i just PM'ed this to someone, and i've decided it's one of the only worthwhile things i've said in some time, so i'm posting it here, also.
"i've come across you anti-critical mass postings. after a lot of thought, i agree with you completely. it's a bad idea. there are better ways to support cycling. Critical Mass is the Fahrenheit 9/11 of the cycling world. the only thing it's going to accomplish is make the proponents happy they're pissing off the opponents, and make the opponents even madder. You catch more flys with honey. While I understand the basis of critical mass, i disagree with the execution. There are much better alternatives."
I agree that the way motorist's treat cyclists is often bad, and that we need to do everything we can about supporting cycling as a viable form of transportation (especially in a city like Chicago that has a more than adequate system of public transportation. GET OUT OF THE CAR!), but there have to be better, more appropriate ways of raising awareness.
What if all the CTA bus drivers decided that in order to promote public transit, once a month they would drive 500 busses into the downtown area, group together, and hold up traffic so they can go through red lights and disrupt automobile traffic for an hour. It's almost the same thing.
that being said, i still respect participants of the Critical Mass. I just won't ever do it myself. I'll be looking into alternative forms of cycling advocacy.