Yeah, so about those sweet polite Canadians…

I dunno, maybe they all moved to Vancouver or something.

Short version for lazy clickers: The other night, former Ontario Attorney-General (and, as it happens MPP for my riding) Michael Bryant got into a crankiness with cyclist Darcy Sheppard at a major Toronto intersection, while driving an open-topped convertible. Sheppard – for what it’s worth, later revealed to have serious anger-management issues – dismounts, slams the car hood, grabs the driver-side door…

…and this Harvard-trained potential future Premier candidate just guns it and runs. Drags Sheppard about 100 yards before he fell off, fell under…

Mm-hm.

Couple things. First, CFRB 1010? Stop calling this the ‘Bryant Bicycle Tragedy’, like, right now. Words cannot express just how tacky it is that the live guy is repeatedly trumping the dead one – one would imagine a news/talk station would have the proper order on file somewhere – but here’s a hint: This is so tacky that your own host kept frantically trying to distance himself from it after every break. ("No, really, as I keep saying, it’s everybody’s tragedy…")

Next… well, yes, it does also kinda suck to be Michael Bryant right now, I imagine. I met him once, very briefly, when he came around our building canvassing for re-election. Given which he seemed unusually sensitive in dealing with a disheveled woman home sick that day who had only opened the door because she’d just woken up and had some vague idea he was the police. So I liked him OK.

I’ve also been thinking about blind panic, what happens when something – someone? – gets too close. Mind you, my field tests have been on nothing like this scale; but I have done some incredibly stupid and painful things to myself while in full-on getitoffgetitoffGETITOFF!!! frenzy. Trying to shake off the teeniest of spiders. Seriously, I almost dislocated a shoulder once. In those moments, it’s goodbye higher function, hello… I don’t know what, but I suspect the spider did.

I’m wondering if this sort of instinct goes so far as fellow sapiens. Hard to imagine it would – that common humanity wouldn’t’ve kicked in at least when it was clear the guy was stuck – but. Bryant was in the car with his wife; maybe it had been a freakishly bad day; maybe he’d read one too many screaming Sun headlines about gang violence. I don’t know. There are reports that he actually climbed the sidewalk, frantically brushing Sheppard off against mailboxes, banging him into light poles. It defines belief that any rational human would treat another like a bug – unless that’s exactly what Bryant’s instinct thought the cyclist was.

In the aftermath, here’s Darcy Allan Sheppard, who by all accounts was doing the best he could with the crummy hand life dealt him, dead. Michael Bryant, politician maybe not as sleazy as the rest, facing the ruin of his career at best and a life sentence for criminal negligence at worst.

Right, we can get back to sweet and boring any time now, universe, OK?

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. clio_1
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 10:26:50

    Ouch. I know that if an angry man tried to get into my car while I was driving — I’d hit the gas too. It would be reflex. What was Sheppard trying to do? A man who bangs on the hood and then tries to open the driver-side door of a car obviously intends violence.

    Would I have the presence of mind to stop when he didn’t let go? I don’t know. I’d probably be panicked at that point.

    When I think of an angry stranger with his hand on my car door, I think of the people who tore the truck driver out of his truck and nearly beat him to death during the L.A. riots. I think of the young women on college campuses who are approached by so-called police and, as soon as they unlock their doors, are dragged out and raped. I think of the rash of carjackings, over now but terrifying then, of people dragged out of their cars and shot.

    If Bryant were a U.S. politician, his career would be bruised but not beaten. His reaction was extreme, but it was what we are actually told to do if someone is trying to get into our cars. (If someone manages to get in the car, and you’re driving, you’re supposed to crash.) Maybe Bryant’s time at Harvard is what made him more likely to expect extreme violence from others than the average Canadian, if that is truly the case. I can’t help thinking that his initial reaction may have saved his, and his wife’s, life.

  2. clio_1
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 10:26:50

    Ouch. I know that if an angry man tried to get into my car while I was driving — I’d hit the gas too. It would be reflex. What was Sheppard trying to do? A man who bangs on the hood and then tries to open the driver-side door of a car obviously intends violence.

    Would I have the presence of mind to stop when he didn’t let go? I don’t know. I’d probably be panicked at that point.

    When I think of an angry stranger with his hand on my car door, I think of the people who tore the truck driver out of his truck and nearly beat him to death during the L.A. riots. I think of the young women on college campuses who are approached by so-called police and, as soon as they unlock their doors, are dragged out and raped. I think of the rash of carjackings, over now but terrifying then, of people dragged out of their cars and shot.

    If Bryant were a U.S. politician, his career would be bruised but not beaten. His reaction was extreme, but it was what we are actually told to do if someone is trying to get into our cars. (If someone manages to get in the car, and you’re driving, you’re supposed to crash.) Maybe Bryant’s time at Harvard is what made him more likely to expect extreme violence from others than the average Canadian, if that is truly the case. I can’t help thinking that his initial reaction may have saved his, and his wife’s, life.

  3. Trackback: clio_1

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