American Road Cycling
Following is the horrific account of a direct attack on Freedom of Speech. It was an attack that has been overcome and redressed by the establishment of the American Road Cycling web site.
For a little over 2 years, from November of 1999 through February of 2003, Bob Fugett wrote 19 articles for the newsletter of a local bicycle club. The articles were written using the pseudonym SlingShot, which was his less than flattering club nom earned during group rides. The articles received rave reviews.
A simple formula was used in the writing, which Bob thought of in this way: "Include as many names of the people attending each ride as possible. Package the narrative inside a range of positive themes such as individual achievement and its counterpoint to team effort, or such as cycling community public relations, or health and safety issues. Add dashes of political and literary comment. In the end, it is imperative that SlingShot always loses."
This simple formula helped establish a following where readers were progressively more entertained as each successive article seemed more certainly to assure that SlingShot would succeed in taking the day, only to find him snookered by a twist at the end...generally a twist of his own making.
The main writings were done under the fine editorial control of Roberta Dakan who changed only two words in 18 articles during the full 2+ years. Both of these words were changed for misspellings. The first error was of a local road's name, the second of a person's first name. Actually the road misspelling occurred twice. Otherwise, not even a comma was removed, which only proves what an eagle eyed Editor the fine Roberta was.
Unfortunately, the quality of the newsletter suffered irreparable damage when Roberta left as Editor. The main indication of this came after SlingShot's first article submitted to the new editor received a letter of complaint for the use of the term "SPIN BITCH." The complaining letter was published and allowed to stand unanswered with editorial policy changing to follow the dictates of that single complainer. SlingShot's article in that very same issue was censored. The introductory phrase "NO SHIT!" was changed to "NO S___!"
For good reason, Mr. Fugett experiences a certain intensity to his feelings against censorship; and, since the change made was only 3 letters of a single word in a 1,243 word article, he understood this to be NOT editing but censorship clearly and nothing more.
Furthermore, his byline was kicked to the bottom of his article, and review of the censored issue showed that no other bylines had been moved, only SlingShot's. This insured that the numerous readers who regularly told Bob they scanned the newsletter looking for his articles alone, while reading nothing else, would certainly miss it.
What the previous Editor (Roberta) had known was that Mr. Fugett never took liberties with people's personal feelings but always checked with those who might receive too harsh a characterization before he submitted his articles. What Mr. Fugett would have explained regarding the complaint over the term "SPIN BITCH," if he had ever been given the chance, was that the person whom he had applied the term to had actually chosen it themselves?as preferable to the alternative "SPIN WITCH."
Of course, the person who wrote the letter of complaint had obviously missed the simple fact that this was not their call to make, as they totally ignored the probability that the person being trash talked might like to have some say in the matter themselves. It also seemed they were totally oblivious to the fact that the article was one of the most complimentary articles ever written by anybody about any rider in the club. Knee jerk reactions seldom allow for nuance. The complainer stated they had put their, "...issue down in disgust!" What juvenile idiocy.
Therefore, not being given an opportunity to respond, and seeing that the winds of rationality had changed in the direction of the imbecilic within the local club, Bob immediately stopped submitting articles, stopped showing up for rides, and requested his membership be cancelled.
Eventually Bob's controversial stance led to a separate issue over dues, but that's a whole 'nother story which will be explained at the end of the Spin Bitch Chronicles?which is the title of this new annotated republication of all of the SlingShot articles leading up to and including the infamous censoring...plus two never before published special articles, one by the Spin Bitch herself.
On the positive side, all the rigmarole about the censorship and dues issues did eventually provide the impetus for the start of American Road Cycling, which functions totally without such petty, backwards, tight-ass worries over which particular words, or which specific spellings of those words are publishable. It should be noted that elsewhere it has been reported that words themselves are actually unable to break bones or do any real damage. Mr. Fugett contends that it is people being unable to grasp this simple fact which is the true problem. Time for those people to get back to third grade and review the basics.
The American Road Cycling site is thus dedicated to the SPIN BITCH, who is no longer with us but lives on in the trash talk of our rides. Plus, published here for the first time is the only existing article from Sharon Giannino's own proposed Dear Spin Bitch column.
To get the quickest orientation you might first read one of the two most poplular articles: King Richard and the Irish Maniacs, which has a shoot 'em up at the beginning, or Sharon of Nine, which is the article that lead to the letter of complaint. If you like stories about Space Shuttles and Presidents take a look at Moving Target. One of Bob's favorite rides (really, the best day of his life) can be followed through Chuckie's Mission. Chuckie has since moved on and is now conducting stem cell research at Cornell University.
Or you might like to jump right to the article which had its very first line censored:
Enjoy the articles. But if words offend you, please go away now...whoops, too fucking late!
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