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Outlaw Country (atavist.com)
93 points by kawera 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments

My favorite quote:

"The social contract is not a buffet—if you opt out because you want absolute freedom, you have to accept that no one will come to save your ass when trouble starts."

Reminds me a bit of the cryptocurrency market. :-)

>> You have to accept that no one will come to save your ass when trouble starts.

That isn't a thing. I work for an organization (military) that sometimes gets involved in search and rescue. Our society doesn't let people die in agony alone in the woods. If you are attacked by a bear, or your boat sinks, a helicopter will be sent to pick you up. You cannot opt out of that. Even if you say no, we will send the machine. Eventually you will fall unconscious and then we will treat you. That's modern society. "Just let them die" isn't real. It is pure fantasy to pretend that anyone can opt out of humanity.

Canada is constantly dealing with this problem. People want to live in the middle of nowhere but they still get government services, even the ones they might not want. You cannot choose to live outside of basic health care any more than you can opt to live outside the legal system. Given that reality, why should the larger society cover the costs of people who want to live a wilderness fantasy? Why should we allow people to live in places where they will inevitably need very costly rescue services, where their kids will be needed to be flown to and from they basic schooling they deserve?

I think along the same lines when in California I see people building huge mansions in fire areas or people refusing to get health insurance. They wang to have their freedom but rely on being bailed out when things go bad.

> or people refusing to get health insurance

This isn't a good example.

Lots of people simply can't afford healthcare. They need coverage anyway. Yes, there is the occasional jerk who can completely afford it and won't buy it. But they're not the common case, in my experience.

I am with you about building in fire areas. There should be regulations requiring you to carry sufficient insurance that also defrays the cost of dealing with you when the fire shows up--not just rebuilding you after the fact.

The name for that phenomena is "moral hazard".

Or "deregulation". The fire hazard thing is due to consistent efforts to "develop" land into rural mcmansions for rich retired people. Why should taxes go to defend retirement mansions knowingly built in fire zones? Or on a beach? (rising water levels etc). Fire insurance covers damage, not the cost of firefighters, and we cannot ask firefighters to just let everything burn. That isn't safe (idiots don't evacuate) humane (pets) or even healthy (pollution).

Your alternative then, is what? Forcibly pull them out? Prevent land sales in further out areas? Prevent building?

You have the freedom to choose not to go out there. But you wish to restrict the freedom of others to go there.

Yup. Zoning areas as non-residential, forbidding construction of residences, is a tool that is regularly used. Another is to saddle zoning permission with infrastructure costs, such as "you cannot further develop this town until a road is run to it". Health codes also work (must have proper water/sewage disposal etc). The government cannot stop people from walking on their own land, but it can certainly stop them from building anything on that land.

Much of the live-off-the-land lifestyle is already illegal. Contrary to the TV shows, one cannot just hunt anything they want when they get hungry. They need tags. Animals can only be hunted during specific seasons. And there are weapons limitations. These are normal regulations that make living a wild lifestyle, a legal one, very very difficult.

Proper water and sewage disposal I can get behind; the environment is a shared resource.

Just saying that people can't live there because you might feel the need to go out there and save them from themselves is deeply problematic in my view.

But we do that all the time. Parks close due to avalanche risk. We close roads if we think heavy rain will wash them out. Airspace around active volcanoes is closed. We don't let people build certain buildings in earthquake zones. Entire towns have even been closed due to pollution risks. Governments do these things both to protect people from becoming victims, and to protect rescuers from having to risk their own lives pulling people out.

You could just as easily argue it the other way and that the problem in this story is that society wants to retroactively enforce the "social contract" after he solved his problems on his terms. Yeah, you shouldn't murder people but if someone credibly threatens your life multiple times and "society" is no help "society" doesn't get to complain that they were facing the wrong way when you shot them.

Edit: Since apparently I'm so wrong does anyone care to explain why?

You are not, those people choose to be up there and with it there comes an element of extreme anti-social personality types.

Society tends to look at these groups as well at least we don't have to deal with them and as long as they stay up there, then let them sort it out among themselves. The sad reality is that had he buried the body and been "hardened" like the rest of them, it would have not caused an issue for the local sheriff and the sheriff would have most likely just ignored it unless someone came around making an issue over it.

I have been in these kinds of environments in FL, when I was a child the everglades and the glades-men where frontier territory and they are a hardened lot, they will kill you, especially if they have an issue and get themselves worked up while drunk. One of the most dangerous occupations, back then, was being a Florida game warden, due to these types. We had them go missing all the time back in the early 70's and 80's.

