Mad Mel on the Mosquito Coast

“Now I’m hiding in Honduras;

I’m a desperate man…”

–Warren Zevon, “Lawyers, Guns and Money”

Don’t you just love this latest installment of Theocrats Gone Wild?

Hollywood star Mel Gibson has ignored safety warnings from the U.S. government and is going ahead with his move to an isolated part of Costa Rica.

The Mad Max actor, 51, plans to move his wife Robyn and seven children 300 miles away from their home in California to a $26 million ranch in a rural area that is known as “bandit territory.”

Ignoring official U.S. government warnings, Gibson has put two properties in California and Connecticut on the market to finance his move to the densely wooded estate in the Guanacaste province on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast.

A State Department briefing warns that all American visitors there are “potential targets for criminals and kidnappers” and should never travel alone.

It adds, “Local law enforcement agencies have limited capabilities and do not operate according to U.S. standards.”

I’m guessing that Mad Mel finds the absence of US laws and authorities (or anything approaching them) to be the region’s strongest selling point. He’s hardly unique in this kind of adventure: the Mormons, Jim Jones and countless other cults have tried, unsuccessfully, to put themselves out of reach of the long arm of the law so that they could be fruitful and multiply, and…well, do whatever other wacky things they considered holy.

The Mormons tried it on then-unclaimed turf that in 1890 became the state of Utah (ironically, a condition of statehood was that they had to give up the most obvious of their authoritarian theocratic tendencies, the practice of polygamy); the Branch Davidians and the armageddonist gun nuts at Ruby Ridge holed up in their respective compounds, with disastrous results; the so-called Freemen attempted a bogus declaration of secession, or a state-within-a-state. A common thread was the “freedom of religion” defence (completely missing the irony, of course, that imprisoning one’s own members in a compound, isolating them from the wider world, and fucking with their heads, can hardly be called freedom.)

The law caught up to all of them, more or less. (The fundie-Mormons are still trying to claim their polygamy under freedom of religion, although it’s hard to see what’s so free about a teenager forced to marry against her will by a theocratic cult leader.)

And of course, the saying “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” is directly attributable to what happened to Jim Jones and his followers in Guyana.

Perhaps Mad Mel should rent a certain Harrison Ford movie. Or better still, read the book on which the film was based. Or just learn from history. Not that admonition is likely to deter him any, but a truer sense of what he’s in for, in his attempts to build his fool’s paradise, can’t hurt.

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