at 9:09 am

        Jonathan, there is no way there will ever not be “culturally sensitive” things….not so long as there is cultural diversity. People just need to stop looking to be aggrieved over perceived slights and let innocent things go. You meant no ill will in what you did….and that really is all that matters – your intent.

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        • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 9:21 am

          Thank you for saying this!

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        • Lucy April 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

          “People just need to stop looking to be aggrieved over perceived slights and let innocent things go.”

          Are you serious? Explain why no one at the event welcomed the man to the group or why he of all people was singled out as a possible cop. Yes, he may have been a new face. Yes, he may have been quiet. But how does that excuse Jonathan for making that unfounded accusation?

          I am very glad that Jonathan owned up to his mistake. What he did WAS wrong. Jonathan, thank you for taking these matters seriously. I also hope you’ll continue to acknowledge that the commenters who call this story “overblown” do not speak for the many Asian Americans who have experienced similar forms of insidious racism.

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          • Caleb April 9, 2013 at 12:02 am

            “Explain why no one at the event welcomed the man to the group”

            From one member of VeloProvo in the comments on the original story: “When he arrived, I shook his hand, gave him a sticker, and we introduced ourselves.”

            Just what kind of “welcome” do you expect from people? Why do you expect any certain kind of “welcome”? Does a person not “welcoming” somebody inherently render that person distrusting of that somebody?

            “or why he of all people was singled out as a possible cop. Yes, he may have been a new face. Yes, he may have been quiet.”

            And yes, he may have been recording everything. And yes, he may have had an apparently new bicycle with bicycle specific clothing. I think the people who were suspicious have clearly stated their reasoning more thoroughly than you and I have stated here, though.

            You may look at all that reasoning as racist suspicion based on your own logic, but their experiences have shaped them into people different from you – people who have different concerns in every single thing they do. Rather than scrutinize their situation through your own logic, it might help to consider theirs.

            What seems obvious to me is they suspected Chaisawat’s interest in their group’s mission wasn’t sincere, then considered some possibilities that might bring an insincere person there, then reflected on past involvement of police officers in activism, and then once they came across the image of Uehara, they conflated all their wrongful suspicions enough to feel confident in one wrongful accusation. Whether racism happened to be an addition to that is not evident in what we’ve seen thus far.

            So maybe racism had something to do with it, and maybe it didn’t. However, given that they’ve admitted responsibility for their actions and apologized, I assume racism had nothing to do with it. By the things they write, I just don’t perceive them as being people who are that ignorant to their own thoughts and feelings.

            “But how does that excuse Jonathan for making that unfounded accusation?”

            Jonathan did NOT make the unfounded accusation. He expressed it on behalf of those who did make the accusation.

            So I don’t think anybody is “excusing” him for his reporting an unfounded accusation. Instead I think they are acknowledging he did what he did, and accepting his apology as a sign he learned a lesson. What I think they are “excusing” him for is what others have (also unfoundedly) accused him of.

            “What he did WAS wrong.”

            When you say “what he did”, what specifically are you speaking of, and why is it “wrong”?

            “I also hope you’ll continue to acknowledge that the commenters who call this story “overblown” do not speak for the many Asian Americans who have experienced similar forms of insidious racism.”

            I think you misunderstand those commenters. I don’t think they were saying racism against anybody is an “overblown” problem. I think instead they were saying the perception this situation was prompted by racism is incorrect, and Jonathan apologized for his mistake, and thus the story is “overblown”.

            And if that’s the case, I would lean toward agreeing. If you go back to the original story and look at the comments, the “they all look alike” idea was never expressed or even suggested by anybody involved in the ride, and instead was mentioned by “Rol” in a rather unassuming way, and only after that did others suggest the idea with conviction while conflating it with VeloProvo’s stated reasons for suspecting Chaisawat was a police officer.

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            • Aaronf April 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

              People from other cultures usually dress funny. That is part of why they look so suspicious! This sort of singling out isn’t distinct from racism, and doesn’t justify the racial component (foreign guy acted strange) of the situation.

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              • Caleb April 9, 2013 at 10:13 am

                Nobody in the story said he dressed funny or looked suspicious, so my interpretation is that the story conveys a suspicion based on perceived values and/or intentions relative to bike-specific clothing. Any possible suspicion relative to race is distinct from that and would be in addition to that.

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      • Lil Tiger April 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm

        Definitely not overblown. Jonathan you blew it but are working through it in a thoughtful and public way. I admire you being able to claim your shame in front of all of us, a difficult thing for any one. I’d quote Avenue Q here but I’ll spare you. Also, Capt. Uehara deserves kudos for his openness and strength. We all benefit from cops who believe in building community, rather than kicking it around.

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  • t-b0ne April 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Right on. Growing up in Hawaii will give one a very interesting perspective on race. I was called haole a lot whilst growing up and going to school (I’m actually considered hapa – “half breed”) so you could imagine how everything turned 180 degrees when I moved up here to Portland and was regarded to as a non-white person (typically assumed to be native/metis, but I’m half japanese… nobody really asks tho, they just assume, so *shrug*). My newer classification is fine by me, but Portland and Hawaii are WORLDS APART when it comes to that. Want to experience racism? Try being a white school child in an impoverished part of Hawaii. I could go much further, but I’ll stop 🙂

    As Rap Reiplinger (RIP) once said: Hawaii isn’t a melting pot, it’s more of a salad bowl: you have all different kinds of colors and vegetables, but we’re all living/existing together (‘cept da haole was da stale croutons nobody wen like).

    Regardless, I’m glad you got to meet the guy and clear up the air. He totally looks like a braddah… too bad your meeting couldn’t be done up with ahi poke, beer and pupus 🙂

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  • Kenji April 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks for reaching out Jonathan. It makes a difference- and I personally appreciate it a lot.

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  • Sunny April 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    It’s just Portland. Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles feel more like Hawaii.

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  • L April 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Edit: Captain Uehara and me.

    Nice story.

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  • tnash April 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Score! This Can get more Portlandia! Keep Them Coming!

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  • I wish that Uehara would speak to the issue of how dressing like Chris Humphreys makes people stereotype him and what he thinks the department/union could do to improve that. When I see a cop my reaction isn’t based on their race, it is fear based on the actions of PPB officers. I try to get away as quickly as possible without trying to understand if that cop is a neo nazi or some nice hawaiian. If this cop is as good a guy as he sounds like then how does he reconcile that with the blue wall protecting the worst of his coworkers?

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  • Barney April 7, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    “Given what a stellar person he is”

    I’m still waiting for an apology from all those who either stated or implied what a bumbling fool the PPB sent out to infiltrate their little group of anarchists. This guy is a good cop, get over it!

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    • Hugh Johnson April 7, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Barney, surely you have been on BikePortland long enough to realize this site isn’t about bikes, it’s about polarizing politics.

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      • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 9:16 am

        “About” is entirely abstract. For you to say this site is “about” one abstraction it may or may not contain and say it isn’t “about” one it certainly does contain appears to me as a polarizing comment.

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      • spare_wheel April 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

        bike portland posts that hugh johnson does not like => “polarized politics”
        bike portland posts that hugh johnson likes => fair and balanced coverage

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    • Elliot April 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

      Agree. I look forward to hearing from Veloprovo about their volunteer efforts helping Captain Uehara and the Youth Division with the Bike Safety Fiesta in Cully.

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      • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 6:56 am

        May I ask why you look forward to hearing from VeloProvo about them doing something that you don’t know they will do?

