Well, here we go again. Another story about a dead cyclist, another round of victim blaming.
Just over a month ago, I posted a critique of local news coverage about a drunk driver who killed a bike commuter. I argued that the news media took pains to affirm that the dead cyclist did not deserve to die by reporting that he was “careful” and wore protective equipment (lights and helmet). Headlines such as “Bicyclist fatally run over was new to Minneapolis, careful about bike safety” reminded some readers of the problematic rhetoric that media use when discussing sexual assault: “Woman raped was new to Minneapolis, careful about sexual assault.”
A victim of violence and their precautionary behavior is not relevant to these stories. What is relevant is the violence. By reaffirming that these victims were attempting to be “safe,” it then creates a dichotomy to those who are not “safe.” If a victim was not attempting to be safe, then how will their situation be read? And at the very least, who gets to define what is “safe”?