Everyone up there, in this story said, he was going to kill him had Taylor not acted and at the point that a person brought a 55 gallon barrel and a buddy to tell me I was going in it, I personally would have been plotting how I was going to kill him in self defense before he killed me. I honestly do not believe I would have let either of those men leave my property that day standing on their feet. I don't say that to sound "Internet Tough" but rather to highlight, given my experience in frontier areas, the mentality I would have been in and the mentality I would assume a guy like Taylor would be in. The reality is that the law was not coming to save him, and given the repeated incursions and threats on his property it was only a matter of time.

That being said, I do believe the other gentleman would have eventually killed him but he sensed weakness in Taylor after the second exchange where Taylor was bending over backwards to "make it right". So the plot to run him off his land and buy it up seems plausible. The problem is Taylor was not in on that plot, being the target and he was being threatened in a lawless territory. His only rational had to be, I am on my own and do I want to live?

This is exactly the white people version of the hood and gangs. It's the only reality they have and it present few good choices. It's raw survival.

>It's the only reality they have and it present few good choices.

What about option three, move to Des Mones and get a job at 7-11?

Yeah, right, exactly.

Does it really surprise you that there are people who find that idea of life worse than death?

I would sooner end myself. I'm very grateful that people who find such an existence fulfilling exist.

Did you read the article, the guy threatening him took one of his batteries from one truck (as a peace offering, this showed weakness on his part) and the other was dead, he was trying to get his boy to wire him money so he could get out. Other than stealing a battery and driving as far as he could on an almost empty tank, then hoofing it, he had no choice but to stay and wait for the money.

If you don't have people who are pissed off at you and making your life difficult and/or trying to kill you barely scraping by in BFE sucks a hell of a lot less than barely scraping by in the city.

The problem with that line is that it would be equally valid to criticize society for treating the social contract like a buffet.

Society didn't want to come save him when he needed help but was willing to throw him in jail when he saved himself.

Sad, yet fascinating - reminds me a bit of this story about 'off the grid' people in Colorado: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/08/the-last-frontier/

I happened on ads for those lots myself when looking around Zillow for odd or interesting places. You can see a bunch of them here: https://bit.ly/33tqbVM

Even Klamath Falls doesn't have a great reputation in Oregon. Life that far out has got to be rough.

Thanks for the Harper article, I really enjoyed that.

I have a few friends who I just visited in that valley. They bought 40 acres for 5k and are starting to build a straw bale house. We augered a 25ft deep well with brackish water at the bottom in a afternoon.

While this is getting away from the point of the story, I do have to ask; why does it always seem to be these types that are the most aggressive supporters of individualism?

If you want to go out to the middle of nowhere, wipe your ass with grass an live without any person or government's help/interference, that is totally your prerogative. But the irony of someone surviving off welfare checks, killing a man because of police inaction, and then suing the county for inadequate mental health support is palpable.

You don't get to have your cake and eat it too. Mooching off of welfare programs and posting tough-guy memes while calling everyone else pansies and having a hard-on for rugged 1800-style living? Cry me a river.

why does it always seem to be these types that are the most aggressive supporters of individualism?

I think the impetus there is that he had a long history of negative social experiences. The article repeatedly indicates he couldn't rely on other people but other people considered him to be reliable in certain respects. He could be turned to for help, but he seemed to have no one he could turn to.

Given that experience of life, I see no contradiction in his desire to go make it on his own in the middle of nowhere and his complaint that he's been given no help. I think they are two sides of the same coin.

This is a very well considered comment. I identify a lot with this.

Modern society is a very abstract place in which people find it difficult to meaningfully trade favour. In cities at least, a whole bunch of stuff is out of the control of individuals and in the control of a bureaucracy.

Wanting to escape that I don't see as being foreign at all.

Makes me think of the movie Falling Down. There are certainly times that I enter some sort of internal monologue and just think - look, I'm here, open and kind; perhaps not always, but in this moment I am. And others are here acting as obstacles... because it's "their job", or whatever.

It's also a lot easier to be a rough-living alaska wild man when you know that, should you need it, a helicopter will be sent to pick you up and treat your busting appendix. I don't see many of these people forgoing antibiotics either.

Even the guns they so cherish, 18th century firearms weren't what we would call reliable. They didn't always fire properly when needed, especially when old/wet. So even these tough bush people, if they carry ammo manufactured in recent decades, remain reliant upon modern production tech.

