Bikers Rights Online! Bikers Rights Online!
Sunday, March 22, 1998

welcome to Bikers Rights Online!, formerly ABATE Virtual 7. There's some interesting history to this site. I originally joined ABATE Local #1 where I participated frequently. When Paul Lax decided to resurrect ABATE Local #7, which was closer to home, I transfered over and was elected to the PAC. I also created and launched ABATE Local 7's Website, which was one of the first online. Unfortunately, the local was slow to organize and never got back off the ground plus Paul became preocupied by all the problems with Oz. Regardless, I wasn't slow to organize; there was a lot to do and I had already created and posted a fair amount of content to the Website. We know have over 200 pages and 75 images!

In between working, fighting tickets in court, in the police stations, letter writing, organizing, campaigning for various legislators, walking precincts, phone banking and the like, the site grew while Local 7 sadly faded. Paul and Kahn had put up with way too much abuse from Oz and company and it was time to move on.

There was a ton of information to collate, correlate, digitize and get posted which became my primary way I would contribute to the "cause" of exploring, maintaining and reclaiming our rights. Without a true local behind me, I decided to rename the site: "ABATE Virtual 7" and pressed on. It has and continues to be a daily labor of love in all of the positive sense even though I often find myself coding, planning, emailing, discussing, etc. rather than riding as in today, Sunday!

I'm not complaining one bit, but I do want my detractors to know there is a huge time commitment... more than they probably know. This site strives to present whatever information is available about our rights without exclusion even if this means an article about one of our own doing something that is detrimental to the cause. Most often, the articles or postings here present information on statistics, studies, laws, bills, petitions, letter writing campaigns, and any action(s) contrary to our stated goals of freedom.

Lately, the "open forum" that I've establised here has come under attack by some ABATE members. The problem is a simply case of two opposing points of view: Freedom First versus Solidarity First. The current ABATE/PAC leadership believes in solidarity first and I believe in freedom first. I believe in "majority rule" too, but not to the exclusion of rational behavior or to the detriment of our freedom and "stated" goals.

The inclusion of an insurance clause within AB-1412, is in direct conflict with our stated goals and in all good conscience and respect to freedom and the readership, I am compelled to post information that points out the problems with such insurance clauses. Sadly, this has caused solidarity only members some discomfort and concern that I am "anti-ABATE". I am not "anti-ABATE! I am "anti-insurance". Period.

The anti-insurance sentiments expressed here have been mirrored in public statements from the AMA and MRF among others. The AMA has over 30,000 members in California alone. We cannot ignore them especially when you consider that ABATE has less than 3,000 members to their 30,000!

Like it or not, if you want to talk solidarity or majority rule, the AMA and MRF clearly represent far more tonnage of steel than we (ABATE) certainly do.

In college, I studied a group dynamic phenomena called "Groupthink", which defines how a group of perfectly intelligent and right minded individuals can, in a group, make bad decisions totally against how they would act as individuals when the group conscience becomes more solidarity based rather than information/action based.

ABATE/PAC are clearly in a textbook case state of groupthink and are not functioning properly. If you are in this inner core and find yourself at odds with those who oppose insurance but support AB1412 otherwise, please do yourself the favor of reading the information I've assembled on groupthink. You will instantly see every Board and PAC meeting you've attended...

This is how the PAC was able to vote almost unanimously to go forward with the insurance clause of AB1412 when most of those that voted don't like or want the insurance. Check it out...

Eight "Symptoms" of Groupthink...

1) Illusion of Invulnerability
2) Belief in Inherent Morality of Group
3) Collective Rationalization
4) Stereotypes of "Out-Groups" and Dissenters
5) Censorship
6) Illusion of Unanimity
7) Direct Pressure on Dissenters
8) Self-Appointed Mind-Guards


I have received an amazing range of email and comments that show just how much "groupthink" has reduced the intellectual and decision making process within ABATE. Take the email below (please). You will see classic examples of many of the above listed symptoms. This person, while being very intelligent, educated and a leader within ABATE, is clearly more motivated by "following a leader" over his objections about insurance which he acknowledges is a problem. You have to wonder what would cause someone to abandon their grasp of the right action in favor of the wrong action? Groupthink.

