It appears she’s not Mark Sanford after all (at least, not on this). Good for Gov. Haley!

At least, not on this point.

Assuming that Nikki Haley actually does sign the ATV safety bill today, she deserves a huge “Huzzah” from rational South Carolinians everywhere.

His repeated vetoes of this bill stand as the most malicious, harmful instances of his bloodless application of ideological abstractions to governance. His stance shocked the sensibilities of even some libertarians.

It’s ridiculous that something so common-sense as this bill should be “progress” in this state, but it is. And we must celebrate what little we get in that regard, because sometimes we go backwards.

Case in point: Myrtle Beach expects to be flooded with bikers this year because it has rescinded its “controversial” ordinance requiring that helmets be worn.

Where else would such a no-brainer (pun intended) be regarded as “controversial”? OK, maybe some places out West. Or wherever large numbers of bikers gather. But it’s still very us.

43 thoughts on “It appears she’s not Mark Sanford after all (at least, not on this). Good for Gov. Haley!

  1. bud

    The ATV bill is a pretty straight-forward effort to bring a bit of safety to young riders. Good for Haley in her support.

    The helmet law on the other hand must be viewed as “controversial”. Anytime the government gets involved in manipulating the behavior and choices of adults we should all be very concerned as to how it impacts our personal liberty. That’s where the libertarians are spot on. (They leave me cold on many issues but not on the personal freedom agenda).

    I’m a bit up in the air about whether we should or shouldn’t have helmet laws but it should always be viewed in the context of something “controversial”. Once we get too comfortable legislating personal behavior we are well on the path to losing our cherished freedoms as Americans. The only thing about a helmet law that should be viewed as non-contorversial is that it should be regarded as “controversial”.

  2. Sam

    It’s pretty sad that the bar is so low for our electeds that signing a simple common-sense bill would get such a gushing headline. “Good for Gov. Haley!”??

  3. Doug Ross

    450 children injured annually on ATV’s. How many will be injured under the new law? 400? 425? 440?

    As for motorcycle helmet laws, your guess was wrong.

    Of the fifty states, only 4 are 100% helmet law free! :

    Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire

    26 States have helmet laws that exempt adult riders, riders over the age of majority — 21 years old and over. Those states are:

    Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas.

    So from coast-to-coast, most of the states feel it up to an individual adult to determine if he wears a helmet. Not so controversial, right? Well, unless you consider freedom to be stupid controversial.

  4. Brad

    Yes, Sam. It is.

    And Bud — yes, the ATV bill is clearly more of an “uncontroversial” (to borrow from Noam Chomsky) benefit, as libertarian ideology is indeed at its most bankrupt when it bars efforts to keep kids safe.

    As for there being any rational argument against helmet laws… well, bending over backwards to agree with you, there IS the societal benefit of having a steady supply of otherwise healthy organ donors who die suddenly of head trauma. But that’s a rather cold-blooded benefit, and I hesitate to embrace it…

    Can’t see that anyone is harmed by having to wear a helmet. Except, of course, that it doesn’t look as cool. I’ll grant you that. But somehow, I can’t see a case for giving that greater weight than safety.

  5. Doug Ross

    I can’t wait for the day my government isssued bubble wrap arrives to encase my children within.

  6. Brad

    And Doug — yeah, I covered that with “some places out West. Or wherever large numbers of bikers gather.” Which is a broad qualification.

    But it is STILL very South Carolina. Very us. I’m proud of Myrtle Beach for having been sensible, even briefly.

    Sorry, I can’t take anyone’s assertion regarding their “freedom” to spread their brains across our highways seriously. Just can’t. Totally absurd.

    Personally, I have my doubts about allowing motorcycles on the road at all. Aside from the fuel-economy benefits of the smaller ones, of course.

    As for bicycles — all my life, I’ve doubted the conventional wisdom that it is somehow safer for bikes to be in the street than on sidewalks. Seems to me that the potential for harm done by bikes on sidewalks is less than the potential harm done by having bikes in the path of automobiles…

    By the way, anyone drive through Shandon lately? The UTTER lack of concern for their own safety on the part of walkers, runners and bicyclists in that neighborhood is really stunning. They utterly ignore that sidewalks exist (sure wish we had all those nice sidewalks in MY Lexington County neighborhood), and proceed blithely down the middle of the street, and you practically have to stop and get out of your car and shout at them to get them to notice you.


