Your honor, I come before you today to defend my client, that two-wheeled casualty of prejudice, unfairness, intolerance and bad press, the lowly - when it is cornered properly - motorcycle.
Throughout history the motorcycle has been maligned unjustly, and the latest incident with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has raised again the ugly head of narrow-mindedness and false alarm.
What was he doing on a motorcycle? Why wasn't he wearing a helmet? Why was he risking his career?
These questions beg the question, as if this was unnatural. Might as well ask why Paulie Walnuts carries an ankle pistol.
Our sympathy must be assumed for young Roethlisberger, but let me point out that nothing bad happened to him until after he left the motorcycle.
To be criticized for not wearing a helmet, well, that is another matter altogether and not only perfectly legal in many places but vital to film classics and shampoo commercials.
If Steve McQueen had been wearing a helmet in The Great Escape, how would we have known it was he?
We in the motorcycle community should be used to this by now, but the hurt never heals. If you stare at us, do we not flush? If you turn into a parking spot thought to be empty and find us there, do we not flinch?
We have been blamed for everything from the death of Lawrence of Arabia to the end of Southern rock, if you count Duane Allman.
Think of it this way. Che Guevara was no trouble to anyone as long as he was on his motorcycle.
We are innocent and fuel efficient and do not take up any more space than a bucket seat in a Lincoln Navigator.
You call us bikers and outlaws and worse when the truth is only some of us are any of those. Most of us are middle-aged weekend joy riders who can't get enough bugs in our teeth.
Just look at the company in which we are lumped by sports teams, activities determined too dangerous to do. Sky diving. Hang gliding. Snow skiing. Rock climbing. Bungee jumping, fighting, boxing, wrestling, auto racing, airplane flying . . .
This from sports leagues that have categories for injured players built right into expectations. Injured reserve, as if it is vintage wine or a bank.
Let me tell you, your honor, that I will take my chances on a Honda Nighthawk in traffic before I will on a kick return team.
Those restrictive and dishonest contracts are forced onto healthy, vigorous young athletes, wrapping them like china in bubble wrap. No wonder they resist. The NFL excludes anything that has a significant risk of personal injury, that is anything that is not taught on the football field itself.
The NBA bans mopeds. Mopeds! Why not a Segway?
Guilt by association. That's what it is. When Sonny Bono skied into a tree, did anyone call for the removal of trees? Of course not.
Did anyone organize a ban against venison when Clint Barmes tumbled under the weight of a deer haunch?
Discrimination is what it is, single-cylinder, two-stroke bigotry is what it is. Why, just consider highway deaths from cars compared to motorcycles, 5-1, and do sports leagues keep their players from driving SUVs and low-slung sports cars?
Of course not. They give them away for being the most valuable this or that.
Every time one little incident happens, the past is dredged up. Remember Kellen Winslow Jr., they ask. Have we forgotten Jason Williams? And Hermann Maier, the Hermanator, all motorcycle victims.
I ask, who is the victim? Human beings can be healed, but the poor Harley has only the junk heap awaiting.
We are damned as the natural enemy of athletes, the bane of coaches, the dread of mothers, the assassin of promise, the trap of youth, the symbol of danger. And all we want is a little open road and room for a babe on the back.
Oh, sure. This is how clear it all is. There are lists ranking the worst results of a jock on a hog, or whatever the machine of choice, and no one mentions how many power forwards have gone out for milk on a chopper without crashing into each other.
Fair is fair. Motocross racers are perfectly free to try and dunk a basketball if they like. But point guards are banned from catching a little medium air.
Dirt bikers can field all the groundballs they want to. Flat trackers can field punts all day if they like and, let me tell you this, you won't find one making a fair catch.
You can have my motorcycle when you pry the handlebars from my cold, dead hands.
The defense rests.
Copyright: Bernie Lincicome