The other night, I went for an evening ride with my girlfriend – neither of us wearing a helmet, which is no longer legal in this and most other states. We wanted to remember what it was like to ride in a relatively free country. It was one in which the government would come after if you didn’t pay what it claimed you “owed,” but more or less left you to your own devices, insofar as such seemingly trivial things as whether you chose to wear a seatbelt – or put on a helmet.
This gave you a pleasant feeling of being a relatively free man.
Now, of course, it lets you know just how not-free you are – in almost every way imaginable – via such seemingly trivial things as ordering you to wear a seatbelt in your car or put on a helmet while riding your motorcycle.
We decided not to.
At night, it is easier to “get away” with such – as acts of disobedience against tyranny are styled, by those who support such tyranny.
It may seem a bit much, at first glance, to use the word tyranny to describe laws that order motorcycle riders to wear a helmet – or car drivers to wear a seatbelt. It seems innocuous enough – and isn’t it all just meant to . . . “keep us safe”?
But reflect on the implications of such orders – which are just that and not suggestions. If you don’t wear the thing (either one) and an armed government worker witnesses it, what will occur? Will you be asked to wear the thing? Left in peace if you refuse? Or will the armed government worker pursue you, lights flashing threateningly, vividly conveying the reality of the consequences if you do not stop?
There is always the threat of murderous violence in everything the government orders – down to the least little thing. Including your choice to not obey its order to wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle.
And if the government has the right to so order – or rather, if people accept that the government has such a right (as distinct from the power to issue such orders, something anyone with a gun can do) – then it can in principle also order you to eat your veggies. Or to wear a stupid rag over your face in order to be allowed to shop.
Observe that none of these expressions of government power entail any demonstrable harm caused to others by the victims of government power.
The government’s assertion – as regards helmet laws – is that if you don’t wear one you might get hurt and that could lead to your imposing the costs of your injuries upon “society.”
Observe this is precisely the same assertion-in-principle used to order people to wear “masks,” as those disgusting and medically useless symbols of submission are styled. It does not matter, as regards helmet-ordering-and-punishing-of-you-if-you-don’t that you haven’t gotten hurt – because you haven’t crashed your motorcycle – and accordingly so haven’t cost “society” a cent. Nor that you would never impose such “costs” even if they were incurred because you have insurance – and isn’t that why we’re also ordered to buy that?
Beyond that there is the matter of simple morality in that you would never expect people who had nothing to do with you crashing – if you did – or getting hurt (if that happened) to pay your bills.
But nevermind. You might, you see. Even if you never did. Even if you never do. The assertion of “might” is wonderfully open-ended, just the same as the one that says you might be an “asymptomatic spreader” – or perhaps a wife-beater and for that reason ought to be “Red Flagged.”
Just the same as you might get – or give – a sickness you haven’t got and which “masks” do nothing to prevent people from getting or giving.
Including this business about saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety – supposedly enhanced by the wearing of the helmet while riding a motorcycle.
But it is an entirely one-dimensional assertion, leaving aside the immorality of threatening to do violence to people who’ve done no violence to anyone else.
Of course it is true that if you go down, a helmet will probably help – in terms of keeping your skull from being cracked open. Absolutely. Just as not being obese will probably prevent your dying from the ‘Rona – or diabetes.
It is that helmet-wearing impairs your senses.
Specifically, hearing and seeing – the two most vital to the safe operation of a motorcycle. A helmet muffles – event mutes – the sounds of things around you, or coming at you. Such as the aggressive dog that’s about to bite your ankle, or try to. If he surprises you, it is much more likely that you will lose control of your motorcycle and go down.
Then, of course, a helmet is very helpful.
Similarly, there is the increased danger posed by that which you cannot see – especially from the sides. Full-face helmets dramatically occlude the rider’s peripheral vision, probably by about 30 percent. This in turn requires the rider to regularly turn his head left-then-right to see what he’d otherwise be able to see without turning his head at all.
Helmets create blind spots – and the more of these there are when you’re on a bike, the less safe it is to ride because the more likely it is you’ll fail to see something and possibly turn in its path. Or fail to notice whatever-it-is about to turn into yours.
Deer, for instance.
Another thing helmets do is fatigue the rider. Even the best of them are poorly ventilated – relative to not wearing one. It can get stifling hot inside a helmet. They are also heavy, even the light ones – relative to not wearing one – and over the course of a long ride, that added weight makes the rider’s head feel heavy. This, in turn, tends to make him more tired and that means less alert.
These are all facts – no less so than the fact that a motorcycle helmet offers protection if the wearer goes down while riding. With the critical difference being that if the rider doesn’t go down, the asserted protection is purely hypothetical, while the diminished sensory input, blind spotting and fatiguing aren’t. They come along for every ride when the rider is wearing a helmet.
Yet the only fact that seems to matter to those who insist motorcycle riders wear helmets is that their heads will be better-protected in the event they crash.
Even if it makes it more likely they will actually end up crashing.
It was nice to briefly experience what is was like to ride back when Americans were free to decide for themselves whether it was safer to wear a helmet – or be more aware of what was going on around them and thereby be less likely to crash.
. . .
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