Thanks Steven, for your note. I would prefer that we can work together, united, for a cause which we all believe. I wish that more ABATE CA members would consider the greater effectiveness that we can have if we stick together.

You are not alone in your belief that the insurance clause is discriminatory, and that it unfairly classifies us as a public burden. We have heard from other states and other organizations and other ABATE members denouncing it. However, I will follow my leader, Mike Osborn, and will attend as many PAC Meetings as possible, and I after hearing the points and counterpoints to any argument, I will give my opinion when asked or when I feel that I can make a favorable contribution.

I believe that one of my greatest contributions can be the ability to present a strongly organized and unified front for the world to see that we are a disciplined organization with an opinion worthy of consideration where our interests lie.

As for the discussion lists, subscribership is a privilege, not a right, and I would like to bring you back in again sometime when I have some indication from other members that you have become a contributor to this organization and that they wish to have your participation again.  

NOTE: "However, I will follow my leader". When have you seen this kind of behavior not cause problems as related to groups or governments? Realize that the author is very bright and educated, but is functioning as if under a spell. Even Bill Bish says insurance is bad in his March 98 Bailing Wire piece, but then points the finger at those he agrees with, but whom will not blindly hop on the solidarity train. Sadly, the confict is not about insurance, because we all agree. No, the conflict is only about whether or not to ignore wisdom and reason...

If you are within the inner ABATE core, don't feel badly, you are in good company. "Groupthink" is the same dynamic responsible for how JFK and his group of advisors could ignore the facts about the Bay of Pigs. Unfortunately to make matters worse, Mike Osborn is no Jack Kennedy...

The core of ABATE has become "solidarity based" and therefore, like the Bay of Pigs advisors, cannot and will not tolerate any other points of view no matter how correct.

Insurance attached to any helmet bill is a huge mistake, but so was the Bay of Pigs. My ABATE Virtual 7 page has become very outspoken about insurance and as long as ABATE is in a state of "groupthink", it will see any opposition as a threat and heretical. This is unfortunate, but typical of "groupthink" and even Mike Osborn will be the first to tell you how much time, effort and commitment I have given to the freedom fight cause.

Regardless of ABATE's problems and how much I may or may not be a good devil's advocate, my comments and pages have flown under the flag of the ABATE banner. In all fairness to the whole, no matter how dysfunctional, I must respect the fact that my comments are my personal point of view and should not be presented as those of the entire organization or Local that no longer exists.

Realizing this, I have elected to remove the ABATE Virtual 7 banner in favor of Bikers Rights Online! I want to state publicly that my goal was never to destroy ABATE or to create confusion. It is just the opposite whether you, the reader, can see this or not. If you are blinded by "groupthink", I understand. Someday if you get your vision back you will see the situation clearly. Hopefully my concern for the organization will be evident in my action to move ABATE from my homepage so that no one can be confused. On the contrary, I want to educate and clarify.

When the PAC Chairman of a freedom fighters organization can say to me:

"You know Steve, the problem with the Internet is that it reaches too many people",

you know you have a major problem and just like the 8 symptoms of "groupthink" point out, the group will do whatever is necessary to "mind-guard" and stereo-type the out-group. We've seen folks having to take off their T-shirts, belt buckles and even remove links from their sites to "other" (out-cast) groups. Do not be unalarmed. ABATE is broken.

Henceforth, this site will be called "Bikers Rights Online!" and will continue to provide information from which people can "freely" make up there own minds to the degree that they allow themselves. I will continue on as an ABATE of California member and have no desire to resign.

I'd like to thank all of you who have written and called with your support! I'm amazed at how many people from both California and around the country appreciate what I'm trying to do here. Just amazing. Now that the site is redesigned and up, I will have time to answer all your email which has really stacked up.

Thank you for reading and considering this point of view.

Ride Safe, Ride FREE!
Steven Shmerler

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