Aired Oct. 26, 2013 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/TbJpi_SsDUk
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of October 27th, 2013.
Remember New York in the 1970s? Graffiti everywhere, druggies in the alleys, hookers on the corner, people getting shot, stabbed, punched – or worse: forced to hear disco music. Since those days, Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg have transformed the Wild West into the Mild East. Manhattan is a giant strip mall of Disney stores, Starbucks, Chili’s, $2500-a-month studio apartments and miles of lovely construction scaffolding. The closest we get to cowboys n’ Indians is the Naked Cowboy in Times Square, and even he wears tidy whities and a guitar over his pizzle.
But Manhattan got a taste of the old days last month when a gang of bikers terrorized a driver on the West Side Highway. You’ve all seen this story on viral video: the motorcyclists were in a group slowing down traffic. Alexian Lien was with his wife and two-year-old son in their van when he saw all these bikers around him, driving erratically and brake checking. A brake check is where you hit the brakes suddenly so anyone driving close to you has to slam their brakes if they don’t want to bump into your tuchas. Miley Cyrus was brake-checking Robin Thicke on the MTV awards; and let me tell you, she made me honk my horn.
But dancing on television and terrorizing on the highways are two different things. When Mr. Lien got brake checked, he didn’t stop fast enough and clipped one of the bikers. This made the other Hell’s Devils mad. They swarmed around the van in a menacing fashion.
Now the guy’s afraid for his life, so he floors it, trying to escape. In so doing, he runs over a couple of cyclists, paralyzing one for the rest of his life. Well, bikers are like bedbugs, if you only squash a couple, the others will come back in force. The other cyclists – now with legitimate reason to be pissed – go chasing after Lien’s van, get him down a side street and stop him. It’s like Orange County Choppers Meets Cujo.
That’s when a biker, a 37-year-old thug who goes by the name of Chance – this Chance character goes up to the SUV, takes his helmet and smashes in the driver-side window of the van. Someone else bashes in the back window, and they’re all trying to yank the door open and pull Alexian Lien out of the SUV. Which they do. And they beat the scheiss out of him. All you need is the Rolling Stones playing “Under My Thumb” in the background, and it’s the late 60s all over again. It’s Altamont with schvartzes.
Because there was such a melee, it took days for the police to wade through the evidence and start looking for people to arrest. When they did, they found that some of the bikers were undercover police. These cops couldn’t step out of character and help for fear of blowing their cover. God forbid they should try and save someone’s life; it’s more important they gather evidence for a drug bust. It’s comforting to know that if I have a gang of thugs punching and kicking me while my wife and toddler are watching, at least, 30 pounds of hemp won’t get into the wrong hands.
As of this writing, everything is in the hands of the grand jury, with four of the bikers racking up serious charges of gang assault, rioting and criminal mischief. Good. Although I’m a little thrown by that word: mischief. It’s too cute. “Ooh, the criminal’s making mischief – he put silly string all over that yield sign, how mischievous.” It makes them sounds like scamps. “Ooh, Allen Edwards is pulling a little Asian guy out of his car and punching him. How impish!”
Seriously, this kind of hooliganism cannot be tolerated, and I hope all the bikers are punished for turning a highway into their own personal skee-ball alley. What’s funny is to read people’s online comments to stories about the incident, most of them against the bikers – good; however most of them by right-wing libertarian types using the incident as a reason to defeat gun control. They’re all arnchair cowboys, going, “Well, if it were me in that van with my wife and brat,
I’d pull my .38 out of my holster and start wasting these vermin one by one. They’d all die slowly, gasping “I’m sorry!” with their last breaths.
Yeah. Let’s examine the flaws of that non-Talmudic logic, shall we? First of all, guns are legal; Mr. Lien just didn’t have one. But let’s say he did. So he opens fire on 30 bicyclists who may be armed themselves. Now you’ve got a shootout instead of a beatdown. Do you think Mr. Lien’s wife and brat, not to mention nearby drivers and pedestrians, would have fared better with bullets flying everywhere?
This Harley Hellride is a terrible story, but to use it as some kind of object lesson in gun ownership is like saying if John F. Kennedy were packing heat, he could have taken down Oswald and all his CIA helpers. It’s fun to fantasize about empowerment; we all want to be Clint Eastwood riding through Lahood or the Israeli Defense Force raiding Entebbe. But the truth is it’s usually better to stay quiet, mind your business, and hope that the asshole on the moped flipping you the finger (because you didn’t see him in your blind spot) isn’t a cop on his day off looking to take out his homicidal frustrations on your kidneys. Even John Wayne would pish himself when faced with that.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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