It’s not “safe” – well, it’s less theoretically safe than wearing one. But it’s most definitely pleasant – much more pleasant than wearing one. You feel the breeze, the sun on your face. And you hear the world around you – the sounds that are otherwise muffled by the helmet. Instead of being an astronaut on a two-wheeled Moonwalker, your senses removed from the actuality around you by the external filters between you and it – you are physically embraced by it, all around you.
Of course, if you go down, you will also kiss the pavement and that will hurt – possibly permanently.
But here’s the thing that makes about as much sense as keeping your freezer door half-closed all the time:
In every state that has a mandatory helmet law, there is no requirement that the rest of your body be similarly protected. You can ride wearing a T-shirt, for example. Or shorts. I don’t think there’s a single state that requires long pants – let alone armored pants specifically designed to stand up to being dragged on asphalt at 40 MPH for 50 yards or so. So long as you’ve got a helmet on, you’re cool. Stupid, maybe. But cool – at least insofar as the law is concerned.
Some states even have age-allowances amended to their helmet laws. That is, if you’re older, you can ride without a helmet but if you’re younger not. Apparently, only young heads break – or older heads are less valuable…. hard to say which it is.
I’m not advocating that full gear (armored leathers, gloves, boots) be required – or that everyone, irrespective of their age, be required to wear a helmet. Just making an observation. It’s a case in point of the terminal Know-Nothingness that afflicts the politicos and bureaucratic busybees who spend their days thinking up new ways to control other people, always “for their own good,” or because it’s “safer.”
Except it’s not.
Sure, wearing a helmet will reduce the risk of head trauma if you go down. But it also may do little more than assure your family can have an open casket funeral. Or – worse – that you’ll survive a wreck that leaves your body crippled for life.
This business is not unlike the mandatory buckle-up laws I have ridiculed in previous columns. There is pungent irony in being pulled over by a cop who is 30 pounds heavy in the gut, with explosive blood pressure, who lives on chili dogs, doughnuts and bad coffee … because he spied you driving around not buckled up and that’s “unsafe.”
Such things are the product of a mindset that I call Cloverite, for reasons familiar to anyone who’s a regular visitor to this site. The Clover bleats – Safety! Security! – always missing the obvious, that whatever he’s advocating won’t actually make things safer or more secure, just less free. He also misses the global perspective, or what you could call What Goes Around Comes Around. The same logic the Clover uses to press for things like buckle-up laws can be turned with just as much force on him, to mandate jumping jacks and BMI checks, with lectures and – let’s hope – fines for noncompliance.
I’d like to be able to ride without a helmet, without worrying about some costumed goon (a cop) peeling out to intercept me for…. well… possibly putting my noggin (but who cares about the rest of me) at risk. Maybe. If I go down, which isn’t likely but I suppose that’s neither here nor there when it comes to Cloverism. The mere possibility that I might go down, in which case a helmet might be helpful to me, justifies what amounts to an assault by an armed stranger, the spear tip of our Cloverite state.
I’d like to see the principle of equality applied, since Clovers are such fans of the concept.
If I am endangering myself by not wearing a helmet and this risk to myself justifies the intervention of The Law – fines, guns, the works – then I want The Law to intervene in other areas, too. Areas where I am impeccably responsible and safe – such as maintaining the same size 32 waistline I had in college, because I hit the gym like a fiend 4-5 times a week and also run 5-6 miles every third day and never smoke and hardly drink, etc. – but where I suspect, many cops (and the Clovers behind them) are sadly – most unsafely – deficient. I want their diets monitored – and their calories rationed. I want the calipers to come out at Body Fat Checkpoints – and summons to the gym and morning calisthenics given out to every single fat SOB, buckled-up or not. Their fatness imposes costs on society, too. They might for example have a heart attack while driving and thus represent a safety hazard.
All the crap arguments they use against me I can use on them, too.
Since we don’t seem to be having much luck rolling back the tsunami of Cloverism that’s washing over this land, I say we go all the way and make sure the Clovers get wet, just like the rest of us.