Big Brother really is watching us all lately, but, with apologies to George Orwell, it seems to be not all bad. Edward Snowden’s revelations notwithstanding, and unless the person surveilling is about to launch a drone strike at your hovel, the fact that there’s an eye in the sky wherever you go seems to be a good thing for most of us most of the time here in the First World. When I started seeing other motorcyclists around town with GoPros on their helmets all the time I thought it was a little silly, a bit self-absorbed. But when I saw the aptly named William Crum knock these two kids off their motorcycle in Texas last week, it suddenly made perfect sense.

Public Enemy Number One

Without his buddy’s video, this would’ve been another run-of-the-mill he-said she-said insurance company battle where the old s.o.b. would’ve walked away with another gouge on his fender and the kid on the bike would’ve gotten nothing but an enormous hospital bill and an ex-girlfriend. With the video making it clear Crum intentionally rammed the motorcycle, and the outrage it sparked among even the non-motorcycle riding public, Mr. Crum is looking at some well-deserved time behind bars and the swervees can expect a fair shake from his insurance company. If he has one. Could Easy Rider have had a happy ending if Dennis Hopper had been wearing a camera? Could it have been a message of hope and fair play instead of a drawn-out rail against injustice and inhumanity that might’ve ended the Vietnam war sooner?

Then there’s this nut, who walks up and assaults a kid and his girl on their bike at an intersection. If you tried to describe this guy’s behavior in court, who’d no doubt be calmly sitting there in an expensive suit and tasseled loafers, nobody would believe you.

Other things I might joke about, if my imagination were vivid enough, seem to pop onto my homepage in video form about once a week. You wouldn’t be able to imagine this stuff in your wickedest Monty Python dreams. Apparently it’s routine for Texas police to conduct roadside body cavity searches for marijuana, where this Washington Post story tells us you need to be packing four ounces for it to be more than a misdemeanor. As I recall, that’s a lot of weed to have up oneself, and a lot of trouble for a cop to go through to write you a ticket. If this happened to somebody I cared about, I’d be dialing up Gloria Allred instantly. In the abstract, it’s hard not to laugh, like something out of an old Porky’s movie, as the chubby matron snaps the rubber glove into place.

Anyway, I think body cameras on our peace officers is one of the biggest steps toward liberty and justice for all since habeas corpus, beneficial for the defense of good, law-abiding officers – which by far most are – and for the public. I can think of at least one roadside encounter where I’m pretty sure the officer’s attitude might’ve been way different if cameras were rolling – and I’m a respectable middle-aged caucasian guy in the middle of a beautiful day in a neighborhood where the most serious crime is not picking up after your golden retriever Buffy.

When we come to the instant replay in sports, though, I almost wish they’d throw the cameras out along with the traction control they threw out on Formula 1 cars. Football is the worst; let’s replay that was-it-a-touchdown? ten times to see if he broke the plane of the End Zone before his knee touched down, but first some more beer and Viagra commercials. Five minutes later, YES he did! Game over. Gee, that was climactic. Exit through the gift shop.

Baseball, too. Now that it’s World Series time, there’ll be let’s see, six, count `em SIX highly trained umpires on the field, but on every play that’s close, they’ll all be overruled by the instant replay. The whole point of baseball is standing around 95% of the time making Helen Keller cracks at the umpires. Once that’s gone from the game, what’s left? When it comes to sports, let’s let the referees ref and the umpires ump. They’re just as blind for both sides. Aren’t they? Outrage over miscarriages of justice and human foibles are two of the glues that bond sports fans. How many of us can never really be Pedrosa fans after he knocked our boy Hayden down that year? We only don’t despise him because Nick won the championship anyway.

Which brings me to my point. If we hadn’t had the ability to watch the Rossi/Marquez Seventh Lap Sepang battle from eight different angles in super slo-mo, would it have just passed on by as a racing incident? By my count, with a little help from MO’s GP analyst Bruce Allen, that’s the third time this season Marquez has rammed into the back of Rossi, and there was no penalty for either rider in the first two. After crashing into the back of Rossi and out of the Argentinian GP in April, Marquez admitted, “I have a lot of lessons to learn.”

By Assen, at the end of June, he hadn’t learned much. This time he bumped Rossi off the track in the final corner, who cut across the gravel and took the win anyway. Again, there was controversy. This time, race direction took Rossi’s side, correctly reasoning that since Rossi had been ahead of Marquez when Rossi was bumped off, he gained no position and the victory would stand. If Rossi’d crashed in that gravel instead of manfully roosting through it, it would’ve been only a slightly dirty move on Marquez’s part, and no more than Rossi’s dealt out to others over the course of his career. I’m okay with that.