  7. Brad

    Combining the two phenomena — watched part of “Lawrence of Arabia” the other night. The opening shows the accident that killed him, and apparently was fairly accurate. He swerved his motorcycle to avoid a couple of bicyclists, and went over an embankment.

    Another reminder why I haven’t wanted a motorcycle since I was about 14. Really wanted one when I was a kid, though. Because of Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape.”

    Now THERE was a guy on a motorcycle without a helmet (after he realized he could be shot for dressing like a German soldier) who had a legitimate concern for his freedom. At least, McQueen’s fictional character did. “Hilts” never existed.

  8. Doug Ross

    “Which is a broad qualification.”

    Yeah… so is 30 out of 50 states covering the entire country from coast to coast and north to south. You’d have a better shot at passing an amendment to the Constitution ALLOWING helmet-free riding.

  9. bud

    Can’t see that anyone is harmed by having to wear a helmet.

    That’s the kind of simple logic that Brad normally deplores. On most issues it’s all about nuance, details and exceptions. But when it comes to liberty Brad seems willing to just flipantly cast it aside like yesterdays State newspaper.

    I’m not sure I want to join the courus of those who proclaim confidently that the USA is exceptional. But in one area we stand above all others and that’s in our zealous defense of liberty. That’s why we pretty much all agreed here that however distasteful it was that crazy church had a right to picket military funerals. So we should be equally as zealous in defending the rights of people to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. At the end of the day we may have to give up a bit of freedom in order to minimize the slaughter on our highways in order to keep insurance premiums down. But this must ONLY be done with the full understanding that this is an exception. We must never, ever take away liberty in a willy-nilly fashion because some bearueacrat reads a study somewhere suggesting it’s a good thing. Tyranny starts with simple events like this and we end up with concentration camps and salutes to a dictator. Issues like this, along with video poker and abortion should always be controversial. Otherwise we risk it all in the name of a bit of safety. That’s just too big of a risk to take.

  10. Ralph Hightower

    Motorcyclists not wearing helmets are candidates for the Darwin Awards. But hey, we give them the freedom to eliminate themselves from the gene pool.

  11. Tim

    As a resident of Shandon, you should probably look at the crummy condition of a lot of the sidewalks. You are much more likely to trip on them than on the street.

    And on many streets, especially the north/south streets there are no sidewalks.

    That said, I walk through it every day, at least 2 times, and I use and see other people use them quite often, so I would not say “utter” with such vigor.

    Finally, its the nature of the neighborhood. People walk in large groups there. Its part of the culture, part of what makes it Shandon. That’s why they live there. They use their neighborhood the way the want to. Its part of what makes any community unique.

    As for helmet laws, I just have to take one look at Gary Busey. Gads! We simply cannot afford more Busey.

  12. Steven Davis

    “sure wish we had all those nice sidewalks in MY Lexington County neighborhood)”

    You haven’t noticed the lovely sidewalks being built from Columbia to Lexington along Hwy 1? You know the ones where it’ll require you to cross the Hwy 1 at least 3 times if you wish to walk the entire distance.

    And what’s with these bicycling idiots who think the 5:00 rush hour is an excellent time for a bike ride down Hwy 1. We need Darwin’s little theory to jump in here.

  13. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    @ Tim– Anne Sinclair used to tell me that the city would only put sidewalks alongside properties with property owner’s permission. I’d argue back that that was hardly a good standard–how often do you walk along your own property. The city needs to put sidewalks wherever there are sufficient pedestrians to justify them, if not everywhere.

    I don’t know if this is current city policy, or if the city is just too broke.

    This might mean raising taxes. So be it.

  14. Brad

    ” But when it comes to liberty Brad seems willing to just flipantly cast it aside like yesterdays State newspaper.”

