Although Thursday’s rain surely put a kink in his plans, the Pedaln’ Prof didn’t delay his trip to Carthage.


Although Thursday’s rain surely put a kink in his plans, the Pedaln’ Prof didn’t delay his trip to Carthage.

Ed Chasteen, a former sociology professor and professed lover of people, says he can ride his bicycle about 125 miles on a good day. Given that distance, Chasteen drew a circle around his hometown of Liberty.

He calls the circled area, “Greater Liberty,” and says he plans to visit every county seat within it.
He’s got his work cut out for him. There are 114 county seats in his Greater Liberty, and Carthage is only his second stop.

“I ride for two reasons,” he says. “One reason is I have MS (multiple sclerosis). If I don’t ride I can’t walk, and if I ride a lot I can run. I love riding, so it’s really no chore.

“The second reason I ride is, at least to me it seems like the purpose in living is to meet as many people as you can and expect to like everybody you meet. I try to do that.”

He says he named the area Greater Liberty for a number of reasons.

“It’s greater liberty that I’m trying to achieve,” he said. “Doctors told me years ago that I’d be an invalid. But as long as I can ride, I can get around fine.

“But it’s not just greater liberty from physical limitations I’m after. I think all of us can learn to like each other, no matter what our color, our creed, our religion. … I hope to be able to show people, just by doing this, that they might learn to like people, too.”

Chasteen’s Pedaln’ Prof alter ego was borne from a human rights group that he created in 1988. Then a professor of sociology at William Jewel College in Liberty, Chasteen said he was troubled when Ku Klux Klansman David Duke won a seat on the Louisiana state legislature in 1988.

Chasteen said he and a few of his students decided to go to Louisiana and spread his idea of teaching people to like people. They took bicycles and decided to do their outreaching from behind the handlebars.

“People wouldn’t come to see us if we said we were there for race relations, but they would show up to ask us about our bikes,” he said.

Out of that experience, Chasteen created his group, HateBusters. Now a 501(c)3 organization, HateBusters became so busy that by 1995 he had to retire from teaching to do race relations work full time. Its Web site can be found at HateBusters.com.

“That’s another meaning of Greater Liberty,” he said. “Any hate crime that occurs in this area that we hear about, we respond to it within three days. Our rule is respond immediately to any act of hate, because if you wait very long the people who did it will think one of two things: either you’re afraid of them, or you agree with them.

“Neither is true, but either makes them harder to beat.”

Chasteen’s trip to Carthage, however, had nothing to do with hate crimes. These trips are more for his own health and wellbeing, he said, than anything else.

Although the rain on Tuesday kept Chasteen off his bike for the day, he said he’d return to the town on a nicer day when he could, in his words, “find a nice, local place to eat and meet some people.”