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        • Aaronf April 8, 2013 at 8:12 am

          It appears to me that you are being intentionally obtuse Caleb.
          To me, your input does not seem constructive.

          On topic: Great story. i am grateful to Uehara for his service. I think it takes more heart to work within the system than to just point at the system and complain. That is my bias I guess.

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          • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

            Understandable, but I wasn’t pretending to be obtuse or oblivious. Instead, I was only asking Eliot and Barney to explain themselves in case I was misunderstanding them, because my initial perception was that they were holding grudges against people whose current stance on the situation was unknown to them, and my response to that perception was that forgiveness would benefit everyone more, including themselves.

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            • Barney April 8, 2013 at 11:29 am

              I would have you refer to my earlier posts on this topic to explain my thoughts on veloprovo. Any perceived grudge I have is based on their stated intentions as a group and confirmed by their actions as individuals.

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              • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 11:48 pm

                Thank you for your direct and sincere answer, Barney. I really appreciate it.

                I can understand you disagreeing with the group’s stated intentions and even very much disliking them for that reason, but if that filters your perception of this specific situation, then you can do more to accurately perceive those people and what they’ve done. We human beings aren’t static objects with constant purposes and intentions throughout everything we do. We react to every situation on a momentary basis. Sometimes intentions persist, and other times they get derailed by new observations and feelings. Maybe their confirmed actions weren’t prompted by their stated intentions.

                So I personally don’t believe in expecting apologies from people for things they might not have actually done, especially when they’ve apologized for what they know they’ve done. I don’t think it was VeloProvo themselves who stated or implied PPB sent in a bumbling fool, and yet you seem to be expecting them to apologize for that. Have I misunderstood that part?

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          • Caleb April 13, 2013 at 7:40 am

            Some generalities:

            For some people, it takes more heart to work from within the system than without it, but for others, working within the system destroys the heart. It depends on who we are and what system we’re looking at, but no matter what system we look at and how we feel in response to it, all our systems exist in the same overall system, so perhaps what takes most heart is graciously receiving criticism of our most fundamental system(s) while keeping in mind alternatives.

            But maybe that’s just a reflection of my ideals. 🙂

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    • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 6:52 am

      May I ask why you are waiting for that apology?

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      • Barney April 8, 2013 at 7:13 am

        I know that I will be waiting for something that will not come. It displays much about the integrity of those involved and their organization.

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        • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 7:16 am

          That doesn’t answer my question. It’s fine by me if you choose not to, though.

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        • longgone April 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

          I have nothing to do with Veloprovo, but I do believe they offered up a big appology, on their websit’e and here as well. Am i wrong? Someone PLEASE clarify this for Barney. I thought Barney was the more intellectual of our two stone age friends ? He sure had the better looking spouse.

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          • Barney April 8, 2013 at 11:40 am


            Let me clear things up for you. The apology I was refering to was a direct one to Capt. Uehara, you know like the conversation JM had with the Capt. in the above story.

            Also, nice way to go for the low hanging fruit. Most of the caveman and dinosaur references have already been well used. Try something new.

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    • 9watts April 8, 2013 at 8:06 am

      “This guy is a good cop, get over it!”

      I suspect most here would agree with that assessment, Barney. But you will, I think, admit that by using the phrase ‘good cop’ you were, perhaps unwittingly, allowing the possibility that there are other kinds. Your jeering from the sidelines comes across as presumptuous. You know (always knew?) everything there was to know about the police in this town. And you’re contemptuous of the kids whose erstwhile paranoia you can’t relate to. The fact that they were wrong in this case is just too good of an opportunity for a few more whacks to let go of.

      The part I have a hard time with is the enthusiasm I’ve seen here lately on the part of a few for beating a dead horse, for insisting that the real story here is the need to ride (the already contrite) Veloprovo and Jonathan out of town on a rail.
      Maybe that is the part you need to ‘get over.’

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      • longgone April 8, 2013 at 9:38 am

        Thank you 9w…. Always a voice of reason here. I cant stay away from viewing this train wreck, I guess. It is ironic to me that in N.Y. cops violate brown people with “stop and frisk” with impunity, and in Portland ( where when i moved here a decade ago, Popo’s were shootin’ brown eyed people left and right), that you are guilty of racism for suspecting a person of color of being a COP ! It its a bit Potrlandia-ish. Everyone should just go to St. Cupcake on Belmont for treats and a big group hug!

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      • Barney April 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        9 whats,
        Okay, this is my last reply. Since when does commenting on a blog become jeering? Aren’t you then also jeering?

        As for the paranoid kids” as you describe veloprovo, I have no contempt for them. But I do disapprove of their model of behavior, to provoke others into a violent response.

        I have already expressed that JM has taken the right actions and repaired any damage that may have occured for his part. To clarify for you, I never implied the he “should be run out of town on a rail!” This story is over for me, there is nothing to “get over.”

        Your insistence on continuing the engagement, and continued criticism of those who share my views shows that you are “not over it!” Go ride your bike, you’ll feel better!

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        • Caleb April 9, 2013 at 2:21 am

          “But I do disapprove of their model of behavior, to provoke others into a violent response.”

          Has VeloProvo ever stated an intention “to provoke others into a violent response”? I haven’t come across anything like that yet, so at this time I wonder if you’re incorrectly characterizing them. If so, do you think it’s possible you only perceive that intent due to contempt toward them?

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          • Todd Hudson April 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm

            From Wikipedia: “Provo was a Dutch counterculture movement in the mid-1960s that focused on provoking violent responses from authorities”

            From Veloprovo’s blog: “Inspired by the Dutch anarchist Provo movement”

            So in answer to your question, yes, Veloprovo has stated that they intend to provoke a violent response from the authorities – they even went as to emphasize that with the name they chose.

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            • Caleb April 9, 2013 at 11:06 pm

              Being inspired by a violent movement does not inherently equate to intending violence provocation. Referencing a violent movement in a name does not inherently equate to emphasizing an intent for violence provocation.

              So let me ask my question more clearly: Has VeloProvo ever explicitly and literally stated the intention “to provoke others into a violent response”?

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              • Todd Hudson April 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm

                You argue semantics and move goalposts like it’s going out of style. Which means I’m through talking to you.

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              • Caleb April 11, 2013 at 1:57 am

                What you see as moving goalposts, I see as looking for where the goalposts actually are. That said, how is what I wrote “semantics”? I wasn’t disagreeing with what to call something, but was pointing out what I saw as your conflation of VeloProvo’s inspiration and intent. Please don’t judge me just because you don’t see the value that I do in making that distinction, and if you don’t think there is such a distinction to be made, please explain to me how I’ve misunderstood something.

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  • Hugh Johnson April 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Racism in Portland? It’s funny considering the number of left wingers in this city. However considering the negative attitudes BikePortland and it’s supporters seems to have towards African-Americans in North Portland, it’s not real surprising.

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    • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Is it funny because you think left wingers are ignorant to their inconsistent application of left wing values? What makes you think BikePortland and its supporters have negative attitudes toward African-Americans in North Portland? By saying it’s not surprising, are you saying BikePortland and its supporters are racist left wingers?

      I find your generalizations here negative toward many people you might completely misunderstand. Do you intend them to be negative? If so, why?

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      • Help April 8, 2013 at 11:36 pm

        “What makes you think BikePortland and its supporters have negative attitudes toward African-Americans in North Portland?”

