Missouri legislature is about to engage in the quixotic attempt to repeal — or at least to reduce the effect of — a silly law. Missouri House Bill HB155 of the current session aims to allow motorcycle riders over 21 to feel the breeze in their hair. I’d like it even better if were coupled to a clause requiring organ donation permission, but that would be replacing one type of meddling with another.
A motorcyclist makes a great organ donor. Most are in passable health, and an accident without a helmet is much more likely to result in a slightly battered, brain-dead corpse than if she had worn a helmet. Our skulls are insufficiently evolved (or inadequately designed, if you prefer) to reliably survive a hard-surface impact even at normal running speeds, much less highway speed. If you know that you will be sending your head out there at those speeds, it’s simple sense to protect it somehow, just in case the other guy isn’t paying attention. But I don’t think it should be the business of the government to specify and require the use of such protection.
I have a motorcycle license, although I haven’t actually driven one in a decade. I did and still would wear a helmet in traffic as certainly as I reflexively strap on a seatbelt in any car. But I object to the government wasting its time enforcing those laws, and even its mass of paper to record such laws. The more laws we have, the weaker each one becomes.
So why do I call it quixotic? Because even if all of the House approves it, and all but a couple of members of the Senate, it could still be stalled into oblivion. Anyone who wants to soapbox on safety issues might take it up as a cause; for the good of the community. The small constituency of those whom the bill actually affects are not a significant political force. And the election record in our state shows the dominant influence of the pulpit over the professors. For example, the bulk of Missouri’s legislation related to massage was written for the vice squad, not the therapy community. Our secular state constitution is burdened with a clause restricting whom or how many one may marry.
But that’s a different category of laws passed for our own good. This gripe is about still-up-to-the-state helmet laws, and the federally mandated (via highway funding blackmail) speed limit and seatbelt laws.