(Warning: The following contains unedited comments from real bikers. Some comments express political views, and often trash political correctness. But they're all sincere and heartfelt, and that's why I love this bunch).
Trail Boss gets Playful
On 4/21/08, while publishing photos for our recent ride, I decided to add a countdown clock on our home page, which indicated how much time George W. Bush had left in office, accompanied by the following remarks:
"...you will find a new, temporary, special feature on the home page of our website, if you scroll down to the bottom and look on the left side. This is something that is spreading all over the internet, and is being sold as a standalone wallet-sized unit as well. The new feature is not intended to represent a political statement by Bike Around Long Island, or any of its members. Unless, of course, you want it to be."
Within hours, I received a comment from someone about this countdown clock:
"Whatever my political views, I do not believe your addition to the website is appropriate. It can only make for divisiveness amongst the members of this list. I believe it should be dedicated, as the URL suggests, strictly biking around Long Island. If you feel the need to get into politics, then restrict it to political matters related to cycling."
"Thanks for your input. I had mixed feelings about doing this.
During the years that we've had the website I've avoided political statements,
and recently have even tried to narrow down the events that I list to those that
occur on Long Island. After all, we are "Bike Around Long Island". Over time,
I've added other links on our home page that are completely unrelated to or main
focus, but that I thought might interest some. These include Long Island's Last
Stand (addresses environmental concerns, as per The Nature Conservancy), Catalog
Choice (to help you reduce the number of paper catalogs you receive in the
mail), and the Living To 100 Life Expectancy Calculator. These are all important
issues, in my opinion. Since our group is not a typical organization, we have no
board of governing members, or any such structure. It's just my friends and I,
having good times together, and enjoying each other's company. As for
maintaining the website, planning rides, etc, it's just me. The countdown is to
an event that should be important to everyone, regardless whether it's the
departure of the current president, or the arrival of someone you look forward
to as our next leader.
Your comments are duly noted, and as you can see, I've taken some time to think about it. This is probably the first controversy I've been able to stir up in over 27 years. I'm curious about how my other friends have reacted to this, so I'm going to consider presenting this to the 130 members in our Yahoo group for their comments. I won't use your name, if I do. "
Next - Trail Boss Stirs The Pot
Since I was curious about how all of you felt about my fun idea, I asked you to voice your opinions. And you did.
Before we get on with the comments, let's remember that we're all in this for fun. The person who offered the original comments (hereafter referred to as "The Commenter") has not been on any of our rides, and so does not know any of us personally. Understand that he has a different perspective than most of us. In my opinion, he makes a good point, but one which is more appropriate for a "real" organization. Remember that part of our "mission statement" is to not take anything any more seriously than necessary. Which brings us to the rest of us. It was heartwarming to Trail Boss to see the enthusiasm with which you responded, quite often (thankfully) without a trace of political correctness. My approach to our website will continue to be fun-oriented. I'll continue to filter out the junk emails that marketers continually attempt to send to you through the group, and try to offer information that, in my opinion as The Decider, could be useful to you. It isn't easy, but that's why I get the big bucks.
And now, in the order received, your comments, with your names removed, unless you asked me to use your names. Note to The Commenter: Fasten your seat belt, and try to understand the perspective of the bikers, as we've tried to understand yours. I hope that you'll eventually join us for a ride, and you can meet our fun-loving bunch.
● Actually, George, even though your positions (u and the other member) may be diametrically opposed, I can see both your points of view. As u say, your just a group of friends hanging out so why not discuss anything. It's a free country. On the other hand, his point is well taken that politics can cause some uncomfortable dissension for some and some are probably just looking for a pleasant biking escape. In rebuttal to that, one can counter "so what, politics is a part of life and if any wants to express an opinion that you don't want to hear, cover your ears". In other words, as u say, we are just an informal group. Certainly, also as mentioned news and issues related to biking (political or otherwise) seem very appropriate.
● Ah...This person is obviously a "Bush" lover (hahahahaha!) not to mention ANAL! All this political humor is currently being circulating more than usual only due to the impending election...Tell he or she to loosen up and Get a Life (or hide in a closet until the election is over). There is nothing wrong with getting a few chuckles out of the day...it's all in "harmless fun". You did NO WRONG in my eyes darlin'....
● I think people are way too uptight and am personally sick and tired of people having to constantly worry about being politically incorrect. The countdown meter is not an offensive thing. Any implication of this being a positive or negative towards or against Republicans/Bush/people who are allergic to countdown clocks is entirely subjective. I'm all about humor factor in just about everything, so I appreciate you putting the countdown there. Of course, I don't know how much bearing my opinion has since I only recently moved back to Long Island, joined this group and have not been on a ride yet. Perhaps adding such things to the website can help bring up conversations while participating in the rides. I say kudos to you.
● Here's what I say -- "Screw him."
● Hi George or should I say Decider, In answer to your website question….it really doesn’t matter to me content wise. However, I like websites that are simple and to the point with elegant and relevant graphics. Generally, too much info and links get somewhat annoying. My 2 cents.
