The false delimma

One of the rationales used to excuse the BLM in the Bundy case is provided by Walter Olson On the Bundy Ranch confrontation quoting Tom Frank. “I hate to see how many on my side who are upset at Obama’s violation of the Rule of Law cheer the Bundys’ criminal contempt of a court order.” The article links to a Breitbart Big Government story that provides a rundown on the legal history. The non-legal, non-conspiratorial background needs Dana Loesch’s view on The Real Story Behind The Bundy Ranch Harassment for balance on the larger picture.

The rationale in the dilemma depends upon the fact that officers in the executive branch (e.g. president, attorney general) take an oath to faithfully enforce the law. A citizen’s role is not so explicit but rather an implicit responsibility to follow and honor the law. To try to hold Bundy to the same status as Obama in regards to the law is a dishonest comparison. The fact that Obama and his party are not setting a very good example in regards to following may make no excuse for others but it also doesn’t set a standard.

There are many issues in the Bundy case that tend towards an interpretation of appropriate civil disobedience rather than criminal lawbreaking. One is in the area of government taking and the property rights of the individual. That goes deep in this case involving homesteading of western lands, water rights, and urban development. It is the property rights issue that has lead to conspiracy theories regarding the Senate majority leader, Chinese interests, and corruption.

The excessive and irrational regulation issue is a factor here as well. One of the primary rationales used by the government for action against Bundy was in regards to an endangered species. That rationale falls flat on several fronts. Cattle and the endangered species have co-existed at the Bundy ranch for generations. The BLM itself is assassinating thousands of members of that species as their recovery facility has been closed. ‘Green’ projects that do have disastrous impact on the species’ habitat have been approved. All of these facts indicate a problem with the government’s basic rational for a taking.

Other issues involve state control and ownership over lands within their borders and appropriate response of law enforcement. The courts have not done themselves proud, either. They have allowed the government’s case to stand despite history, irrational rationale, and competing interests. One cannot also ignore the fact that the Bundy case is not one that appeals to the left which means media inspection and evaluation is rather lacking and poor.

Civil disobedience has an honored history with many ugly spots. The citizens who arrived from all over the U.S. to support Bundy indicate that something is not right with government in this case. That indication tells the rest of us that we need to pay attention and take a look beyond the shallow ‘didn’t pay the rent so is a criminal’ argument to fully understand what our government is doing and whether that is the sort of thing it should be doing – to Bundy or to each of us. 

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