Monday, August 27, 2007

John Wayne would be mortified, not to mention Patton, Reagan, Audie Murphy or even Rosa Parks

Sad to say, the "Flour Terrorist" story was right here in Connecticut, too.
John Cole of Balloon Juice has an excellent summary here:

Please, people. Let's stop being wusses. It's like the damn "security" at airports. It's stupid and pointless. The inefficiencies introduced into our economy must add up to billions already, with no end in sight.
Meanwhile, this is the same country where people in most states don't even have to wear helmets when riding motorcycles! More people die every year in motorcycle crashes than were killed on 9/11.


  1. Meanwhile, this is the same country where people in most states don't even have to wear helmets when riding motorcycles! More people die every year in motorcycle crashes than were killed on 9/11.

    Hmm. Allow me to direct your attention to the exclamation point ending the first sentence.

    Apparently the author thinks it is appalling, or somehow worthy of significance that Americans are free to choose not to wear helmets.

    Only a wussy would point that out, even if the following were not true.

    Various studies have concluded that motorcycle riders are safer without the helmets than with. You can question the studies but courts and legislatures in numerous states have repealed helmet laws after considering this information. (It has to do with the helmet restricting vision and hearing, and the added weight causing the neck to snap. Passengers generally still have to wear helmets.)

    Another point.

    Millions of Americans collectively spend millions of hours (probably hundreds of millions) riding motorcycles every year. Compare that to thousands of people who were in the twin towers in a 1 or 2 hour period on 9/11/01.

    Your assertation that motorcycle deaths is somehow comparable to 9/11 deaths is so absurd as to make me wonder why I bothered responding.

  2. The balance of opinion among safety experts seems to be that the benefits of protective equipment outweigh the drawbacks. Speaking as someone who's seen an unhelmeted ATV rider's brains smeared on a telephone pole I'm unconvinced by "various studies." Perhaps you could cite which ones you mean.
    As to whether people should be free to take advantage of safety equipment or not, that's a question of values where I'll agree that there's reasonable arguments either way.
    The point of the comparison is that this society, which is more than willing to take the risks of helmetless biking in Connecticut, is reduced to a quivering mass of spineless jelly by spotting someone sprinkling some powder on the street.
    Or perhaps you think that it's reasonable to arrest powder sprinklers?
    Me, I think it's odd to celebrate the freedom to ride helmetless while apparently being unconcerned about the erosion of our freedom to be let alone by the government while we go about our daily business.
    Enhanced security at large public events, entering government facilities or around critical infrastructure is sensible. I understand the need for better security at airports, although much of what passes for "security" amounts to pointless harassment of questionable effectiveness.
    But arresting someone for sprinkling some powder on the street is insane. Fortunately for the "perps" they were middle-class white people. If they'd happened to be brown-skinned, or foreign-born, or Muslim, they'd probably be "enemy combatants" and headed for Gitmo.
    I don't think it's American to be fearful of your shadows like that. This is a country settled by people who braved countless dangers just to get here. It's a country whose soldiers fought and beat some of history's most ferocious foes. This is a country where people risked their lives pioneering the West and securing civil rights. Indeed, it's country where many people ride their motorcycles without helmets.
    And now we're a country that is so spooked that someone sprinkling some flour on the ground to mark a bicycle course can be arrested and charged! Not to mention a country where a U.S. Citizen can be held without charge for years and tortured because the president says he's dangerous. A country that kidnaps and disappears the nationals of allied nations without legal process. A country that beats a captured enemy general to death. A country that allows the government to listen to U.S. citizens without a warrant despite the protections of the Constitution. A country so fearful that it has compromised its most deeply held values in a fruitless search for safety.
    Being "safe" didn't used to be a defining American goal. Being free was.

  3. I wouldn't want to live in the very liberal nanny state that is Connecticut either. Seems as though the wussies need the government to protect them from themselves.

    Said studies were published a decade or two ago. It has been that long since helmet laws were repealed by many states. I must admit I have looked for them in the recent past without luck.

    Any way, the crux is that if you are involved in a motorcycle crash the helmet will save your life more often than if you don't wear one, but by wearing a helmet (and restricting your vision and hearing) you are many times more likely to be in an accident.

