Coverage of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club provokes numerous comments. Earlier today, a commenter who identified himself as Lol, spelled just like that, responded to a story titled “The Iron Order Outlaw Motorcycle Gang” by demanding to know:
“So is the IOMC a poser club or OMG? Please make up your tiny minds. They cannot be both. EITHER they ARE an OMG or they are a poser, wannabe OMG, I know the word ‘contradiction’ is not easy for many of you, but maybe with my help you can now google the definition!!! I will use it in a sentence for you!! It is a contradiction to say the IOMC is a poser, cop club, then attempt to label them an OMG.”
Lol’s argumentative comment deserves a response and rather than bury that response in the comments section of this page, The Aging Rebel is answering it here.
The Iron Order looks like a cop club that has quickly grown large by recruiting many Sons of Anarchy fans and active duty servicemen.
Like most commenters on this page who want to protect the Iron Order from scrutiny, you twist what is written here for dramatic effect. Like every other ongoing story that I cover, I try to get as much as possible on the record. I will continue to get as much as I can about the Iron Order on the record because I know the people who read this site are much more diverse than the people who comment here.
The Iron Order seems to be inherently self-destructive – which explains its growing list of enemies and perceived enemies.
About three years ago Jason Nark and William Bender of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote, “Authorities say that the soaring popularity of the Sons of Anarchy TV show – the most watched in FX’s history – could be contributing to a disturbing trend: Weekend warriors, no longer content to simply ride together, are forming small motorcycle clubs and dabbling in the outlaw lifestyle.”
The Inquirer piece went on to quote Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. who called the new clubs “wannabes.”
Twilight of the Outlaws
Kurt Sutter, the outspoken producer of Sons of Anarchy, replied to the article by saying, “people are going outlaw because of oppressive economic times not because of a fucking tv show. Don’t blame me for your inability to protect.”
At the time the Daily News ran Nark and Bender’s piece, I was already anticipating a book called The Twilight of the Outlaws. I had begun to give the evolution of motorcycle clubs some thought and I had begun thinking in terms of what I was then calling Version One, Two and Three clubs. Version One clubs emerged after WWII. Version Two clubs emerged during and immediately after Vietnam. And, Version Three clubs were the mushrooms that appeared as a result of both the Middle Eastern Wars and the commodification of the outlaw world – a commodification that is apparent in both genuine Harley-Davidson shot glasses and Sons of Anarchy.
The Iron Order epitomizes Version Three clubs. Version three clubs are more something people might buy than something people might feel, something more like a shirt or a wig than a tattoo. And because Version Three clubs are new there is no real consensus about what they are. The things people are going to say about any Version Three club are dependent on who is doing the talking: A cop or reporter in Philly, a television show runner, an old school outlaw or you.
The most immediate interesting thing about the Iron Order is that the club appears bent on destroying itself and the lives of at least some of its members. That’s why people get worked up about the club. The Iron Order is a must see psychodrama with equal parts delusion and malice. Personally, I think the delusion is more entertaining than the malice.
I think, for example, that it is deluded to demand that the Iron Order must be universally regarded as either an OMG or a wannabe club. I don’t think the “either/or” logical construction is particularly relevant here. Obviously, many cops believe the Iron Order is a “law abiding motorcycle club” which is how the club brands itself to cops – as the Eddie Haskell of motorcycle clubs. Provably, some military commanders and at least one ATF analyst see the Iron Order as an outlaw motorcycle gang. That is the line of reasoning that goes, “If it quacks it’s a duck.” Old school outlaws see the Iron Order as a pack of punks.
The essentially postmodern nature of the Iron Order means the club, like John Barth’s Floating Opera or the beast the proverbial three blind men tried to describe, cannot be accurately summarized as simply one thing. The Iron Order is a phenomena full of apparent contradictions and ironies.
Ironically, Iron Order members and officers demand constant attention. Most motorcycle clubs avoid scrutiny. The Iron Order insists that it be scrutinized. The club motto should be “Look At Us!” So of course, in the aftermath of the Iron Order murder in Florida, people are looking. Of course people are reading your words. The inconsistency is not that the Iron Order is described both as a tribe of dilettantes and a pack of criminals. The inconsistency is that the Iron Order demands scrutiny and then its members complain bitterly when their club gets it.