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  1. #1
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    A double-take on the double-standard

    Whenever I bicycle over an expressway, I notice that the expressway is in one of two conditions. Either it is in a traffic jam, or just about every motorist is breaking the speed limit law. (To paraphrase Andy Dreisch, motorists "are only out for the lawlessness of it.") A motor vehicle breaking the speed limit is a deadly weapon -- 2 tons of steel or more impacting at 70 or 80 miles per hour can be lethal.

    If you are driving a car, the surest way to annoy the motorist behind you is to obey the law. If you go at or below the speed limit, the person behind you will get enraged because you are interfering with their ability to break the speed limit law.

    While Critical Mass may not be for all cyclists, I find some of the criticisms of Critical Mass on this board to be puzzling. Motor vehicle culture is a culture of lawlessness - constant speed limit violations, constant violations of anti-cell phone laws, lying to police officers to try to get out of tickets, and DUI. So when a critic of CM says that a motorist will learn to hate all cyclists because of Critical Mass' "lawlessness", I'm left to wonder if the corrolary is true: will motorists learn to hate all other motorists because of the lawlessness of motorists? Are motorists' rights being set back by the 50,000 car fatalities per year? Will legislators move to restrict the use of motor vehicles on public roads?

    If a motorist gets enraged when he is behind a group of bicycles, there's a good chance that the reason he is enraged is that the bicycles are getting in the way of him breaking the speed limit law.

    A single SUV can break far more laws and be far more dangerous than 50 cyclists can. The SUV can break the speed limit law effortlessly whereas it's difficult for the group of cyclists to break the speed limit on many roads. An SUV driver can run down a cyclist off the road and kill them. A cyclist cannot run an SUV driver off the road and kill them.

    If I were on an expressway with 800 cars, about 90% would be breaking the speed limit (assuming that there's no traffic jam) and the consequence of this lawless behavior can be to maim or kill people. On the other hand,I've been in Critical mass rides with 800 riders, and I've never seen more than maybe half a dozen riders being unruly. I don't condone their unruliness, but their behavior isn't going to maim or kill anyone.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

  2. #2
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Good points. Thanks!

  3. #3
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Motor vehicle culture is a culture of lawlessness - constant speed limit violations, constant violations of anti-cell phone laws, lying to police officers to try to get out of tickets, and DUI.
    that is so true... people seem fine to discount or break the laws in a car (speeding, rolling stop-sign, cell phone usage), but when a single cyclist breaks a law it's "that lawless fool!! making us all unsafe!" etc. --- i think double-standard is the right term.
    why drive when you can ride?
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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    A cyclist cannot run an SUV driver off the road and kill them.
    Maybe we need to change the design of bikes - a new species called "killer bikes," so that this actually can happen.

    Would bicyclists get more respect?

    Would SUV drivers drive more carefully.

    Actually, it is not speed that bothers me as a driver of a car - which is where the police seem to put their emphasis - but reckless drivers and especially tailgaters. You can not imagine the number of devices I have invented in my mind to "take care of" a tailgater.

    Good points, Vicious Cycle.

  5. #5
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    In many ways our society has a more or less universal double standard.

    Standards as they apply to me - Standards as they apply to everyone else.

    This is especially true when trying to place responsibility.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  6. #6
    edk
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    IMO, your points/post are everything thats wrong with CM.

    The constant justification that what you do it right becuase someone else is doing something more wrong is immature. It comes across as 'holy-er than thou'.

    I agree with the goal of CM, I diagree with the tactics. I especially don't like the press that CM generates, it is very often focused on the wrong thing -- not CMs fault, but the media isn't interested lofty righteous goals and ideals -- they want a sotry and they want to stir up emotions. In this regard CM fuels the fire.

    I think your double standard argument is a reach and predicated on shaky logic. I don't consider myself, or others, lawless becuase I drive a car marginally over the speed limit.
    Last edited by edk; 11-25-02 at 11:39 AM.

  7. #7
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    Originally posted by edk
    I especially don't like the press that CM generates, it is very often focused on the wrong thing
    Last December, the Chicago Tribune interviewed Critical Massers to do a positive article on winter cycling, and a local news channel did the same thing. Last January, the Chicago Journal did a positive article on the annual CM ride to the Baby Doll Polka Club. A few months ago, the Chicago Reader did an article describing one masser's efforts to lobby for improved safety on metal grate bridges. There have also been good articles in various newspapers on our annual Chicago conference. Locally, I've seen media coverage give a positive portrayal and can't imagine how any of this could be detrimental to cycling. (And given how heavily automobile advertisers influence the contents of local newspapers and TV stations, I was quite surprised to see all of this cycling-positive coverage.)

    Originally posted by edk
    The constant justification that what you do it [sic] right becuase [sic] someone else is doing something more wrong is immature. It comes across as 'holy-er [sic] than thou'.
    It's not immature to stand up to unfair accusations. The whole blanket statement of "lawlessness" is questionable. In some cities, Critical Mass rides register as a parade or march; in other cities, the parades are more unofficial, on the order of the unofficial car parades that always seem to happen after a particular sports team wins a big game. When I'm on a Critical Mass ride, I'm willing to go along with what a traffic cop or a bicycle cop wants done in order to direct the flow of the parade. How this amounts to "lawlessness" is mysterious to me.

    In June, I saw one rider do something particularly stupid and illegal, and he was arrested instantly by the police. The other riders and I were glad to see this rider gone from the ride. So I will grant that there is the occasional "lawless" person who joins in on the ride, but the police know how to deal with such individuals, leaving the rest of us to get back to a pleasant bicycle ride. And I will grant that masses in different cities have different personalities -- the Chicago Critical Mass is a love affair with the city. (Once while visiting the suburbs, I encountered a one-time Critical Mass organized by some local suburban students, and the ride seemed uninspired.) It's possible that I might go to another city and find that I dislike that city's Critical Mass just as strongly as I like my local Critical Mass. But to paint all Critical Masses as bad for cycling is unfair.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

  8. #8
    edk
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    Good examples of good rides. the lawless comment was referring to your comment on the general state of the highways and drivers.

    BTW, thanks for editing the quotes. I'll be sure and type better next time so you won't waste any more engery having to clean up the quotes...

    ed
    Last edited by edk; 11-25-02 at 06:41 PM.

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    Motorists and I have little problem with one another. They do their thing and I do mine. (Actually, I do both "things".)

    I have yet to encounter a serious situation in over 6 years of serious bike-commuting. Mine is a world of peaceful coexistence. Yet I am aggressive in my riding, assert myself, and take no crap. I ride on terribly bad roads in not-so-grand neighborhoods with the full regiment of genetically awful drivers. Based on what I read on the "Commuting" exchange, I'd say mine is among the top 10% of crappy commutes. If anybody should hate motorists it should be me.

    Nevertheless, I frankly do no understand the angst many on this board and particularly the CMers feel towards motorists.

    I believe CMers engage in lawlessness as a group. I believe it's part of the "gig" that is CM. I believe CM is intended to incite. Exactly what it incites is where we part company. I think it incites rage in otherwise placid motorists, which I believe endangers me.

    CMers think it incites governmental bodies to improve the biker's condition. I don't buy that for a second. I'd like to see concrete, documented proof of the beneficial affect of CM.

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    I've never participated in a CM, but I'm curious what specific acts comitted by the participating riders are "lawless". Surely not merely riding on the road as a group, as long as traffic laws are obeyed?

  11. #11
    It's in my blood Pete Clark's Avatar
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    Cyclists and motorists could coexist peacefully and safely, if only motorists would obey the laws as they swore to when they applied for their licenses.

    I've never known a bicycist to hurt a motorist. But motorists run down cyclists (by the hundreds) pedestrians (by the thousands) and each other (by the tens of thousands) every year.

    Yes, there is a "double standard." Doubly hypocritical.

    Still, many motorists give me courtesy and a wide berth when passing. I have no complaint with them.

    But I don't ignore the evil, dangerous driving of ignorant people.
    Next in line

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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch
    Motorists and I have little problem with one another. I have yet to encounter a serious situation in over 6 years of serious bike-commuting. Mine is a world of peaceful coexistence. I believe CM is intended to incite. I think it incites rage in otherwise placid motorists, which I believe endangers me.
    Call me confused. You say that your life is currently ENDANGERED by enraged motorists (who have apparently been driven over the edge by CM), while you simultaneously claim to have a peaceful, PROBLEM-FREE co-existence with these same motorists?


    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch
    I believe CMers engage in lawlessness as a group.
    Critical Massers shot JFK. The CIA have covered up the truth about all of the bicycles that were in Washington that day. Critical Massers are all illumanitis, the highest order of the secret inner ring of the Freemasons. Critical Mass is responsible for the flouride that's in our drinking water, and the the secret experiments done in connection with this. Critical Mass is also responsible for the spread of Mad Cow's disease as well as the fact that the pop machine just ate your quarter.

  13. #13
    Love Me....Love My Bike! aerobat's Avatar
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    Originally posted by ViciousCycle

    If a motorist gets enraged when he is behind a group of bicycles, there's a good chance that the reason he is enraged is that the bicycles are getting in the way of him breaking the speed limit law.
    I'd say that he is enraged because he can't even do the speed limit, let alone break it.
    "...perhaps the world needs a little more Canada" - Jean Chretian, 2003.

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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch
    I believe CM is intended to incite. Exactly what it incites is where we part company.
    There's a Mass bike pool in my neighborhood that I ride with to get to/from work. I have been part of this pool for a few months now, and I have yet to see any motorists get incited with rage. And I certainly wouldn't call this Mass bike pool lawless, unless riding a bicycle is a crime.

    In contrast to Mass, I checked out some local bike clubs and they seemed mainly interested in lycra gods and lycra goddess who could pedal at a gazillion miles per hour. These bike clubs just seemed irrelevant to my life, because I have no need for a lycra pantheon. I took a class from a Masser and learned how to adjust my brakes, derailleurs, etc. I hung around a Masser who's a lawyer and learned a lot about local and state statutes with regards to cycling. The lycra gods all seem to disappear in mid-fall and do not show up for resurrection until spring, whereas I can always find Massers to cycle with, even in the dead of winter.

    Every bicycle club that I ever investigated has treated the bicycle like a piece of really expensive exercise equipment. Critical Mass treats the bicycle as transportation. Every bicycle club that I ever investigated seems to be ruled by the testesterone brigade. Critical Mass has commuter cyclists like me, using their bikes to get to work or run errands with. The bike clubs plan rides where you are expected to drive your car to remote starting locations, where Critical Mass plans events such that cyclists can ride to them. (I don't own a car, so the whole business of driving a car an hour or more to a distant location just to begin a bicycle ride is foreign to me.) Perhaps I've just had really rotten luck with bicycle clubs. I can't say that all bicycle clubs are this bad, but I do know that all Critical Masses are not the terrible things that users on this board want to portray them as. Saying that I as a transportatonal cyclist incite motorists to rage is like saying that I as a woman incite men to ****. Geez, when I was in college, netgeeks would feel free to hit on me if I ever used a user handle that remotely suggested a female name. And it appears that on these forums, I and others like me are made to sound like demons just for being CM'ers/transportational cyclists. I'm suddenly reminded of why I've spent so little time online since college........
    Last edited by Wheeeeee; 11-26-02 at 06:02 AM.

  15. #15
    Bring the tech Ajay213's Avatar
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    If a motorist gets enraged when he is behind a group of bicycles, there's a good chance that the reason he is enraged is that the bicycles are getting in the way of him breaking the speed limit law.
    So it's ok for a cyclist to impede the flow of traffic (which is against the law) because hey - we have a right to the road to (but obviously the laws of the road don't apply to the cyclist), but not ok for a motorist to drive a few mph over the speed limit. You picked a most excellent title for the thread.

    A single SUV can break far more laws and be far more dangerous than 50 cyclists can. The SUV can break the speed limit law effortlessly whereas it's difficult for the group of cyclists to break the speed limit on many roads. An SUV driver can run down a cyclist off the road and kill them. A cyclist cannot run an SUV driver off the road and kill them.
    A group of 50 cyclists can break many more laws than a single SUV. Face it if 50 cyclists run through a stop sign that's 50 people breaking the law, the SUV driver did it once. I'll give you the speed limit part, but I've seen plenty of groups of people on bikes using up most of the lane not riding the speed limit which is just as much against the law as going to fast. And yes a cyclist can run a car off the road just as easily as the other way around. Because most people will try and swerve to avoid the said cyclist if they do something stupid, which can lead to the motorist going off the road.

    I'm a cyclist just like most everybody here, but a little perspective can shed a bit more light on everything. There are idiotic drivers out there for sure, just as their are idiotic people on bikes, our perspective get's skewed though because even if you ride in a group of 50 people you'll probably get passed by 300+ cars during a morning ride, a few of which will be idiots but that certainly doesn't mean all of them are.

