Bike nakedSorry to be so late on this: thanks to Liam for first raising the issue on this blog here, and Crawley’s made a comment here. For a summary of the debate so far, the BBC has a piece here.

For those who haven’t read the story, cleaners at a hostel unlocked and opened the door of one of the bedrooms where they found one of the guests having sex with his bicycle. They called the cops, the man pleaded guilty to breaching the peace and – since it was an offence of a sexual nature – he was placed upon the sex offenders register for 3 years.

I’d like to leave aside the issue of how, exactly, a man has sex with a bicycle. I’m sure he was drunk and just messing around. I wasn’t aware until reading this story that bicycles were objects of erotic desire. But paraphilia is extremely common, and I don’t find it all that surprising. Despite how funny it may sound, the story is not about the bicycle.

Frankly I’m disturbed about the whole case. First, the cleaners called the cops, instead of apologising for infringing on his privacy and getting the hell out, as they would have if they’d walked in on him and a woman in bed. It was clearly the fact that it was unusual sexual behaviour that led them to call law enforcement; they thought whatever he was doing should be illegal – a moral judgment with a legal consequence. Then, the police invented this breaching the peace charge, instead of dismissing the entire thing as an unfortunate encounter. Then the Sheriff, Colin Miller, not only upheld the frivolous charge on the guilty plea of a drunk man, but took the extra step of putting him in the same category as pedophiles and violent sexual offenders by placing him on the sex offenders register.

Human rights lawyers say there’ll be no precedent set by the case, since it never went to court. Meantime, an innocent man is punished like a criminal for something he was doing behind a locked door in private. Perhaps there’d be a possible case for a lawyer to get the guilty plea reversed on some grounds, then it can go to court where it can be overturned violently in a message to Miller’s jurisdiction that he has no right to infringe on someone’s basic human rights in this way. This is the very kind of right the law exists to protect. Honestly, the comedy value of this incident should not detract from the fact that the response of the police is a damned disgrace.

A little chaffing is the most serious consequence a passionate bike lover should have to face in a situation like this. It’s the job of the law to get out of the way and protect that right, and shame on them when they don’t.