        When the author has made comments comparing the “struggle” of the bike community to that of the US Civil Rights movement, he certainly trivializes the experiences of African-Americans. I might not term it “negative” but it’s damn sure not positive or neutral either. It’s not much of a leap to believe the mistake at the Veloprovo ride wasn’t innocent.

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        • Caleb April 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

          Help, I asked my questions hoping Hugh might think about how his comment doesn’t actually educate anybody on the issues he brings up, and therefore can appear to be nothing more than inciting of particular emotions. I was hoping his reflection might prompt him to make more direct and specific statements. But for that reason, I do appreciate you sharing your own insight.

          “When the author has made comments comparing the “struggle” of the bike community to that of the US Civil Rights movement, he certainly trivializes the experiences of African-Americans.”

          Not being a very consistent BikePortland reader, I was unaware of this, so I just did a search to find such posts. Were you talking about these?:

          If so, I disagree with your assertion that Jonathan trivialized the experiences of African-Americans. If you believe he did trivialize those experiences in these two posts, could you please explain how? Also, if those posts weren’t what you were talking about, could you show me what you were talking about?

          “I might not term it “negative” but it’s damn sure not positive or neutral either.”

          In saying it’s not neutral or positive, you’re implying it’s negative. If that’s not what you intended, I’d suggest you revise your statement.

          Also, it is “damn sure not positive or neutral” by what measure? Polarity is relative, so how have you determined it’s neither positive nor neutral?

          “It’s not much of a leap to believe the mistake at the Veloprovo ride wasn’t innocent.”

          No matter how “much” of a leap it is, it’s still a leap. Sometimes the “smallest” assumptions lead to the “biggest” misunderstandings. So yes, let’s be aware of possibilities, but let’s not presume more than we can know, because ignorance and inconsideration are at the foundation of any discrimination.

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          • Help April 9, 2013 at 11:15 am

            If you don’t think comparing the US Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s (and in some respects still ongoing) with whatever issues the bike community has trivializes the former, I truly don’t know what there is to explain. It’s the rough equivalent of me “struggling” to find a parking spot in downtown Portland with the unfortunate death of a pedestrian. When cyclists get lynched for being cyclists and people are standing around taking photos of it, come talk to me. Until then, it’s unbelievably offensive.

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            • Todd Hudson April 9, 2013 at 11:50 am

              Notwithstanding the fact that the civil disobedience enacted during the Civil Rights Era had tangential relation to the human rights that were denied those commiting civil disobedience. For example, segregation at lunch counters was met with sitting in at lunch. It was also only used after every other option had failed.

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            • Caleb April 10, 2013 at 12:57 am

              “If you don’t think comparing the US Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s (and in some respects still ongoing) with whatever issues the bike community has trivializes the former, I truly don’t know what there is to explain.”

              I didn’t ask because I was unaware of how the comparison could be considered trivializing of the Civil Rights Movement. I asked, because I wanted to know what thought process you used to make the conclusion that the comparison trivializes the movement. And I asked, because I get the sense you are projecting your own conclusions on the comparison mentioned by Jonathan, because no comparison trivializes anything until we make certain conclusions based on the comparison.

              For example, I could compare the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains and say they share similarities based on the fact that they both are subjected to erosion by wind, rain, animals, and man-made machinery. If someone else then came along and said I was trivializing the Rocky Mountains because the Great Plains are so much lower in elevation, that person would be perceiving his/her/its own conclusion in my analysis, and I would wonder why they apparently overlooked the similarities I stated and just hope they weren’t being inconsiderate of my expression.

              As for Jonathan, he said in the first article I referenced that there are PARALLELS between the Civil Rights Movement and the effort to make bicycles an accepted and respected form of transportation in America. He also said that while clearly giving acknowledgement that the two efforts are far different from each other. And he even made a statement to portray at least one parallel he sees between the two efforts: “Many of us who represent “the bike community” or “bicyclists” have been called upon to explain our tactics and ideas to people who don’t see the world in the same way.”

              “It’s the rough equivalent of me “struggling” to find a parking spot in downtown Portland with the unfortunate death of a pedestrian.”

              Yeah, I completely agree that the “struggles” are of vastly different nature, but I have no reason to believe Jonathan doesn’t also agree with you in that sense, because he said nothing to imply the “struggles” are of the same severity, urgency, magnitude, etc, so that “rough equivalent” is your own conclusion.

              Did Jonathan actually use the word “struggle”? I haven’t come across that yet, so could you direct me to the source if he has?

              “When cyclists get lynched for being cyclists and people are standing around taking photos of it, come talk to me. Until then, it’s unbelievably offensive.”

              I have NO tolerance for ANYBODY deliberately harming ANYBODY else in ANY way, but even I can acknowledge that the lynching of colored people was tragic for more reasons than just that people were murdered while bystanders did nothing to stop the murder.

              If we “dig deeper” into considering WHY people carried out such acts, we can consider the problem is rooted in how everyone mentally/emotionally perceived and valued each other. Perception is involved in all human interaction, after all.

              So when cyclists get run over to death and drivers aren’t punished for it, and cyclists are expected to prove themselves to people who persistently view them as “cyclists” (rather than fellow individuals) even while facing evidence contrary to their perceptions, and then Jonathan sees parallels between that and the Civil Rights Movement, I think it’s clear he’s simply trying to point out the pervasive act of prejudice/ignorance/bigotry/carelessness/whateverelsewewannacallit in ANY form, direction, and/or magnitude exists in the effort to cycle safely on the roads.

              The saddest thing I perceive in the Civil Rights Movement is that people were bought, sold, beaten, discriminated against, killed, etc, because they were perceived as having less or no human value. The saddest thing I see on the roads today is that people still perceive others as having less or no value compared to themselves, even if only momentarily or “subconsciously”, and that troubles me whether people are killed or not at all threatened.

              So whether it be “cyclists”, “drivers”, “colored folks”, or “privileged white males” who are antagonistic or complacent does not change the fact that antagonism and complacency contribute to pointless deaths all the damn time. We can recognize they contribute to both lynch mobs and hit-and-run incidents without equating lynch mobs and hit-and-run incidents.

              So I’m continuing to beat a dead horse here for the sake of both Jonathan and people who share your sentiment, but comparing is the same act as contrasting, and in that act we can see similarities AND differences. Please don’t assume people see similarites they don’t state, or that they don’t see differences they don’t state, and in the meantime, please don’t blame others for the offense you feel from your own perception of those unstated similarities and differences. And if Jonathan did somewhere else explicitly trivialize the Civil Rights Movement, then I retract my request.

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          • 9watts April 9, 2013 at 11:55 am


            as someone who has made the comparison you decry here in the comments on bikeportland, let me explain why I don’t think it is necessarily ‘unbelievably offensive.’

            Let us imagine two sets of circumstances that share some but not all characteristics. Let us further imagine that the contemporary views of the degree or severity of discrimination in each case varied.

            What I hear you saying is that because the one set of circumstances was so unspeakably unjust, violent, widespread it can never be usefully compared to anything that doesn’t rise to that level (without trivializing the former).

            But why is that necessarily so? I don’t think anyone was saying or implying that to ride a bike on public roads today is to experience exactly the same level of or kind of discrimination as African Americans experienced here in the US fifty years ago, or even today. No, the point was that–surprisingly–some discrimination experienced by people who bike (how they are treated in a court of law after having been run over, by people driving who think they and they alone own the road, in the court of public opinion: freeloaders; why don’t they pay their fair share, and in many other official and unofficial ways) recalls discrimination faced by African Americans. They are not the same, they share some characteristics and some of us feel that the comparison is instructive.

