Crash course in correctness

Wow, I missed this one when it appeared earlier this year. Apparently Multnomah County's "health" officials called a couple of big meetings to teach the news media about the politically correct way to report on traffic accidents.

Among the information shared during the two sessions were best practices on how the media reports traffic crashes:

    • Use the term “crash” rather than “accident” in describing an incident.
    • Focus on the action of the driver rather than the pedestrian or cyclist.
    • The driver is the acting agent. Don’t refer to the vehicle as if it is acting on its own.
    • Stick to confirmed facts and omit unsupported statements that imply blame.
    • Provide broad context and patterns to underscore that a single crash is not an isolated occurrence.

Ya gotta love this part: "Focus on the action of the driver rather than the pedestrian or cyclist." Always? Even when the pedestrian or cyclist was clearly in the wrong? That's the opposite of journalism. Which is exactly what the bureaucrats want, of course.

And don't call it an "accident." Leave it open to the interpretation that the driver purposely mowed the victim down, even when you know that's not true.

It's crazy what the Multnomah County "health" department has time and energy to do. You drive around Portland, looking at the thousands of people living in tents and bombed-out RVs, shooting up, stealing and robbing to support their habits, relieving themselves in pickle jars, eventually OD'ing. Yet we have "health" people busy arm-twisting the local journalists to tell car crash stories the government-approved way. 

The overarching goal here seems to be to ensure that the prevailing bureaucratic car hatred is correctly instilled in the public. Oh, and don't forget the race angle! There's always a race angle.

“We need new solutions,” Charlene McGee, REACH program manager, said after March 2 workshop with safety advocates. “Crash deaths are increasing and it’s an issue disproportionately affecting Black people in Multnomah County.”

Nonprofit industrial complex in the house!

When will Portland come to its senses? I'm afraid the answer is never.


  1. Evidently cars are racist? Well they do seem to seek out black Portlanders more often than other groups, when they are feeling the need to crash into something or someone.

    Wow, you really do learn something new every day. It is probably due to the fact that the software is being overwritten by hidden code embedded in those My Pillow radio ads. And the driver is helpless as the car seeks out a BIPOC individual to crash into.

    Yep, not an accident.

  2. I read that press release, or whatever it was. I am more confused about the situation than I was before I read it. So focus on the driver, and not the car. Ok....that is assuming that the news media is able determine the night of “a crash” who the guilty party was. So from what I gather they are supposed to be prejudiced when they report on an open investigation?

    And if the driver, not the car is always to blame no matter the circumstances, then it is safe to say that black drivers can and should take the blame for any crashes that they are a part of! Especially if they are in a vehicle when it happens.

    Or are they being picked out as targets to crash into by the other drivers? The whole thing is crazy with a capital C. Nothing of worth is accomplished by trying to affix blame without knowing the facts first, and trying to rationalize every auto accident as being the same as the one before helps no one.

  3. So much media energy is put into finding blame that there doesn’t seem to be much room for publishing facts

  4. I feel like I am living in a Kurt Vonnegut story. Portland has turned into Welcome to the Monkey House except it's not funny. Not funny at all.

  5. Like anything else, it can be taken too far, but trying to get to neutral language around cars and collisions is worthwhile, even if it takes some ironing out.

    * "Accident" is a conclusion - crash is a description. If, after an investigation, you conclude that an accident occurred, call it an accident if you want. But most cars bumping other cars are not "accidents" in the sense of random events without causes.

    * Focus on the action of the driver rather than the pedestrian or cyclist. This is about the incessant tendency of media to put everything in the passive voice (the "exonerative voice") -- "Bicyclist hit by truck on freeway" as if there was no driver at all. Similar to "Man dies with police kneeling on his neck." The driver of the car is the one operating a frequently lethal weapon. In the main, unless we know that the pedestrian/bicyclist committed suicide by car, the default description of a collision should make the agent operating the lethal force the center of the description.

    "Don’t refer to the vehicle as if it is acting on its own." What's objectionable about that? Far too many stories suppress the driver entirely, blaming the people walking or biking for getting mowed down.

    "Stick to confirmed facts and omit unsupported statements that imply blame. Provide broad context and patterns to underscore that a single crash is not an isolated occurrence." Again - what is objectionable? Why should we ignore that rates of drivers killing people outside of cars are rising? Why should we pretend that the ever-larger SUVs and the ever larger blind spots and the ever-more distracted drivers are not the center of the problem of people being killed by cars and trucks?

    I'm all for plain language and against newspeak/doublethink, but most reporting on cars vs. people is way way way biased against an objective view the other way.

    1. accident - "an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury," not a random event without a cause at all. Why assume the driver or anyone else is at fault absent individualized facts? Passive voice is factual and avoids "unsupported statements that imply blame." Not sure how providing "broad context and patterns to underscore that a single crash is not an isolated occurrence" can ever square with being factual in an individual occurrence absent some factual basis. How should even the existence of a larger problem suggest misrepresenting an individual event to fit pre-ordained criteria?

    2. I am sure at the heart of this is trying to paint victims of “crashes” as being nothing more than mere innocent bystanders or pedestrians, or people that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      Thus those evil drivers are at the root of all of the death and destruction caused by a “crash.” As if they merely crashed their car or truck on purpose, without any concern for whoever is effected by it.

      I don’t buy that they are just trying to avoid idiotic newspeak like “bicyclist hits truck.”

    3. The issue is that there is nothing “accidental” about driving while impaired, driving distracted, driving while eating, driving while texting, driving while looking at the map on your phone instead of the road, driving over the speed limit, driving too fast for conditions — they are all conscious choices by drivers pushing tons of steel down the road at high speeds. In urban areas (as opposed to restricted access highways) the driver’s primary job is to be alert for pedestrians/bicyclists/kids etc.

    4. Yes, but if the collision is not caused intentionally, it's an accident.


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