Rossi gravel trap

Another reason I love Rossi best is I bet you 50 bucks he personally pre-inspected the traction of that Assen gravel bed.

But it’s one thing to come into a corner hot and semi-unintentionally bump a guy from the inside (sorry, David Booth), quite another to ram people from the outside and behind like Marquez seems to enjoy doing, like a bird trying to fly through a plate glass window except that it’s not really the bird’s fault since windows are transparent. We first observed this strange, self-defeating behavior a couple of years ago at the big Superprestigio in Barcelona, when Marquez seemed unable to process that US Flat Track Champ Brad Baker was not only inside him, but also in the lead and quite a bit larger. Marquez kept bumping Baker anyway, right up until Marquez fell over.

To me, the small Spaniard appears to have some kind of martyr complex, defined as “seeking out suffering or persecution because it either feeds a psychological need, or a desire to avoid responsibility.”

Was Rossi wrong to check up at Sepang? Absolutely. Did Marquez need to ram into the back of him as a result, and was it Rossi’s intent that he do so and crash? Clearly not. Rossi and his motorcycle were directly in Marquez’s intended direction and line of sight. Marquez could not have not seen the nine-time champ there in front of him, glaring back at him in fact, on what was obviously not the same line and speed as all previous laps, not to mention he had to have heard that Rossi was not on the gas as usual (MotoGP bikes are not quiet when you’re right behind one); at that instant, Marquez decided the right thing to do was crank on the gas and ram Rossi midships. It worked! Did you all see what that mean man did to me?! He, he KICKED me, mummy…

Except that Rossi did no such thing, as the video clearly shows.

Burns Repsol Hospitality

Y’know what? I’m kind of glad I ate your lunch now. (Look! He’s thinking about ramming me from behind here also.)

Instead of being a dramatic mid-race interlude for Nick and Julian to have simultaneous oralgasms about in the broadcasting booth, Marquez is the victim of the suddenly nasty old Rossi (how quickly they turn on you), and we’re all probably cheated out of a great season finale. After Marquez’s Phillip Island performance, where he harangued the good Doctor for most of the race before miraculously finding enough traction on the last lap to win the thing, I’m afraid I’m going to have to lump Marquez in with a short list of (mostly Spanish) racers I fear I’m never going to be able to get behind. Love is good, but at my age there’s also a lot of healthy nutrition to be derived from, well, hate’s too strong a word – strongish dislike. As we say on the interwebs, Just My Opinion.


  • JMDonald

    I also have a strong dislike for Mr. Marquez. May he have all the success he deserves. None in my book. The a$$hole in Texas needs to be corrected. He has a history of this type of behavior. May he find new love in prison.

    • spectralsarah

      Prison rape, and sexual assault in general, is not funny. It’s wrong and unjust. That you not only accept but condone it is absurd.

      • t_parsons

        No no. Mr Crum should indeed find his manlove in his new domicile. Attempted murder of a motorcycle rider and his wife is what is not funny. Valentines Day shall come early to Crum.

        • spectralsarah

          He’ll serve his time, however, “cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted. (Amendment VIII, US Constitution)”

          • Born to Ride

            His sentence doesn’t read “X years of bung hole pillaging and disparaging comments about his sanity” does it? Those are just welcome consequences for being a murderous road raging fool. Oops, I guess that was cruel and unusual. My bad.

          • Bruce Steever

            Get over yourself, Sarah.

            Attempted murderers deserve murder, in my book. Crum getting gauged by his new best friends? That sounds like he’s getting off lightly. (Well, his new best friends certainly will…)

          • spectralsarah

            If you’re really going for the “eye for an eye” angle, wouldn’t it be “attempted murderers deserve attempted murder”?

            Thankfully, your book is not the book of law, or we’d all be blind.

          • Bruce Steever

            A. Lighten up.

            B. There are many reasons why i’m not in charge. This is only one of them.

            C. “Eye for an eye” only covers results. I’m a bit more proactive, as I’m suggesting (in certain, limited circumstances) that we punish intent.

      • JMDonald

        At no time did I mention prison rape. You did however. You are the one who is absurd. If you are reading some kind of insinuation in my comment perhaps you need to get your mind out of the gutter. Ride safe.

        • spectralsarah

          “…find new love in prison” can mean one of two things: a consensual homosexual relationship, or a nonconsensual one. I think we all know you were not implying anything about Mr. Crum’s sexuality.