            If you feel that the one is altogether of a different order and can never be compared that is your right and prerogative but that doesn’t mean everyone else necessarily agrees with you on that point.

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            • aaronf April 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm

              I think you have laid out your perspective pretty well here. I don’t think anything you wrote was untrue, and I think your perspective is probably a common one. Thanks for that.

              Personally, I look at the decision to make that comparison like this:

              Group A struggled in a way similar to Group B, but the struggle was orders of magnitude greater.

              Group A (in large numbers) requests that Group B not make a comparison between the two because they feel it is hurtful, exaggerates the offenses inflicted on Group B, and minimizes the offenses inflicted on group A.

              Now, as a member of group B I have a decision to make. I can respect the wishes of people who have suffered much more injustice than myself, and find another example… or I can choose to find a different example.

              Similarly, I would feel bad if I said “I got raped at the gas station today” and I hurt the feelings of a rape victim. I choose not to say “Well, you know what I mean. The problem is that you are too sensitive.”

              I try to be considerate because it’s easy and I like to be thoughtful. That’s my perspective at least. Also, I think the ability to say “That shouldn’t bother you” frequently comes from a place of white male privilege. Most groups don’t have the power to say that.

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              • Aaronf April 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm

                End of 3rd paragraph should be ” or I can ignore their wishes.”

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              • Caleb April 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

                “I choose not to say “Well, you know what I mean. The problem is that you are too sensitive.””

                The issue I have with someone saying, “the problem is that you are too sensitive” isn’t that the notion is entirely off base, but that the expression of “sensitivity” as a bilateral condition based on unstated standards of comparison leaves the receiver responsible for figuring out what the unstated standards critical to the equation are, and thus there is no explicit indication the expresser considers it a “problem” for the expresser, the receiver, or both.

                In short, it’s not clear whether someone saying that actually wants to help himself/herself/itself, the hurt person, both, or neither, but we humans can certainly benefit from recognizing where our sensitivity gives us an inaccurate understanding of our existence. For that reason I choose not to say “you are too sensitive” while also choosing to illustrate how I think a change in their “sensitivity” could help them stop current hurt and avoid future hurt.

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              • Aaronf April 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm

                Briefly, I think that when you focus on what you can do to improve a situation, others will be more receptive to your advice.

                More broadly, I have found your comments to continue to appear obtuse, and tend to devolve into semantics about word definitions, burden of evidence judged by you, or straw man arguments, and no matter how civilly they are written, I don’t think you even believe all of the arguments you are making here. Obviously I can’t read your mind, can’t verify my impression, but I don’t plan on responding to any more of your comments.

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            • Help April 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm

              You could have replaced the word “cyclists” with “other drivers” and your points above would be the same. In the history of automobiles in this country, dangerous drivers have rarely been prosecuted as if they own a 2 ton weapon regardless of whom they harm. Is that a problem? Sure, but it’s not discrimination. It’s not lynching. It’s not red-lining. What you seem to call “discrimination” I would call “life.”

              And if you truly believe that cyclists are suffering “discrimination” then you really have no idea what the hell you are talking about.

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              • Caleb April 10, 2013 at 10:46 am

                “Discrimination” has more than one definition. By some definitions, we can logically acknowledge everybody suffers “discrimination”. By others, that’s not the case at all. For you to say 9watts doesn’t know what he’s talking about seems to me both presumptuous (given he didn’t state what definition he was working with), and rude (given you didn’t take the time to clarify what you saw as his misunderstanding).

                “You could have replaced the word “cyclists” with “other drivers” and your points above would be the same.”

                Yes, what you say is correct, but that doesn’t negate the possibility both “other drivers” and “cyclists” face discrimination, because they could face discrimination on different bases.

                “In the history of automobiles in this country, dangerous drivers have rarely been prosecuted as if they own a 2 ton weapon regardless of whom they harm. Is that a problem? Sure, but it’s not discrimination. It’s not lynching. It’s not red-lining. What you seem to call “discrimination” I would call “life.””

                Why is it not discrimination?

                My perspective is that lynching and red-lining both happen in “life”, and that all “discrimination” is only a part of “life”. Where do you draw the line between “life” and “discrimination”?

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              • Help April 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

                Ahhh, nothing like using semantics and parsing verbiage to expose your latent racism. Thank you for showing your true colors.

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            • 9watts April 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm

              Thanks, aaronf.
              Gives me a lot to think about.

              I’d only add that the conversation (without the insults Help prefers to sling) about how these comparisons are or are not warranted, valid, useful, are the best part of this site. And I think it is worth exploring this subject collectively, rather than just shutting up about it because I suspect we can all learn more. I know I do. I wasn’t aware that ‘large numbers of people’ had made that request. That is an important fact and one I appreciate learning. Still I suspect both (or all) perspectives can learn from the other, discover the merits and shortcomings of both points of view, flesh out misunderstandings, etc.

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              • aaronf April 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm

                Glad I could contribute positively for a change. Thanks for that. I agree that it is tough on both sides. I’ll quote a favorite (relevant) Bible verse:

                Look, the tears of the oppressed – with no one to comfort them! On the side of the oppressors there was power – with no one to comfort them.
                Ecclesiastes 4-1

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              • Caleb April 10, 2013 at 9:44 am

                I have noticed a change in your comments, and I want you to know I’ve appreciated it. 🙂

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    • longgone April 8, 2013 at 9:17 am

      huh? …Why are you alway’s here with the out of bounds,capricious,and irrelevant statements that clearly bring little but frustration to the conversation?

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 8, 2013 at 9:26 am


        thanks for that feedback on Hugh’s comments.


        You know that I delete many of your comments. The reason is not some conspiracy or lack of wanting opposing viewpoints. Many of your comments, like the one above seem unnecessarily hostile and they tend to provoke anger. Please be careful of your tone and make sure every comment is productive to the conversation. You are welcome to challenge others’ viewpoints, but please be sensitive when you do so. Thanks.

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        • longgone April 8, 2013 at 9:47 am

          You know it’s bad when I think someone else is a loose cannon! peace.

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    • Help April 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      There’s a reason it has the lowest African-American population of any major city in the United States.

      I do find it interesting that arguably the 3 most bike-centric cities in the country are in the 3 least diverse (Seattle, Minneapolis, and Portland).

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      • Caleb April 9, 2013 at 1:05 am

        Is that interesting, because white people like bikes, or interesting because non-white people dislike bikes? What generality are you conveying?

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        • Help April 9, 2013 at 11:01 am

          None, I’m pointing out an interesting fact. Is it coincidence? I don’t know, but I find the fact interesting.

          And while I don’t know much about the histories of Seattle or Minneapolis, Portland and Oregon’s history with minorities is godawful.

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          • Ed April 9, 2013 at 9:33 pm

            I hope you don’t mean any other states and cities in the nation has less discrimation and dark racist history. I think we can all agree minorities were all treated unfairly due to their skin color and race, but let’s also agree society has progressed better. Also I bike everyday to work, and I’m not white.

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            • Help April 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

              You can make a case that the state of Oregon has as dark a racial history as any outside of the South.

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          • Caleb April 10, 2013 at 9:27 am

            I knew you were pointing out an “interesting fact” when I made my comment, because you stated a condition and equated it to “interesting”, but because “interesting” is subjective and thus not inherent to any fact, I wanted to know why you personally found it “interesting”.

