18 September 2007

The Retun of the Bookhouse Boys

For me, one of the many, many appealing hooks of Twin Peaks was the secret society in the town known as the Bookhouse Boys.

The Bookhouse Boys acted as a counter to the intangible but undeniable evil that was in the woods. They occasionally took matters of right and wrong into their own hands and even though the sheriff was a member, their actions took place outside the framework of police and courts. Their actions arguably resembled vigilantism, but they always acted in the greater interest of the community. It was their belief that certain norms and standards had to remain in place if the community was to survive (first) and thrive (second), especially given their remoteness to so much of the rest of the world.

I'm reminded of the Bookhouse Boys now as I read accounts of what took place in the deep woods outside of Ely earlier this summer. Back in August, six mouthbreathers, all from Ely, were identified as those who blasted through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in power boats, shooting guns indiscriminately, setting off fireworks and harassing as many as 80 campers.

The complaint alleges that, over three to four hours, the suspects fired guns at stumps, a beaver and into the air. They allegedly set off fireworks and flares, argued with campers and threatened several of them, and stole a canoe and equipment from a campsite. They also set fire to gasoline on the surface of the water and damaged a gauging station that measures water flow, the complaint said. In interviews, several group members said they just planned to go for a boat ride and to "have some fun.'' Once into the BWCA, they admitted, they fired guns, were confrontational and used obscene language.
Charges were finally brought this past Friday. This is more serious than just boys being boys:

Lakner, 37, was charged with four counts of aiding and abetting terroristic threats, 11 counts of aiding and abetting harassment, two counts of aiding and abetting possession of firearms, two counts of aiding and abetting theft, one count each of transporting an uncased firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm and possession and use of fireworks. Olson, 19, is charged with 23 counts, including 18 felonies. Fenske, 19, is charged with 11 felonies and two misdemeanors. Barton, 20, is accused of nine felonies and two misdemeanors. Erzar, 20, faces nine felony charges and a misdemeanor.The juvenile is expected to be charged in the juvenile court system.
Most of Ely's economy is dependant on the summer people. Tourists and outdoorsy-types help keep this lovely part of Minnesota afloat year-round. The reaction to these six idiots by the townsfolk should be identical to chefs that find one of their own pissed in the soup. The residents, merchants, outfitters and all other folks who are the shareholders, benefactors and beneficiaries of the region should be itching to stomp these punks into the ground.

During what I would argue was a more civilized time, scumbags like this would have more to worry about from their neighbors than from any legal proceedings. In this other time, these six would have the tar kicked out of them by representatives of the community. The civilized elements of society would have exercised their right to purge the incorrigible elements, with or without the local magistrate.

Ely now has the daunting task of convincing the once/twice per year tourist types (like me) that this sort of human debris is a freak aberration and not a concern for outdoorsy types. Fair or not, there are people who dislike the city of Dallas for what happened in November 1963. Like Dallas, Ely is going to see this event define its identity for a while, which is really a shame. It'll be very interesting to see what the residents of this very small town do with six of their own.

The wheels of today's justice are just beginning to turn for these shitheads, and maybe they'll be dealt harsh sanction in the end, but this is going to be quite a test for the community and the judge who hears it all.

No comments: