Bags of Bran

The Language War Rages
December 1, 2010, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Biography

Last month I went on a bicycle tour of the Elm Creek Park Reserve north of here. Elm Creek is a rather large park, consisting of rolling prairie, small lakes, swamp, horseflies, pheasants, mosquitoes, and rustic beauty in abundance. It’s one of my favorites.

The bicycle tour portion looked like this:

Elm Creek 11-2-10

During the ride, I saw a few deer, a pair of pheasants, lots of horse doodoo, slippery leaves, and the new trail that MORC is building in the northeast corner of the park. Said trail was far too soft to ride, so I eschewed it in favor of continuing on the hoss trail for the remainder of the journey. By the numbers, it was about 34 miles, with about 1400 feet of elevation gain, accrued mostly in 20 foot increments. Steep ones at that!


Elm Creek Trail

While I was in the northeast corner, I saw this sign:


Now, I’m all in favor of someone’s right to express himself in a cowardly (or, to use the hip term, “passive-aggressive”) manner, and he does not need my permission to scribble on a sign with a marker. Actually, I’m busy marveling at the forethought involved in the coward’s bringing a marker this far into a trail system, presumably for this purpose. This coward walked or rode at least five miles with a permanent marker to express his revulsion toward the actions of a local cycling advocacy group and their perceived ideological totalitarianism. He was a driven coward if nothing else!

A few things need to be said, however, regarding this two-dimensional temper tantrum in ink. The coward who wrote it, unwilling to engage in an exchange of ideas with MORC (where “exchange of ideas” must be understood in a rather loose sense, as those familiar with MORC would acknowledge), has lashed out in the most banal manner possible.

First, the manner in which he did it. My incredulity, noted above, was that he purposefully toted a magic marker to this location for this very act. I know of no one who carries a permanent marker around on bike rides, although I would be willing to concede that an exception could be found. Exceptions granted, this, it seems, was not his first visit to this location, and he has had some time to reflect on a best way to stick it to them. Voila!

Second, the content of his message. He calls proclaims MORC to be “enviro-nazis” and that the organization, as a whole, “sucks.” A reasonable person would object to the first epithet because it has become cliche, an overwhelming problem in the culture of narcissism which enshrines everyone’s self-flattery on the Internet [says the guy writing on a blog that he may or may not hope that nobody reads]. Anything remotely perceived as witty immediately becomes cliche and scampers around the internet until it is superseded by something fresh. Incidentally, there is very little chance that humor or wit could ever be a regional phenomenon again. After some sitcom or another hyphenated something with the term “nazi” and deployed it as an epithet, it was doomed to bumper-sticker status. It could no longer communicate anything worth communicating, but had become another synonym for “disfavorable.”

This leads to the more serious matter: the fact that the word “nazi” has lost its value. How loathsome a crime to make such light of one of the greatest evils perpetrated by mankind in recorded history! We have most assuredly lost our way if we can thus joke about pure evil: we simply do not know what evil is. “Nazi” ought to elicit imaginations of the worst kind of evil–it ought to make one shudder and give him nightmares that tucked away in humanity is the ability for people to treat other people the way that the Nazis treated other people. A stilling fear ought to attend the term, not wry chuckles. Would MORC really skin people alive in pursuit of its supposed religious environmentalist agenda? Would it mandate the mass execution and incineration of an entire generation of people who do not subscribe to its version of Geolatry? Is one in danger of being shot for transgression of that sign? It’s tough to joke about this one: I intended to make this post a comedic jab at the pathetic outcry of a loser, but instead I find myself angry. Maybe I should stop finding myself, or lose myself again.

Perhaps MORC is a disfavorable organization. I haven’t joined simply because I’ve had very few positive encounters with the people toward the center of the organization. Taken as a whole, they are certainly a jackalish, imperious lot, inclined to idolize their narrowest opinions and wield their meager scraps of authority and small achievements like halberds when disagreements arise. Are they doing good work? Depends on who you ask. I like their trails and ride them frequently, and though I disagree with some of the choices they make, I see much of their logic. I often defend them when people speak ill of their draconian stewardship of the trails, including mandates such as “no riding when it’s wet” and “no riding until WE say it’s dry.” I acknowledge that the cycling community is all the better for having them to represent mountain bikers before city councils and what not. In short, I believe that they probably had good reasons to shut down the trail that the coward loved so much. They had failed to convince the coward, however, so every literate person who ventures into the northeast corner of Elm Creek Park Reserve now must know that the coward feels that “MORC Sucks!”


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