    Liberty? Really? You will dignify the “right” to ride on our roads on an attractive nuisance without a helmet as something of fundamental importance to “liberty”?

    Seems to me the burden of proof and argument is on your end on this one. I care about actual liberties, things that matter — freedom of speech, of conscience, of religion, from incarceration without due process, etc. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet? It’s a little tough to dignify that with anyone so high-minded as “liberty.”

  15. Brad

    That said, I’m sorry I dragged the motorcycle thing into it. We could have had consensus here on the ATV thing without it…

  16. Scout

    What are the details of the bill though? I think I heard some commentary, that I can’t for the life of me remember where now, that was suggesting the bill was completely watered down and had so many exceptions that it’s practically useless. If that is the case, is it really that great that Haley supports it? I believe I heard that the law says if you are supervising a kid on a 4 wheeler on your own property, then the kid doesn’t have to wear a helmet. So, um, what’s the point? I don’t have the statistics but I’m betting a good portion of the accidents happen under those circumstances already.

    Ok, I think I remember. I know it was on the radio – I think it was on WVOC on Sunday morning – there is some local legal talk show that we usually hear on the way to church and I think that is where I heard it.

  17. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    The problem with donor-cyclists’ not wearing helmets is that they don’t all die immediately–many linger on and require costly care their insurance, if any, doesn’t cover. Nursing homes are no longer full of old people, guys.

  18. Nick Nielsen

    When it comes to the use of safety equipment, I like the idea of personal responsibility with financial penalties.

    Killed in a car wreck and not wearing a seat belt? Killed in a motorcycle wreck and not wearing a helmet? Since your [in]actions contributed to your demise, insurance companies are only required to pay half the guaranteed death benefit.

    Or, even better yet, Dick Gregory’s suggestion from back in the first fuel crisis, that if the government really wanted people to wear seatbelts, it should tell the people that if they didn’t wear their seatbelts, their cars would only get about 5 miles per gallon.

  19. Joanne

    Anything that protects my students I have to view as a good thing. I know the posters on here care enough about their families to take precautions.

    Believe me when I say that’s not true of all people.

    I’ve already lost one student and one of my students lost a sister in an accident involving one of these vehicles. That’s two too many young people who will never have a chance to contribute to society.

  20. bud

    But consensus is no fun.

    Does anyone see a pattern here. Not to pick on Brad because I’m sure many, if not most, people do this to some extent but people tend to guard the freedoms relevant to them with an almost religious zeal. In Brads’s case he doesn’t smoke pot, ride a motorcycle or enjoy a good game of video poker. As such he can be very dismissive about the value of the liberty they represent to those who do do those things. And frankly it’s impossible to make a case that doing any of those 3 things represents a greater threat to society that a miriade of other activitives that folks routinely, and legally engage in. I know it’s difficult to walk in someone else’s shoes but that’s exactly what we must do if we’re going to continue as a free nation that considers liberty one of it’s most important assets. I for one will NEVER become complacent when it comes to issues of personal freedom. It’s just too damn important.

  21. Doug Ross

    “We could have had consensus here on the ATV thing without it…”

    Consensus on what? That the law will create another level of bureaucracy for our law enforcement officers to be responsible for?

    I asked earlier – of the 450 ATV injuries (not deaths) per year, how many do you think this new bill will prevent? Especially considering this “The bill to be signed today says law enforcement must witness a violation before entering private property.”

    It’s pure feel good window dressing for the nanny staters. It’s another one of those drags on limited resources that causes the wailing and gnashing of teeth when we don’t have the money to buy bulletproof vests for cops.

    You can’t legislate away stupidity but you can legislate stupidly.

  22. marconi45

    Brad’s right about the helmets of course, but the logic of the argument get lost in the impenetrable and colossal fog bank of opinion.

    What he left out however, is a caveat that should require those not wishing to wear helmets to pay triple what the rest of us pay in insurance and to go to the top of the line as organ donors (whether they want to or not) when they end up brain dead in the C&T (cabbages and turnips) ward.