As a kid the family in Little House on the Prairie was presented as being wholly self sufficient and reliant. Which made me wonder, if so where did dads rifle come from? The leather, the iron for the horse shoes and nails, the cotton cloth for their clothes?

Right. The wheat they sold went out on the train and the train delivered all those things. And when their crops failed and they busted out the city slickers charity saved them from staving.

> But the irony of someone surviving off welfare checks, killing a man because of police inaction, and then suing the county for inadequate mental health support is palpable.

Can't say I can understand what's ironic, could you extrapolate that one?

> a hard-on for rugged 1800-style living?

I don't recall TFA mentioning the 1800s.

Taylor still wished he could live “back in the 1800s and before,” a time of “limited government, people depending on themselves,” when Americans weren’t such “pansies” and hardened criminals were hanged for wrongdoing.

It's towards the end of the piece.

I think it's because they think "individualism" means "I do whatever I want and take whatever I want with no consequences, and I'm a better person because I do those things." Which I don't consider individualistic at all, it's more that they just want to be thoughtless assholes about everything and not worry about social or economic consequences for it.

It's similar to how capitalism can get recontextualized into something meaningless and shitty by Objectivists. When capitalism works, it can almost seem magical, because it's basically a greedy algorithm that can often produce a net good for most of the population, based on individuals looking out for their own interests. Hence notions like "greed is good" or "selfishness is a virtue". But the whole point of those notions is, they're built on an assumption that those things lead to a net good for everyone involved. To the degree that capitalism works, it's because it allows wealth to be created, which is a net good for everyone.

The purpose of capitalism as the core of a civilization is wealth creation, where people exchange things they don't want in return for things they do want. All participants in the transaction are better off than before in their eyes, but nothing new has been created. Money and goods and services have simply changed hands. Everyone's better off than they were before, but no new goods have been created, and no new money has been printed. It's like creating something from nothing. If any argument can be made in favor of selfishness being a virtue, this is it- it's a virtue because in this context it supposedly leads to a better world for everyone, not just individuals.

But I've known plenty of right wingers who claim to draw inspiration from libertarianism, or who claim to have a special understanding and reverence for capitalism because they're Objectivists. And yet, they never talk about wealth creation. To them, selfishness is a virtue simply because that's the world they want to live in. These are the temporarily frustrated millionaires living in compounds in Wyoming, mooching off the government while complaining about urban welfare recipients. They think Objectivism or libertarianism or their religion gives them cover to go around thinking that greed and selfishness are actually good things, without ever embracing or even understanding the foundations of those beliefs- that they're only good things in the context of maximally efficient and rational markets, and only because they supposedly lead to wealth creation (everyone getting richer in some sense, not just individuals getting rich at the expense of other individuals). But they're not in it for the wealth creation- to them, capitalism isn't good because it creates wealth, rather capitalism must be good because they think it means it's OK for them to be selfish assholes.

What this highlights, for me, is the deeper reasons why rural and urban Americans disagree on gun control.

In the country, it's unlikely that anyone will arrive in time to protect you. So people buy the guns to protect themselves. And they want the same laws to apply both where they live, and in densely populated urban areas where a single AR-15 can do a lot of damage.

> And they want the same laws to apply both where they live, and in densely populated urban areas where a single AR-15 can do a lot of damage.

A single AR-15 can do a lot of damage at a rural high-school all the same.

The reason for the second amendment is defense, of person and of society. The police have issues with response times in cities, and in the event of disaster. Let us not forget of police abdication of duty during the LA92 Riots and the "Roof Koreans."

2A mentions neither persons nor society, but only the defense of a free State, notably the one the founders were in the process of creating:

> A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Arguments about 2A's intent are endless, and given the polarized nature of the debate, also futile.

The Militia is the people. The state exists for the welfare of the people. To say it isn’t for the defense of the people is an argument of semantics.

> The Militia is the people.

A bold interpretation. Does that include babies and seniors with dementia? They are part of the people by most definitions. Should we allow them to have arms? Hand a .22 pistol to an eight-month old? If not, where do you draw the line? Is a well-regulated militia a very distinct subset of the people?

> The state exists for the welfare of the people.

Theorists of the state would dispute that, and we have endless examples that contradict you. States generally exist to serve themselves, often at the expense of the people.

> To say it isn’t for the defense of the people is an argument of semantics.

The interpretation of a foundational text of US democracy is a matter of semantics. Semantics is about what words mean. You say they mean one thing. I happen to disagree with you. So yes, the whole nature of this dispute is semantic, and not in the sense of "semantics are trivial". The gist of the question is in assigning meaning to the words of 2A. And if you think they "just mean something and it's so obvious that no alternative meanings can be discussed," then you are begging the question.