          • JMDonald

            It can mean a lot more than that. Actually, you know nothing. Like I said,ride safe.

          • t_parsons

            Wait a minute. I think you’re arguing with Mr Marquez. Careful. He’s testy.

          • JMDonald

            I think it’s Miss Marquez.

          • t_parsons

            LOL Oh yeah. I stand corrected.

    • Goose

      Mr. Donald you are, like Marquez, a punk. Your comment was moderately funny if not PC. Then you blow it by being too much of a wimp to defend your obvious meaning.

      Anyway, Great piece JB.

      • JMDonald

        Goose my good man only I know what my meaning was. If I had meant prison rape I would have said prison rape. Miss Sarah obviously fancies herself so intelligent so insightful that she magically knows what I meant to say. She like the other pedantic ingnoramuses of her ilk need to create false indignation to show how above it all they are. Mr Crum deserves more than just prison time. I could have wished him far worse but decorum of course prevented my mentioning it here. If a statement like mine is all it takes to offend her delicate sensibilities she should seriously think of getting some kind of professional help. I Sir am far from a punk and I don’t need to resort to name calling to defend my comments or make a point. I expected more from you Mr. Goose. Ride safe.

        • Goose

          You’re wore than a punk, you’re a troll. I’ll refrain from responding to your post in the future.

          • JMDonald

            Maybe you should proof read your comments before sending them. It shows your lack of acumen. I appreciate your offer of not responding to my comments in the future. It will make you seem more intelligent.

  • t_parsons

    Ha! You sir are my new favorite moto writer. I could have written this very article myself. I too thought the teletubbies on two wheels were silly egocentric motorcycle enthusiasts. However, after the “crummy” deal these two got during this moronic traffic incident, I too realized that the teletubbies wweren’t necessarily the self-centered people I assumed they were. After seeing this video, I decided to strap the well-known action camera to my helmet OK my next two-wheeled outing. I am proud to say I too am a teletubby now! If the ride goes well, the video gets deleted. If not, well hopefully the evidence tells the correct story. And as for that toddler Mark Marquez, you are spot on. He’s shown that he’s an immature punk and I must join you in the “will never support him” club. Good on you sir! ~ Travis

  • Old MOron

    How come we can’t up-vote a MOronic feature?
    Good on you, JB.

  • Luc emalle

    Xactly John. On the point since Cycle magazine…

  • Shlomi

    Right on. Very good writing. Interesting that in all 3 incidents with Rossi this season Rossi came up as the winner. Rossi been there did that …..

  • john phyyt

    Disagree entirely: In racing it is the easiest thing in the world to crash someone out; coming out of a corner; Cars and Bikes have specific rules to prevent people doing this intentionally because racing and safety would suffer:
    Next time you are at a track day; fly into a corner and stop at the apex then accelerate slowly on the racing line on the way out; If other competitors don’t beat you senseless you could perhaps explain that it is only racing. I agree it is all a spectrum but failing to accelerate on the racing line is dangerous , as per Rossi’s previous penalty:

    • Andre Capitao Melo

      Exactly. It baffles me that people fail to see that what Rossi did was illegal in every way you look at it.

    • mooner

      I was almost with you until you compared a track day to racing – at the highest level none the less. Try to perform a close, yet clean, no contact pass (like the ones that lead up to this incident) at a track day and you will be black flagged and done for the day.

      Oh, and at a track day the other riders are not competitors…

    • john burns

      well then you need to penalize Marquez also for getting in front of and brake-chekcing Rossi repeatedly. In fact, that’s why VR was so pissed off.

      “What Rossi said about Marquez deliberately slowing down the pace and affecting Rossi’s race also had some merit to it,” Mike Webb told reporters. The problem was that Márquez’s behavior is not illegal.

    • Old MOron

      “Cars and Bikes have specific rules to prevent people doing this intentionally because racing and safety would suffer”

      Fair enough. Please indicate which specific rule Rossi violated. I’ll get you started. Here’s a link to the official FIM regulations and documents:

  • hasty hughie

    Thank you Mr Burns. Rossi has been in many rough battles, he has been playing hard with other tough guys like Biaggi etc.( Stoner not on that list). Slowing and drifting was a great response to Marquez’s challenge, but a poor move on the rule book. Now he is paying hard. Marquez is out of contention this year and playing the spoiler to adjust the results and challenge Rossi to a personal showdown. Result Ross 3, Marquez 0. And smarmy Mark gets away as the victim. It is absurd. Rossi screwed up but he is no villain. Marquez is Eddy Haskell in leathers. We will wait for his turn under the bus with only a small amount of freudenschade. Lorenzo and Stoner can whine and dine together. Here’s to Pedrosa putting it together and going on a streak of championships!

