Mountain folk are different from you and I.
“You OK out there?” read the text message. “There is a guy with a rifle running around [redacted] mountain…”
When I pulled into the area, the local constabulary was staged. I had my EDC and typical vehicle load out already in place, which I didn’t even need to check. I had information from another local friend on where the guy was last seen. As I drove up the creek, the deputies were at the major lines of drift with radios. Most were in less than stellar physical shape and older in age.
The “man with a gun” was arrested several hours later.
The next day I heard several version of the same story, that involved a guy pulling a gun on another man. He then pulled a rifle on another totally unrelated bystander shortly after. Someone at some point called the law as the bystander is a well-known harmless and upstanding man in the community. When law enforcement responded the assailant apparently brandished the rifle while executing a poorly conceived escape plan.
The local constabulary didn’t waste any time in trotting out the dogs and the Special Response Team. In reality the show of force was kind of reminiscent of the famous and hilarious third episode of The Andy Griffith Show, The Manhunt that detailed a bureaucratic over the top reaction to a situation that Andy solved with out much effort.
One thing was unanimous; the residents of the community didn’t want law enforcement there. “We don’t call the sheriff out here, we handle our own business” was a common refrain. “Them deputies never waste a chance to show off do they?” said another. “Hell, that first guy might have deserved to have that gun pulled on him…”
In the Mountain South in particular, many disputes are settled even to this day in a private manner, if at all possible. The clannish nature of the residents, mostly descended from the Borderers of the English/Scottish border or of Germanic extraction, is still alive today in many ways.
Max Weber defines the state as has having a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence over a geographical area. To people historically and many still today in Occupied Appalachiastan, the state-only authority to dispense justice is a travesty of the highest proportions. Some do not want to outsource the dispensation of justice. Many do not want anyone mingling in the business of their community. Traditionally, the derbfine, the clan or even the community at large handled matters of justice. This goes back to lex talionis, which is the idea that if you are a righteous man and you are wronged, it is your duty to punish the offender, yourself.
A product of the clannish nature of the Southern Highlander is an unofficial intelligence network of sorts. News travels fast. Rural Appalachia has one of the most effective Underground’s in existence and it doesn’t even know it. If you want to see how it operates, let an incident like above happen, or hang around the bear hunters in the southern mountains around mid October. They will tell you every single detail about the game warden, his habits down to what he eats for breakfast and what flavor toothpaste he uses.
Some years back, my brother lived up in the mountains in Boone, NC. He drove a truck for a local company that built log-cabin style houses, delivering the logs to remote home-construction sites up in the hills and down in the hollers. It was a stone bitch of a job, not least because of occasional warning shots fired across the hood of his truck from concealment in the piney woods, or blood-curdling threats and harrassment from jeering, musket-brandishing locals as he crept his way around the switchbacks.
Those backwoods mountaineers are, as Meyers’ article says, a highly reclusive and clannish lot. They did NOT much cotton to the sudden influx of Yankees, yuppies, and other interlopers into the hills they had regarded as their own for generations—raising living costs across the board; creating overcrowding and congestion; razing forests and perching ugly, obnoxious McMansions on mountaintops, thereby ruining the view; just generally squeezing them out of their place in the world, step by painful step. Now and then, a group of mountain men would even express their displeasure by sneaking down in the dead of the night and burning a half-completed house to the ground, along with any other construction materials they could get alight.
Meyers goes on from there to provide some interesting historical detail, a dissection of nationalism as opposed to patriotism, and a calculation of the odds of successful resistance to federal tyranny by quoting Buppert’s Law Of Military Topography: “Mountainous terrain held by riflemen who know what they are about cannot be militarily defeated.” Knowing what I know of the mountain folk, their hardscrabble lifestyle, and just their overall dad-blamed cussedness, I don’t know as I’d bet against ’em myself.