Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Word of the Week - Incommode

Today I'm starting a new theme with this post. Oh, it'll still be about bikers and such, but being a person who adores fun words, I've decided to choose a word of the week and center a post around it's meaning.

Many words in the English language (as well as others) can be traced back to Latin. As a lover of interesting words, as well as Latin words, this weekly post is partially for my own enjoyment. I hope you enjoy it too.

This week's word is "incommode".

Now, when I saw this word, the first thing that came to mind was "in the toilet". And it's not far off the mark, especially if I use it to describe what politicians do (or don't do). However, it's not pronounced that way (no matter what your "hooked on Phonics" teacher said).

incommode (in-kuh-MOD) verb tr.

To inconvenience.

[From Latin incommodus (inconvenient), ultimately from the Indo-European root med- (to take appropriate measures) that is also the source of medicine, modern, modify, modest, and modulate.]

"Politicians and law makers (and some lobbyists) are unwilling to consider banning cell phone use while driving because this will seriously incommode their own selfish desires."
Now, I'll be the first to admit I'm human and human nature is inherently self-serving. We conjure up all sorts of reasons for the things we do, but ultimately most of the things we do are self-serving. Whether they are selfish or not depends on how those acts affect others, as in the violation of the human rights. The right to live is one of those rights, wouldn't you agree?

We obey traffic laws because they were created to allow others to travel safely together on the same roads. If we do not obey these laws because it's an inconvenience, we're distracted, or we simply don't want to, it's a selfish act that may cause another to lose his or her life. That disobedience or unlawfulness becomes a violation of human rights for which is punishable according to the law.

Just as driving under the influence of alcohol impairs our driving ability, driving under the influence of cell phones also impairs our driving ability. Notice I didn't say driving with a cell phone in hand, or driving with a cell phone in the car (and a hands free device in your ear).

Under the influence in this case means: something able to affect the course of events or somebody’s thinking or action, or more simply put, an intoxication.

Our society and form of government allows us to vote for law makers who will uphold our human rights. They work for us, and are paid by us, the common man. We expect them to protect our human rights. Where do lobbyists fit into this equation?

Consider the following snippet by RC of
Big Bend Bikers for Freedom, posted on Bruce-n-Ray's biker Forum on a comment the current acting President of ABATE, and also a paid lobbyist, James D. "Doc" Reichenbach II, made:
"The President of the SMRO in this state (fl) has voiced his "need" to use a cell phone while driving. He qualified that statement by adding that of course he uses a hands free device."
What makes this quoted statement self-serving, as well as a selfish one, is he (the President of Florida's SMRO) is voicing his need to use a cell phone and implies that a hands-free device makes this OK to do. Given the studies and information so readily available, as reported by MADD, Mr. Reichenbach clearly contradicts what ABATE stands for.

A hands free device eliminates the use of hands, but in no way keeps the driver centered on driving only. During his or her conversation, when he or she is listening to another voice or composing and delivering a voiced reply, their thoughts are NOT centered on driving.

I consider myself to be a good driver. I certainly have a good driving record. However, I know that cell phone conversations distract me while driving and it would be a lie to say they don't. My bet is the majority of people would say the same, if they were honest. Sounds to me like Mr. Reichenbach is more worried about losing his right to use a cell phone while driving, than my right to live and ride safely.

The really sad part of the quoted statement above is he has a great influence on legislators, and law makers, and is supposed to stand for the human rights of Bikers in Florida. In one fell swoop, he is effectively proclaiming that every one of us, who have had to dodge a cell phone intoxicated driver, are suffering from an overactive imagination.

He even goes as far as warning others not to "antagonize the Transportation Committee", in his posted letter,
S620 Cell Phone Bill Update 3/29/2007 on the ABATE of Florida website.

Consider if you will, the
Mission Statement on the ABATE website:
  • We will lobby and educate the government and general public to promote motorcycling in a safe and positive image.

  • We will endeavor to enlist the cooperation and participation of all organizations and individuals who share a similar interest in preserving our American tradition of freedom.

  • We will involve ourselves in fund raising to achieve our goals.
Now, this Mission Statement also claims that their paid lobbyist (Mr. Reichenbach) works closely with the Board of Directors to coordinate and formulate favorable bills. So one can assume from this that Mr. Reichenbach is not alone in his statement above. Therefore, ABATE of Florida is not working toward a common interest in preserving freedom, for to ride free one must still be alive to do so.

And if Mr. Reichenbach does not speak for ABATE in his apathetic comment, then why does the ABATE board of directors not rein him in? For he is clearly speaking from a selfish and self-serving point of view. It is an abomination that he be allowed to make such a comment, when all organizations who promote and work toward our freedom to ride safely, clearly must agree. A division of common goals is surely the path to failure.

Supporting ALL Biker's rights does not seem to be the trend here, and supporting a ban on cell phones while driving will obviously incommode Mr. Reichenbach's selfish right to use one, and endanger the lives of others while doing so. Apparently he believes that sticking a hands-free device in his ear makes it all OK. It would seem that Mr. Reichenbach is using his influence to advocate his needs, rather than ABATE's.

And by the way, don't tell me what I can and can't do Mr. Reichenbach, for I have the right to be safe from you and others using cell phones while driving.

And I won't be any safer, helmet or not, until cell phone conversations are banned while operating a deadly weapon, such as a motor-driven vehicle. It is appalling that hard earned money from donations to ABATE is used to pay for Mr. Reichenbach's services, for he clearly is not serving the greater good of Bikers everywhere, and certainly not in Florida.

Until more people "antagonize" the government to curtail this particular driver distraction, our lives and limbs are the payment, and I'll write to any legislator I choose to on any subject that is near and dear to me, if it means I might be heard.

So here's a message to Bikers everywhere: If you believe you are in danger of becoming a victim of a "cell phone intoxicated driver", I encourage you to "antagonize", albeit in a polite and respectful way, any legislator who may have influence over this issue.

And most certainly think very hard about donating your hard earned money to ABATE of Florida, at least while it supports Mr. Reichenbach.

This Latin phrase applies here: Justitia omnibus: "Justice for all"

My motorcycle license plate has the Latin word for "Heaven" on it. I'm not ready to go there just yet, but riding my bike is a little bit of Heaven every time I ride. I'd like to keep it that way.

1 comment:

rc said...

Good post. At first I thought it referred to where I might look for my cell phone once again (why do they keep going there). To be fair to the ABATE general membership, they did vote that lobbyist support a total ban (no hands free devices) however he did not do so. In fact the last issue of the Masterlink (ABATE of Florida's newsletter) would leave one to believe that they are going to jump on the hands free bandwagon.

What I fail to understand is why the general membership (to the best of my knowledge as per state meeting in April in Monticello) failed to hold the person they pay to support their agenda responsible for not doing so.

It leads to the impression that ABATE of Florida might be somewhat "fickle" in it's approach to "safety" and less than forthcoming in their approach to "education."

It is sad that an organization that once billed itself as a "brotherhood" dedicated to preserving the "biker lifestyle" has become as a leaf blowing in the wind subject to the vagaries of one (or a few persons). I would much rather straddle a motorcycle than a fence and can only hope that the "dedicated' freedom fighters of ABATE of Florida (of which there are many)would find a way to free themselves from the chains of their own bondage and like the phoenix from the ashes.

But as you so rightfully point out, as individuals we do have the ability to take a stand and in this day of instant communications can be heard like never before. If only we assume the responsibility to do so. rc