    Non-helmet users can be as free as they want as long as i) the rest of us don’t have to pay to subsidize their “liberty” and ii) society in the form of a 10 year-old-girl needing some sort of transplant or other benefits.

  23. Karen McLeod

    @ Doug. I take it that you don’t approve of the child helmet law. Then, are you willing to help pay for the life-long support of children with catastrophic, but not quite lethal brain injury? Isn’t it in the interest of the state to avoid this type of monetary drain when possible?

  24. Doug Ross


    Sure. As long as you agree to pay for the same care for kids who fall out of trees, nearly drown in swimming pools, dive into shallow ponds, choke on hotdogs, and any other tragedies.

  25. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Merriam Webster’s 1st definition of “Consensus” is unanimity. The lesser one allows for some disagreement.

  26. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    I’m cool with banning hot dogs….

    Look, the gravity of the harm plus the likelihood of it minus the cost of wearing a helmet– it is indeed a no-brainer.

    A wise 19th century judge– I think it was Learned Hand, proposed a great test for whether or not a precaution was warranted–the gravity of the harm times the likelihood of the loss, weighed against the cost of the precaution–I’m not sure the math works out, but the concept sure does….

  27. Mark Stewart


    Tragedies, accidents, are very different from parental neglect. I know you know that.

    I am also against this incessant bubble-wrapping of life that continues inexorably. But some things really are stupidly dangerous. And for those, legal penalties for the willfully ignorant seems just about right.

  28. Steve Gordy

    There’s no way to pass a law that outlaws stupidity. The best thing to do is to make it expensive. If you don’t like government intruding into such areas, how about legislation to legalize insurance company snooping into your personal safety habits? That’s not a comforting thought.

  29. Doug Ross


    So should there be a specific law against allowing a child under the age of (pick a number) to swim alone in a backyard pool? Should there be a law to mandate swimming lessons and floaties up to a certain age?

    This law is pure window dressing. Read it. It’s watered down feel goodism. 450 injuries (not deaths) per year. How many will this law prevent? Give me an educated guess considering all the factors: ignorance of the law by parents, lack of law enforcement resources to focus on it, physics (a helmet isn’t some magical device that prevents all injuries nor especially if an ATV flips on top of a little kid)…

    Like I said earlier, if you want to use resources to educate people about the dangers of ATV’s for kids and the need for helmets, go ahead. Just stop making laws to address the squeaky wheels of the nanny state. A law is not just words… it then requires interpretation, enforcement, punishment, etc.

  30. Mark Stewart

    I’ll easily amused sometimes and don’t always say what I’m thinking. Yes, I was specifically thinking “you can’t legislate stupidity”.

    And no, Doug, I don’t think the law says much or specifically does much. It does, however, send a strong signal. You may not think that that’s what laws are for. Sometimes they are only advisory; as perverse as that sounds.

    The other point is also perverse: Having an actual law on the books means that after a child has died from an avoidable accident, no one can excuse the negligence, not even the parent responsible. And that’s the trick of it, there are so many millions of ways accidents can happen and most are truly that – accidents. However, many are simply negligence. It’s only after the child is dead or injured can it be determined whether something was avoidable. So the intent is that having a law in place may stop some people from doing stupid things when they know better. And that’s really all we can do.

    I, too, would prefer to have more sense and less laws. What we don’t do enough of as a society is hold parents accountable for their errors in judgment about keeping their kids safe. If we did that more often, we might need less nanny-state laws. Parenthood is not a right, it’s a responsibility.

  31. Brad

    Kathryn, I never use the word “consensus” in that first sense. It’s kind of pointless even to have the word if that’s what one means. Might as well be precise and say “unanimity.”

    It’s a word I use a LOT. It’s the method we used for arriving at positions on the editorial board. If we had waited for unanimity, we never would have gotten the pages out. But at the same time, I would NOT conduct our fairs by majority vote. Some editorial boards do, and you can tell. Their opinions read like something from Democratic or Republican headquarters, completely one way with no consideration for minority opinion. Therefore they are highly unlikely to persuade anyone of anything — they get cheered by people who already agree and cursed by those who already disagree, and don’t contribute at all to the conversation.

