Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What is an "Outlaw"? by Clint Overland & Terry Trahan

To live outside the law,
First you must be honest

You see the term outlaw thrown around a lot, especially as a commercial selling point. “Oh, you’re such a rebel, an Outlaw...” Buy our beer or truck, go to the titty bar, you bad ass...

Bullshit, that’s not being an outlaw. It may or may not be part of the lifestyle an outlaw has, but that is a dumb ass interpretation of Outlaw.

An Outlaw lives outside the Law. Both the constraints, and more importantly, the protections of the law. An Outlaw exists in an area that most people don’t know exists, and don’t want to. It is outside of the norms we have been brought up with.

First off, an outlaw is not necessarily a criminal. He will most definitely be a law breaker. He will be the one doing the ugly things needed to keep society running smooth, not causing the problems. He will be the one avenging the criminal when the law cannot.

One of the questions I am asked on a regular basis is what is the difference between a criminal and an outlaw? Sometime I tell people it’s hard to distinguish the two apart from one another especially with the rise of outlaw motorcycle clubs and other street gangs. A criminal is someone that continually breaks the law for their own gain, desires or needs. You will meet them on street corners, in bars, on Wall Street and in the hallowed halls of justice. They are a likely to put on a suit and tie in the morning as they are to put on steel toed boots and a cut. Their main intention is to get something with the least amount of effort no matter what it cost others.

Being an outlaw is not a lifestyle, it is a lifeway. Some will live as bikers or cowboys. Teachers or IT guys. The commonality is the willingness to do what needs done, and live life the way they see fit, and just as important, accepting the consequences of their choice.

It is a beautiful terrifying way of life. It also shows you how beautiful and precious life is, and paradoxically, how cheap and worthless some people are.

An Outlaw on the other hand is someone that yes they may break the law sometimes they also live outside of normal societies standards and I have found have a code of conduct that may seem a little archaic to some but it is what works for them. I know guys that have no problem stomping another man to death and laughing about it later that would never raise their hand to a woman or even think of harming a child. Some of my dearest friends think that a good time involves going out and robbing drug dealers and pimps but then the next day will give whatever they have to help a needy family out. Doesn’t make since to most so called normal people but it is how they choose to live. I grew up with these guys, worked with them, call them brother. I have never had one steal from me, act disrespectfully towards my wife or kids. 95% of the time I have never had an outlaw treat me with any other way than respect. But the times we got cross we settled it like men. No lawsuits, no cops just got it done and went our own ways.

Every Outlaw I have ever known or been involved with understands what it means to lose. Lose family , friends and lovers to death, either from drugs, alcohol, violence or just plain bad luck. Death affects everyone. No matter how tough or bad a person may seem it will affect you unless you have given up your humanity and your soul. Then you have just become a mad dog that needs to be put down.

There is a difference

All Outlaws I know live life by a code. The code may vary, but they are surprisingly similar.

  • Do what I say I will do
  • Stand up for people that can’t
  • Stop the assholes
  • Live fully
  • Love your own

Outlaws also usually have a group, call it tribe, Family of Choice, clan, or Brotherhood, they have a group that takes care of each other, holds each other accountable, helps when needed, and works together for the goal.

The Cost

There is not just one cost to this life. It costs in different ways, and at different times. You lose family, friends. People constantly judge or misjudge you. Society as a whole misunderstand and project their bullshit on you.

The biggest cost is comfort and peace. As we said earlier, you exist outside the bounds and protections of the law. This means that you are responsible for you. Your safety, your finances, your families safety. Some assholes go after your family and associates, you have to take care of this.
While law enforcement may sympathize, you can’t even count on them for the problems that arise, and if they’re crooked, they add to the problems.

The biggest cost is your peace and your soul, if you don’t guard it. This burns more people than anything else, it’s what leads to addiction, divorce, even homelessness or suicide. And if you weren’t brought up by the Old Foul Dudes, nobody informs you of this.

Then of course, there is always the physical costs, broken bones, wounds, all of them add up. If you’re lucky enough to get to old age, you will know the cost then.


One of the things that marks an Outlaw is getting shit done. If it means taking out the trash, or taking out the TRASH, the Outlaw Takes Care Of Business. He knows the price, accepts the cost, and does his shit the best he knows how.


An Outlaw accepts how he is viewed. He may hate it, he may be hurt by it, but he knows it. He goes through life being what he is.

They go through life with a set of armor, usually a dismissive, derisive demeanor. In the Biker world, the patch says DILLIGAF, and means Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck. As a matter of fact, yes, I give many fucks, but you’ll never know, because you are not mine, nor part of my tribe, so fuck you.

More than most, an Outlaw knows how fragile life is, how fleeting beauty can be, how valuable love is. This leads to an appreciation of things most people won’t give us credit for. Art, poetry, nature, philosophy, compassion, learning... and Death, an Outlaw knows death, knows it is sniffing, not far behind.

Both Clint Overland and Terry Trahan will be teaching a seminar soon. Details can be found here:



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