Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

I say left wasn't right, but how do you judge it?

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Get ready to slip into your black robes and bang your gavel, because it's time for another instalment of You Be The Judge.

Today's troubling and divisive legal question is this: Who was the bigger idiot?

Here are the facts of the case: It was a lovely afternoon and a middle-aged, overweight newspaper columnist whose name escapes me was walking one of his dogs -- the small, white one that looks like some manner of experimental sheep -- along a path in the park.

Let me stress here in a legal manner that the columnist and his canine companion were strolling along the extreme left edge of the path.

For those of you who have ever walked a dog in a modern park environment, you will know that cyclists typically zoom by pedestrians on one side or the other, often without any verbal warning.

Sometimes, however, they will shriek to indicate which side they are approaching on.

In this case, as the columnist and his dog were walking (and I will now engage the caps-lock feature of this computer to stress precisely where they were walking) ON THE EXTREME LEFT EDGE OF THE PATH, a cyclist roared up behind them and shouted: "ON YOUR LEFT!"

This did not make much sense to the columnist (or his dog) because, as I may have mentioned already, they were on the LEFT edge of the path and if the cyclist tried to pass on the LEFT, he would most likely slam into a wall of trees on the LEFT.

So both columnist and dog politely stepped off the left edge of the path, meaning they were now entirely off the path and standing in the tree line, giving the cyclist the entire path on which to pass.

What happened next was they heard a loud SCREECH behind them as the cyclist braked to a horrifyingly abrupt and loud halt, nearly toppling over.

The columnist looked back at the cyclist and muttered, "Sorry," even though "sorry" wasn't what he was thinking. He was thinking the cyclist was a bit of a blockhead, because the entire (bad word) path had been empty.

The cyclist had a different legal view. "I said I was on your LEFT!" he groused.

The quick-witted columnist instantly replied: "Um, you know..." and made a frowny face, which prompted the cyclist to climb back on his bike and air his opinion, which we will paraphrase as follows: "I said blah blah was on your LEFT blah blah blah why don't you blah blah blah what kind of blah blah and your little dog, too!"

This is when the calm, cheerful columnist forgot all about being a calm, cheerful columnist and decided to share with the cyclist a few words that normally do not appear in a family newspaper. We will summarize the thrust of his intemperate gist as follows:

"You know what? BLEEP you! Why the BLEEP don't you go BLEEP BLEEP yourself and take your BLEEP BLEEP bike and BLEEP it where the BLEEP BLEEP don't shine BLEEP!"

With that, they all stormed off, except for the dog, who had been oblivious to the disagreement because he was too busy happily making weewee on everything in sight.

OK! You be the judge. Who was the bigger idiot? Should the columnist and his dog have tried to scuttle blindly across the entire path to the other (right) side? Or should the cyclist have just ridden by them, considering the entire path was wide open?

Feel free to let your thoughts wander in any direction you choose down the path of justice, keeping in mind that if you veer to the left, I will bleeping bleep at you!

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2013 A2

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