● I love it. MAKE IT BIGGER....I will also be delighted when they rename the Triboro Bridge "The George W. Bush Memorial Bridge".
● Hey Bossman, First of all feel free to use my name. I have been anti-war forever. The count is up to 4040 troops dead since we invaded the most recent country that we invaded. This list is long. Over 1,000,000 Iraqis are also dead. While some might think that BALI is just BALI, we are human beings and these are issues that effect us all. Whether we like it or not. I see nothing wrong with any kind of free forum. After all, isn’t this the good ‘ol U.S. of A? Bill (almost got arrested at a peace rally two weeks ago) Egan Oh, and by the way, I totally support the troops that are out there, I just cannot not support the people who sent them there.
● While I have not biked with your group yet, I thought you might like my opinion all the same. Political things that are not bike (or bike route) related should be kept off the website. No comments about politicians, just what they have, are, or plan to do that is related to biking. Group names (like the LIMPT) are OK.
● I see it as something neutral. I do not feel the addition to the website threatens my political views or threatens my beliefs or threatens me... in any way. I also see the website as the Decider's site... he is responsible for the postings, the photos, the maintenance, the scheduling, the directions, the reminders, etc. If this is the first "controversy" that you have stirred up, I only hope I do not have to wait 27 years for the next controversy!! my 2˘
● Hi George (and you can use my name if you want to quote anything, no problem at all), Seems like the main objection to the Bush Counter, at least officially, is that it is political and, as such, isn't related to the website's stated purpose of informing its members of things related to George W's Bike Around Long Island activities. Hmmm, it IS George W, isn't it. Well, you know who I mean.... But, can this be true? Do politics and cycling mix; are they related? Politics is intricately woven into the fabric of most everything we do and it's definitely related to bicycling on Long Island. For instance Environmental Issues are political as well as social and, more, it's cycling related: environmental concerns like the Bigger Better Bottle Bill (BBBB for short...what a surprise) is related to flat bicycle tires. Another environmental issue: bicycle-car sharing of our roadways, is related to our safety on the road as well as our nation's reduction in fossil fuels. The quality of the air we breath as cyclists and citizens can help determine the health affects of our favorite activity, not to mention living with reduced chances for airborne pollution and disease. So how we change, as a nation, away from coal fired to clean, carbon reduced, energy production is important for our health as citizens and as cyclists. I can go on but, for our present administration, environmental concerns have been one of their lowest priorities so much so that, in comparing them to past administrations, it's fair to say that the current one has been and is the worst since the early 20th century, by a long shot. As such we, as LI cyclists, may be rejoicing at the thought that the continuation of the undermining of environmental standards and laws and the politicizing of the various environmental government agencies, that those days are, literally in this case, numbered since all the current candidates have proposed policies far and above those that have been actualized by the Bush regime. So, once again, we cyclists may need to be more aware that happy days will soon be here again. What a nice, positive, good feeling that is. Your website, resultantly, merely lends focus on these positive emotions and gives us hope that the future looks better. This counter is subtle, no statements, no comments just a clock, lean like poetry with promise. Harvey Miller
● Hi George, I think it's humorous, once I get past the pain of of this present administration. I tend to play ostrich when I feel especially out of control. And whether devoted politically active people fight for the things I value or on a more subtle level, people like you make your contribution with the Bush countdown, something is being done to spread the message of discontent. So you've got my vote.
● I wish that I could say this as eloquently as Harvey, but I completely agree. If anything, one could look at the countdown clock as merely stating a fact: President Bush will step down on January 20, 2009, as the Constitution dictates. It is not political, it is the law. Whether you like or dislike his administration is immaterial to the fact that his presidency will come to an end. We should be proud as Americans that our government can be completely changed without gunfire or bloodshed. Not all nations are so fortunate. Ellen Petschauer.
● George: My first impression is that it is inappropriate to have your website display anything that controversial. There is probably no political/religious opinion that won’t upset someone. However, the last time I checked no one pays dues or helps with the website. If expressing your opinion makes you feel better, the least the group can do is let you go with it.
● Hi George, I finally had a chance to check out the "controversy" and I must say I applaud you for being able to stir the members from their sleep to comment on the countdown! I like the countdown for a variety of reasons but that isn't the issue here. My personal feeling about this kind of thing is that many people are just too focused on "rights" and get themselves too wound up about anything that really matters, like politics, religion, love and bicycling. I wonder what really prompted the original complainer to complain? I find it to be another ridiculous incident in a string of such incidents Bill and I have found ourselves considering over the past few months. I like your additions to the website, and like all other things I find on the internet, I am completely free to read...participate...send my comments...ignore whatever you post there. Kudos to the chef!
● Hi George. You go for it - There is nothing political about it and its good information leave it be, You have more patience than me – How much do you get paid again for this job?
● Hi George, I have no problem with the countdown. Given the state of affairs in this country, who can possibly see any good to this administration? Is there anyone who actually would like more of George Bush; Maybe it is not politically correct to put on a recreational website, but I do not think it is wrong to display the disgust that about 70 % of Americans feel.
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