In this post I get a little local... but I'm sure this kind of thing happens in every corner of America.
You would think that when an innocent elderly women gets killed as a result of a hit and run incident at a busy intersection, people from the community would band together to express their grief and desire for a safer transportation environment. But no, thats not what happened. Very quickly the Missoulian articles... here and here turned into a shouting match between people (mostly avid cyclists and pedestrians) blaming the motorist and those that deafened the motorist and said that anyone on a bicycle or a pedestrian on that road was an idiot and most likely deserved what they got. (Its a shame that by now you can't view the long series of comments made about the initial news story).
I'll just give a quick overview of what happened. On June 22nd at the intersection of Brooks and Reserve streets (a big 20+ lane intersection with sweeping corners) a women was walking her bike across the intersection in the crosswalk going northbound when a pickup truck that was idling in the left hand turn lane suddenly proceeded into the intersection and struck Beverly Joyce Felton whom eventually died of brain injuries.
The man in the pickup sped off and later turned himself in and admitted to hitting Beverly, this of course was only after a witness had come forward and identified for the police the man's vanity plates.
As I said before, I wish the record of comments was still available, but I can sum things up for people from memory. Within only a few comments people started blaming the "victim" for not paying enough attention to her surroundings, for even being on that street because it is so dangerous, complaining generally that cyclists and pedestrians act as if they own the road and that their arrogant behavior was the problem, and that Beverly was an idiot for even being out there while not in a car.
The "Bicycle Nazi," as some of the angry motorists called them, fired back with the usual stupid people in SUVs rant.
All this went on all the while Beverly's family members were participating in the debate, calling for all sides to calm down and realize that a human being had just died and that people need to respect that fact and not use this as a forum to express hatred of "the other."
The sad thing is that it now continues in the latest article, although not nearly as bad. It only takes one person's comment to send the rest of the discussion on a tangent about the cranial deficiencies of the other group. All the while Beverly's memory is trampled upon while individuals get in their own hateful speech about their adversaries on bikes or in cars.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about all this is the fact that the man turned himself in and admitted to hitting Beverly, and yet is now pleading not-guilty. The judge has let him out on bail with his driver's licence in hand. People are defending this decision as his right to a fair trial and that we shouldn't jump to conclusions. But honestly... when someone is charged with murder using a hand gun I don't think they let that person out of court with a Glock in their hand... no, they confiscate any deadly weapons, but apparently this man still has access to his.
48 minutes ago