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          • longgone April 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

            Help, I know enough about Minneapolis, to know that Prince once said he lived there because the cold “kept mean people away”. I paraphrase it, but that was the jest of it. I also know lot’s of people,(black and white), constantly make jokes that “The Artist formally known as”, is in fact the only black person in Minneapolis.

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  • Sunny April 8, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Uehara should show up at the next Veloprovocative ride and prove his innocence. They’ll be all chummy not wanting to be racist again, and he’ll have all their confessions in an easily compiled report. The other dude with the unpronounceable last name can be Captain for a day to make new friends at the police department — as he surreptitiously takes videos of department headquarters or whatever he likes to do.

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    • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Has VeloProvo done anything against you personally? What do you have against them that brings you to write something like this about them?

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  • Scott April 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

    This makes me want a big bowl of Kashi brand cereal.

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  • Todd Hudson April 8, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Interesting, in that picture he looks nothing like Kris Chaisawat. Unless you are convinced the police are out to get you, and you ask every question that confirms the answer that you want.

    Confirmation bias will trip you up every time.

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    • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 9:02 am

      Are you only educating us on what “confirmation bias” is, or are you implying VeloProvo and others were convinced the police were out to get them and asked every question that confirmed the answers they wanted?

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      • Todd Hudson April 8, 2013 at 9:27 am

        I meant to directly state that VeloProvo are convinced the police are out to get them and they only asked the question that confirmed their suspicions. That cynicism and hyperbole is part of their shtick.

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        • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 9:36 am

          Okay. That’s how I took your comment, but I wanted to be sure. My question now – are you sure your own confirmation bias hasn’t led you to believe they acted with confirmation bias? I ask, because it appears to me that while holding suspicions, they can also refrain from assuming their suspicions are true. After all, Hart was quick to admit their suspicion was wrong when evidence proved it was.

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          • JNE April 8, 2013 at 11:32 am

            The only rule of the game is that you must not remember that you are playing the game.

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            • Caleb April 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm

              I admit that although I believe I understand the concept in your post, I don’t understand exactly who or what you’re speaking for or against, if anybody/anything. Can you expound?

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              • Scott April 9, 2013 at 8:42 am

                Can you dissect blog comments like they are being presented in a thesis defense? Can you set up a double blind to test what this person is saying? Can you treat a bicycling blog like it is peer reviewed science?

                Oh wait, I guess Veloprovo already has that last one covered.

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              • Caleb April 9, 2013 at 9:03 am

                I honestly can’t say I’m familiar with thesis defense, and I’m only vaguely familiar with what a double blind test is. But yes, I am guilty of somewhat treating a bicycle blog like it’s peer reviewed science. I say “somewhat”, because I haven’t read many journals, and it’s been a while since I have.

                But given the mess of conflicting accusations, especially those as severe as racism in the context of something as serious as the accusation that somebody was an undercover police officer, I can’t help but feel holding ourselves to the “highest” standards of scrutiny can be useful for the entire community, because it appears to me many people are really serious about their allegations and subsequently frustrated, but they don’t question how their own behavior is parallel to what they allege, because they don’t question their belief in their allegations. If you think lowly of my intentions, please explain why.

                As for the remark about VeloProvo, I can’t say I believe they treat a bicycle blog (let alone their own actions) like it’s peer reviewed science. That seems like a personal “attack”, like I’ve taken many of your comments in the past to be. I don’t appreciate it, and I hope I’ve mistook your intentions.

                Thank you for expressing your discontent.

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  • RJ April 8, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Running with the veloprovo “undercover cop” narrative last week was probably about the most mortifyingly stupid thing I’ve ever seen on this blog, for a whole bunch of reasons that have been rehashed over and over in the comments, so I won’t bother adding to it. I will just say that I’ve been on the fence about whether or not this is a place I want to continue to come for information and inspiration. It’s been really painful and disheartening seeing all of the defensiveness and general crappy behavior play out in the comment threads, twitter, etc., even now.

    But the defensiveness/crappy behavior isn’t coming from Jonathan at this point. I do think this blog will now be better for last week’s experiences, and Jonathan will still be one of the city’s most valuable voices when it comes to transportation, and maybe moreso than before. As for veloprovo — they stand for all the right things, and yes I do think there’s a place for activism and disobedeience, and yes, I think worthwhile activist events are worth covering on this blog. However, I don’t think they have to worry about the police bothering to infiltrate them when they’ve demonstrated such incredible skill at imploding all on their own.

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  • Pete April 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Nice job for reaching out in order to come to terms with your ‘mistake’ Jonathan. It looks like your meeting was indeed serendipitous; I look forward to reading the report on Capt. Uehara’s event this summer.

    Now that we’ve had our share of Berkeley-of-the-Northwest commentary are we free to get back to the BIKE portion of our regularly-scheduled programming? 😉

    (Oh lighten up kids, I’m joking around).

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  • Esther April 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I don’t even understand what most of the bickering in these comments is about. Man Jonathan- I wish your comment system had ‘upvoting’……..

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    • JNE April 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Indeed! Talk about a bad feedback loop … someone please turn off the microphone!

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  • nrdbomber April 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    …JM, just a reminder that so many of us who visit your site are not always giving feedback, but still tuning in each week. As for journalism, information, and objectivism… all of us have a grid overlay that we use to interperate the world around us, unfortunately, we don’t generally employ critical thinking skills and grace until long after we’ve interpreted stimuli.

    Keep up the good reporting. I’ll keep tuning in!

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  • Bucky April 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Jonathan, as an Asian American, I appreciate your sincere apology and your efforts to make things right. We are all humans, and we all make mistakes, even we minorities can be guilty of racism towards other races sometimes. What matters is that we recognize it, own up to it, and make ourselves and others better for it.

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  • Coldswim April 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I’d like to confess that I’ve, at several points in my life, mistaken one causation male for another. Also, as a causation male, I’ve been misidentified as someone else. I got over it.

    Not to belittle anyone’s feelings, but seriously? I’d concede that printing the story before fully vetting it was a mistake, but it was the only mistake. Anyone calling Jonathan a racist reflects entirely on the accuser, not on Jonathan.

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  • Ed April 9, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Mistakes were made and Jon is human. I’m glad you are open and admit the error. In the end this is a great blog and Jon is a great guy. As an Asian reader I personally will continue to support Jon and bikeportland.

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  • Caleb April 11, 2013 at 8:10 am

    In response to aaronf (the reply option is gone):

    “Obviously I can’t read your mind, can’t verify my impression, but I don’t plan on responding to any more of your comments.”

    🙁 I am sincerely a bit sad.

    Reading the above statement, did you feel an emotional response? If not, I really want you to trust I was being sincere, because I feel a bit sad. If you do feel something, please reflect on what you feel for just a brief time.

    Now, consider if I had said, “you’ve made me sad”. Do you think you would have felt differently than you may have reading the first statement?

    Some people don’t see any difference between my two statements about my sadness. I believe that’s true, because I once perceived the world through the idea expressed in the second statement, but since recognizing how the idea contradicts and doesn’t comprehensively explain reality, I am unable to perceive the world in the same way, so when I commonly witness people expressing that idea, I wonder if they haven’t yet pondered what I see as its inaccuracy.

