Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chipseal the self promoting charlatan?

Readers have placed these comments on my last post, portraying Texas cyclist "Chipseal" in a negative light.

Would anyone close to the case care to respond to their points? Silence would indicate their hostility is justified. However, this being teh internets, anyone could create a character to argue a point of view.

Meanwhile, the donation button is not a sinister automatic device that sucks money out of your bank account just because you look at it. Anyone has a right to examine whatever they can find about the case and then contribute or not. If I don't get satisfactory answers, the button goes.


How can you possibly put in a "donate" button for that criminally misguided jerk in Texas who went out of his way to make a bad name for cyclists everywhere? I'm not being provocative, I'm truly mystified how rational cyclists can support him. You're just making a knee-jerk reaction to assume that because he rides a bike he must of necessity be right.

There are plenty of cases where cyclists have been harassed, threatened, injured, and killed by motorists. But "Chipseal" is a very skilled self-promoter, and he's done a great job of getting naive people to send him money. Tell me... when's the movie?

Anonymous Ed Sailland said...

"Controversial"? Nah. Just daft as a brush. A "bold stand" for what, exactly? Folly? Or simply the right to cycle without a rearview mirror? (A particular point of pride with ole Chip, apparently. Something to do with him not wanting to know if anything is gaining on him, I suppose.)

I will say this, cafiend, old son -- you may be getting on in years and feeling a little stiff in the joints these days, but you can still stretch a point like nobody's business. Let's see… Patrick Henry, Rosa Parks, and now…wait for it…Chipseal.

Chipseal?! Some folks will following anything that moves, however doolally the destination. I wouldn't have put you in that class, I admit, but it seems I was mistaken. Still, it's good you've at last found a man with the mettle to carry your flag. So why not go the whole hog? Why stop at emptying your pockets of spare change? Why not put ole Chip's name in the hat for the next Nobel Peace Prize draw? It's no less than his due. After all, he's fighting for the Freedom of the Lane.

Semper Fi, guy! Keep that flag raised high. And always check commentators' credentials. Someone might be trying to put one over on you. Not ole Chip, of course. He's a Man of Principle. With some three thousand bucks of others' principal in his purse to show for it. So Let Him Ride!


Steve A said...

At least Ed Saillard had the integrity to put his name on his comment. He clearly has an ax to grind and I have no real idea why he decided to pick you. His comments on my blog have all been resonable. I have suspicion that Chip's actions upsets a status quo, but I know little of the Ennis political and cycling scene.

I will do my own post on this, but I know this - I saw the trial. I saw where Chip lives. I talked to his roommate. I saw a lot more that I won't pass along. I do not think Chip is a saint, and he does get occasionally on a high horse. Read his blog and cycling forums posts for that. However, I saw no unsafe actions shown at the trial and I saw no unsafe riding he one time I rode with him. Whether it was a plan or not, I now see an organized attempt by authorities to target a citizen and harass him into simply giving up. A low income citizen. That combination makes me see red.

Ham said...

It's interesting observing from this side of the water. My overriding feeling is that this is not a cause, it is a symptom. But that oversimplifies a load of complex issues.

First off is the feeling that this is just another of those crazy things that happens in Hicksville, USA and is a feature of mixing politics with the police and judiciary. If there was one thing in this that makes me very afraid it is that we are contemplating moving in that direction in the name of democracy.

Inevitably in a country where the car appears dominant - if you don't have a driving license you are almost a non-person - things that inconvenience drivers will end up becoming marginal activity and potentially banned. The closer you allow the mob to the levers of power, the easier that jump becomes. So today, cyclists, tomorrow, what? Moslems? The trouble appears to be endemic to our society these days: people fail to understand the rights, responsibilities and significance of the democracy they live in. But make no mistake, this instance is just a reflection of that.

So ChipSeal is a bit obstinate, and may not ride exactly in the way I might in the same circumstances (come to that, he might, I just don't know) but what is clear is that as Steve says, he is being bullied. Your law in Texas is being pummelled out of shape as we watch. It may bounce back into shape, or you may find that it stays out of shape. And what difference will that make? After all, there is a website devoted to the dumb laws on your statute books (This is Texas, and there is only one way that you will know whether if there is a new law "You-may-not-ride-a-bike" or some such it is going to be enforced or drop by the wayside, and that is by looking back.

In the meantime, what to do? Well, the Internet is both the problem and solution. Without it, this minor skirmish on the frontier between cycling and driving would have passed unnoticed (except by Chipseal, of course, who would have been chewed up and spat out by the system) but now people all around the word are aware, watching and listening. As a result, this acquires much greater significance than would have been the case.

The significance is that, like it or not, you and I are in the same minority as he. If you've ever ridden a Critical Mass, you'll realise forcibly that a lot of your fellow travellers do not plough the same furrow as you, but you do have common cause.

What I think it comes down to is that those who criticise your decision to support fail to see the wider significance of the issue. Whether that is everything or nothing, I don't know.

Ed Sailland said...

Unreasonable? Me? Surely not, Steve. I was just trying to match cafiend's wonderful hyperbole, without aping his tedious moralizing. It would seem that I succeeded. (Oh, yes… If you happen to read this, cafiend old son, would you mind correcting my earlier text? It should be "follow [NOT following] anything that moves." My eye and my brain aren't always on speaking terms, I'm afraid. Still, I like to look my best in public, dontcha know? Thanks!)

