The following 250-word letter was sent to The Hamilton Spectator on June 19, 2018. It was not printed, but I have reproduced it here for anyone to read if they like.
The letter was written in response to this article, which I believed was a controversy created and perpetuated by the newspaper and unfairly painted a city councillor as a sexist.
I would like to register my disappointment and frustration on three aspects of The Spectator’s coverage of this issue.
First, the “social media grenade”, as it was called in Mr. Van Dongen’s article, was one of his own making; he was the person who posted the original tweet. Reporters should not be creating controversy, then reporting on it as though it had spontaneously happened. I believe the way this matter has been characterized by The Spectator is disingenuous, and strays closer to tabloid reporting than journalism.
Second, characterizing cycling as a feminist issue infantilizes women and insults their agency. Suggesting women are timid maidens who cannot use bike lanes without special accommodation is a betrayal of the thousands of heroic first- and second-wave feminists who fought for equal respect and consideration.
Third, the outrage over Councillor Ferguson’s question is part of a growing problem on the political left, where “progressives” compete to make the largest mountain out of the smallest molehill. Councillor Ferguson was asking a question to develop an understanding of an issue, which is his job.
For the record, in the two years that I have become acquainted with Councillor Ferguson through various volunteer activities, I have NEVER seen him act disrespectfully or dismissively towards a woman. Not once. To level accusations of sexism based on a question about sundresses is profoundly unkind, and for The Spectator to provoke – and then give credence to – these accusations is reprehensible.
Get off your high horses, and ride your bikes instead.