By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." ~ Joseph Goebbels
Is the L.A. Times anti-marijuana? Since the tragic shooting of Ft. Bragg city councilman Jere Melo a week ago last Saturday, the L.A. Times and other wire services have still been running erroneous information surrounding the incident.
Violence stalks the mountains above a quiet coastal town
"The slaying of Fort Bragg Councilman Jere Melo is the latest event in an area populated by marijuana growers drawn to the isolation, good weather and laissez-faire culture. ~ Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2011
Yet the local slant is going in another, totally different direction: That there is a killer loose, and it has nothing to do with marijuana.
While the Times beats the propaganda drum, suspected killer Aaron Bassler is still out there.
As of last night, September 4, at 8 p.m.:
"Sighted this morning at 8:15 a.m. near the home of his mother, Aaron Bassler, the suspect in two recent homicides that have rocked Mendocino County continues to elude capture. According to the SF Gate, "[m]ore than 50 law enforcement officers are combing a neighborhood on the eastern edge of Fort Bragg today. 'It was a positive sighting,' Capt. Kurt Smallcomb, spokesperson for the Mendocino Sheriff, said. 'We have reason to believe he's still right in that general area."
The Fort Bragg Advocate posted an update: At 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, Sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb said searches in the forest near the 30,000 block of Sherwood Road are continuing "as we speak." Smallcomb corrected a previous report that Bassler was last seen in dark clothing, but that he was, in fact, wearing camouflage clothing when spotted by law enforcement personnel.
"Smallcomb said a police K9 was able to catch Bassler for a moment before he slipped away. Smallcomb reminded residents in the area to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Residents are urged to call 911 at the first sign of suspicious activity."
But the headline above ran the whole day Sunday.
If the L.A. Times was really interested in what was transpiring on the Mendocino coast they would highlight how the killer's family tried to get their son some help for his obvious mental condition. Because of a lack of funds, Aaron Bassler was denied county services.
?Or the revered SoCal paper might want to add that the killer's father has alleged that his son might be responsible for the killing of Matt Coleman. It was speculated early on that Coleman was also killed by marijuana growers.
The L.A. Times is pushing this tiny coastal city into a position that may well backfire. At this time, most local journalists are being very sensitive to a story that has rocked a small community that on its best days is precarious to say the least.
Jere Melo was a civic leader, but he wasn't a friend to the growing community. But that doesn't have anything to do with his untimely death. Jere Melo was killed by a crazed wacko that was lying and waiting for trouble by the slit trenches he dug and the sniper posts he erected. He was ready for someone to bring it on. For Melo, it could have just been a matter of timing, not a preconceived attack.
But for eight dark days, the L.A. Times ran a story that blamed marijuana growers for the trouble in Fort Bragg, never taking the time to find the real issue: Money.
We can't say what would have happened if Bassler had received some kind of mental assistance. One possibility is that this might never had happened. Another is that we might never have had a chance to read these snarky comments left on yesterday's L.A. Times article. The names have been removed to protect the sane and the haters alike.
Posted at 10:44 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"So much for the 'peace-loving' hippies up in Humboldt and Bragg... I remember, with immense fondness, of spending three days up there bowhunting deer with a Bear takedown recurve. The area was teeming with wildlife: rivers, streams, secluded meadows graced by 100-year-old barns. A very special vibe in a very special place. Now, once again, Mexican druggies and professional pot farmers have stolen that, have pilfered our national forests -- turning them into war zones. So, if that's the game... Hunt them all down and kill every damn one of em..."
Posted at 10:55 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Things have changed a lot up there, a real shame. By coincidence, I am going on a hunting trip in the exact area Jere was murdered. For the first time in my life I will be carrying an M-4 instead of a bolt gun. Sad."
Posted at 10:24 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"As I posted, Jere was my cousin, and I don't want to get into a discussion about medical marijuana, but I will say this. I am one of those 'Evil' people that did 30 years in Law Enforcement, and just retired at age 50. I worked at a large agency and worked Narcotics, and supervised a DEA task force. In 30 years I never went to a single call related to violence caused by marijuana intoxication. Dope rips, deals gone bad, yes, but not actual usage. The violence was always meth, PCP, coke, ice, crack, etc."
Posted at 9:05 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Amazing to see all the dope heads rationalizing murder away as their little fantasy of a victimless crime (medical marijuana) goes up in smoke. There's plenty of blood on your hands, just because you can't deal with reality."
Posted at 8:18 a.m., Sepember 4, 2011:
"US drug war has met none of its goals. After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread. Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerklikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked. 'In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,' Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. 'Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.' At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse -- 'an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction' -- cost the United States $215 billion a year. Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides."
Posted at 8:03 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Just sweep the whole area with thousands of National Guard soldiers and burn the pot farms to the ground."
Posted art 8:24 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Who will pay? Where will the soldiers come from? New taxes? Increased deficit? We're now using National Guard troops to fight wars overseas since we don't want to have a draft or pay enough to recruit full time soldiers."
Posted at 7:42 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Looks like law enforcement has time to play on trains. What a photo op. Too bad these guys cost $100-250k a year forever (meaning 20-40 years of retirement). Wow, wish I could make that kind of money fucking around on a train."
