When during this year’s 11th annual ABATE helmet protest ride in Onandaga, New York, one of the participants, Philip A. Contos, a rider with 30 years of experience under his wheels, fishtailed while hitting his brakes and high-sided over the bars resulting in his death. He was lidless at the time. There was cruel irony in the incident, no doubt, but mostly there was terrible tragedy, and the unseemly subtext of glee with which media outlets reported the story–nationwide, no less–puts a harsh light upon the Us vs.Them mentality that the motorcycling community is still routinely subjected to.

Crueler still than the irony was that in the media’s smirking telling of the story, the victim’s personage was objectified, his humanity marginalized, the grief of his loved ones unconsidered. and just an overarching stench of, “Serves him right” suffused the coverage; those media should be ashamed.

When a teenager without a seatbelt is ejected from a vehicle in a collision and dies, the media never reports the story as a case of: “Young scofflaw gets her comeuppance.” Nor should they. Driving without a seat belt is not a capital offense. Neither is riding lidless. There’s an appalling double standard at work here.

by Terry Roorda


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