The consequence of keeping your mouth shut is that you never get to meet the people that you agree with.
A lot of us keep our mouths shut a lot of the time. You might never guess it from the number of fringe-dwellers that have started to speak up out here, but a lot of us live our lives in comparative silence. I did for a looooooong time. And guess what? People still guess that underneath it all, I’m really weird. I don’t think I’m all that strange until I start trying to talk to The Normals. You should see me flail about for conversation when I find myself at one of my kids’ friends’ houses. At least solar panels and vegetarian lunches come up from time to time. The thing is… SNORRRRE. BO-RING. I really don’t want to talk about clothes, how great the prices at WalMart are, going to the casino, or how Expensive Coffee Is (My god, people! It comes from the other side of the planet! It has to be picked bean by bean and then treated in three different ways before it becomes the Magical Brew. If you had to grow it yourself, you’d charge at least $12 a cup. Suck it up.)
So, I went to Halifax this weekend, and while I was there, people held a Naked Bike Ride:
It was AWESOME. 50 – 70 semi-naked cyclists with body paint riding along the main streets of Halifax. I happened to be in a car when they rode past, but I had my windows rolled down, and the sidewalks were filled with laughter, shouts of happiness (and probably derision, but whatever). I tooted my horn enthusiastically, and I heard more than one person express the sentiment, “That just made my day.” And I thought that the commentary on this event might reflect that. So imagine my surprise to read the mildly dismissive article on the CBC website, peppered with comments about how irresponsible, disgusting, and reprehensible these cyclists are, not only for their public nudity, but for the audacity they have for being on bicycles in a place rightly reserved for cars.
The mind boggles.
There is a whole class of actions that I categorize as “thought crimes”. These are things that are either illegal or sanctioned not because they inherently cause harm, but because they make people think about things that make them uncomfortable. This is a very broad class, because it includes such things as breastfeeding in public, wearing clothes that are not appropriately gendered, not bothering to style your hair, being fat, looking like a hippie, not mowing your lawn… the list is pretty much infinite. It pretty much gathers in actions to which people’s reaction goes: “That’s Disgusting!” “Why?” “Eeew. It just IS!”
Speaking up out of turn also falls in this category.
So, for the naked cyclists in my life (and all their compatriots), a heartfelt thanks. Beep, beep! There will be poetry.