    But when you show that you’ve considered, and given some credit to, differing opinions, you are more likely to win confidence and persuade.

    “Consensus” comes from the same root as “consent.” (And not from “census,” a mistaken assumption that leads people to misspell it.) In consensus decision-making, the person in a minority position CONSENTS to the majority position, but wins some concession in return, in the form of having some of his or her concerns expressed in the piece. The conversation goes like, “OK, but only if the editorial acknowledges THIS,” or something like that.

    Of course, if you ask some of the people who worked with me over the years, they will say, “Yeah, Brad says we worked by consensus, but what we really did was what HE wanted us to do.”

    Which is a big, fat LIE…

    OK, yes, I did exert a certain amount of influence. But I also sometimes found myself in the minority, and went along in spite of my own vastly superior judgment. You know, when the rest of the group was being particularly stubborn and I was feeling magnanimous.

    Imagine a smiley face there.

  32. Brad

    Wikipedia says “Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks not only the agreement of most participants but also the resolution or mitigation of minority objections.”

    I could have written that myself.

    The next sentence in the entry reads, “Consensus is defined by Merriam-Webster as, first – general agreement and, second – group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its origin in a Latin word meaning literally feel together.[1] It is used to describe both general agreement and the process of getting to such agreement.”

  33. Brad

    And may I add, y’all really know how to hurt a guy with that “I agree with Doug” stuff. Because Doug is all about arguing with me no matter what I say.

    He’s a nice guy, but he’s got this quirk. Even Bud sometimes grudgingly agrees with me, kinda sorta, but I think Doug gets up every morning and swears a holy oath that he will oppose whatever I say, no matter what I say, with all his might.

    So when you say, “I’m with Doug,” it really makes me feel ganged-up on. Like Custer when he looked up and saw all those Indians.

    OK, bad analogy…

  34. Doug Ross


    Other than dogs and support for causes like feeding the hungry and breast cancer fundraising, it’s not surprising we disagree on just about everything. Our backgrounds have little in common.

    I was born and raised in Massachusetts, attended a Big 10 school, was an agnostic until my late 30’s and then became a Southern Baptist (but not the type that thinks that means I’m a Republican). I have been a computer programmer since the age of 13. I have no ties to South Carolina other than deciding to move here 20 years ago. I have no friends or even acquaintances who are connected in any way to the political scene. I ran for school board in Richland 2 and came in last place (but didn’t take a dime of anyone else’s money for my campaign… and I got more votes in Richland County than Joe Lieberman got statewide in his primary run)… I was probably more liberal in my youth and am as hardcore a Libertarian as you’ll find now. I abhor waste and fraud in government. I don’t care what people say, I care what they do. I am also a hardcore pacifist.

    The funny thing is I go through my daily life and rarely come across people who are on the opposite side of so many issues as you and I are. We just travel on different paths in different worlds.

  35. Doug Ross

    But I also must commend Brad for allowing me this outlet for my views and for allowing my frequent dissent. It’s very exceptional of you 🙂

  36. Brad

    Yes, it is. I know that it is an incontrovertible fact that there has never been a blog like this one. Neither the Romans nor the British had anything like it. Madeleine Albright would say it’s “the one indispensable blog.”

    And thanks, Doug.

  37. Brad

    Whoa, I had forgotten the first part of that Albright quote:

    “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”

    You tell ’em, girl!

    If she said that on this blog, some of y’all would have her hide for a doormat. My own anachronistic, JFK-era hubris never extends THAT far. At least, I don’t SAY it.

    She knew about the big stick, but nobody told Madeleine about the speaking softly part…

  38. Brad

    An even fuller version:

    “It is the threat of the use of force [against Iraq] and our line-up there that is going to put force behind the diplomacy. But if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.”

    That was in 1998. You might want to read the full transcript.

  39. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Brad, you do realize that Wikipedia says whatever somebody bothered to write that hasn’t been edited away? Like, I could edit that right now and it would use the No. 1 Webster’s definition, promulagated by actual lexicographers?

    L’etat, c’est moi, eh?


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