Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Contractors for the Bureau of Land Management round up cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy with a helicopter near Bunkerville, Nev. Monday, April 7, 2014. The Bureau of Land Management has begun to round up what they call "trespass cattle" that rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing in the Gold Butte area 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)
Editorial: Bundy is a lawbreaker, not a hero

Don’t let Bundy get away with it

First Published Apr 15 2014 04:30 pm • Last Updated Apr 16 2014 11:34 am

Cliven Bundy and his ragtag band of armed supporters forced the federal government to back down as the roundup of Bundy cattle was called off and the bovines returned to the Nevada rancher.

Some declared victory and hailed the outcome a clear blow against tyranny and a win for freedom.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Hardly. The only winner in this was a scofflaw who has twice lost in the courts for running cattle where they don’t belong and skipping out on grazing fees. Some 20,000 ranchers in Western states abide by BLM regulations, so what makes Bundy special?

What makes Bundy special is the army of self-styled patriots who rallied to his ranch with their guns and grudges. If the government hadn’t acted to defuse the situation by backing off and letting Bundy have his win, we might have witnessed Americans shooting Americans over a few cows and a specious interpretation of the Second Amendment and private property rights.

Emboldened by their apparent victory, the fringe is gearing up to employ the same tactics elsewhere, convinced their gun-toting intimidation is what the Founding Fathers intended. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the sum total of their understanding of the Constitution fits on an NRA bumper sticker.

The Constitution is actually very clear on the government’s obligation to enforce the law, as well as its explicit duty to put down insurrection. The Tea Party history of America skips right over 1794, when George Washington raised an army and marched on people who threatened government officials and refused to pay taxes. The "Whiskey Rebellion" fizzled at the show of federal force.

Thanks to President Washington’s decisiveness, the Constitutional United States of America under the new Constitution succeeded where the Articles of Confederation, with its emphasis on states rights and powerless central government, had failed. No one voted for the armed rabble camped in Bundy’s yard. When some manage to avoid justice by extralegal means, the rule of law is weakened for all Americans.

The victory on Bundy’s ranch, backed as it was by the threat of violence, is a danger to the peaceful functioning of a civil society. Swagger and bombast shouldn’t become the American way. The government was right to back down to avoid possible bloodshed, but it should employ other means to see that Bundy doesn’t profit from his lawlessness.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.