by Jonathan Krause

December 17, 2009

I have to admit its difficult sometimes to do a daily opinion feature. Some days there just isn’t a whole lot to talk about (that’s when I usually read the My Two Cents blog responses on the air). And then some days topics are dropped–gift-wrapped–into my lap. Today, that is the case as I read through the press release sent to me from Noise Free America detailing its opposition to the naming of Harley-Davidson as the “Official State Motorcycle”.

On its face, the idea of naming anything “Official State Motorcycle” shows that the Legislature has way too much time on its hands–apparently they have already fixed the huge deficit looming in the next budget cycle and found ways to reduce the unemployment level from ten peercent so they have time to devote to “serious” issues like this. But if we want to honor one of our oldest and most recognizable Wisconsin products then I guess there is no harm in that.

What gets me fired up is the title of the Noise Free release: “Wisconsin State Legislature: Honoring Harley Terrorism.” Yes, Terrorism.

The release quotes George Atwood of Milton who says:”I find the noise and percussions from the loud Harley distressing and tormenting! The noise stresses people. It frightens and intimidates people. Noise is used as a means of coercion and torture. Why would our state want to be associated with a symbol of such destructive power? Harley stands for frightening and intimidating people. It stands for arrogance, torment, callousness, defying the law and drunkenness. Harley promotes defiance of the law.”

It sounds to me like Mr. Atwood had a traumatic experience at a biker bar somewhere in his younger days and it has scarred him for life. It also sounds like Mr. Atwood doesn’t actually know anyone who owns a Harley. He likely saw “The Wild One” (yes, I know Brando rode a Triumph in that one) and “Easy Rider” and just assumed that’s what all bikers are like. I can tell you that my 60-year old parents are not drunken, lawless renegades while out riding their Harley. The same for my sister and brother-in-law–who also ride a Harley.

While Mr. Atwood and the others at Noise Free America hear “terrorism” in the rumble of some Milwaukee Iron, I hear the sound of high-paying jobs for thousands of people in Milwaukee–including those who produce the ahem–off-road exhaust systems that seem to be so popular with Harley owners. (You know, all the years that I drove off-road with my Jeeps, I don’t remember seeing any H-D’s on the trail) I also think about the money brought in by those who come to Milwaukee and Wisconsin just to be part of the Harley experience. And all the money raised by HOG’s across the country who take part in charity rides–“terrorizing” the countryside along the way, I guess.

If Noise Free America wants to crack down on “Noise Terrorists” they should go after the people who won’t shut up about how “Global Climate Change” is going to ruin the planet in just five more years.