    The phrase “you’ve made me sad” portrays sadness due entirely to your actions. No sadness, however, is due entirely to external stimuli. For example, my sadness in response to your comment comes from a wish that not one of us humans would ever not respond to somebody who seeks our attention, no matter how we feel in response to that. I have an ideal world in my head in which everybody would have the time, desire, and diligence to respond to each other under any circumstances, and I want all my efforts to promote such a world, including the things I write. When I see something indicating others don’t share that goal, I get sad, because I feel alone in that intent. Had I not my ideals and interpretation of your comment, I would not feel as I do in response to your statement.

    And initially my sadness was a bit more intense than it was when I started this post, because I instinctively/subconsciously/impulsively/irrationally/illogically/whateverly interpreted “I don’t plan on responding to any more of your comments” as “I will not respond to any more of your comments”. While your statement conveys a lack of one intent, the statement of my initial interpretation conveys the presence of a different intent. The presence of the latter I dislike much more than the lack of the former. Now please consider how if I had not recognized my misinterpretation, I might have felt much more sad and as if more of my sadness were actually due to your behavior rather than my own preference when I started writing this.

    Our brains and emotions are so complicated that identifying just what makes us feel exactly as we feel is extremely difficult and perhaps impossible, but I didn’t think that back when I blamed external conditions for all my feelings. Instead, as a small child, I believed “perfection” was an achievable state and what we humans were “supposed to” strive for at all times, primarily because I felt consistently sad in dwelling on all the “wrongdoing” people did to each other. In that simple mindset, I expected myself to consider EVERY way ALL my behavior (mental, emotional, physical) would impact the rest of the world – mentally, emotionally, physically; both directly and indirectly; both intentionally and unintentionally – and remove from my behavior anything and everything that had a “negative” impact on anybody to any degree. Basically for that reason I became an adult with chronic sadness who could hardly do anything at all without feeling severe remorse and loneliness. Not until I recognized how much my own thinking (much of it “faith”) manipulated my emotions did I finally feel happy on a regular basis, and only after that did I find the “strength” to make myself consistently effective for everyone else, something I had long wanted to do.

    Therefore instead of saying “you’ve made me sad”, I prefer to say “I am sad” for at least a couple reasons. The latter places no blame on any one factor, and thus hopefully minimizes the chance of others thinking and feeling I blame them for something they may not have done. It also helps me (and maybe others) keep in mind that I don’t ever know exactly why I feel what I feel, which helps me feel and think more openly and receptively to what others might think and feel, including those who “offend” me.

    And so when I see somebody making an accusation that I don’t think is clear, such as “that’s offensive”, I try to teach them how there might be much more to their feeling offended than just what they KNOW the “offender” has done. I do it so that the offended might feel less offended, and so that the one who “offended” might become more understood and stop feeling misunderstood, and I do it because I sincerely wish for a world in which nobody is depressed, cynical, pessimistic, isolated, ignored, overlooked, abused, etc.

    In short, I come from an extremely “oversensitive” childhood, adolescence, and young adult life, and out of that I’ve become determined to help others recognize how their thinking influences their emotions while their emotions influence their thinking, though I may at times have no idea how to do that effectively – there’s always more learn.

    “Briefly, I think that when you focus on what you can do to improve a situation, others will be more receptive to your advice.”

    Given what I wrote above, perhaps you can understand that “improving” every situation is my primary intent, but that people might just not perceive the “improvements” I intend.

    I can admit, though, that I do rarely get frustrated with people when they read more and/or less into what I write without asking for further clarification and use those unfounded conclusions to make judgments of my character, and sometimes that frustration factors into my writing being impulsive, defensive, and/or even more apparently insensitive. I am very conscious about making sure my intent is not to insult or belittle anybody, though, so if others ever take it that way, I sincerely hope they ask me questions.

    “More broadly, I have found your comments to continue to appear obtuse”

    If somebody were to say a cube is round, I would interpret that as indication they don’t understand the concept called “round” based on my own understanding of the concept. Rather than say, “a cube can’t be round!”, I might ask “why is it round?” That example might not correspond closely with questions I’ve asked in these threads, but the same intent is there whenever I ask people how they equate certain things with certain words. I ask the questions so that others might think about how they think, that I might learn how they think, and that I might learn how my own thinking is incorrect.

    “and tend to devolve into semantics about word definitions”

    This is similar to the questions in terms of there being an intent to make parallel the signals we send and receive to each other. Every idea is a juxtaposition or distinction of at least two things, so every word implies unstated associations, and some words imply many subjective emotional and mental associations. Sometimes people have opposing conclusions about something equating to a word only because they have different unstated mental/emotional associations with the word, so when people make conclusions (primarily “negative” ones) about a person based on that person’s word usage, I bring up the potential for different definitions with the intent to encourage consideration for that person’s unstated associations as well as their own.

    “burden of evidence judged by you”

    This also pertains to encouraging conversation about unstated associations. If someone says “Jonathan is racist” based strictly reading something Jonathan wrote, I want to make sure “racist” can be logically ascertained strictly from what Jonathan wrote, so if I don’t believe it can be, I’ll ask that person for their evidence supporting the conclusion so that I might find out if they are also taking into consideration things additional to what Jonathan wrote. And again, it’s so that I might learn where I’ve overlooked or misunderstood something.

    Some people don’t care to take online accusations so seriously, but whenever I see accusations (and especially those as serious as racism), I think of cases in which people have been wrongfully put to death through our legal system, and subsequently feel determined to encourage “critical thinking” however I can. As JRB said in the apology story comments:

    “Before leveling an accusation as inflammatory and potentially defaming as racism, I would hope people would have more evidence than “he said two Asian guys look similar.”
    Crying racism whenever somebody privileged does something that affronts you strips the term of its power and meaning.”

    The more closely our distinctions in the form of words coincide with reality, the more we might be able to understand each other.

    “or straw man arguments”

    If I make “straw man” arguments, I don’t recognize it. I wouldn’t make them if I recognized them as “straw man” arguments. And that touches on why I make so many replies about the same things – if I see something I think is incorrect, I want to point out exactly what I think is incorrect and explain why, so that someone else can easily understand my argument and tell me their own thoughts on it. Rather than waiting to make a general statement about my “straw man” arguments, I sincerely would appreciate you quoting my “straw man” arguments and explaining to me how I’ve equated unequal things.

    “and no matter how civilly they are written, I don’t think you even believe all of the arguments you are making here.”

    This could be, as many of my arguments come from trying to understand things I can’t understand first hand – other people’s thoughts. In that sense, I’m not much different from anybody else commenting here. I just have different mental/emotional associations with the ways we word our beliefs about each other. But from you I think I would need specific examples in order to say for certain whether I believe my own arguments, because I make an effort to continuously revise my beliefs.

    Hopefully that provides you with a broader context for and more extensive understanding of my statements and questions. Thanks for being straightforward, and thanks for reading this. Please trust I don’t have any expectation for you to reply; I can respect your desire to refrain from that.

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  • Oregon Mamacita April 11, 2013 at 8:14 am

    The bike-only anti-car community is overall rather childless & male & white. This makes you uncomfortable. You can’t handle the truth- many ethnic groups are full of folks who LIKE CARS and need them for REAL JOBS. The last woman of color featured in these pages was attacked as a breeder because she had a BIG FAMILY.

    Go ahead and lecture the working-class non-whites about their lifestyle. BPS knows best.

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    • Caleb April 11, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Who specifically have you addressed this comment to?

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  • Caleb April 11, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Ahhh, nothing like using semantics and parsing verbiage to expose your latent racism. Thank you for showing your true colors.
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    I take that as indication you have made minimal, if any, attempt to understand me. What would you say your true colors are?

