Hack Politician Loves Bikers

February 17, 2017

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Hack Politician Loves Bikers

Connecticut state representative Antonio Guerrera (looking down above), a Democrat from Rocky Hill, is filled with love. He loves motorcyclists so much he wants to protect them from themselves. And he loves taxpayers so much he wants to protect them from the choices bikers make. And, he is wise. He is very much wiser than you and I.

Which is why Guerrera is sponsoring General Assembly Proposed Bill Number 6048, “An Act Requiring the Use of Helmets by Motorcycle Operators and Passengers.”

There was a public hearing on the bill Wednesday in Hartford and there was nothing said there that hasn’t been said about a billion times before. It was merely the latest skirmish in the 51-year-old helmet war, which is one small theater in the culture wars, which largely boils down to what the relationship between the American government and private citizens should be. On one side of this cultural divide is the American mandarin class who can’t keep the roads and dams from collapsing but are confidant in their obligation to tell the other side what they can and cannot do and when and how. The underlying assumption is that in a democracy the rich and powerful elites got to be elite because they are wiser than the rude and ignorant plebes.

1966

The National Highway Safety Act of 1966, written in reaction to Ralph Nader’s muckraking book Unsafe At Any Speed, mandated numerous safety reforms to cut the number of highway deaths. The law standardized bumper heights, and compelled automakers to engineer crumple zones and safety cages into body designs, to stop selling gas tanks that exploded on impact, to pad dash boards, install steering wheels that collapsed rather than impaled and install seat belts. These were all burdens on manufacturers, not consumers. That was the large print.

Then in the small print the 1966 law also mandated that motorcycle riders and their passengers buy and wear helmets. The helmet thing was almost an afterthought. It was never debated. What grabbed Congress’ attention was Nader’s image of Chevrolets that blew up – with women and children inside.

Between 1967 and 1975 every state except California passed a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists. The issue of whether states could compel riders to wear helmets went to the courts and the courts could not agree.

Old Argument

For example, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the “legislature may not…under the guise of protecting public interest, interfere with private rights.”

A Michigan Appeals Court ruled that the “logic” used by proponents of helmet laws “could lead to unlimited paternalism.”

But a Massachusetts court ruled that “…the public has a vested interest in minimizing the (public) resources directly involved,” when somebody runs with a stick and poles his eye out. “From the moment of injury, society picks the person up off the highway; delivers him to a municipal hospital and municipal doctors; provides him with unemployment compensation if, after recovery, he cannot replace his lost job; and, if the injury causes permanent disability, may assume the responsibility for his and his family’s subsistence. We do not understand a state of mind that permits plaintiff to think that only he himself is concerned.”

This week, in an editorial in favor of Guerrera’s bill, the floundering Hartford Courant quoted that Massachusetts ruling and noted that it dated from 1972.

Whose Head

The two sides of this argument are really much older than the 1960s. The philosopher and orator G. K. Chesterton put it like this: “The free man owns himself, He can damage himself with either eating or drinking. He can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”

The mandatory helmet law provision was finally repealed in 1975. Its most quotable opponent was a Republican Congressman from Connecticut, and an experienced motorcyclist, named Stewart McKinney. That Connecticut politician wrote: “My personal philosophy concerning helmets can be summed up in three words. It’s my head. Personally, I would not get on a 55-mile-per-hour highway without my helmet. But the fact of the matter is that if I did, I wouldn’t be jeopardizing anyone but myself, and I feel that being required to wear a helmet is an infringement on my personal liberties.”

Shortly after that Connecticut, one of the 13 original states,  repealed its helmet law.

It seems very unlikely that Representative Guerrera has ever heard of Congressman McKinney, which may or may not be considered ironically.

Wednesday’s Hearing

Wednesday’s hearing was mostly the ghost of an old argument between Gary Lapidus, the director of the Injury Prevention Center at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Richard Paukner, a spokesman for the Connecticut Motorcycle Riders Association.

Lapidus thinks motorcycle “death rates go down significantly” in states that use police powers to make bikers wear special plastic hats.