2A explicitly says it is in defense of a state, not a people.

Interesting read.

Reminded me of the nearby Humboldt County, California. Similarly remote, rugged, quite lawless and attracting people who want to stay hidden. It also the focus of California's secretive marijuana industry. There is a good documentary series about it: https://www.netflix.com/ee/title/80217475

>Selecting a jury in Taylor’s case was tricky. There was a raft of potential bias or conflict of interest... Half a dozen potential jurors had concealed-carry permits, all reportedly for self-protection.

God forbid the jury include anyone who's ever had to mentally grapple with the possibility they might be in a situation like that.

The whole trial smells of a prosecution that has lofty and unrealistic ideas about the immediate relevance of its authority in BFE.

Last time I checked murder required intent. I don't see intent here.

> God forbid the jury include anyone who's ever had to mentally grapple with the possibility they might be in a situation like that.

Which situation? The one where you move to a remote wilderness locale, ransack your neighbor's property, and then shoot him twice in the back? Or the one where you fatally misjudge the shotgun wielding newcomer you're trying to bully? Makes me glad I live in civilization. Think I'll pop down to Wawa for a soda.

It bothers me that there was even a hung jury over this:

The guy who got shot:

- Flipped out over an honest mistake that Taylor tried to make right

- Used a weapon to threaten him

- Stole Taylor's only method of calling for help on the day that he said he would kill him

- His close associates went on the record that he was really willing to kill Taylor

As far as I can see there's no question that Taylor's actions were self defense.

Yes, according to the narrative of the article. However, a good part of that narrative seems to have been provided by Taylor. Some of this may be verifiable (e.g. the 911 calls), but other parts may not be (e.g. the security camera footage has no audio).

And it appears the associates only went on record after the first trial.

That is the most compelling thing I've read in a long time.

Scrolling this page causes Safari CPU usage to jump to ~120% and the fans in my MBP to turn on...

After reading the story... it makes you think that's a pretty good problem to have compared to some people's lot in life.

Because it's continually laying itself out for whatever reason.


I read the whole thing, and found most of the characters sympathetic.

Also, I don't recall seeing any references to racism in the article. However, and I mean this constructively, when you said "these are the same kind of folks who", that sounded like an unfair generalizing prejudice, a bit like racism.

I suppose, the next time we see someone on Twitter advocating strength, self-reliance, self-determination, etc., it just might be that they, like the main character in this story, actually felt none of those things in their real life, and are desperate because the social contract is failing them.

It’s largely because of a failed and broken framework for addressing racism that people develop the kinds of attitudes you’re responding to: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/neazxq/the-disturbing-thi...

> However, what we found startling was that white privilege lessons didn’t increase liberals’ sympathy for poor Black people. Instead, these lessons decreased liberals’ sympathy for poor white people, which led them to blame white people more for their own poverty.

There are a lot of reasons people don’t get a fair shake in society and end up in shitty life situations. People who grow up in abusive families and aren’t very bright have a rough time of it for reasons that are inconceivable for an upper middle class software engineer in a trendy city like Portland. It’s hard and depressing work to actually understand and sympathize with literally every type of social injustice, so most people round it off to a handful of superficial issues like racial bias—literally looking at these issues in terms of black and white.

> Over a few months in late 2012, the content of Taylor’s Facebook posts shifted from topics like trucks and music to videos from the hacktivist group Anonymous and posts about pandemic disease, the threat of GMO foods, the rise of Islam, and the Obama administration’s purported plans to confiscate everyone’s guns.

“Rise of Islam” is just a dog whistle for Islamophobia. The guy sounds like he fell into, or near, the conspiracy theory/paranoia/alt-right hole.

Yes, definitely. The man has issues, both major and minor.

That said, I think he comes across as a bit more deserving of some pity because he was not, in fact, going to racist marches in Portland, but off doing his own thing just trying to get by; something he doesn't seem to be particularly successful at.

I have sympathy for the man - not a lot, because I strongly suspect he'd hate me for my own ideologies, but I certainly can empathize with wanting to defend yourself when your life is threatened. And I do believe that he had little choice but to shoot Roy.

My sympathy is tempered, though, by his willing decision to move outside of the safety net of society, then expect that he'd have society's support when he had no money, food, or means of transportation. Ultimately, his desire to be self sufficient put him in a situation where he had to kill a man to protect himself. That's not a situation I'd wish on anybody, but he seemed pretty steadfast in making sure he had no other options.

