Every once in a while it’s important to remind people in Comptche that we are outlaws. And we have been that way for quite a while. It is not just hippies growing pot either. Hippies? Well there are factions in the community, there always have been. My guess is this is the way it is in most of rural Mendocino County as well; outlaws and factions.
Why do I need to remind? There is an unwritten rule in Comptche; don’t turn your neighbor into the law for doing something illegal, unless there is a threat of or a crime of violence, a crime against property, theft, fraud, etc. Well you get what I mean, something serious. It is not in the best interest of an outlaw to turn in his or her neighbor. At best your neighbor could turn you in as well, and at worst you are empowering the government agency trolls that will come after you and your friends for their pound of flesh at some point in the future. And who in Comptche is not an outlaw?
When I came to Comptche in 1961, “Robin Hood and his merry men” would best describe it; work hard, drink, fight, and poach the State’s deer. Not only did the deer get poached, so did the fish and abalone. To some extent or another, “everyone” did it. Driving drunk was a skill some considered a necessity to learn, and a drivers license was optional. Robin Hood was a redneck, we don’t see him much anymore, but that does not mean much has changed in Comptche.
Since 1970 we have had new factions of outlaws; displaced urbanites. Yea, hippies, but also retirees, weekenders, future retirees, etc. Some actually try to play it straight with the law. But costs, lifestyle, and inconvenience seem to always intercede, along with changes in the law. Of course with ever increasing government rules come ever increasing violations to those rules. And everyone becomes more and more an outlaw.
On occasion we all have a tendency to forget, and express the refrain, “This is different.” We drape ourselves in the cloak of the virtue of the law that everyone is supposed to abide by. And we turn our neighbors in. For what? Yea growing pot, but also for moving dirt, for logging, for doing what people like to do with their land and at times need to do with their land, or need to do to make a living. And as we cloak ourselves in the virtue of the law there is some terrible sin someone else has committed, a sin that exists mostly in our imaginations. The neighbor committing this terrible sin is always someone we are feuding with, or someone we view as just being different. Maybe they are newcomers, or old-timers, or dumb, or greedy, from out of town, or anything. They are not one of us. How about they are a corporation? That seems to always be a “good” reason to turn someone in. They really are not people after all. So the law becomes a weapon, not to protect, but to be used against those or get back at those who are not us.
But we are all outlaws folks. At least in Comptche we are. Look around your house, and your property. If you do not think you are an outlaw; it is likely you are, and don’t know it. And if you are actually not an outlaw now, my bet is you will be one soon. Thus the reminder of the unwritten rule; don’t turn your neighbor into the law unless a pretty serious crime has been committed.