Bike Karen and the Bicycle Thieves
The Nonstory that Reveals Our Confirmation Bias
I don’t normally comment on this sort of stupid, sensationalistic, non-story but perhaps I should. They seem to be emblematic of so much of our culture.
The well-reported story of the “Bike Karen” goes as follows: a viral video showed a pregnant physician’s assistant struggling over a Citi bike, which are bicycles available to borrow for $4.49 for 30 minutes, with five young men. The woman claimed the bike was hers, and one of the men said the bike was his. In the video, each side claimed ownership of the bike, and that the other side was committing a robbery.
Initially, the video sparked an overwhelming amount of vitriol aimed at the woman which was almost entirely because she is white and the men are Black. The woman was doxxed. Her name and workplace were made public. A news crew recorded the outside of the building in which she lived. She was publicly shamed as a racist and a thief.
Black Conservative Perspective posted this video that documented some of it:
However, more recently, the story took a twist after the woman’s lawyer provided receipts to the media proving she had paid for the bike.
Needless to say, stuff got deleted with amazing speed, including this tweet from the famous race-baiting attorney Ben Crumb:
Obviously, the idea that an unarmed pregnant woman would try to steal a bike from five young men was ridiculous from the beginning. Shame on everyone who was immediately convinced of that, so much so that they doxxed her, got her investigated by her employers, and may have put her life in jeopardy. These are the people who continue to suffer from “Black Persecution Complex” and the race hustlers who exploit them.
But also shame on those who are now pushing the narrative that those men were trying to steal the bike themselves. For example, the popular YouTube channel “Actual Justice Warrior” -- where one can find the host making claims like “Emmett Till was not innocent!” -- is one of many sources that are now declaring unequivocally that the five men were robbing the woman, despite the supposed attempted theft being in broad daylight, in front of numerous witnesses, and occurring while being recorded. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, they were the ones who posted the video.
I’ve heard of bike thieves snatching unsecured bikes, snapping bicycle locks, or knocking riders off bikes to steal them, but I don’t know why anyone who would post a video of the theft. Of course, I was in high school, many years ago, the last time I had a bike stolen, despite me leaving it chained outside of a bowling alley, so maybe things have changed.
What hasn't changed, however, is how quickly our society gets pushed into racial camps after from a feathery brush to our confirmation bias. One side screams “Karen!” whenever a woman, particularly a white woman, voices any complaint, regardless of how justified that complaint may be; and the other side sees young Black men as criminals far too easily.
I think it is most reasonable to presume that it was a mix-up. People who rent Citi bikes are given a serial number with which they match up to a particular bike. It’s easy to imagine someone with the serial number 12345 would think a bike with the number 12355 is theirs, for example. It's unfortunate this matter wasn't resolved civilly.
The “Bike Karen” story afforded both sides their moment in the spotlight. Hopefully, neither side will suffer more than the biased media that keeps us divided.