WC learned early in his legal career that it is a waste of time to try to understand the thought processes of an irrational person. It’s pointless to look for sanity in the insane, for logic in the illogical or reason in the unreasonable. But WC doesn’t take that understanding as a license to describe someone he disagrees with as “crazy.” Galileo and the heliocentric solar system, Burbank and inheritability, Wegener and plate tectonics, Morton and general anaesthetics; all were called crazy at some point and all were proven to be right. If you aspire to critical thinking, you have to examine the premises behind an unusual claim. If they are grounded in logic or law, then you have to give it serious consideration; if they are ungrounded, then you are wasting you time on the thinking of the irrational.
With that distinction in mind, let’s look at Cliven Bundy’s claims, both as exercised by the old man and by his two sons.
WC found this on Cliven Bundy’s website:
So a guy in Bunkerville, Nevada, sends a certified letter to the Harney County, Oregon Sheriff, the Governor of Oregon and the President of the United States and expects what, exactly? That it will have legal effect? That it baits any of them into rash, provocative action? Does Cliven Bundy think that he speaks for the “People of Harney County” when he doesn’t live there and hasn’t been there? Does he honestly believe that j speaks for “We the People of the citizens of the United States,” which isn’t even good grammar, let alone logical? There are about 319 million people in the United States. Does Cliven Bundy think he is somehow entitled to speak for them? That he can give directions to the duly elected President of the United States?
Those of the Bundy mindset claim to revere the U.S. Constitution, calling it – against all of the evidence – “God-inspired.” They wrap themselves in the 10th Amendment, and ignore all of the other provisions of the Constitution they claim to esteem. WC is pretty familiar with the document in question, even if he doesn’t carry it around in his pocket. And WC knows of nothing in the document that lets a deadbeat, failing cattle rancher in Nevada tell a sheriff in Oregon what to do. The Constitution, as amended, does describe a process by which laws can be changed, and empowers men like Cliven Bundy to vote for a Congressman and a U.S. Senator or two.
But not the authority, as either a citizen or a member of some shadowy association, to tell a duly elected official in another state what to do. Putting a public notary acknowledgement on the letter – from Nevada, no less – doesn’t give Cliven Bundy’s little fatwah any more legal effect, either. And that’s what it is, isn’t it: a fatwah? One guy’s opinion, based on his own twisted misunderstanding of the law. Cliven Bundy isn’t a legal scholar, and a fatwah rises and falls on the credibility of the mufti’s scholarship. When you cut through the noise, this is the belligerent opinion of a deadbeat guy who doesn’t want to pay his bills.
Or a poster child for the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
So the authorization for the continuing criminal trespass at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was based on nothing more than a profound misunderstanding of how the U.S. Constitution works. The criminal trespass was entirely anti-democratic; it claims the authority in a handful of disgruntled, armed thugs, seemingly incapable of critical thinking, to seize property held in common by citizens of all these United States and give it – give it for free – to them.
Cliven Bundy and two of his many children are in custody now. Charged with some of the felonies they committed. They can explain their thinking – for a given definition of “thinking” – to a U.S. District Judge. Not to a jury, because their beliefs are irrelevant to the charges against them.