  • John B.

    Insurance policies have an exclusion for intentional acts. As such, if, as you conclude, Mr. Crum “intentionally” crashed into the motorcyclists, Crum’s insurance carrier would not be obligated to pay the damages.

    As I understand the incident, Mr. Crum said a wasp stung him when the incident occurred. A judge or jury will decide that issue. If a wasp bite caused Crum to swerve and crash into the motorcyclists, Mr. Crum’s insurance policy would cover the motorcyclists claims. If he acted intentionally he has no insurance coverage for the incident. Were I the motorcyclists attorney, I would allege Crum acted negligently (not intentionally) in the pleadings, which would force Crum’s insurance carrier to provide Crum with insurance coverage and a defense (an attorney). I would also not file suit until after the criminal case has been resolved.

    In a criminal case, Mr. Crum has been charged with aggravated assault, a first degree felony with a range of punishment that includes 5-99 years or life in prison. In a criminal case, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Crum acted intentionally. Again, because Crum claims a wasp bite caused the crash, the video is not conclusive. Moreover, even if a judge or jury convicts Crum, he is eligible for probation if he has no previous felony convictions. In short, I am not as certain as you are that Crum will do time in prison or that Crum’s insurance will pay the motorcyclists’ damages.

    Note: It’s possible the criminal jury will determine Crum did not act intentionally and find him not guilty, while the civil jury in the potential insurance coverage case finds Crum acted intentionally and denies him insurance coverage for the motorcyclists damages. Such are the vagaries of our judicial system.

    As for Rossi and MM, neither is beyond reproach.

    Respectfully John, the issues discussed in this article are more complex and less clearcut than you depict. Cameras, provide additional evidence, but are not a panacea. Polygraph tests are the panacea you seek, but that’s a subject for another day.

  • Bruce Allen

    Re MM–all of the top riders, and most of the back markers, have initiated contact with other riders. 46, 99, 93, 26, 27, 69, etc. To me, it looked like Rossi invited Marquez to hit him, which Marquez gladly did. It is hard to believe that Rossi, at that moment, was more interested in throwing down with Marquez than with trying to secure a record-tying 10th world championship. And no, I’m not excusing 93 either. One could argue that a healthy number of 22 year-old men are highly capable of doing stupid, dangerous things. Nice piece, John.

  • Bravo J. Prurient Burns! BRAVO!

  • Tod Rafferty

    Valencia: Gonna be plenty of Spaniards in the works. Heard the plan is to let Marquez go to the front, where he can crash alone.

  • John B.

    Ironically, Mr. Crum may arrive at the Huntsville, Texas state pen at the same time bikers from the Twin Peaks – Waco, Texas biker brawl arrive. How do you think that crew will treat Mr. Crum?

    I was an assistant district attorney in Dallas early in my career and handle a few criminal cases every year mostly for the challenge. Rest assured, if Mr. Crum serves time in the Huntsville, TX state penitentiary he will be subjected to all kinds of violence and inhumane treatment. From experience, I can tell you at least ten percent of inmates are far more violent and depraved than you can imagine. That is to say, extended pen time for Mr. Crum would be tantamount to a death sentence.

    The Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment pertains to court ordered punishment. Punishment fellow prisoners impose rarely raises constitutional issues. If Crum gets to the pen he’s in for a rough time and likely a truncated life expectancy. I am not convinced he will get jail time however.

  • Tim

    Thank you John! I always enjoy your writings and this one is spot on, including never being able to “stand” Pedrosa…ever!

    • john burns

      Thanks Tim. Actually Pedrosa’s not so bad. When he took Nicky out, it was an honest trying-too-hard mistake. Stupid but honest. And after Sepang, he was a voice of reason. Google up David Emmett’s article if you’re not tired of the topic by now…

      • Old MOron

        I gained new respect for Pedrosa because of the way he spoke during the post-race press conference. I still like to playfully call him Pedrobot, but the man has my respect.

        David Emmett is one of the best when it comes to Moto GP, but sometimes I feel like he doesn’t want to say anything controversial because he fancies himself part of the Moto GP club. When the chips are down, he’s not going to rock the boat. He plays the game.

