The Bundy saga is different things to different people.

That's about as clear and definitive a statement on pro and anti-Bundy sentiments as can be.

To some, it's about government overreach. To others, it's a clear-cut case of a rancher not following the rules. And then there's a bunch of related (often alleged and rumored) nefarious stuff going on around it.

By now, most of you have heard of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's troubles with the BLM.

I'm not too worked up over it, and won't be writing much about it. I'm ambivalent, with misgivings should I support any one side. I'll just briefly summarize my feelings:
  • Bundy stopped paying the fees for his cattle to graze on federal land.
  • Bundy disputes that it's legitimately federal land, and/or that the feds do not have authority in the matter.
I'm sympathetic. But those two points--which are at the heart of the matter--to me, paint a picture of a pretty clear path from protester to martyr. With our legal system, continued disobedience pretty much ensures prison time. For some reason I don't see Bundy as wanting to be such a martyr.

I mean, we have a pretty well-established system in this country regarding state and federal land, who owns it, and how the people use it. But what if you feel the system is wrong? Do you go along to get along? Or do you go further and refuse/disobey everything you disagree with? Expecting to change the laws and coming away at least somewhat victorious seems overly optimistic. Getting lots of other people to think about it and and then try to change things seems a bit more realistic.

I guess I'm still mulling it over.

That said, I mostly agree with Warren Meyer at Coyoteblog--in a logical, very concrete, matter-of-fact way. For Bundy is not petitioning his government through the accepted and official means (or maybe he did and got nowhere), and resorted to breaking the rules. Why support a cause that has no legal leg to stand on?

I don't buy this Obama-age, Harry Reid involvement crap. I wouldn't put too much stock into that. As this remarkably refreshing article illustrates: there's not much there, there.

But just in general, the rebel in me wants Bundy to win. At least symbolically. To expose all the bullshit the BLM forces upon ranchers, to expose how tactless the federal government is, to expose how little of shit the government gives, to make us question why does the federal government have to own so much Western land? It doesn't have to. It can and should give it to the states, at least most of it.

Edited to add: Should this turn into a civil disobedience issue (which it probably is already... and less about fees, but more about the scope and purpose of government agencies): Bryan Caplan thinks martyrs should avoid martyrdom.
If the law is unjust, doesn't consenting to punishment simply compound the injustice?  The subtler challenge: "Evading" or "defying" just laws could easily lead to "anarchy" in a pejorative sense.  But why on earth is King so pessimistic about the social effects of "evasion" or "defiance" of unjust laws?  Indeed, if the laws are really so awful, you'd expect every violation to make the world a little bit better. . . .


CABE on April 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM said...

I, reluctantly, agree with the government. Bundy has no claim. It is a shame that he is being used as a symbol for State sovereignty.

When InfoWars is the primary source of information...you just have to shutter.

Stan on April 18, 2014 at 10:32 AM said...

Agree with you. But still I root for him.

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