    Andrew

  16. #16
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    So it's ok for a cyclist to impede the flow of traffic (which is against the law)
    laws very from state to state for "slow-moving vehicles"...

    usually it's something like California's law where they are required to use a designated slow-vehicle lane and/or proivde space for others to pass if more than 6 vehicles are stacked up behind.

    other states have no specific rules, and for many the "slow-vechicle" rules are all made with farm equipment in mind with bicycles as an afterthought.

    yes, on controlled freeways there is a minimum speed limit, but for most normal roads it may not even be illegal to "impede the flow of traffic" -- again this varies greatly from state to state.

    some states do have specific rules that state that groups of bicycle riders must ride single-file. in these states CM is probably breaking this law...

    in Oregon cyclists are allowed to ride 2-abreast with some kind of provision that they allow others to pass when they are not able to in a timely fashion -- this means that if they have to wait a minute or so and then pass then that's OK, not that they should be able to pass without ever slowing down... i don't remember exactly, but i think in Oregon there is also some provision that makes it legal for groups of cyclists to take an entire lane or lanes - even if they are travelling well below the speed of "the flow of traffic"
    why drive when you can ride?
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  17. #17
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    The monthly bike parade ("the Critical Mass ride") is the least important part of Critical Mass to me. If my schedule were to change such that I could never make it to another bike parade I would still remain involved in the local Critical Mass and look for new opportunities. The annual art show is always fun. The workshops and classes are nice to be involved in, albeit time-consuming to coordinate. The Happy Hours are nice, a chance to just kick back and socialize. The CM monthly newsletter, the 2002 CCM mix CD, the annual calendar, and the silly bike stickers are nice. If I were female, I'd probably get involved in Cycling Sisters, a Critical Mass group that has female cyclists helping one another out. And Massers often plan spur-of-the-moment rides to plays, parks, snowball fights, scavenger hunts, etc. that are both law-abiding and a nice way to meet people. I'm not saying that all of this is perfect (the Pedal' Poetry open-mike night, for example, can sometimes produce some pretty bad poetry.) But we hurt no one, break no laws, and have a good time when we do these things.

    Ultimately, the name doesn't matter. If I had attributed all of the above things to a bicycle club instead of "Critical Mass" perhaps users would have reacted completely differently. It's funny how people get so hung up on names. Well, of course, I'm guilty of this charge too. I've wasted energy on here defending "Critical Mass", when in fact what I'm actually defending is a loose network of Chicago bicyclists who have a deep passion for bicycles. Whether or not you like the name "Critical Mass" or hate the name "Critical Mass": ENJOY YOUR BIKES!
    Last edited by ViciousCycle; 11-26-02 at 10:42 AM.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

  18. #18
    Bring the tech Ajay213's Avatar
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    In Florida there is an "impede the flow of traffic" law on the books, but it's pretty vague. Also the cycling laws are pretty well defined.

    Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.

    pulled from http://www.flsenate.gov/Statutes/ind...16/Sec2065.HTM

    So basically you can't impede traffic on a bike in Florida. You can ride 2 abreast as long as you don't impede traffic. There's nothing about having X amount of cars behind you or anything like that, etc. You have to ride on the very most right of the street, none of this "I can't ride in the designated bike path of the rode cause it's dirty". Now if you can ride the speed limit, then there is no problem, you can ride in the middle of the lane if you want, and there is nothing that can be done to you legally.

    Anyways, the point is that to talk about double standards with motorists is fine but to make the rash generalization that motor vehicle culture is a culture of lawlessness is going WAY over the top. Because I see lots of cyclists that break every law they can find as well, rolling through stop signs/red lights, not following the rules of the road, not signaling, etc, etc.

    And I don't care what you call it, critical mass or a bike club or whatever you want, to make such a total BS generalization is incredibly unfair to a lot of people, especially considering we all have to fight to beat the stereotypes of ignorant/idiot cyclists we should know better than to be part of the double standard.

    Andrew
    Last edited by Ajay213; 11-26-02 at 10:24 AM.

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    Originally posted by Pete Clark
    ...I've never known a bicycist to hurt a motorist. But motorists run down cyclists (by the hundreds) pedestrians (by the thousands) and each other (by the tens of thousands) every year. ...
    BREAKING NEWS: Cars are bigger and heavier than bicyclists.