Paulkner thinks: “It’s wrong to single us out and to simply say, that we should regulate their personal behavior, remove their freedom of choice, when we’re not going to outlaw tobacco, when we’re not going to regulate people’s diets, when we’re not going to put restrictions on the amount of alcohol one can consume.“

But Connecticut politician Ted Kennedy, Jr. – yes, that’s right, and who better to speak for the Mandarin class than somebody named Ted Kennedy, Jr. – argued that cigarette taxes offset the public cost of tobacco related diseases. And, that there “are studies that show the level of injury of someone riding a motorcycle that has a helmet” is less than when you crash at 80 or 90 or a buck with a helmet. And, that it is  “important for our committee to understand that there is a social cost” to riding without a helmet.

Love

Forty-five people died in motorcycle accidents in Connecticut in 2015. That same year the state had 91,054 registered motorcycles. That’s a fatality rate of a little less than .0005 percent. And the politicians are scared. For us. Because they love us.

Guerrera said part of the reason he is bringing the bill up this year is, “It’s scary out there,” Guerrera said. “It really is.”

“When you got all these people using these phones, and texting and driving, not paying attention, you know…it’s not the motorcyclists, I know that,” Guerrera told Paulkner. “You guys obey the rules, you stay on the roads, people veer into your lanes, you got to swerve around them and all that.”

It’s for the bikers. Because politicians love us. Because they are afraid for us. Not because they are afraid of us or the original America we represent. It’s not about social control. It’s about the love. Always the love.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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16 Responses to “Hack Politician Loves Bikers”

  1. Dutchboy Says:

    Interesting that the political class has no problem forcing us to wear brain buckets but if you mention mandatory apps that disable texting when the phone is traveling faster than 25mph (yes they exist) they act like THAT would be a huge infringement on freedom. So driving distracted is protected but sun burning your bald spot isn’t? I choose to wear a skid lid and I’m fine if you don’t.

  2. stroker Says:

    my .02:
    Fought long and hard against the helmet law here in Kaliforny…..held at bay until dick-head Floyd rammed his personal vendetta against bikers on our heads, and up our ass!
    To me, this is the nut of it:
    Helmets can save lives….under certain conditions. Helmets can TAKE lives under certain conditions.
    Of what use is a “safety device” that causes an accident?! Case-in-point:
    100 degree day. Hot, slow moving traffic….wearing full-face brain bucket. Head get’s hot. Vision blurs. It’s close to heat stroke time. One of the leading causes of traffic accidents is fatigue.
    Should I be forced to wear a device that fatigues me? Or makes me drowsy? When all I have to do is take it off, until it’s safe to put it on again?
    No.
    My brain, my body. I should make the call. Not some arrogant dim-wit politician trying to make a name for himself.
    Those of us that remember Dick Floyd, remember the things he said. He was NOT about safety. he was about control. And that’s pretty much what all these “do-gooders” are about.

  3. Rashomon Says:

    I think I’m covered with any state expenses that might be incurred by my not wearing a helmet by this stupid f’ing tax I have to pay every year

    Vehicle Info: 2012 12 HD FLHR -Due 1: 07/01/2016 Inst1: $359.77 Total Installment: $359.77

    This state has way bigger problems than worrying helmets – like the $19.6 Bn debt they can’t afford to service. Can’t wait to retire and get the fuck out of here.

  4. Downtown Says:

    For being “Free Men” there sure are a lot of rules, regulations, taxes, ordinances, laws and general bullshit we’re supposed to abide by. Getting harder to understand what “Free” really means anymore.

  5. rocco151 Says:

    I usually defer to Sieg and Paladin’s experience and comments but I would like to humbly point out that if a politician wanted to make the roads safer for bikers (or in my case motorcycle enthusiasts)they would outlaw texting while driving ! The guy who got me interested in riding a motorcycle lost a brother when a “texter” ran a stop sign and killed his friend in a rural area of my State and he has been hit and injured twice in the last year AND totaled two bikes because of motorists hitting him by not paying attention to traffic laws ! Luckily he is riding again but a helmet would not have helped him as much as the Man actually stopping and ticketing texter/phone talkers who arrogantly think that they are so important that they must immediately respond to their friends by talking or texting while driving ! They constantly break the law passed in this Midwestern State and cops, who talk while driving also, ignore them ! Also, any politician who pretends that he is proposing legislation to protect bikers is also naïve enough to think that we are buying what he/she is spewing in order to do what they do best…get re-elected !

  6. BigUglyMotherFucker Says:

    Such is life in The Peoples Republic of America. Bet he speaks Rusian too.

  7. Bone Head Says:

    The Center for Disease Control? Who invited them to the party? Just to help out the “loving” politicians I guess.
    The real trick I believe they want to pull is just outlaw bikes altogether. Fuck ’em!

  8. Mercyful Fate Says:

    “Forty-five people died in motorcycle accidents in Connecticut in 2015. That same year the state had 91,054 registered motorcycles. That’s a fatality rate of a little less than .0005 percent.”

    And I’d be willing to bet that the majority of those deaths were probably caused by some asshole cager who couldn’t pull their eyes away from their goddamn iPhone.

    Forget helmet laws. Instead, figure out how to put an end to the “distracted driver” deaths which would benefit everyone. But that’s apparently too hard for politicians to grasp. It’s much easier to give the appearance of “doing something” by passing stupid laws.

  9. fozz Says:

    No real evidence to prove helmets save lives ,only some lives , plenty of evidece to say helmets can cause accidents , loss of perineal vision ,, hearing heat exhaustion etc,,, two sides to every coin should e your choice which side faces up, not some dumb ass politician looking to score bownie points

  10. TX_Biker Says:

    There is no helmet law here in Texas per say (there is something on the books about under 21). But My brothers all wear full face helmets

  11. Gandalf Says:

    I’m of the Thinking that creating a “Villain” is part of every Politician everywhere and has been forever. The D’s villain is Trump. The R’s Villain is/was Obama. Iran has the USA. So does Russia. Bikers are just a small part of a big play. Personally I take ALL “Villains” with a grain of salt and consider the source. Trump, Obama, BLM, Alt-right, Bikers, Libs are all just boogie men painted to be what the artist’s intended them to be. Only the scared give a fuck. In the end 99% are Sheep who choose our Shepard and follow without thought. That leaves the true 1%ers who know and only care about their Club, brothers and family. As for me… “A Muslim, a Transgender, a Mexican and a white guy enter a public bathroom. The bathroom burns to the ground…” Heck, I’m old… I forget the rest. (Takes bong hit) Am I the only one who watches Black Sails?

  12. ipsick Says:

    I bet Guerrera’s major campaign contributor was the insurance industry. Same bullshit excuse they used for California’s helmet law. “You guys cost us too much when our car driving insurees hit you”

  13. Paladin Says:

    “Paulkner thinks: “It’s wrong to single us out and to simply say, that we should regulate their personal behavior, remove their freedom of choice, when we’re not going to outlaw tobacco, when we’re not going to regulate people’s diets, when we’re not going to put restrictions on the amount of alcohol one can consume.“

    Liberals would regulate or outlaw all of the above if they thought they could get away with it.

    Paladin

  14. The Kraut Says:

    I wear a helmet…same as the one on my avatar…damn, I must love myself.

    Respects, The Kraut

  15. Nuke n' Pave Dave Says:

    And then there’s my wife’s cousin who was riding a Kowalski with his helmet on. Some dink rear-ended him as he sat at a light, snapping his neck and killing him. I guess that’s why they use lethal injection now instead of the gallows… But the weight of the helmet wasn’t responsible, of course!
    Or so I’m sure that’s what the statistics indicated…

  16. Sieg Says:

    Ironic that the East Coast, where liberty was born, and the West Coast, which was the last truly free space in the country, are the two places in our Nation that are now the least tolerant of freedom and liberty.

    FTF/FTP
    TOSIAR

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