14 April 2017

What Does It Take?

Not so long ago, I was actively writing another blog, Transwoman Times.  I have not given up on it, but I probably never will be as active on it as I once was--or as I am now on this blog.  

TT started off as a journal of the year leading up to my gender-reassignment surgery.  Then I wrote about, among other things, my life post-surgery.  But, as I had less and less to say about that, I found myself writing about any and all things related to gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation.

That, I now realize, is one of the reasons I have not been writing on TT lately:  Too often, I found myself writing about people who were killed or suffered other forms of violence, not to mention discrimination and other kinds of bigotry, because of their actual or perceived gender identity or expression.  And, too often, I found myself recounting the indifference of law enforcement and other officials in the face of hate crimes--and of perpetrators who got off scot-free or slap-on-the-wrist punishments.

The latter is essentially what happened in the case of Alan Snel, the writer and cycling advocate who writes the Bicycle Stories blog.  The man who drove straight into his back didn't get so much as a ticket.  

Alan Snel in better times.

I guess the St. Lucie County authorities thought that because he was lying in a hospital bed, rather than six feet under, nothing serious had happened.  Now I'm starting to wonder whether the authorities in some places think that even turning cyclists into worm food isn't reason enough to bring charges against a motorist.

Back in June, I wrote about one of the more horrific instances of a motorist mowing down cyclists I've ever heard about.  Charles Pickett Jr. of Battle Creek, Michigan has been accused of plowing into a group of nine cyclists near Kalamazoo while intoxicated.  Of that group--who called themselves "The Chain Gang" and met for weekly rides--Debra Ann Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Fred Anton ("Tony") Nelson, Lorenz John ("Larry:) Paulik and Suzanne Joan Sippel died.  

l to r:  Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Suzanne Sippel, Debra Bradley, "Tony" Nelson and "Larry " Paulik

Pickett was scheduled to go on trial later this month, with jury selection planned for the 24th and opening statements the following day.  Last month, however, his lawyer filed a notice to use the insanity defense.  That means Pickett has to undergo psychiatric evaluation for criminal responsibility, which means the trial had to be rescheduled.  Now jury selection is scheduled for the 18th of September and opening statements for the next day.  

That, after Pickett had been found competent to stand trial last August and ordered to stand trial in November.  Oh, and he has a previous DUI arrest--in 2011 in Tennessee--but the charges were dropped.

While I am all for due process, I still have to wonder what it takes for motorists who--whether through intoxication, carelessness or "road rage"--kill cyclists to be held accountable.

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