Editorials

April 27, 2014

Cliven Bundy is a rogue on the range

Had he decided about 20 years ago to pay government grazing fees — as many other American ranchers do — then perhaps we wouldn’t be in this ugly mess.

You may have heard that Cliven Bundy, a Nevada cattle rancher and melon grower, is a folk hero. He’s been standing against the big bad federal government out on the range. Gun-toting patriots have gathered to stand by him and to keep the Bureau of Land Management from hauling off his cattle as you’d expect from some rampaging, jack-booted security force out of “Animal Farm.”

What right do the feds have to come down on a liberty-lover like Bundy?

Well, had Bundy decided about 20 years ago to pay government grazing fees — as many other American ranchers do — then perhaps we wouldn’t be in this ugly mess. Bundy objected when, in 1993, some of the land on which he fed his cattle was designated a conservation area to protect the habitat of a threatened desert tortoise.

Bundy now owes $1.1 million in fees and trespassing fines. His long-running fight went viral in early April when the federal bureau officials arrived and then backed off to avoid armed conflict. His fight went even more viral late last week in light of some offensive remarks Bundy made about blacks, slavery and government subsidies.

Let’s be clear about this: Cliven Bundy is no folk hero. He’s an irrational law breaker and a moocher.

“I abide by all of Nevada state laws,” he has said. “But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”

This doesn’t seem as if it can end well. Government patience is welcome, but it’s been stretched very far.

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