His life story looks like he certainly didn't get a great start, followed by a long series of bad decisions.

It's just plain sad.

BTW, I don't get the downvotes for dymk. It's certainly worth pointing out that this guy seems to harbor some ugly views.

> BTW, I don't get the downvotes for dymk. It's certainly worth pointing out that this guy seems to harbor some ugly views.

It's irrelevant to the entire article, really. This story is indicative of a less common, one might say fringe, way of life in American and how it collides with a government not quite equipped to deal in it.

It helps to paint a complete picture of the man to be sure, but there's nothing to be gained by pointing it out in the comments other than virtue-signalling and flame-baiting, after all it's not as if his victim was a Muslim such that it gives rise to questions of motives.

The comment I was replying to literally asked why Taylor was called a racist, and I was illuminating that.

Downvoted b/c one must balance the ugly views of purported islamophobes with the ugly views of actual islamists.

Contrary to popular HN/Vox/Atlantic/NYT/BuzzFeed/WaPo consensus, the latter are quite real, and not a figment of the imagination of the former.

Part of the Tim Taylor's problem is that there isn't much work for guys with a physical disability.

The other part of the problem is that, despite being an otherwise amiable sort and unafraid of doing hard, poorly remunerated work, he's kind of dumb.

I don't just mean "not book smart". That's true, and I wonder if he had an IEP in middle or high school, based on the story and his mom's account of his dad's reading disability.

Despite being an intermittently-employed manual laborer with three children to support, he takes his total life savings and spends it on an unimproved piece of property that he's never seen, in a part of the country he's never been to, with nary a survey or warranty deed to be had.

Situated thus, past the edge of civilization (said civilization being where he gets his disability checks), he trespasses & commits petty larceny, attracting the negative attention of one of the local Road Warriors.

He is repeatedly told (not in so many words) that the authorities are not in a position to keep the peace in such a place. So, once he's been pushed to commit what a sympathetic observer would call manslaughter at the very least, with NO WITNESSES to speak of, where the only evidence is the slowly-cooling corpus delicti in his driveway and the security-cam recording in his trailer...he...

Dumps the corpse in a ravine away from his property, where the coyotes and vultures and bears can take care of the evidence?

Wipes the video of him shooting the man in the back?

Claims not to know anything about the whereabouts of his drunken violent neighbor should anyone happen to ask, which might be in a few days at the earliest, and a few decades at the latest?

No, he CALLS THE COPS AND CONFESSES TO SHOOTING THE GUY. After trying really hard to make this neighborhood Not Their Problem, Tim Taylor makes the Klamath County Sheriff's Office an offer they can't refuse. A body with multiple gunshot wounds in the driveway of the man with the murder weapon, who has thoughtfully recorded the whole proceeding for the benefit of the prosecutor.

Jesus Wept.

Tragedies shouldn't have a punchline, but this one does. This Taylor guy not only has three kids by two different women, he now has grandkids. The first fifteen minutes of 'Idiocracy' kept flashing through my head as I read this story.

Right, but the Islamists are in the minority of Muslims just as fundamentalist Christians are in the minority among Christians. To hate all Christians for the actions of a minority of misguided ones is silly. Same with Muslims.

> the Islamists are in the minority of Muslims just as fundamentalist Christians are in the minority among Christians

There's a difference, though.

Non-fundamentalist Christians have done a good job of marginalizing fundamentalist Christians so that the damage they can do is very limited.

Non-fundamentalist Muslims have done no such thing to fundamentalist Muslims, which is why the rest of us end up having to deal with them doing things like flying airplanes into buildings, shooting rockets into populated areas, trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons, wanting to establish a global Caliphate, etc.

> Non-fundamentalist Christians have done a good job of marginalizing fundamentalist Christians

Such a good job that (to my knowledge) not a single Republican presidential candidate in 2016 was willing to publicly accept evolution: https://www.salon.com/2015/02/11/evolution_and_the_gops_2016...

Also, the notion that islamists posed an actual threat to anyone like this guy is pretty risible. They're orders of magnitude less dangerous than his fellow heavily armed rural crazies, as the story bears out.

I don't see how he'd need them to be an actual threat to his personal safety in order to not like them. I mean, I don't like bird-eating tarantulas, but here in MA I am unlikely to encounter them.

That's obviously not the issue with this particular flavor of Islamophobia; it's the confusion of nonviolent muslims with the extremists that leads to prejudice.

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