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Ask Our Lawyer - April 2003

Q: I attend a bike swap meet at the Belle Claire Fairgrounds in Belleville about four times a year, and have attended for over a decade. I have heard that the local officials want to shut it down because they fear that certain motorcycle club members may be attending. What can be done?

A: The only weapons against fear are logic and reason, and sometimes even they don’t do the trick. Unfortunately, fear is a powerful emotion, which is why terrorism always seems attractive to some. However, living in fear is not how Americans react, and living in fear is something that we as Americans must constantly strive to overcome.
How did the war against terrorism get mixed up in a column about bike swap meets? It’s really two sides to the same coin. Fear keeps people from living their lives. And remember, fear is not the same as vigilance. Proper vigilance is important - we can do a better job of keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and protected than anyone else. But that vigilance has to be tempered by experience and common sense, which gets us back to the swap meet.
Will some one-percenters show up? Most likely. Will they cause any trouble? Based on experience, NO! We bikers are a varied lot. One thing that unites us is our love of freedom - the freedom to ride, to live our lives, and to make our own way in the world.
We put that in action by contacting our law-makers and law enforcers and letting them know, politely but forcefully, when they try to trample on our freedoms. Fear of one-percenters is no reason to shut down a swap meet, especially one that has a track record of peaceful commerce. Fear of a motorcycle, or those who ride, is not rational and we need to continue to educate and inform the fearful about who we are and what we do.
It is only fear that is causing problems, and fear is not the American way. I’ve talked about this problem before, when we discussed the definition of “biker” in the dictionary. We continue to monitor the situation and try to have the publishers realize that derogatory definitions of our lifestyles are unfair and offensive. So far, the resistance to change has been strong, but we persevere.
One-percenters do not define us, we define ourselves. Our differences make us strong, our commonalities make us proud.
You asked what can you do? I’d start by handing out copies of this article. Knowing southern Illinoisians as I do, your support will cause the lawmakers to change their minds.

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: ASK OUR LAWYER, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com.