Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Outlaws–Jesse James is in Jail Today
There is a certain romance about outlaws that our society loves to flirt with –as long as the law broken doesn’t seem too heinous nor the victims too sympathetic. Yesterday, though, a Jesse James Perry first threatened some other folk here in Southern Humboldt and then ended up stabbing a local deputy, Chad Zeck. A press release tells the story.
Upon arrival in the area, Deputies spotted the suspect who immediately ran from
the scene. The Deputies went in foot pursuit west bound on Sprowel Creek Road.
During the foot pursuit the suspect stopped on two separate occasions to throw
rocks at the Deputies.
The involved Deputies eventually caught up to the suspect and a physical
altercation ensued. As the Deputies struggled with the suspect, the suspect
produced a knife and was able to stab Deputy Chad Zeck one time in the abdomen
below his bullet resistant vest. With the assistance of a member of the public,
the suspect was eventually taken into custody. Deputy Zeck was transported to
Redwood memorial Hospital where he received treatment for his injuries.
The suspect was identified at the scene as Jesse James Petty age 20. Petty was
transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was charged
with 664/187 PC, attempted murder of a peace officer.
Any witnesses who were not contacted at the scene are encouraged to contact the
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.
What explains our collective repudiation of the modern Jesse and our society’s romanticizing of who he was named for. I wonder if his parents dreamed that he would be a glorious romantic figure struggling against authority. I wonder if today they are wishing they named him Bill or George anything but Jesse. My own husband is named after Kevin Barry, a celebrated young Irish hero who was executed for refusing to inform on his comrades and for his part in the death of three British soldiers. The original Kevin Barry became a symbol to the Irish of resistance against the British interlopers. The original Jesse James became revered in spite of his robbing banks and murdering bank tellers and bystanders because he was perceived to be a “symbol of Confederate defiance of Reconstruction.” The more ordinary people sympathize with the crime committed and the perceived reasons the criminal has for breaking the law, the more romantic the law-breaker is.
Living where I do, writing often about marijuana farmers, I can’t help apply this to them. As much as the government’s laws against cannabis are seen as oppressive then so too will growers be perceived as romantic figures. But they are neither shining romantic heroes nor tawdry killers for the most part. They are just folks caught in the crush between law, the ancient human need for mind altering substances, and economics.
For now there is a certain romance about outlaws and there is a certain romance about living like one, or naming your son after one. But the romance comes only at the expense of society. Until our laws are just, until one group of us doesn’t feel oppressed, there will always be outlaws who seem like heroes to the rest of us . And we are going to have kids who can’t tell the difference. And the modern day Jesse’s will rise up to stab society again and again while groping blindly to live up to the romance we paste onto the past.