Definitional hackery

A hack is someone who can be relied on to make any argument–sound or not–for his preset view and against any perceived opposition.  Somehow our media and political culture relies in large part on this sort of person's insights, however completely predictable and frequently unreasonable or irrational.  Here is a fun case in point. 

Obama was photographed on vacation riding a bicycle with one of his daughters.  This provoked the following comment from Jay Nordlinger at the National Review Online:

I’m sorry, but a grown man wearing a bicycle helmet, when he’s not training or racing like LeMond, is just — is just . . . Well, I think Dukakis looked better in his tank, is all I’m saying.   

In the first place, he's not really sorry.  Second, Greg LeMond has long retired from cycling.  So has Lance Armstrong.  I'd suggest in the first place that this jack ass update his references.  I'll suggest "Andy Schleck" because (1) he's currently a famous cyclist; (2) he's got a cool-sounding name.  Third, this is completely asinine.  As anyone who rides a bike ought to know, you're wearing a helmet because someone might run into you.  If you fall from your bike going slow, you might end up as brain damaged as someone going a whole lot faster.  Finally, Dukakis?

via Sadly, No.

And by the way, helmets off to the commenters at NRO online for pointing out the stupidity of Nordlinger's argument. 

3 thoughts on “Definitional hackery”

  1. Reason #1 I am inspired to wear a helmet while riding: The person who sideswiped me while I was cycling, knocking me off the road, who drove away laughing.

    Reason #2: The person who cut me off while I was proceeding through a green light because she decided, at the last second and after coming to a full stop, that she had time to make a left turn.

    Reason #3: Knowledge that @90% of permanent injuries resulting from bicycle accidents are head injuries. I haven't verified that statistic since I learned it in the 80's, but I expect it's true.

    In the President's case, he's also serving as a role model for his children.

    Heck, even G.W. wore a helmet while cycling. If you have something worth protecting between your ears, it makes a lot of sense.

  2. I really enjoy Jay Nordlinger's "Impromptus" columns and his music writings, but I must admit, this comment of his reveals some pretty childish and trivial thinking.

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