[Ed. note — Introducing the Lost Coast Outpost’s newest feature, “The Big, Dumb Thread.” The Big, Dumb Thread is a place for us to talk about a pointless thing for much longer than any reasonable person would care to read. Just for future reference: We do that here rather than, say, under a post about an actual serious thing.]

Last week, as you know, the Lost Coast Outpost reported on the Manila crossbow slaying. Our story was called “HOMICIDE IN MANILA; Manhunt Underway; Sheriffs, CHP Out in Force North of Samoa Bridge.” The story was unfolding minute by minute. We, the Lost Coast Outpost community, were desperately trying to piece together what had happened and what was happening at a time — Sunday afternoon — when it was still very much happening.

Up in the middle of this popped one or possibly more than one person who wished to forcefully assert that the incident in question did not take place in Manila, but Samoa. The main and possibly only instigator was the old friend and valuable LoCO community member who we had taken to calling “The Dune Guy,” renowned for his bewildering variety of pseudonyms, all of which took leave to assume basically any story was a jumping-off point for a colorful conspiracy theory — something about Friends of the Dunes and Baykeeper and a host of other organizations and governmental entities conspiring to destroy the Manila Dunes. 

In the case of last Sunday, surprisingly, Dune Guy did not seek to blame the Friends of the Dunes for the crossbow killing. Rather, he sought to defend the good name of Manila by saying that the crime did not take place in “Manila” — what he likes to think of as Manila, in any case — but in “Samoa.” With help from his legion of invisible friends, Dune Guy continued to ramp up this line of attack, despite everyone telling him to please shut up because, after all, there are crossbow killers on the loose and such. But he would not, and so finally I had to put him on the bench for a spell.

But now he is back in the game. So let’s have it out right here in a big, dumb thread!

To recap: The crime — and a previous crime, which Dune Guy also bitched about — took place at the old Dog Ranch, north of the Samoa Bridge. That Sunday, the suspects and a victim emerged from the woods, and the police team entered the woods, roughly here: between Vance Avenue and Peninsula Drive on Highway 255.

Dune Guy insists that this place is properly called “Samoa,” because … well, it’s not yet clear, actually. Because he says so.

I insist that it is properly called “Manila” because, in the first place, here is a map of Manila.

For the sake of reference, here is the map of the only local agency with the word “Samoa” in its name. You see? It just so happens that the actual legal border between these two distinct entities lines up with the natural demarcation between them. Manila is north of the bridge, Samoa is south. Indeed, that is, in my experience, the common understanding.

And that’s the important thing — even more important than the inarguable legal definition. Speaking only for myself, when I’m trying to get critical information out to people I’m going to use the geographic term that is most specific and at the same time most widely understood. If the headline had been “Crossbow Killers on the Loose in Samoa,” the general public would have a very different and incorrect picture of what was going on. They’d be thinking of the wrong side of the bridge and the wrong side of the highway. They’d be thinking about the cookhouse and the pulp mill. “Manila” orients them correctly.

Even if the crime didn’t take place within the legal boundaries of the Manila Community Services District — which it did — “Manila” still would have been the correct choice, just as it would be proper, in similar circumstances, to refer to some areas of Myrtletown as “Eureka,” whether or not they are within the city limits. The key thing is to point people in the right direction.

On the other hand, could I have said that the crime took place “on the Samoa Peninsula”? Of course. Just as I could have said that it took place on Planet Earth.

That’s the case for the defense. Dune Guy: Go! Dune Guy sympathizers/aliases: Go! Let’s get this big, dumb thread going!