Road rage, or maybe ‘road bullying’

Road Rage

I should begin by pointing out that Pittsburgh area drivers are often courteous to each other in ways I saw considerably less often in California, routinely relinquishing right of way to allow someone to complete a left turn, for example, or more readily allowing someone to do a lane change. Traffic backups here can stretch out quite a ways and these are quick courtesies. I’ve benefited from them, I appreciate them, and I’m still working out how to reciprocate them and how not to take them for granted.

Then there are the assholes, for whom the term, “road rage,” seems inaccurate. Last night, I was taking a passenger on a ride that required me to do a right turn off Washington Road. Somebody behind me began honking and tailgating as I signaled—yes, I signaled—and slowed to do the right turn. At the time, traffic was not so bad; this driver could have simply changed lanes if s/he was in such a hurry. But oh no, s/he had to make a fuss. It was the most extraordinary display of road rage I’d seen in, well, quite some time. Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I thought people were driving like overpopulated rats.

I strongly suspect, but do not know, that it was this incident on Washington Road that led to an implicitly threatening communication from Lyft last night. And this is what makes me think “road rage” may not be the appropriate term:

Hi David,

I am following up on feedback that we have received from a member of our community regarding your driving safety.

It was reported that you allegedly drove under the required speed limit. As you know, safety is Lyft’s highest priority, so we take reports of this nature extremely seriously. Our drivers are also vital to the platform and we’d like to give you the opportunity to respond to these allegations directly.

Do you recall any such incident occurring as stated? Can you provide any additional details about the ride from your perspective?

Please respond to this email directly if you’d like to provide any additional details or dispute this allegation.


My passenger, who has apparently lived here all his life, commented on such assholes and confirmed that they were especially prevalent on Pennsylvania Route 51, a main road near where I live, and that I rely on heavily.

In California, I heard about and witnessed road rage all the time. It’s a problem I felt was exacerbated by traffic controls were the work of traffic engineers for whom I was convinced these were an expression of rage and of their unique power.

But not only was this driver incensed that I should dare to make a right turn in front of him, he went after my job. He first wanted me not only to miss the turn I needed to make but, presumably, every turn after that until he had turned off and was no longer on my tail—never mind that my passenger had someplace to go. And he was unwilling to even change lanes to get around me. When I refused all this, he called Lyft on me.

It sounds more like bullying.

South Africa

When I see seemingly intractable racial strife, I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a kernel of truth in the paleoconservative claim that people of different races and ethnicities cannot live in harmony and therefore must be segregated, even if only for their own protection. (More radical flavors of paleoconservatism include white supremacism and neo-Nazism.)

As stated, the claim itself is obviously wrong and I remain mystified that paleoconservatives cling to it in the face of so much contrary evidence. But it does seem to be extraordinarily difficult to get past what Elizabeth Minnich called hierarchically invidious monism, a so-called ‘dualistic’ view that always prefers one side, “us,” or men, or whites, or the wealthy, for examples, and therefore, in her view, could not properly be referred to as dualism.[1]

If I’m right, it would not be the race or the ethnicity that is the cause of the strife, but rather the monism itself, with the latter being incredibly damaging to human relations in ways that, in the most optimistic scenario, may take many generations to repair. And I sometimes wonder if it is even possible to repair, that perhaps, once we have gone down that road, we can never come back.

South Africa is clearly a difficult case,[2] but, from what I can see, Nelson Mandela may have erred in confronting only the racism of apartheid, and never, really, the class discrepancies that it embedded.

Max Bearak, “‘Born free,’” Washington Post, May 9, 2019,


Results such as this in Australia[3] will continue to be a “complete shock” as long as we continue to accept polling with a nine percent response rate.[4] (The response rate should be ninety percent.[5])

A. Odysseus Patrick, “‘Complete shock’: Australia’s prime minister holds onto power, defying election predictions,” Washington Post, May 18, 2019,

  1. [1]Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Transforming Knowledge, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2005).
  2. [2]Max Bearak, “‘Born free,’” Washington Post, May 9, 2019,
  3. [3]A. Odysseus Patrick, “‘Complete shock’: Australia’s prime minister holds onto power, defying election predictions,” Washington Post, May 18, 2019,
  4. [4]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017,
  5. [5]I learned this from Valerie Sue, who labeled herself “quantitative girl,” and who taught the first methods class I took at California State University, Hayward (now East Bay), probably in Fall, 2003, or Spring, 2004.

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