  • Jimmy Connors

    Again, the Brilliant Burns sums this up with experience, perception, wisdom and humor equal to our own Mark Twain of MotoJournalism. John.. I am 65 and have been riding now for over 50 years….. but…. you are NOT allowed to stop writing until I am dead and cold for at least 1 day.. PROMISE US!

    • john burns

      I love you man. Let’s hit the ball sometime, and regards to Bjorn Borg if you bump into him.

  • Phark

    Face it.. Rossi is to motorcycle racing what Dale Earnhardt was to NASCAR and what the Clinton crime syndicate is to american politics. Motocross racers have been doing $h1t to each other ala Rossi for decades. It is just that motocross tracks don’t have a million cameras on them and the riders know it. This incident would never have happened had officials nailed Rossi for Argentina. But as soon as you allow someone to believe they are above reproach once, you end up with

  • Starmag

    “the fact that there’s an eye in the sky wherever you go seems to be a
    good thing for most of us most of the time here in the First World.”

    Uh, no.

  • john burns

    So, Marquez admits he saw Rossi going slow, looking back at him, and while he was innocently riding behind him, Rossi reached out with his 6-foot leg of steel and knocked him down.

    Can you explain what happened with Valentino Rossi?
Marc Marquez: “Yeah of course you know for me it is easy to explain what happened because on the TV you can see clear. You can see in the video from many points, the helicopter, from in front. I was inside and of course we were overtaking for some laps but I felt I was able to be faster and to catch the front guys. But yeah, on that corner, corner 14, Valentino passed me. I heard the bike then I pick it up, but then I saw that he was completely straight and looking at me and stopping a lot. I was just waiting because there was nothing to do in that point and then I saw that with his leg he pushed my arm and my front brake and then I lock the front wheel and I crash.

  • John A. Stockman

    Marquez said Rossi hit his front brake lever and that’s why he went down. BS. The guard over the brake lever meant that Rossi would have to somehow kick it or hit it from underneath with his foot. Not possible at the angles they were on. I like both guys. I have watched every race in every class that each has been in. Rossi is eternal, Marquez has a different approach that I’m not quite able to get with. Either way, it still is the top-level of athletic talent anywhere. The heli view frame by frame was the clincher for me to decide the what/where/how and the conclusion I drew. Remember ball sport players and their fake fall-downs to look like they were done wrong? That was the first thing out of my mouth as my friends and I sat around watching the race at my house, “he took a dive!” is what I said. Way to dramatize a small hit. i watched Kenan Sofuoglu on one occasion in WSS actually kick another racer during a race. A hard kick and the other guy didn’t go down. i also saw him reach out and punch another competitor. Me, I think the penalty could have been metered out differently since it’s the last race of the season and the championship will be decided there. But you know what? Racers like that always look to the next race, period. Forget the past events, race your ass off. Anything can happen in a race. Lorenzo and/or Marquez could crash, maybe even with each other, so you show up, even if it’s in the last spot and you RACE your heart out. That’s the way it has to be. All this name-calling and disparaging/insulting another’s character or sexual orientation shows only how small the minds are that do that. Whatever is thought of it, the next race will be incredible. Let’s just go with that…great write-up Burns, thanks.

  • john burns
    • JMDonald

      This analysis is as good as it gets. I did not watch the race until it was over. I read a couple of write ups before seeing some of the video so it took a while for me to put together the 2+2 = 4 part. Here’s to Rossi winning the championship next week. Whatever the hell Marquez was doing he has lost me as a fan forever. Not that he would care.

  • john burns
  • andrew holobinko

    JB…..No one wanted to see the old man pull another championship off after years of so so effort than this old geezer. But bear with me on this. The first 7 laps of Valencia was arguably some of the best passing and re-passing ever seen in GP. Like their throttles were taped together. And admit it, when you tell a 2 times World Champion 21 year old he’s been sand bagging it, you might expect a little, shall we say, action next race? I agree that Rossi had every right to go wide and force Marquez to choose, but by rolling off the gas just when he should have been picking it up, that’s where I lose the plot. When you’re inches from the guy in front and both hammering it at the exact spot, the guy who rolls off is the eedgit, not the guy who couldn’t anticipate silly move. I never saw either one of those riders give more effort up to that point. Sadly for all of us, Rossi let a tantrum deny him of the championship. The fair thing to do would have been to strip Rossi of 3 points, cutting his lead to 4 points and making it a real shootout between him and Lorenzo. As for next season, if everyone wants to see boring clear off races and droning, let’s tell Marquez to stop passing and get in line like everyone else. Me, I’ll take the action and sometime controversy of Vale and Marc going at it full stop.