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Thursday, December 11, 2014

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, A Viable Option For The 90's?


by Tony Pan Sanfelipo

Resist Injustice

      With a renewed ambition around the country to challenge mandatory helmet laws, there has been some discussion by individuals questioning the use of disobedience to existing laws. When BOLT members began a campaign of disobedience in California, they were ridiculed and condemned as trouble-makers. BOLT's stance on the existing helmet law was sure to bring the wrath of the enforcement community down on all bikers.
      Sadly, it took others in that state a few years to catch on to the theory that these laws could and should be challenged. A short, or should I say long, three years later, there are several important court cases on record to cite, an injunction against further police stops for beanie helmets, an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court reinstating some of the police power, etc., etc.
      There seems to be a cluster fuck going on out there as to what is the correct interpretation of the injunction, or what the proper enforcement practice should be (which is exactly what BOLT had intended -- massive confusion on the streets, in the courts and in the Legislature). The frustration is further exasperated by the fact that some members of the motorcycle community still don't understand it all, and others think that continued disobedience will bring more trouble to the bikers. It's that lack of understanding, that lack of support by our own kind that is our biggest problem. The "don't make waves and the problem will go away" mentality is our biggest enemy. More so than the law enforcement agencies that continue to stop and harass us. More so than the NHTSA overstepping it's authority and charge of duty by engaging in activities far beyond the scope and definition of it's purpose.
      What I'm talking about is moderate position of devotion to order, acceptance of arbitrary rules in exchange for peaceful existence. I've always admired those peoples who would sacrifice freedom and blood in search of their liberties. We have been under the yoke of the protectionist governmental agencies and the various states for a long time, but we haven't paid much of a price for our freedom as compared to others who sought redress from their government. Those who came before us with a passion for their cause almost always succeeded fully or to some great degree.
      We don't have to resort to violence, but civil disobedience and resistance to these ridiculous mandatory helmet laws should be the only mandatory thing we recognize. Those among us who try to stifle our attempts in the name of order are the real problem in our movement today. When Martin Luther King was jailed in Birmingham, he wrote a letter to the clergymen who criticized his marches as being disruptive. Two parts of that letter summed up the sentiments I'm trying to relay to you here.
      First he said, " individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law."
      He went on to conclude that his people's biggest stumbling block to freedom wasn't the oppressive hate groups or police, but rather, "...the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises to wait until a more convenient season. Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
      If you live in a helmet law state, you should be out resisting that law with every fiber of your being, unless you agree with it of course. If you aren't willing to accept that price, you should at least support those who are willing to face those repressive laws in any way you can. This isn't about safety, as some uninformed or misguided shallow thinkers claim. Anyone should be allowed to wear a helmet if they think it will provide them some form of protection. Nobody should be forced to wear one by any government agency or bureaucratic Nimrod, by any sanctimonious legislative traitor to our Republic, or by any private interest (criminal) insurance representatives.