By Bob Ferris
|LaVoy Finicum on the prowl at Malheur.|
Now ordinarily, I would just chalk LaVoy up as another uniformed wacko, but then we find that Mr. Finicum is one of the masterminds behind the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He is one of the reasons why the schools in the area are closed. He is one of the reasons that the refuge is closed to visitors and hunters, so now his words (see below video) have additional gravitas and meaning. So what does he have to say?
Much of what he says in the laborious video is by way of describing the nuts and bolts of Cliven Bundy’s ironic rather than iconic charge up the hill with the American Flag. LaVoy seems to think it is the flag of our armed forces rather than that of our country even though the riders evidently said the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the photo-op. Before he starts to rebut Beck he forwards the entertaining notion that it is wrong for the federal government to try federal cases because those federal judges have a conflict of interest. He argues that federal cases should be tried in state courts so the administration cannot muck up the works.
|Cliven Bundy's ironic ride.|
But where Mr. Finicum finally ramps up to speed is when he wants to make his “point of law” as he calls it where he strongly disagrees with Mr. Beck’s position. Here he wants to make it perfectly clear that grazing on public lands is a “right” that can be owned just like personal property (for a transcript of this section see here). In this he compares mining rights, with grazing “rights” and even throws in hunting “rights” for good measure.
Whew, where does one begin here? In the first place only one of those examples is actually a legal right and that is the one associated with mining and the 1872 Mining Law. Hunting on public lands is not a right per se and is mostly regulated by the states through licensing with some exceptions where species associated with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act include federal involvement.
“However, grazing was never established as a legal right in the U.S., and the Taylor Grazing Act authorized only the permitted use of lands designated as available for livestock grazing while specifying that grazing permits "convey no right, title, or interest" to such lands.” From Grazing Rights in WikipediaGrazing on federal lands is administered under the 1935 Taylor Grazing Act and through 43 CFR 4130.2 (c) which reads as follows: Grazing permits or leases convey no right, title, or interest held by the United States in any lands or resources . So grazing is not a right as Mr. Finicum claims nor is it personal property as he has similarly claimed. Grazing s allowed on federal lands as long as a lease signed by all parties is at play and the strictures of the lease agreement are followed.
So how does one describe someone who has taken a very public and dangerous position about a document he has clearly never read and is angry over a law he does not seem to know or understand? How does one describe one who is more wrong than Glenn Beck? I have placed some options in the title for your convenience.
Within the next few days I am going to write a piece in GREEN DREAMS that starts to frame what we—the actual owners of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge—think that the occupiers have done wrong legally and that requires punishment. I would ask folks to speculate on exactly what charges should be leveled and what rational punishment should be applied and to whom. Please let me know what you think and your ideas in the comments section of this post and others. I know that these might range from firing squads to atomic wedges, but this is a serious set of questions that we should address and by doing so and by conducting a public dialog on this issue help those trying to assess the public appetite for doing something. Thank you for your help and interest in this important concern.
And please enter the public dialog on Jail the Bundys, Now and encourage others to do the same.