Last week, a bus driver politely asked a middle-aged man to give up his seat at the front of a crowded Chicago bus for a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. The man caused quite a stir when he refused, accompanying his refusal with a self-righteous tirade on civil rights and the defence of minorities.
By all appearances a Caucasian man of approximately middle-class means wearing business-casual attire, the man claimed he was being “victimised and targeted as a minority.” He began shouting, “My rights will not be denied,” and “Just because there are two of you, does not mean you can push me aside!”
The man kept asserting his rights, and invoked the memory of Rosa Parks, the well-known African-American Civil Rights activist who refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955. “I paid my fare, and fair is fair!” the man said, continuing, “Rosa Parks wouldn’t stand for this, and I won’t either!”
He proceeded to stand up and raise his fist in defiance, at which point the bus driver reminded him to remain seated. An older female passenger ended up giving her seat to the expectant mother, and the bus drove on, but the man continued to appear agitated.
When the driver informed him that he had reached the man’s regular stop and told him he could get off, the man’s discrimination complex re-ignited. He called on other riders who began filing off the bus to “stand your ground!” and tried to start a chant of “No, no, we won’t go!” No-one paid much heed. After trying to reason with him and telling him several times, “Sir, this is your stop; please, get off the bus,” the driver eventually gave up and let him ride the rest of the circuit until the next time he reached the stop, at which point the man got off the bus, promising to “take this to the Supreme Court.”
Coincidentally, the woman with child is herself named Rosa after Rosa Parks. The man is known to the bus driver and other regulars simply as Will, and had always seemed a pleasant chap before this incident.
“The Omnibus,” by Honore Daumier. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.