Colton Harris-Moore, Criminal or Outlaw?

If you haven't yet heard Colton Harris-Moore, the barefoot bandit, has achieved cult hero status. His Facebook site has thousands of followers, a book will be out soon and a big budget film will follow. His exploits are the subject of news reports worldwide. 18 year old Colton has been on the run for months, police in both the US and Canada plus the US National Guard seem always a step or two behind our boy bandit. All of which is wonderful, the kinda of stuff the media loves. Often, however, the media refers to him as an outlaw instead of a troubled youth or a criminal, a definate insult to outlaws everywhere.

A criminal ignores whatever is inconvenient at the moment while an outlaw often chooses a personally inconvenient and sometimes dangerous course in the name of principle and honor. One difference between a criminal and an outlaw is that while criminals frequently are victims, outlaws never are. Outlaws don't merely live beyond the letter of the law - many businessmen, most politicians and police do that - they live beyond the spirit of the law.

Jesse James was an outlaw, he fought back against the railroad and government that stole his family's farm. Robin Hood, the legend says, stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Pancho Villa shot the landlord who raped his sister. These guys were famous, many others never were and never will be. What ties all of them together is resistance to injustice. An outlaw lives by a moral code, but ignores absurd laws designed to suppress dissent and/or support the rich at the expense of the poor.

Colton may be a victim, may be a criminal, but isn't an outlaw unless he... known or unknown to us, distributes the money and food to the homeless or sends cash home to support his mom and other poor folks in his hometown. Colton Harris-Moore has captured the attention of many, if he succeeds in showing that his actions are more than self serving he could raise the exhilaration content of the culture. i hope he does, we need it.

"Resist much, obey little." -Walt Whitman