We’re taking a little break from etymology. I hope you don’t mind. Besides, I figured this was kinda important. Republican vice-presidential candidate isn’t down with BMX.
Before Sarah Palin was nominated as the republican vice-presidential candidate, and before she was the governor of Alaska, she was the mayor of an Alaskan town known as Wasilia for six years. During her tenure, she supported penalties for using bikes, skateboards and other similar recreational devices on public or private property in Wasilia following the construction of a skatepark in the town that cost $233,000. According to Alaska’s Frontiersman, “Palin supported penalties against any person using skateboards, in-line skates, bicycles, scooters (or any other recreational, non-motorized wheeled device) on public or private property where signs are posted forbidding their use.” So the town had a skatepark, which is respectable, but if you were caught doing anything recreational on your bike or skateboard outside of the park, you could be fined.
Now think about it. How often do you see signs saying that skateboards, bikes and in-line skates are forbidden? Personally, I see them all the time, all over the place. And I ignore them. Like everyone else does. But under the incumbent vice-presidential candidate, ignoring these signs and riding your bike and/or skateboard wherever you please is gonna hurt your wallet and get your bike and/or board confiscated. According to the ordinance, which was passed in Wasilia, “The penalty for first-time violators of the ordinance is a written warning and the skate device may be confiscated for 10 calendar days. For a second offense, a $50 fine shall be paid and the skate device may be confiscated for 30 calendar days. A third-time offender will have to pay a $100 fine and will lose his or her skate device permanently.” [Frontiersman, 9/18/98]
Now it’s cool that the town of Wasilia had a skatepark, but simply allotting one place to use bikes, skateboards, in-line skates and even scooters is never the answer. BMX and skateboarding (hell, in-line and razor scooters too maybe?) were created because anyone could do it anywhere. You didn’t need a specific field or a team to progress. And above all that, breaking the rules and stepping outside the boundaries of standardized thinking is not only encouraged in both BMX and skateboarding, it’s become an accepted norm in society.
Not in Sarah Palin’s world though. Now I know this ordinance was passed ten years ago, and a lot has changed since then, but at the time, she had to make a choice on an issue, and I personally don’t agree with her judgement. Maybe she didn’t know better? Or maybe there was some dude outside her City Hall window trying kickflips for days on end and failing miserably? (Skateboards are loud in case you hadn’t noticed.) Or maybe she just doesn’t get it? Whatever the case may be, she wanted bikes and skateboards off the streets of her town. And in the words of Borat, “It is not good for me!”
So, if you’re of age this coming November and enjoy riding your BMX bike wherever you goddamn please, keep this in mind.