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The Utility of Gang Pride

California courts have been wrangling with a case regarding the legality of police ripping the “patches” off of the jackets of a particular motorcycle “gang.”

The “gang” in question prefers to be called The Mongols Motorcycle Club and to keep matters simple I will refer to this group as The Mongols from here on out.

We will not delve into the murky legal waters that led to the “powers that be” thinking this strategy a good idea, instead we will address the issue on broader terms that may have actual impact on ourselves — gang affiliated or not.

First, let’s get the free speech and property rights arguments out of the way. For a thought experiment, let’s say that you are a Mongol member in good standing.

A law-abiding Mongol at that. Anyone denying your right to wear the emblem of your club would be seen as a villain, let alone armed officials who were allowed/instructed to remove your property (the patch) from your person.

I daresay you would see such a governmentally sanctioned stance as bellicose.

If you can’t un-mire your views on this with what you think or assume the Mongols may or may not be up to, let’s say that the same policy is in play for “MAGA” hats or “Bernie Bros” t-shirts, or whatever trademark thing you dig wearing. Picture an armed official sanctioned to remove it from your person.

Now, you got it.

Now, some still won’t get it because for some “some means all.”

By that I mean, because some Mongols are involved in illegal activity then all Mongols are involved in illegal activity.

But this is akin to saying, because some televangelists are hypocritical prevaricating adulterers who do not open their doors for charity during a Houston hurricane all are tarred with the same brush. (Perhaps, not the best example, but you follow my drift.)

I understand the knee-jerk tar all with the same brush in some cases, for example, Neo-Nazis. Now the law of averages says that amongst Neo-Nazis there has to be some law-abiding tax-paying citizens who are good family members and kind to dogs who have never burned a cross or clogged a street with a heinous display of hatred. If it weren’t for that vicious racist streak they’d be peachy people to know but our tarry brush allows me to spot this distasteful quality and choose other company.

This brings us to the utility argument.

If we remove danger signals from an entity we consider dangerous how are the civilized able to spot the dangerous?

Let’s say Tennessee is riddled with King Cobras. On my many treks through the woods I encounter snakes, primarily non-venomous snakes and I hike happily along.

Occasionally I see the displayed hood of the dreaded cobra and I quickly alter my plans. Today is now not hike day. Today is yogurt smoothie day.

In this example, the snake’s gang colors potentially saved my life.

If some well-meaning legislation is passed to ban cobra hoods, but not cobras themselves I am still left with the same number of cobras on my hikes but no longer possessing the helpful identifying marks.

If I have a dreaded fear of The Mongols and I pull into an interstate rest stop and see a conglomeration of bikers with Mongol rockers I drive on.

If the patches are illegal my rest stop no longer possesses the signal I desire. I now don’t know if the cluster of bikers I see is that which I fear or the Pomona Chapter of the Christian Riders.

Gang colors, MAGA hats, biker patches, crucifixes as adornments, team jerseys are all badges of affiliation or association. They are signals that let other human animals know what abstract notions the wearing animal affiliates with.

They allow me to know “Hey that guy wearing the Tap-Out t-shirt and carrying a volume of Jacques Barzun, he and I may have something in common, I think I’ll go talk to him.” Or, “Hey, does it strike you that everyone in this Applebee’s is wearing a Swastika? Maybe we should go to Denny’s instead.”

Animals provide signals to attract or to repel. Removing or muting the signals doesn’t do a damn thing for our safety, it may very well do quite the opposite.

(For the record, Sonny Barger an original founder of the Oakland Chapter of The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has penned a volume titled Freedom: Credos from the Road. It’s damn fine book. A better book than most books or tweets by politicians. So, am I pro-gang or anti-gang? Pro-gov or anti-gov? All of the above.)

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54 thoughts on “The Utility of Gang Pride”

  1. As someone who has spent 40+ years on or around motorcycles, various clubs, some outlaw, some not I agree that ripping patches off someone’s clothing should never be done in the U.S of A. As long as what someone is wearing or displaying is not vulgar, they should be free to do so.

  2. speaking of “colors” or the patch, I wear mine proudly.
    everywhere, all of the time.
    I’m a member of the CMA,
    Christian Motorcyclist Association’
    been a member since 98