Now, as to the axe I have to grind… It's true that I think ole Chip is a bit of a mountebank. He's also a colossal bore. But that's his right. It's a free country, no? And where would America be without its Barnums? No, my beef is with Chip's amen corner: the "Vehicular Cycling" cadre for whom this queasy rider is the martyr of the moment. For what it's worth, I think the Ennis police made a mistake in arresting ole Chip. Not that they didn't have cause to do so. On the evidence of his interminable blog alone, I'd have thought there were grounds to lay a charge under the Texas Penal Code (Section 42.03), though of course a jury would have the final word in the matter. That said, it would have been far better to let him ride undisturbed -- except for the persistent honking of the angry "geese" behind him, of course.

But Ennis (and Ellis County) chose another course -- and other charges -- and now we have Chip the Martyr. So be it. The VC cadre get someone to carry their flag down the centre of the lane, bloggers like cafiend (whose use of a pseudonym presumably reflects the same lack of integrity that Steve discerned in the pseudonymous "Mystified") get comment bait, and Chip gets his statutory fifteen minutes of fame before slipping back into well-deserved obscurity.

And to that end, I think I'll leave ole Chip to his fate without further comment. The geese are on the wing this morning -- real geese, that is, not irate motorists. It's high time I joined them.

Steve A said...

In my comment, if there is any doubt, "resonable" in the first paragraphs SHOULD have been "reasonable" - as in comments that would cause no offense.

My apologies to Ed for my right thumb hitting the "r" instead of my left thumb hitting the "n" in his last name. An iPhone can be a dangerous thing late at night.

Ed Sailland said...

No offense taken, Steve -- though you and I have somewhat different ideas of the meaning of "reasonable," however it's spelt. As for SailLARD… Well, it's been a long winter, and my quasi-hibernation has left its mark. There's a bit too much lard visible on the Saillandscape at present. So your slip of the thumb just might have revealed a higher truth. More's the pity.

And now I really must go. The geese are calling.

cafiend said...

Thanks for the more detailed commentary, one and all. Ed's scathing literary criticism notwithstanding, it's nice to witness him politely exchanging views with someone in my comment thread.

When I started the blog bike blog several years ago, the people encouraging me to do it advised anonymity to reduce exposure of too much identifying information. I can be identified and located eventually.

I frequently stir up one of the cycling subcultures with a tactless statement of something that seems like an understood principle to me.

Oh well.

Ed Sailland said...

I've learned my lesson, cafiend, old son. Doctor Johnson was right: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." How true. But before I retire to bang away at my keyboard for the few pennies I can earn by my hackwork, I figured I owed it to you to let you know what I wrote about you elsewhere. My criticism may have been "scathing," but it wasn't malign. Anyway, here goes, a brief self-quotation without (further) comment:

"You're right, Steve. I WAS indeed questioning cafiend's intelligence in embracing the ChipSeal crusade -- or rather, I was lampooning the altogether uncharacteristic lapse in discernment that I thought (and still think) his uncritical embrace reflected. To say nothing of the histrionic note achieved by lumping ChipSeal together -- by implication -- with the likes of Patrick Henry and Rosa Parks. Spare me.

"I was also -- to use ToddBS' phrase -- "miffed" at cafiend's effrontery in demanding to know the credentials of anyone (i.e., 'Mystified') daring to post a gently critical comment to his blog, not to mention the absurdity of a pseudonymous blogger taking a pseudonymous commentator to task for failing to disclose the name recorded on his (her?) birth certificate. Since when have casual correspondents been subject to credentialing? Not yet, at least in my experience.

"Don't misunderstand me. Had I thought cafiend a true idiot, I'd have been less scathing. Or simply ignored his post altogether. But cafiend's no fool. I've been reading his stuff for years, with considerable pleasure. He's a good wordsmith, a keen observer, and a critical thinker -- most of the time. A stout and well-found vessel, in other words. So I figured he could take a few roundshot betwixt wind and water without foundering. And I fired away."

So keep stirring things up, old son. I meant that bit about reading your stuff with pleasure. I won't always agree with you, but it would be a dull world indeed if we all thought alike, wouldn't it? I think so.

cafiend said...

Thanks, Ed. That's remarkably cheering.

I tried to write for money, and have successfully done so (at least I got a check for it). I find that even when the paying gigs peter out I can't help tapping something out.

Collision mats and new timbers are in place. Pumps are staying ahead of the leak.

Thanks for the adrenaline and self doubt, old boy!

Ed W said...

(This is over on DFWP2P too.)

I think some push-back against ChipSeal and those of us supporting him is only natural. Some people ascribe the lowest of motives to the actions of others, a perception that's not without merit since Thomas Jefferson used it as the basis of our form of government. There's a great temptation to say that those people are projecting, assuming that their own base motivations are the operative ones in the ChipSeal case. Only those making the assertion can know if that's true.

Regardless, the push-back and the motivations behind it are irrelevant. The first order of business is for Chip's attorney to get him absolved of charges. After that, if this is an appellate court case, there may be some precedent set that other courts in Texas will have to follow. As I understand it (and I hope Steve will correct me if I'm wrong) the next stage is NOT an appellate court, so no precedent will be set. There's the possibility that Chip will be absolved, yet there will be no guidelines established for other courts to follow. That means we get to go through all this again sometime.

Don't lose sight of the fact that this case is about the fundamental right to use the public road. The presence or absence of a shoulder, the speed limit, or an alternative route is irrelevant. Whether any of us would feel confident or comfortable in a similar situation is irrelevant. The central problem we face is whether the police can use the impeding law to force cyclists off the roadways in Ellis County. Any cyclist who thinks this is right, who thinks this is a lawful expression of police authority, is invited to take their place in the back of the bus.

Finally, as an editor once told me, those of us who write for public consumption need to be very thick-skinned. We'll be the focus of both well-deserved and entirely inappropriate criticism when we put our thoughts out in public. Still, no one should have to suffer fools gladly, so I keep a 'nutjobs' folder just for them. It's dark in there. Let's hope they don't breed.