Mark S. Blackburn, MBA
Liberty, Helmet Laws, and Public Safety
Guest Editorial by Mark S. Blackburn, M.B.A.
Business Systems Consultant
The backlash of anguish and disgust against the mandatory Bicycle Helmet Law which came into full effect January 1, 1995, delights and encourages me. Children today have their character and integrity contaminated daily by a failed public educational monopoly, television, and a government which rewards dependency and irresponsibility while it punishes industry, thrift, initiative, individuality, and self-responsibility. Yet, in spite of the awesome deterioration of our sense of individual rights and responsibilities, there are still American schoolchildren who yearn for freedom over dependency in our own neighborhoods. Newport and Costa Mesa youth---you are to be congratulated!
What an enormous hassle taking a Styrofoam helmet everywhere you go---And keeping it from being stolen! Please note the high number of children who have responded that they would rather walk than ride a bike with a helmet. Huge numbers of children who have already been documented in prior Daily Pilot coverage of the helmet issue have publicly declared that they will no longer be riding their bikes. This is precisely what happened 3 years ago when tricycle-incompetent Governor Pete Wilson's helmet law for motorcyclists came into effect.
Motorcycle ridership is off by over 50%, with literally hundreds of motorcycle repair, sales, and accessory shops having gone out of business in California. Yet your elected officials who have received contributions (bribes) from the helmet manufacturers, gleefully exclaim that "their" helmet law has saved "our" lives. If the truth be told, fewer accidents have occurred because ridership is down by 50%-- most bikers concerned with their safety and riding pleasure, have elected to no longer ride. Expect a whole "sham" of similar testimonial statistics this time next year when bicycle accident statistics for 1995 become available. Doris Allen and others who feel it their prerogative to force my children and yours to ride in the fashion their egos and rapacious campaign donation-funds find most profitable, will once again shine their badges as the "saviors" of their electorate. There will be no mention that fewer bicycle-related head injuries is due to fewer children are riding bicycles. Until all elected officials make full public disclosure of how much money they have received from the helmet manufacturing industry, you can rightfully question whether they are "saviors" as much as they are "prostitutes."
Do you remember when this used to be a free state and country? I think I do, and I was born in 1953. Now we are the world's premiere police state with easily 10 times the laws, police, and jails of our nearest competitor. By God, our legislators sure want us to live right, don't they? Indeed, California's only growth industry is prisons. The helmet question is a very sensitive issue: it immediately defines our understanding of freedom. It betrays the degree to which we are dependent (need a paternalistic government) to tell us what to do, or the degree to which we are psychologically and mentally disposed to and prepared to care for ourselves -- the baseline requirement for "adulthood" in all cultures.
The tea dumped into Boston Harbor some 200 years ago along with the blood shed in rejecting King George's paternalism were acts of honor and dignity carried out by those who sought freedom for themselves--and, thankfully, for us, their posterity. Thomas Jefferson wrote: "All men are created equal with certain inalienable rights, that among these are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Doris Allen, & other supporters of the helmet laws, have just violated and alienated the rights of millions of innocent school children who cannot pursue "happiness" (as they define it) wearing a helmet. Are they subjects of a fascist police state or are they citizens of a free country, able to make their own decisions?
And if you think these young men and women ignoble due to their age, what then of their parents? Do their parents have any parenting role left? Or, has Uncle Satan usurped all true, loving, legitimate, God-given paternity rights and put them into the hands of his elected chumps, too.
Do you justify such a bill thinking, "fewer medical claims will be paid by taxpayers like me." How about working to restore private individual enterprise and responsibility and stop our collectivist state policies which constantly puts the IRS gun to your temple to pay for another Comrade's consumption? Such communism and socialism failed in Eastern Europe, and you'd think the U.S. would know better.
Should the [arguably] freest country on earth justify laws which are for "the public good?" I quote from John Stuart Mill 19th Century civil libertarian and father of the women's suffrage movement. Mill was an early supporter of birth control and is most famous for his essays "On Liberty" (1859) (quoted) and "On the Subjection of Women" (1869):
....[T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant....The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is SOVERIGN."
