01 December 2021


 Virtue signaling has been around forever.   Corporations and other major institutions, as well as mainstream politicians and celebrities, have long tried to show one audience or another that they are in agreement on some issue. A current example might be companies that make their products in overseas sweatshops running commercials in which models wear T-shirts or accessories emblazoned with a Black Lives Matter logo.

There is a subgenre of this called greenwashing.  In it, some organization or person tries to convince people that it really, really cares about climate change and other environmental issues by offering "green" versions of its products.  As often as not, the item doesn't actually cause less environmental impact than its "dirty" counterpart, just as so-called "healthy" snacks are sometimes just as hazardous to our waistlines as what they're supposed to replace.  

Now, it seems that some folks are being accused of a sub-subgenre of greenwashing. I'll call it "bikewashing."  Some accused Pete Buttigeg of it when he rode a bike.  Granted, he didn't look like he had much practice, but reliable sources say that he didn't get out of his car and ride a few feet to show the world that the new Transportation Secretary indeed cares about alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicles.

Now a Conservative member of the Canadian parliament has accused the country's Minister of the Environment of using a bike as an "unparliamentary prop" in a Zoom call.  First of all, calling a bike an "unparliamentary prop" is as ignorant as you-know-who taunting John Kerry for breaking his leg in a "bike race."

Can someone tell me what, exactly, is "unparliamentary" about a bicycle?  I like it myself, not in the least a purple Marioni.  My only quibble is that it seems to have a single gear but a pair of downtube shifters.  I guess someone was in the middle of converting it from a derailleur-equipped to a fixed-gear or single-freewheel bike.

To be fair, whether or not Steven Guilbeault actually rides the bike, that it's there is understandable:  He probably was in his home and the bike happens to be wherever his computer or other device was set up.  Nobody has complained about seeing my bikes--or, for that matter, Marlee-- during Zoom meetings.  

If anything, the bike makes me think of the bike that was always hanging in Seinfeld's apartment. (Trivia question: What kind of bike was it?) Did he, or anyone actually ride it?

And Ed Fast's reaction to seeing a bike behind Guilbeault makes me wonder whether members of parliament, conservative or otherwise, have other things to think about--you know, like the latest variant of COVID-19.

No comments:

Post a Comment