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.
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.
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.
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.