Or, as Justice Louis Brandeis put it:
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 479 (1928)
Whatever happened to statesmen--men whose ambition it was to preserve and defend the liberty and interests not just of themselves, but of all mankind? Has our republic's tragic indulging of socialism caused the freest of the free to simply prefer the government controlling us? Our political life has devolved from individual rights and liberty (and responsibility) to increasing state ownership and control of all individuals. Too many elected officials interpret their liberty as their degree of power to make and enforce decisions dealing with your life and mine....things which you and I should decide.
Can anybody who has not been in a coma during the last decade pretend that government is acting on our behalf? (Recall the disclosures of thousands of unknowing victim-citizens poisoned with radiation since the 1950s in U.S. laboratories). We have seen few horrors like that since Auschwitz and Dachau. Oh, it's just "Big-Brother" taking care of you--making your decisions for you. If my state & country make all my decisions for me--what becomes the purpose of my living? None! We would simply all be pre-programmed, or government-programmed robots. Hillary Clinton tried to force the entire nation to see only the doctor of her choice--one who practiced medicine only as she defined it. This concept terrified most people, but especially people like me who strongly question standard American medical practices (costly & invasive drug and surgery intensive treatment). Yet she in abject power-hungry arrogance felt herself qualified, anointed, or elected to provide and prescribe my health care! Hogwash, Ms. Clinton!
I'm sure that in Hitler's Germany the government justified what they did as being for the benefit of all segments of society. Can you see how dangerous it is to give even the least bit of your freedom up for an allegedly "good" cause? In fact, just like in Nazi Germany the cowards who perpetrated the helmet bills did so on the weak, the not-so-influential, those who are least able to defend themselves against abuses. "Schoolchildren---heck, they're not going to create any organized opposition. Motorcyclists---scum. If they don't like it, I'll be glad--they deserve it!" In fact, the Motorcycle Helmet Bill's sponsor, former Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd once cracked, "One thing's for certain--when they drive away they're going to wear a helmet and every time they put on the helmet they're going to think about me!" This statement reeks of a man much more concerned with his legacy of power and coercion over others, than a man truly concerned with anyone else's life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. We can thank God "his arrogance" is no longer in the state Assembly.
Elected officials generally remain incredibly "out of touch" with the electorate they are supposed to "represent." If we allow such poorly qualified people to make our personal decisions for us, we put ourselves at peril, and we become automatons or robots of the government. Remember what happened in Iran when the Ayatollah made a personal decision for all his citizens...."let's all be Fundamental Shiite Muslims!" Although Hitler, Mussolini, Hussein, etc. all were convinced they acted in everyone's best interest, the affected citizenry were placed at peril. We place ourselves in peril, too when we allow our government officials to make our personal decisions--or any decisions which reduce our constitutional rights. Sprinkling the holy water of "democracy" on a poor decision or law may be adequate excuse for some to be subjugated, but shouldn't be for people with constitutional rights. (Recall that our form of government is Constitutional Republic, not a Socialist Democracy). In a Republic, citizens have rights which no legislation, even if passed by a manipulated, brainwashed, or bribed majority, can alienate. We have democratic elections to elect officials who then affirm by oath of office to "uphold, protect, and defend" the constitution of the State of California (or the United States).
Where do we draw the line? Should the US be a land where 1 faction constantly attempts to control the behavior of everyone else? I don't drink alcohol. Should I lobby to have another prohibition--forcing all others to stop? Alcohol in conjunction with irresponsibility kills far more people in California each month than bicycling does each year! In conscience, as a lover of liberty, I cannot. Others enjoy imbibing, and do so responsibly. It might be healthier if all citizens had to sleep zipped up inside full-body condoms. Would you support such a bill? Would your elected representatives?
And thank God for the likes of Assemblyman Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), who is sponsoring (AB 373), a repeal of the motorcycle helmet law for riders over 21. "The mandatory helmet law for adults represents a dramatic and largely unprecedented intrusion into the arena of individual rights," Morrow said. "It is simply wrong for the government to dictate to individuals on an issue of purely personal choice." Amen, Assemblyman! Here is a man who has some understanding of liberty. California, we've been through Hell in the last 4 years, but let's preserve our heritage of freedom. May there never be a law prohibiting the wearing of a helmet---nor one requiring it, either.
Mark S. Blackburn, MBA
1310 E Street Victorian
Sacramento, CA 95814
Last Updated: February 14, 2010