No one likes a bully.
That’s a message that’s held true in society as long as there has been a society. The oldest examples of human writing include a list of harmful acts that could be committed by someone and the punishment ascribed to those act.
As the glaciers of the ice age receded from the planet and humans shifted from hunter-gatherering to farming, it became necessary to stop taking things from other humanoids and to start working together. So ingrained is our sense of fairness that infants possess a clear understanding of what is just and what is not.
There is a secondary and related human trait that was probed in depth on a brilliant RadioLab episode but boils down to this: people root for the underdog. It doesn’t matter the context (big company vs. small company, famous artist vs. undiscovered talent, big rock vs. small rock…), people root for the scrappy contender instead of the oppressor.
This is why we all cringe in sympathy with Charlie Brown as he brings back a teeny Christmas tree and gets berated for his stupidity. We all feel like Charlie Brown sometimes. It’s why we all gleefully watch someone kick the ass of a thug trying to knock them out with a single punch and it’s why we get so happy when we see kids dressing like someone they love to keep them from getting picked on.
This is the context into which Specialized stepped last week when the Internet learned of the company’s decision to send a cease and desist letter to bicycle shop owner Dan Richter, and the subsequent rush to support him from every corner of the cycling world.