Ken Schwartz’s recent letter, in which he compared bicycle traffic to “urban rape,” is the catalyst for this letter, but all of us can embrace the lesson: We have grown too comfortable with trivializing and co-opting the suffering of others in order to make a point.
I cringe every time I read or overhear someone hyperbolically invoke Hitler, or slavery, or fascism — something that occurs quite often right here among letters to the editor. Mr. Schwartz’s invocation of rape solicited the same response in myself, and I’m sure many others.
At best, his was a clumsy attempt to drive home his point. I invite him to reconsider his message, in light of the severity of suffering he’s leveraging to communicate his displeasure. We should always be willing to extend others the opportunity of clarifying themselves, as we all miss the mark from time to time.
Going forward we would all do well to pause before daring to compare our ideological opponents to Hitler, or rapists. The suffering of others is not ours for the taking, and we owe it to each other not to trivialize human pain for our own gain.
Melissa Jenna Godsey, San Luis Obispo
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