This Outlaw Bikers Headline Makes Me Wonder

Journalistic malpractice is alive and well:

26 outlaw bikers crash on Oregon freeway

Report: 2 gang members are seriously injured in collision on Interstate 5 staff and news service reports

updated 35 minutes ago


WILSONVILLE, Ore. - More than two dozen motorcycles crashed on a freeway in Oregon on Friday, blocking traffic for hours, police said.

Oregon State Police said the bikers were behind a car when traffic unexpectedly slowed in the northbound lanes on Interstate 5.

The collision sent bikes scattering across the road, near Wilsonville, south of Portland.

Lt. Mike Towner, of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, said emergency crews arrived at the scene to find “ordered mayhem.”

The Oregonian reported that two bikers with critical injuries were flown to Portland hospitals by helicopter. The newspaper said the incident, which involved 26 bikers, backed up traffic for about 7 miles.

Rescue personnel said seven other people were treated for shoulder and hip injuries and broken bones.

Most of the victims belonged to the Brother Speed motorcycle club, officials said. The Oregonian reported that the group is identified by the state's Department of Justice as an outlaw biker gang.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am concerned when an "outlaw biker gang" does anything in public. By definition then, these men and their old ladies should be in jail, correct? There's nothing in the story that suggests that the police took any of the "outlaw bikers" into custody. Just because a state agency calls them outlaws doesn't mean that that is a term that should be used to label a group of people who may have been out observing the law and had a misfortune. How about we call them "enthusiasts" in lieu of "outlaw" until we know that all of the members are convicted felons?

As to the question of who is, and who is not, a "badass." As someone who is a badass, by definition, you cannot be a badass if you have to tout your badassery by running afoul of the state Attorney General's office. Real badasses fly under the radar. Wannabes spend all of their running around money on lawyers and court costs. That's how that works.

If the journalists had spent a bit of time looking into this claim, rather than merely being stenographers who take down what the bureaucrats spew, they might have learned this:


Portland's Spring Oyster Feed 03/01/08 1:00pm Portland House

Benefit for Brother Ty's legal defense fund. Steak Dinner $8.00 donation Live Music 50/50 Door Prizes 05/10/08. Help us free our brother. Open at 2pm. Dinner at 5pm. Band starts at 7pm. Portland House

How many outlaws have a website where they advertise a Spring Oyster feed and try to organize a defense fund for someone they feel has been accused wrongly of breaking the law? The website is obviously out of date, but still. These are some very organized "outlaws."

For historical context, wikipedia will suffice:

An outlaw motorcycle club is a type of motorcycle club that is part of a subculture with roots in the post-WWII USA, centered on cruiser motorcycles, particularly Harley-Davidsons and choppers, and a set of ideals celebrating freedom, nonconformity to mainstream culture, and loyalty to the biker group. The word outlaw carries a specific meaning which does not imply criminal intent, but rather means the club is not sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association(AMA) and does not adhere to the AMA's rules, but instead, generally, the club enforces a set of bylaws on its members that derive from the values of the outlaw biker culture. Related to the term outlaw is one percenter, which is also derived from the historical rejection of the AMA and what it represents. Many motorcycle gangs which are considered to be criminal organizations by law enforcement authorities call themselves outlaw motorcycle clubs or one percenters and participate in that subculture, but their actions do not represent all outlaw clubs.

There are non-outlaw groups, like the Harley Owners Group, that adopt similar insignia, colors, organizational structure, and trappings like beards and leather outfits which are typical of outlaw gangs, making it difficult for outsiders to tell the difference. These groups appear to be, ironically, attracted by the mystique of the outlaw image but are offended by the suggestion that they are outlaws.

Brother Speed members consider themselves "one percenters," meaning, they like to raise a little hell now and then.

This constitutes the "legal" problem that the group has had recently:

At 5:33 on the night of the Free Souls party, Eugene police canine unit officer Robert A. Rosales stopped a black Ford Escort not far from the clubhouse. Rosales identified the 38-year-old driver, Paul Askew, as a member of the Outsiders Motorcycle Club and his two passengers as members of the Gypsy Joker and Brother Speed clubs.

Rosales cited Askew for driving with an expired license and patted down the bikers. He searched the Escort's trunk and found boxes of ammo, an unloaded .380-caliber handgun and an Outsiders motorcycle vest with a loaded .22-caliber derringer in the pocket.

They sort of have a problem of definition here--the man is an "outlaw" biker, but he was driving a black Ford Escort? How "badass" can someone be who drives a Ford Escort? Someone who drives a Ford Escort can hardly be considered an "outlaw biker." Wouldn't you, by definition, have to be breaking the law while on your bike to be considered an outlaw biker? You don't go around being a badass in a Ford Escort. You use a Ford Escort to schlep babies and old ladies around, or to maybe go to the mall and have ice cream and buy a Hannah Montana training bra.

Also,  you have NBA players who commit more serious crimes while riding their own motorcycles--is the National Basketball Association now an "outlaw" athletic club? It's a little bit of a stretch to condemn everyone in the club because of something that one person has done. If we extend the metaphor, then LeBron James is now a member of a weapons-loving outlaw motorcycle gang, and should now come under the scrutiny of law enforcement. What a farce.

Just because a government agency tells you that these men belong to an "outlaw biker gang" doesn't mean that that is what it is.

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