    Also, I very much disapprove of you assuming I’m racist, and in response to that specific claim I only wish to say I think you would quickly change your mind if you and I hung out in person.

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    • Help April 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      What is there to understand? Your answers are long treatises on the technical definitions of “discrimination”, “confirmation bias”, and other terms like you’re trying to win a lawsuit even though you’re guilty. I’ve read enough to think I understand you plenty well.

      Most racists disapprove of being called racists. It doesn’t mean they aren’t.

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      • Caleb April 12, 2013 at 12:22 am

        Please notice I didn’t claim my disapproval of your accusation equaled me not being a racist. I just wanted to vaguely indicate how I felt, and to be more specific, I felt hurt and disappointed. Not everything I say is a conclusion intended to contradict one someone else made. That said, I ask you to consider that what there is to understand is you perceiving my intent to “win” is incorrect as you’ve portrayed it.

        The “treatise” “on the technical definitions of “discrimination” was only intended as encouragement that you don’t dismiss 9watts’ conclusions based on your own biased (I don’t mean that negatively; we are all biased) associations with the term “discrimination”, if that’s what you had done. Only months ago did I contest his view on “discrimination” pertaining to a specific cyclist-death-by-motor-vehicle case, so please don’t be so naive as to assume my “treatise” was intended to manipulate you into concluding his views are correct or that any modern case is anything like what happened in the Civil Rights Movement. I just wanted you to actually listen while hearing him, as some might say.

        The “treatise” on “confirmation bias” was in response to me coming to a different conclusion about VeloProvo’s reasoning, and thinking Todd had perhaps come to his conclusion because he overlooked minor details which influenced mine. I wrote the “treatise” as encouragement for him to consider he was guilty of that which he accused them of, because discouraging behavior while carrying it out doesn’t optimally discourage it. I didn’t assume he was practicing “confirmation bias”, though. I was asking for more information from his point of view, that I might find out if he was or not, but more importantly so that he would just think about the possibility.

        Any argument I make with intent to “win” is intended as effort toward all of humanity “winning”, rather than just me. I don’t care to compete with people, because I only want to encourage cooperation. I don’t want ANYBODY to “lose”.

        That said, I have yet to believe your intent is far from trying to “win lawsuits”, because you’ve made claims in ways I found unclear, and after I asked for further explanation, you made no effort. For example, you said certain traffic cases are not “discrimination” because they are not lynch mobs, and they are not red-lining. Well, lynch mobs are not red-lining, and red-lining is not lynch mobs, but you equate them both with “discrimination”. What, therefore, makes those two things “discrimination” that isn’t present in the court cases you mentioned? That’s what I was getting at when I asked where you draw the line between “life” and “discrimination”. When you don’t explain the answer to such questions, I can only wonder if your concept of “discrimination” is one you don’t apply to every instance of “discrimination”.

        If I haven’t made that clear, perhaps you can consider people arguing with each other about whether they’re “agitated”, “annoyed”, “frustrated”, “angry”, “furious”, etc. As far as I can tell, they all explain the same feeling, but we each subjectively apply the labels to different “levels” of the feeling, and that creates much potential for unparalleled labeling within our communication. That’s what I wonder is happening between you and others in debates about what is and isn’t “discrimination”. My “semantics” were intended to provoke consideration that you were getting hung up on “semantics”.

        You can continue to call me a racist if you want, but I implore you to consider that in response I would only think more and more that you are generally ignorant in your approach to learning about other people, because even though nothing I can say proves I’m not racist, I know damn well I am not.

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        • Help April 12, 2013 at 7:58 am

          Has anyone ever been pulled off their bike and lynched for being a cyclist? Has a cyclist been denied a loan or told they can’t live on a certain section of town?

          Again your words are condescending explanations of terms designed to obfuscate as opposed to illuminate. The typical response to racism.

          What do you want me to know about you? You’ve defended to the hilt Jonathan’s actions on this and other threads–actions he admits were poor. Why? Why do you care so much to defend this? The logical conclusion is that you’re hung up on race.

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  • Caleb April 13, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Please read calmly and carefully:

    Have I ever said any has been pulled off their bike and lynched for being a cyclist? Have I ever said anyone has been denied a loan or told they can’t live on a certain section of town for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was denied the right to vote for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was denied access to a restroom for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was denied access to a seat in a bus or establishment for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was convicted in a jury court of law for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was denied access to restrooms or drinking fountains for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was threatened by the KKK for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was enslaved for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was treated like livestock for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was captured, shackled, and shipped thousands of miles from home for being a cyclist? Or said anyone was looked upon as less than human for being a cyclist? Have I ever said ANYTHING has happened to anyone for being a cyclist? The answer to every single one of these questions is: NO!

    When I first read your sentence about my “condescending explanations”, I thought you were saying the “terms” were “designed to obfuscate”, and I had to look up the word “obfuscate”, because I couldn’t remember how it’s defined. You may find my explanations condescending, but I similarly have often wondered that your brevity is condescending, especially when I at first misinterpret it. That’s just one example of how easy it is for us humans to misunderstand each other, especially when we’re writing things out in ways that don’t clearly convey emotion. So I want you to understand you are jumping to conclusions about me that I know aren’t true, and it appears to me you do so because you repeatedly misinterpret statements I make as conveying “points” that I don’t intend, and conflate your emotions with ideas about my emotions. It seems you’re trying to figure “me” out rather than contain your idea of me in the words I write.

    So please consider that your logical conclusion is not at all logical. I defend Jonathan not to say his choices weren’t “poor”, but to say we don’t know that his choices were racist. The reason I care so much to defend him is not that I’m hung up on race, but because I’m hung up on “truth” and subsequently every single human being (including myself). That is the foundational bias with which I contradict specific biases of yours.

    Hung up on “truth” = wanting my mental interpretation of existence to mirror “reality”. I perceive some statements by others as illogical, but I assume they sincerely make their statements, so I also consider their statements are logical. In response to our disagreement, I’m trying to convey and push a cooperative, skeptical approach to making logical conclusions. I’m basically saying, “Here’s how I see your logic, and why my logic disagrees with your statement. Please tell me if I misunderstood and/or further explain, so that we might work together to determine which of each other’s supporting conclusions are ‘founded’ and which are ‘unfounded’ in order to possibly determine if the conclusion Jonathan is a racist is ‘founded’ or ‘unfounded’.” It doesn’t come out that way, but that’s the gist of my intent in questioning and commenting on statements and words.

    Hung up on every single human being (including myself) = my INTENT to support ALL human life while working against NOBODY (very difficult, of course). With that chosen bias, I want to defend ANY person who I think might be wrongfully accused, and all I mean by “wrongfully accused” is that person being believed to have done/be doing something that person didn’t/doesn’t do. So if I agreed with others’ claims that Jonathan and VeloProvo were racist, I would not at all be arguing with anybody claiming they are racist, and instead would be arguing with anybody claiming they are not racist. At this time I don’t believe we have sufficient evidence to know that Jonathan and VeloProvo are or are not racist, but I know many people hate people they think have racially discriminated, so I want to refute claims Jonathan and VeloProvo are racist. Claims they are not racist (even my own) are equally unsubstantiated, but I don’t care to refute them, because I don’t have the perception that anybody hates people who are not racist, so I see no potential threat relative to claims they are not racist, but I would if I believed they were racist.