Posted at 7:14 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"They are reaping what they have sown. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that 'medical marijuana' is mainly a fraud and merely a front for people to get high on pot. The drug culture of pot farmers, opium poppy growers, meth labs and the Mexican drug cartels have replaced the 'capitalist pig' lumber companies and sportsmen hunters. This is known as 'progressive' thinking."
Posted at 8:24 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"You may have noticed that [the above commenter] put the word progressive in quotes. Which means it is not to be taken literally. So, no reason to display your sneering 'superiority.' [Commenter], big thumbs up for your comment.
Posted at 6:58 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"A very interesting and enlightening article. Every light casts a shadow. The Mexican nationals moving in like vultures on the trade is par for the course for illegals in the U.S.A. California has no choice now but to make the whole trade legal."
Posted at 6:17 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Rise the jail sentence to 40 years in jail for first offense of possession. Death for growing opium or marijuana. Quit the B.S., cause the weak fools who grow it is their only income excuse. Wake up it's not cool to be a drug user, most live in the streets beg for money sell their bodys, and no personal hygiene. Those who think they look cool with a gun, are the biggest anus. Where is gov't security for the locals. But of course nothing will be done, where money is involve. Pussie legislature who will sell their soul for a few bucks are no better than the grower. Watch which one will support the growers and their you will fine a anus."
Posted at 4:13 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"The pot heads have been on a 40 plus year propaganda campaign to sell the public that this drug is harmless and that those who smoke this garbage are peaceful. Maybe some of them are but all I know is that the drug dealing gangster thugs with their vicious pit bulls selling pot to high school and junior high school weren't so peaceful, they lived next door to me until I went on a one man crusade against them. What I do know is that pot heads are wimps and must have no testosterone because when I went in their face and told them either they take their operation elsewhere or face some real pummeling, they left hastily with their pit bulls and their little drug operation.
"This idiot who got shot obviously went in to 'reason' with these drug addicts and couldn't back his words up, that was a big mistake.
"Look, the scum who grow and deal this crap don't fear cops but they certainly do fear a good old fashioned American ass kicking, just make sure you can back your words up with action and those scumbags run like little girls.
"Remember this pot heads, you have this guys blood on your hands, and the blood of many others as you fire up your bongs. You aren't the hippies you think you are, you aid and abet murderers with your every toke.
Posted art 5:28 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Nothing you say here at all is substantiated by any journalist. And you conveniently ignore the facts of the area and the other verifiable statements and conditions in the article. This is just propaganda."
Posted at 5:49 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Everything mendonik states is reported in the Ft. Bragg Advocate-News. On what basis can you call it propaganda and assert that it is not substantiated by any journalist? I live in Northern California, and everything in mendonik's post here was reported by newspapers all over the region. Friend of mine works for Cal Fire one county north of here, another pot-grow hotbed. He has to respond after car accidents, structure fires, medical emergencies, and boat accidents on a local lake. Do the circumstances of all these tragedies get laid at the door of the pot growers, too? You got a one-size-fits-all tool for your rhetoric -- which makes you the tool."
Posted at 10:01 p.m., September 3, 2011:
"'Even if he is found, no one expects the mountains to be quite the same again.' This quote from the article has me very puzzled and frustrated. Why aren't the state governments involved (it's more than California) calling out the National Guard and declaring all out war on these growers/thugs? I don't understand how we can bring the Taliban to its knees, bring down Osama Bin Laden, but throw up our hands and say, 'Oh well - what can we possibly do?' when it comes to the rape of our sovereign lands and the murder of our citizens. Maybe cannabis should be legalized for several reasons, but the issue is that 'growers' (almost makes them sound bucolic, doesn't it?) are setting up little private war zones on land that belongs to other people, and ruining the surrounding society. The article states that the father of the guy suspected of killing Jere Melo is growing opium poppies - not pot. These are violent criminals who will stop at nothing until they themselves are stopped. We have an absolute right to defend our own soil, and the responsibility to the general public to do so."
Posted at 5:20 a.m., September 4, 2011:
"Well, we have a lot of laws that prevent law-abiding people from having guns. We have a civil system that prevents law-abiding people from using guns, even justifiably We also have a broke state. We also have an idiot governor. And a few idiots before him in the same office. We also have idiots who actually believe in 'medical marijuana' when everyone knows there is no such thing. Once, it may have been a concept, but the execution of the idea has destroyed any legitimacy of it."
Posted at 8:52 p.m., September 3, 2011:
Do you sniveling miserable drug addicts realize the problems you force down the unwilling throats of the honest people of this nation. You should all be lined up and shot dead.
Posted at 9:00 p.m., September 3, 2011:
"Those who smokes this dope is the problem."
Posted at 9:02 p.m., September 3, 2011:
"You would lose this 'issue' when you legalize it because now these murders are now called businessmen ... Now they can DONATE MONEY TO THESE POLITICIANS ... Now then ARM THEMSELVES WITH BLOOD THIRSTY LAWYERS. And now ... they can pervert your precious DOPE and make it more lethal..."
(I would like to thank the incredible Kym Kemp for additional information that I stole from her blog, Redheaded Blackbelt, www.kymkemp.com.)
Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at jackrikess.com.
Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.
His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.
He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.