    There are also certain types of low speed accidents (such as bumping a curve) where helmet wearers are more likely to get their necks snapped, and a helmetless driver more likely to escape nearly uninjured.

    The airport security measures of which you speak are the result of liberal policies. A conservative policy would be to allow law abiding citizens to carry firearms (waterbottles, lighters, etc.) on the plane.

    I think forcing safety equipment on others is the bigger question of values.

  4. It would be refreshing if self-described "conservatives" would rediscover their previous attachment to facts and fundamental values.
    One inconvenient fact is that the "nanny" state of Connecticut allows adult bikers to ride helmetless.
    Being let alone by the government, including being safe from seizure, torture, warrantless searches, etc. is a fundamental value of the sort a conservative should be interested in defending instead of seizing on helmet laws as a way to distract a discussion from the real point. I'll be happy to agree with you that people can go helmetless.
    Do you agree they ought to be able to powder a sidewalk with flour for their bicycle event without fear of arrest?

  5. You brought up helmet laws, or more correctly, the fact that a lack of helmet laws was (apparently) shocking. I attempted to point out the absurdity of your correlation to 9/11.

    Speaking of facts, you bring up torture, warrantless searches, etc. I challenge you to name one real person who has been tortured as a matter of official policy. The detainees at Abu Ghraib had panties put on their heads, had dogs in their vicinity, and suffered the manly-Muslim degradation of having female guards. This was portrayed as torture.

    The terrorists at Gitmo complained the AC was set a couple degrees too low, and claimed (wrongly) a Koran was flushed. This was portrayed as torture.

    Although I would like to I can't agree with your assessment that children should be allowed to sprinkle flour. If such an act causes so much distress to a bunch of liberal wussies in the nanny state of Connecticut they ought to be able to protect themselves and their fragile egos from such an egregious act.

    Perhaps there should be a 5 day waiting period before anyone can buy flour.

    But we are missing the biggest point in this discussion. DID THE CHILDREN HAVE PROPER HEADGEAR AND KNEEPADS FOR THEIR BICYCLE EVENT. Heaven forbid that a child should ride a bike without a helmet.

    A liberal somewhere is crapping his pants at the mere thought of such recklessness.

  6. "I challenge you to name one real person who has been tortured as a matter of official policy."

    Well, the government asserts that everything it may have done to detainees and enemy combatants is a secret, so information is necessarily sketchy and incomplete, but how about not one, but three people we know ere tortured as a matter of offciial policy -- Jose Padilla, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Maher Arar?
    Ah, you might say, but these are terrorists and very bad foreign people.
    Now, of course, that doesn't matter, legally or morally. Timothy McVeigh was a very bad man and yet he was not tortured. We didn't torture captured Nazi soldiers and generals.
    As it turns out, at least one of these people (Maher) is apparently completely innocent of anything and was detained, kidnapped, AND tortured by mistake!
    Jose Padilla was an American citizen arrested in America and still tortured as policy, according to official accounts.
    We have eyewitness accounts by FBI agents of torture and abuse so bad that the FBI refused to take part.
    Recently the military's judge advocate generals found it necessary to warn members of the military that, notwithstanding Bush executive orders that purported to allow the CIA to torture and abuse prisoners, it was against the Geneva conventions and the UCMJ for military people to do it.
    We have members of Congress from both parties who (rightfully) condemn and criticize torture, abuse and lack of due process by China, Cuba, North Korea and Iran, yet our government claims the right to do the exact same things we condemn elsewhere.
    If waterboarding is torture when a communist does it to an American, then it is also torture when an American does it to someone in our custody.
    Surely the authentic conservative position is to condemn torture and abuse period. It always was before.
    The point of the motorcycle comment is not that it's shocking people don't wear helmets. It's that people who gladly take the risk of going without helmets are afraid enough of flour sprinklers to call the cops. (The flour sprinklers were not children by the way.)
    BTW, I'm not sure why you insist on calling Connecticut a wussy "nanny state" when by your own standards they are one of the manly, freedom-loving states that do NOT require a helmet.