    Better to acknowledge this fact of life and deal with it than pretend that we can change this law ... of physics.

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    Originally posted by Wheeeeee
    Call me confused. You say that your life is currently ENDANGERED by enraged motorists (who have apparently been driven over the edge by CM), while you simultaneously claim to have a peaceful, PROBLEM-FREE co-existence with these same motorists?
    You are confused.

    Why can't both be true: that I have yet to encounter any serious consequences but believe at the same time that motorists think less of me after having read the papers about a mass of cyclists flagrantly violating the law, which I believe does endanger my life?

    Do you need a lesson in logic? Is this so hard to understand?

    Also, when you quote me, quote me directly. Don't add words, like PROBLEM-FREE. If you care to notice, I never said problem-free, now did I?

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    Here in DC, there is no "Critical Mass" ride for cyclists, just a "Solidarity Ride" (whatever that is). However, twice a day, cagers take to the streets in a "Critical Mass" of their own, often effectively shutting down all major travel routes for hours at a stretch. It's called "Rush Hour" What a Mass ride does for a region of a few blocks, they do to a 20 mile diameter metro region.

    Maybe they should all get "I'm not blocking traffic -- I am traffic!" bumperstickers.

    Paul

  22. #22
    edk
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    VC - Those things sound very warm and fuzzy, good stuff. BUT - the traffic stopping rides are the thing that CM is noted for by the mainstream.

    I think if you mentioned in Texas or Wash. that you are a member of CM they wouldn't ask you how was the poetry reading last night....

    Someone else hit the nail on the head. The motorsits don't become enraged because they can't "break" the speed limit when stuck in a CM 'ride', they get pissed because they can even GO the speed limit.

    Anywhere bikers are intentiaonlly annoying motorists is a place I won't be. Any group that makes that a part of thier routine (annually or otherwise) is a group I won't belong to.

    ed

  23. #23
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Ajay213
    but to make the rash generalization that motor vehicle culture is a culture of lawlessness is going WAY over the top.
    And I don't care what you call it... to make such a total BS generalization is incredibly unfair to a lot of people
    Ajay213, I was parodying another user who called my 'bike club' (whatever) a culture of "lawlessness." If my parody sounded too dead-pan, I apologize. (I've just known too many people (non-cyclists) killed or nearly killed by recklessly speeding drivers. )

    I am probably done with logging on here for good. While I have described many things in my local 'bike club' that are legal, safe, fun, beneficial to cycling, and that generate positive local press coverage, I keep getting told that I am endangering Andy Dreisch's life and that apparently things like art shows, happy hours, workshops, and bike stickers are lawless. But I'd much rather help set up the next art show or go to the next happy hour than sit around in cyberspace. Bye.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

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    when riding in heavy traffic you have to strike a balance between submisive & assertive, moving up or down the scale continiously as conditions change. eg. theres a limit to how assertive you can be with a missceant logging truck unless you have a real death wish ! its all a matter of common sense realy & an accute sense of survivial, some days it like competing in an Xtreme sport.
    :D
    dont worry be happy ????

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    Originally posted by Ajay213

    A group of 50 cyclists can break many more laws than a single SUV.
    The SUV driver can commit vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter, and a whole slew of lesser laws that simply don't apply to a bicycle (emissions law violations, toll scofflawing, handicapped parking violations, not having seatbelts to protesct the passengers, etc.) There are more laws possible for the SUV driver to break, and more laws possible for the SUV driver to break that have serious consequences. A cyclist might break a small number of laws multiple times, but it is simply not possible for a cyclist to break many more laws.

    The SOB Explorer who killed my brother was doing 'just a little speeding' when he rammed Keith's motorcycle. On the other hand, if a cyclist gets into an accident through their own fault, the only person who typically gets injured is themselves.

    By the way, Andy Dreisch, I have just two comments for you:
    (1) If you have an issue with stoplight/stop sign violations, just refer to them as stoplight/stop sign violations, and don't use a vague loaded word like "lawlessness."
    (2) If I told my mother that I had a boyfriend that was endangering me and with whom I peacefully co-exist, she would be alarmed and assumed I was in some abusive relationship. You say that it is logical to feel both endangerment and peaceful co-existence with someone simultaneously. That's not logic; it's just contradiction.

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