Monday, November 18, 2013

The Rush to Judgement

sportbike riders
Some years ago, when I was a Harley rider, I'd hear from other Harley riders about the "idiots" on sportbikes. One of them was sure to tell me about the guy they saw riding 100+ MPH down the freeway weaving in and out of cars.

"They give motorcycle riders a bad name" they'd say.

Now that I ride a sport touring bike, I don't get many Harley riders coming to me with that sentiment.

I do, however, still hear people in general tell me about the idiots on motorcycles. And true, there are idiots out there.

But is 2 seconds really enough time to judge someone an "idiot"?

I've ridden my motorcycle over 100 MPH on a number of occasions. I even did that on my Harley. But I don't do it all the time. In fact, I rarely do it.

I'll bet however, in those instances when I rode that fast, someone saw me and told their friends about the "idiot" they saw on a motorcycle.

I was having a day when I felt rebellious, angry, or had a wild hair up my ass.  I think everyone has those days, even Harley riders.  It's not fair to label me an idiot for 2 seconds of whoosh that sped past your eyes.

In all fairness, it's not just Harley riders who point their fingers.  I've witnessed sportbike riders complain that Harley riders are inexperienced posers who can't handle a motorcycle.

Why do we rush to judge and categorize people as idiots?


  1. "Why do we rush to judge and categorize people as idiots?"

    I think that it's human nature to want to classify and simplify to world to as few rules as possible. And one of those simple rules is that anyone not like (or think like or look like or dress like) me is an idiot...

  2. Sorry, I would still categorize anyone who goes that fast on a public roadway as an idiot. Even if it's "2 seconds" as you say. You can't control you surroundings and going that fast increases your chances that you'll be in an accident. And that life you take, just might not be your own.

    In fact, I get really angry when I see someone riding like that. As the PR Director for ABATE of Wisconsin, I spend a lot of my own time and dime fighting for motorcyclists' rights on the road. An idiot like that just makes it harder on the rest of us and gives government bodies all the evidence they need to clamp down on all of us. One bad apple can spoil it for the rest of us.

    1. Dean, I appreciate what ABATE is doing and believe government bodies would have legislated motorcycles into obsolescence if not for the work of ABATE and other MROs. My goal of the article is get people to think about why they assign the "idiot" label so quickly, when most of the time the riders they see are just having a rare moment of wildness.

  3. Judgement is us projecting our views of ourselves onto others, I believe. I think all too often what we really mean is, "If I did that I would be _______! I have to consider ___________ before I am ____________." Fill in the blanks as it applies to your life.

    I find it fascinating that Dean continues to judge, even though you're pointing out an esoteric element of society. You're discussing human nature, using speeding as an example, and all Dean saw was the example, not the parable. And of course I saw Dean as a jerk for judging you, which only makes me judgmental too. Ha ha ha!

    Stepping outside of ourselves is one of the hardest tasks of human beings, thus the very point of philosophizing. This is Motorcycle Philosophy, right? Philosophy of a Motorcycle Rider?

    1. the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic discipline.

    The lesson, not the example, is even lost on me from time to time.


  4. I've driven a Toyota Camry at 110 mph. A Saturn SL2 at 100 and a Peugeot 306 at 100. I doubt that in any of those cases onlookers drew a conclusion about the car. They may have thought: "That dude in the SL2 is a douche." But likely did not think: "Typical Saturn driver!"

    It's stupid (but predictable) that people's thought process is different for bikes. Of course, the big dumb irony is that whereas sport riders will lament cruisers and vice versa, most car-only people will see no difference.

  5. Steve:

    I judge people every day. Those that tailgate, don't use signals or cut you off I deem selfish and think they own the road. and it's not just for 2 seconds. I see the same people every day, the same route, the same time, the same cars. There seems to be a relationship between certain models and makes of cars. It got to the point where see that particular make of car I already have them pegged into a pidgeon hole and my mind is already made up

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. We had a saying in the Army, because all the emotion and vitriol wasn't going to EVER change a damned thing... the saying? "it don't mean nuthin'"...

    It's the same old same old. You're born. You live for a while. You struggle to own your own life while others struggle just as hard to own it too... and then you die.

    If you die running a hundred miles an hour straight into a bridge abutment at 29... or toothless and drooling in a nursing home at 99... what does it really matter how or when? You're dead.

    The thing everyone refuses to grasp is; No lives are ever saved... by any thing... ever... Their Ending is only postponed. So why focus on the manner and timing of the inevitable ending? Better to focus the greater energy on the "focus" of all that went before.

    Many... most even, will call me hard hearted and short sighted...

    well... Ok...

    1. In Egypt that attitude is summed up by the word "Malesh." My friend tells a story of being in a speeding taxi when the car hit a dog. The taxi never slowed down and didn't stop. Recognising that my friend's girlfriend was upset at what had just happened, the driver said: "Malesh. Allah wanted that dog dead."

  7. I just remember one important thing I learned in the Motorcycle Safety Class/ course I took. Every person that starts up a motorcycle is responsible for their own safety. If they dress with gear or they dress in shorts & flip flops or somewhere in between. They are responsible. My bike is a cross-over bike part sport bike, part cruiser. I've seen both types doing all kinds of crazy things at different times. All I do is hope they are having fun and being as safe as they can be or within their comfort level. I also hope they don't get hurt or hurt anyone else in the process, but I know that they know that they are responsible for their ride. We all ride our bikes for the fun of it. I hope we all remember we are responsible for our ride.

  8. Newbie here. But the rule is....

    Anyone that goes slower than me is a jack***. Anyone that goes faster than me is an idiot. Not my rules I just follow them!! :-)

    Great story and most of us can apply this lesson to more than our riding.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)