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Saturday, April 15, 2017

So... You Wanna Be An "MC"

OFF THE WIRE
So... You Wanna Be An "MC"
The process, as viewed by a 3-piece Patch Holder
(RoadRage, 2017)
Let me start out by saying that in no way, shape or form is this meant to infringe upon any personal freedoms, rights or even your desires as human beings that were fortunate enough to have found yourselves living in the greatest society on Earth, the United States of America. This was not written to tear down any personal credos of “Ride Free” or to regulate you in any way. This is meant to EDUCATE, not REGULATE.

The simple truths that are written herein were once known by all in the MC (Motorcycle Club) Community. They were a part of what characterized and upon which most individual club’s bylaws were constructed, as well as being engrained in the belief system of every one of those club’s members. The “Old School” bikers can surely attest to this.

The MC world is one that is founded upon FREEDOM and held together through RESPECT. It is critical that both of these cornerstones be regarded as equally important, within the MC Community, in order to ensure the peaceful coexistence of such a vastly diverse sub-set of society.

This unique culture, with its many “Colors,” is represented by everything from the “1% Outlaw Biker Clubs” at one end of the spectrum to the “Christian Biker Clubs” at the other end and just about everything you can think of in between. The only things that are always present in every club are, of course an undying love for riding motorcycles (that’s pretty much a given) and the two fundamentals mentioned above, the unwavering desire for Freedom and the absolute necessity of Respect.

Bear in mind, all of this is written with regard to MCs. Not your everyday Joe Independents, average citizens who have no clue as to the inner workings of our part of society, nor those RUBs that one day decided to buy everything brand new from the bike to the jacket, helmet, chaps, tassels, gloves, pant stirrups and vests with way too many brand new, stupid looking patches on them. Now, to avoid sounding hypocritical, let me also state that all of those “Motorcycle Enthusiasts” have every right to enjoy the freedom of the road and deserve the right to earn their own portion of respect, as much as we in the MC Community do. But for the purposes of this writing, they are in fact excluded.

To continue speaking on the fundamentals of Freedom and Respect, it’s important to realize that, in a perfect world, everyone would be free to do whatever they wanted when, where and however they pleased. While this sounds great it brings with it another set of problems. For instance, there is the fact that one man’s exercising of his unrestrained freedom will almost always infringe upon another man’s freedom and inherently bring with it a measure of disrespect.

So… while the ideal of Freedom is pure, the reality of freedom is only able to be implemented when tempered with respect. Again, in the setting of our imaginary perfect world, we would like to assume that this measure of respect would be common knowledge among the members of this particular sub-set of society. Almost an unwritten “Code Of Respect” somewhat akin to the, no longer recognized, “Rules Of The Road” that all motorists used to know and abide by “back in the day.”

In the heart of every Biker burns a fire stoked by their desire for and expression of their personal freedoms. For “Patch Holders” of established MCs, it is not a wildfire that is left to burn out of control, this fire is contained with a ring of respect. Respect for their patch/club, respect for other patches/clubs and perhaps most importantly, respect for themselves. Freedom expressed without respect can be a dangerous thing. Respect is not easily attained and it is always earned, not given or even taken.

“Patch Holders” of well known, established MCs have, by the very fact that they are wearing a “Full Patch,” EARNED a measure of respect from the other members of the MC Community. That respect is, in a sense, automatically bestowed upon the patch holder because of the community’s belief in and the history of the known, established and respected club that “patched out” that particular member. Without the foreknowledge of and respect for the club issuing the patch, the patch holder would have earned no respect within the MC community.

When you decide to exercise your personal freedoms by starting up a club because you just “want to do things your way” or you “can’t seem to find a club that you can commit yourself to because of this or that” or whatever your particular reason for starting up your own club may be… This situation is known as a “Pop Up Club.” While starting up a new club, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad idea… Doing it the wrong way, the disrespectful way, is ALWAYS A BAD IDEA.

Most “Pop Up Clubs” are started by founding members that have very limited experience with the MC world and the inner workings of it, or it’s unwritten “Code of Respect” that MCs are expected to govern themselves and their members by. This is usually because they either didn’t want to have to go through the “prospect” period required by all legitimate MCs or they unknowingly believe “it’s just that easy” to design and sew on a cool looking patch and viola… they are an MC.

In very few cases have “Pop Up Clubs” been formed with the knowledge that their actions were disrespectful to each and every patch holder of every MC, that had to earn that full patch through a prospecting period. But much like the laws of the land state… ignorance is no excuse. To simply put a “Cut” on and call yourself a full patched member of an MC without having EARNED that right, having prospected and proven that you understand the way the MC Community works and that you understand “Protocol” and respect… is so insulting that you might as well have spit on and slapped the face of every member of every MC in your community. This is NOT an exaggeration by any means.

