The Country We Deserve

By now, most people are aware 7 defendants in the Mahleur refuge standoff were remarkably acquitted of federal charges that they conspired to interfere with federal employees in the performance of their duties. I say remarkable because the standoff was largely live-streamed in real time from January 2 to February 11, 2016. Remarkable because the federal employees in question were unable to go to work for 41 days.

The verdict is remarkable because the United States is, ostensibly, a nation of laws. It appears that claim, more than anything else, is the one on which the jury chose to deliberate. In finding these men not guilty, this jury found themselves bound by neither their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, nor any moral imperative to adhere to this nation’s founding principles. Worse yet, in their failure, they have emboldened a segment of our society whose preferred method of conflict resolution is to claim divine warrant from Jesus himself, and to further their agenda by force. All of this, it is worth noting, under the bastardized banner of ‘patriot’.

Where does this end? Where next might the heavens direct these men and who, now, dares protest?

Robert Bolt’s play, “A Man For All Seasons”, relays the true story of 16th Century Lord Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More. The definitive man of conscience, More was executed by King Henry VIII after refusing to endorse the King’s wish to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. In one passage, More is encouraged by an ally to arrest a clearly devious man who has, as yet, broken no law. More responds:

“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?…And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, the laws all being flat?”

Oregon, you have set the stage. You have granted license to those who would take up arms in protest of any statute, measure or mandate with which they disagree. This at a time when, based on his strongly held beliefs, the leader of one of our major political parties has preemptively challenged the results of a presidential election. When his supporters take up arms in defense of their vanquished messiah, where will you hide?

Once we have jettisoned our fundamental standards of justice, by what standard might we call our country just?

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10 Comments on "The Country We Deserve"

  1. Oregon did not set the stage. The stage was set by a DOJ who in eight years has taught an entire country that it is acceptable to pick and choose what laws are worth enforcing. The jury in Oregon simply sided with the DOJ in deciding the applicable laws were not worth any convictions. An argument can be made that such a decision is these times is wholly constitutional given the unconstitutionality of so many current laws and regulations. May God bless us all in time for this greatest of all experiments to remain intact.

  2. The good news is that it was just a jury verdict, and therefore there is no precedent. My vague recollection from law school lo, these many decades ago, was that conspiracy was very hard to prove because of intent. So the prosecutor screwed up. If they had charged what was obvious to everyone–trespass, malicious destruction of property, firearms on federal land, etc.–I don’t think they would have gotten off. But they wouldn’t have gotten long sentences, either. So the prosecutor was going for the gold, and lost.

  3. Was this jury nullification? That was my first reaction. But reporting by the Oregonian, which may win a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage, convinces me that SophieBlue’s analysis is correct. The prosecutors failed to prove there was a conspiracy. The verdict was not a vindication of the Bundy bunch’s reprehensible conduct. It was an indictment of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon. Anti-government activists who mistakenly take comfort from this verdict and flout the law are likely to find themselves facing smarter prosecutors and charge that can, and will, be proven.

    • Well stated. The Mahleur 7 are as innocent as O.J. Simpson, who also was found not guilty by a jury.

    • Unfortunately local MT GOP politicos and the participants in this movement are portraying this as jury nullification. Predictably, there is very troubling, actually dangerous rhetoric coming out in reaction to this verdict. Probably more actions of this sort to come.

      • The Oregonian’s reporting leaves no doubt in my mind that the Bundy bunch’s attorneys understand their clients were acquitted not because the jurors sympathized with them (the jury did not, as Juror 4 made clear), but because the prosecution failed to prove the alleged conspiracy. Right now, jury nullification is the first thing that jumps to peoples’ minds, but as more becomes known about the jury’s deliberations and the prosecution’s screw-ups, I think the belief in, and hope for, jury nullification will fade. I also predict that by this time next year, there will be a new U.S. Attorney in Portland.

  4. Should’ve killed them all like the Branch Davidians.

  5. The Bundy brothers are being transferred to Nevada–where they are set to stand trial again in February, and where the case is expected to be much stronger. There will also be a second trial in Oregon stemming from the Oregon standoff that is scheduled to start a few days after the Nevada trial starts.

  6. When Supreme Court Stephen Breyer stated that “our Judicial System is broken and the Supreme Court is powerless to fix it” should have been a wake up call for every God fearing American. I do feel that these people will pay their “just dues” when they go to trial in Nevada. America is already approaching the threshold of a Revolution from so many extremist groups. But we have to remember there are MORE who still love this country than the one’s who keep sowing the seed of hate.

  7. On a related note, I have been told that some of Montana’s highway patrolmen have been sent to North Dakota to help suppress the Standing Rock protestors. Who approved this and why?

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