    Honestly, can you see that Jonathan has discriminated against anybody on the basis of race? I so far haven’t found any logical basis for the conclusion he (or VeloProvo) discriminated against anybody on the basis of race, so if you have, what have you found, and if you haven’t, why do you assume they are racist? I would really like to know if you have any logical basis for their racism, and if you have no logical basis for their racism, I would really like you to think about why you assume they are racist, because illogical conclusions work against our efforts toward “justice”, which is the concept (even if it’s labeled differently) we use to work against racism.

    So let me explain why I think it’s “unjust” to discriminate on the basis of race: It’s illogical to think a “significant” portion of a person’s characteristics comes from a person’s race, so it’s illogical to think that one race is more or less valuable than another, so it’s illogical to think that one race is more or less deserving of any punishment and/or reward than another, so it’s illogical to discriminate on the basis of race.

    That first condition might not make sense, so I’ll put it in context. The truth, so far as I can tell, is that “race” is an abstraction perpetuated by minds that haven’t yet taken the time to define every single individual by every single distinction that can be made within an individual and between all individuals. Each “black” person is entirely unique from every other “black” person, and continuously changing. Each “Asian” person is entirely unique from every other “Asian” person, and continuously changing. Each “white” person is entirely unique from every other “white” person, and continuously changing. Flat out – each “person” is entirely unique from every other “person”, and continuously changing. So if we were to include every single one of a person’s variables in our categorization of “race”, we would find that every individual is its own “race”.

    So when someone discriminates against someone on the basis of “race” defined as skin color, country of origin, cultural differences, etc, they attribute a false sense of value to a person by putting disproportionate value on that person’s “race”. They place that disproportionate value in at least two ways I can think of. First, they either compare that person’s “race” to other peoples’ “race” and draw false conclusions, or they compare that person’s “race” to a false concept of that person’s “race”. Second they compare other characteristics of that person to the same characteristics in other people and draw conclusions, or they completely.disregard other characteristics of that person. Regardless of how inaccurate or incomprehensive this description is, we can at least acknowledge that when someone discriminates on the basis of “race”, they judge and treat a person on a basis other than the person’s entirety and only the person’s entirely.

    That’s such a problem, because if we judge and treat each other on bases other than who each other is (including what we’ve done and do), we can’t possibly know how to conduct ourselves in a way that will or will not offend others, and we can’t possibly save ourselves from being the things about ourselves that we can’t change. Racism is inherently different from some other forms of discrimination, because it discriminates on the basis of things we can’t change, but discrimination on bases of things we can change is still discrimination, and that often happens in racism, too. And racism has historically amounted to much harsher results than other forms of discrimination, but individuals still die for other even more trivial bases of discrimination, too. That’s why I oppose ANY form of discrimination against people! Any form of discrimination against people perpetuates the false notions that racists, sexists, homophobes, etc may base their discrimination on. We can’t optimally discourage life-threatening discriminations by overlooking the most minimal discriminations.

    Therefore, anything I perceive as negative, false perceptions are why I butt into conversations and ask annoying questions and make annoying statements both pertaining to peoples’ perceptions of each other. Discrimination against people is perpetuated by basing any antagonistic treatment of others on any perception of others and/or ourselves. Until everybody realizes that all “justification” is subjective perception, we will certainly never see an end to discrimination against people, and even then we might not, because people might choose to discriminate against others, anyway. As we sit now, though, I don’t think enough people have realized how arbitrary all our beliefs and legalities are, so I focus on pointing out what I see as falsehoods so that others might at least consider their beliefs are false, and I’m very open to others doing the same to me, becasue I don’t want to be a hypocrite, because that only works against my greatest desire which is for all humanity to live in a state of “peace”.

    So no, cyclists have not been lynched for being cyclists. And no, cyclists have not been red-lined for being cyclists. However, when my friend and I ride our bicycles in a bike lane, and a man on a motorcycle revs his engine as he swerves around us and yells “faggots”, I wonder if he might call us “faggots” just because we’re riding bicycles and he doesn’t like that. And when somebody says, “cyclists don’t pay their fare share”, but I believe that many cyclists drive automobiles and pay taxes that pay for most the infrastructure, too, I wonder that those people don’t say that just because some cyclists ride bicycles in ways they don’t like. And when a person on a bicycle stops at a stop sign, tells people in a van that it’s their turn to go, and someone gets out of the van to chase him down while swinging a hammer at him, I wonder if that person threatened the man riding a bicycle just because he was a cyclist. These are just a few examples of what make me WONDER whether or not people are discriminating against cyclists. 9watts may have had many other examples in mind, so I just wanted you to consider he might have known very well what he was talking about even though the effects faced by “cyclists” aren’t the same as those faced by people in the Civil Rights Movement.

    A punch isn’t diminished by a stabbing, a shooting, or even a bombing. All acts of aggression are unique effects, and they all involve people experiencing those effects, so they all “matter”. Discrimination on the basis of someone being a “cyclist” isn’t diminished by discrimination on the basis of age, sex, gender, identity, religion, nationality, ethnicity, or even race. All acts of discrimination are unique effects, and they all involve people experiencing those effects, so they all “matter”. That’s what I thought you might have not understood, and what I wanted you to understand, but I didn’t just come out and say it, because I believe our own contemplations generally have more power to shape our understanding of existence more so than do other people’s unwanted “treatises”. I give you “treatises” now, because in reaction to your words I have become both “defensive” and “offensive”, perhaps much like your own reaction to mine in the beginning of our conversation.

    So what you see as my “condescending explanations” are not quite that. Yes, there’s a slight amount of passion in my efforts to explain my views, but to me, there’s no such thing as a “better” or “worse” person, let alone “better” or “worse” anything. I don’t think myself below or above others, nor do I think them below or above me. I only want to teach, but it’s hard for me to do that without appearing condescending to others for various reasons. I’ve poured so much of my life’s contemplation into considering everything that possibly hurts the feelings of myself and others, and that mindset makes communication quite paralyzing in many ways that others without a similar experience might not understand, and I don’t know there’s really any way I can convey such an experience to anybody. So I’ll end with a cheesy metaphor.

    You can think of my thoughts and feelings as a room, and think of my words as a small window that began mostly draped. From my perspective, it seems you were looking into my window from miles away and seeing a tiny portion of the room, and yet believing you perceived and understood a large portion of the room. In response I’m wishing I could invert the room to make its entirety available for your view, pulling the drapes all the way aside, and asking you to walk right up to the window so that you will actually be able to see most of the room, but also asking you to do what you can to express your own thoughts that I might more understand them. I have had extensive experience thinking I knew the rooms I was looking into, but once I realized how far from them I was, and how my understanding was prevented by my assumption I could see through the walls, I became more interested in the rooms and decided to get closer and stop looking at the outside of the walls. I therefore prod you and others into considering how much more there is in the rooms you see (be they Jonathan’s, VeloProvo’s, 9watt’s, Barack Obama’s, your friends’, your own, etc), in case you haven’t yet recognized there’s potentially so much more. I do it hoping you will understand yourself and others more, and hoping you will help the rest of us understand you more. I do it wishing all of humanity could get their rooms and windows on the same page.

    But maybe everything I wrote in this post was already very clear to you, and I’ve actually been looking at a wall while I thought I was looking through a window. 🙂

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  • L April 14, 2013 at 6:14 am

    Wow – start your own blog maybe? Nobody needs that many words to get their point established.

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  • Caleb April 14, 2013 at 6:25 am

    I agree. And yet, when I ask questions like “why is he racist?”, people often think I’m saying, “he’s not racist”. When that pattern persists, part of my motive becomes inundating such people with context.

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