How would a pop up club’s sewing on of some patches, assigning some officers and calling themselves an MC be any different than any other group of untrained people joining a particular subset of society and believing themselves to be automatically equal? Would you consider putting on a uniform and calling yourself a US Marine without having gone through basic training? Would you put on a smock and begin to practice medicine without having gone through med school? How likely are you to throw on a helmet and a turnout coat then run into a burning building to fight a raging fire without having completed the “probie” portion of the fire academy? Would it not be considered an insult for you to call yourself a journeyman carpenter without having completed your apprenticeship?

The first thing that patch holders of respected MCs ask when they see a Pop Up Club is “why didn’t you just join an established MC?” Of course there are about as many viable answers to that question as there are ideas of the perfect motorcycle, but it is a valid question none the less. Yes, you have the right to disagree with the basic philosophy of each and every established MC in your community and can thereby feel compelled to start up your own version, one that will “do it the right way” or whatever you think you’ve figured out better than everyone else. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do so.

It has been my experience that most Pop Up Clubs do it the wrong way, the disrespectful way. If you start up a club and right from the beginning put on what is known as an “MC Cube” and / or separate your patch into a “3 piece patch” (with top rocker, center patch and bottom rocker not connected to each other) YOU HAVE DONE IT THE WRONG WAY, THE DISRESPECTFUL WAY!

If you “fly that patch” in front of the wrong people you may very well have yourself in more trouble than you ever expected your well intended expression of your personal freedom to have gotten you into. If you disrespect certain members of the MC world you will very strongly regret having done so, whether you knew that’s what you were doing or not. KNOW THE COMMUNITY YOU ARE TRYING TO JOIN AND EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE THINGS YOU ARE EXPECTED TO DO, THE THINGS YOU ARE EXPECTED NOT TO DO AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF DOING THEM ANYWAY.

If you are still interested in starting up a new club rather than joining an already established one, respected by the MC Community, then here are some things that will help you do it the right way. DO NOT CALL YOURSELF AN “MC”… PERIOD! You have not EARNED the right to call yourself an MC nor have you or your founding members EARNED the right to call yourselves PATCH HOLDERS. PERIOD! Start your organization as a (SC) “Social Club” or a (RC) “Riding Club” or a (MSC) “Motorcycle Social Club.” Set your “Club” up much like an MC with rules / regulations / bylaws and all the rest of the organizational portion of the start up but DO NOT call it an MC. Show up to and introduce yourselves at local COC (Confederation Of Clubs) and similar meetings. Recruit new members through a proper prospecting period. Attend as many of the local MC events around your community as you can, showing support, getting yourself out there and noticed. Just make sure that what the community is noticing is your members acting appropriately (respectful) because believe it… YOU ARE BEING WATCHED and everything your members do is noticed.

It is during this initial period of your club, called something other than an MC, that you are actually “prospecting” your club to the MC community. There really is no getting around the prospect period. Since you felt you didn’t want to prospect for an existing club, your whole organization must now go through, for all intents and purposes, a prospecting period. There is no set time limit for your organization’s prospecting period, anymore than there is a standard amount of time for every individual MC’s prospects. That time is up to the individual or, in this case, club. How long does it take to earn respect? How long does it take to prove that you understand the way things are to work (Protocol)? It varies. But know this for certain… THERE IS NO ACCEPTANCE WITHOUT EARNING RESPECT.

Think about it. You are starting up a club, that one would assume will be heavily involved in the local MC Community… Why wouldn’t you want to have their acceptance and respect? This community isn’t for everyone. It has certain expectations that MUST be met. Do it the wrong way and… well… There’s just no telling what you might find out there on the road. Do it the right way and you might just be welcomed into OUR community. The choice is yours.

COMMENT
This isn’t little league, you just don’t show up and everyone gets a trophy. Very well written, protocols get over looked and by passed all the time for the sheer reason that none wants to do the ground work or feels intimidated to approach the big boys in the block (whoever that may be due to demographic) and respectfully request permission to set up shop. In most cases they are going to be surprised at the response they receive and the respect they get just from asking. I had a nice “3 piece” made up by children when I returned from deployment, nothing screamed MC on it, but due to my location in an MC heavy community, I made the rounds with vest in hand (I will not call it a cut, because it does not represent a club I ride for) just to say hey I’m back in the area and I’ll be wearing this, no objections and plenty of offers of to ride, whats better than that. You will find that most out there in the MC community are approachable, decent folks. It’s our lifestyle, there is a history behind it, that is part of what makes it great, the fact that people just don’t go running into every leather shop they come across and make their own stuff up. I appreciate the group of guys that get together on the weekends and ride together, but bikers they are not, a club they are not, some are smart enough, some are not. There are a group of individuals in NJ riding as the Sons of Anarchy MC New Jersey, first of all this is wrong by not being original, second by risking an a$$ kicking by wearing a make believe MC’s cut and acting like an MC. Third, by being LE and calling LE when approached, sorry, badges don’t apply in this world, MC rules apply…By all means I appreciate what you do to keep us safe, but enter the MC world and its MC rules, you can’t play both sides of the coin.