How Not to Be Patriotic

As you’ve probably heard by now, armed militia members have been gathered in a small part of their country holding government forces at bay and threatening violence unless their demands are met. No, this isn’t Ukraine; this is Nevada.

See, there’s this rancher who wanted to graze his cattle on publicly-owned lands. That’s fine. The government allows this. But thanks to Ronald Reagan, you have to pay a fee to do so. I don’t think that’s entirely unreasonable, but to me the rules here are simple: if you don’t want to pay a fee, don’t graze your cattle on that land. Well, this rancher wanted it both ways. He wanted to graze his cattle, but do it for free. The courts have constantly, since the 1980s, told him no, and told him repeatedly that he needed to pay the fees or face fines, and possible confiscation of his heard. He ignored them. The feds eventually showed up and started rounding up cows, and the next thing you know, there’s an armed militia threatening to murder them. The feds, not wanting a repeat of Waco, backed off.

This is a complex issue with many layers, or so we are told, but it really isn’t. This man was breaking the law. He’s been breaking it since the 1980s (thanks, Reagan!). He knew he faced legal consequences if the courts continued to rule against him, but he still broke the law. Now you can say it’s an unjust law. I can see the argument for that. You can say that breaking an unjust law is justifiable. I can see that, too. But if you break an unjust law, part of the deal is that you face the consequences. That’s what happened during much of the 1950s and 1960s with the Civil Rights movement. We never had Martin Luther King, Jr, show up with an armed militia and threaten to murder people if they don’t get their way.

In this country, if you don’t like the laws, there are mechanisms to change them. Those methods are good and acceptable, and if they don’t work, well, sucks to be you, but you just kind of have to accept it and go with it. What you aren’t allowed to do is threaten violence. You certainly aren’t allowed to use violence to force a change in the laws. We have a word for that.

So I have basically zero respect for this rancher, who at this point should be faced with either giving up a part of his herd or going to jail. I have zero respect for these armed militia douchebags who decided to take the law into their own hands. They should also be facing strict legal sanctions. Meantime their supporters are welcome to work through the system to get these laws changed. That’s the way a true patriot does it.

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