As the trial continues, I sit in the courtroom’s gallery. I can’t help but notice that the only press representatives there to cover the trial are from the progressive-leaning mainstream media (MSM) and environmental specialty websites. Save one: a local Fox reporter, who admitted to having never been in a courtroom before.
Why are the progressive media investing their financial resources in following this story? What are they desperately trying to prevent – or – achieve? Why is the progressive-leaning MSM the predominant news source? I pondered these questions to myself.
Alternately, the Bundy supporters have taken up the conservative slack with social media coverage and unconventional forms of journalism, like Internet radio and the like. These men and women soldier on with their newfound responsibilities, audience access, and communication capabilities, reporting a story of incredible importance.
Clearly, each side has a skewed point from the worldview that favors their literal side of the courtroom: the Bundy supporters sit directly behind the defendants on the right in solidarity and the MSM sits on the behind the prosecution – on the left. (To be fair, that is where the media’s reserved seats are.) Each roots for his or her own side and scoffs – sometimes privately and sometimes not so much – at the other. This is so obvious that Judge Navarro reminds the court each morning saying, “This is not a sporting event,” and cautions the audience against any type of verbal or physical gestures indicating approval (or disapproval) of the attorneys battling out the case.
Don’t get me wrong; our justice system seeks the truth through such an adversarial approach and it’s expected that both sides of the aisle in the courtroom should be opposed in their views. And many of those views have been sharpened by those who have invested much time in observation of our legal system, a system slowly fumbling along in it’s attempt to search for justice in this case.
To the credit of both sides; however, they have reached a détente while waiting in line to enter the court or when passing by protesters stationed outside the courtroom. But what is unmistakable is the complete distrust that each side has for the other. Nevertheless, they remain civil (excluding the near-fistfight in the courtroom between two reporters from opposing, local media outlets). But, they don’t trust one another; it’s enough – even superficially – to attempt to comprehend the other’s view. And, from the research I have done, rightfully so. Neither side gives the other a fair hearing, nor represents the opposing side with intellectual honesty.
Much of the ‘division’ has become the story itself, for a few of the MSM outlets; ironically, most of which don’t even bother to attend the trial – although that doesn’t stop them from editorializing on the courtroom’s activities.
This divide deeply concerns me.
In the vast middle of all the ire and distrust, the majority of the American people rely on these outlets to get fair reporting of the newsworthy items concerning their lives.
At issue in the Federal courtroom in Las Vegas Nevada, are your rights. Not solely Cliven Bundy’s rights – because possibly, the decision can affect the rights of all Americans to own and maintain property.
Property rights are threatened, lost, and overrun by the government on a daily basis. This should concern you and me. If the public only knew what was actually at stake for us all when relying on “trustworthy” reporting, the battle of Cliven’s may find a different result.
Cliven Bundy has refused pre-trial release stating that he won’t leave until all of the Bundy 19 (his other co-defendants) are released. Nor will he leave until the government dismisses the charges against each of them and admits they were wrong to charge them in the first place.
That is quite a stand.
His decision flies in the face of his critics who say he just wants attention. One might reason that he would get more attention if he was free to gain it.
Trust me: Federal lock-up is no place for a man like Cliven Bundy, a man who desires true freedom more than anything. But, he wants that freedom for each of us.
What if Cliven Bundy is right?
Now, wait … before you dismiss that question with a waive of a hand because you think he’s a scofflaw, opportunists, or whack-a-doo (as I once did), stop and think about his argument from your own life experience.
Here is a hypothetical illustration:
One landowner, Fred, has an easement for access across neighboring landowner’s (Tom’s) land. Without that easement, Fred would not be able to legally access his own land, in essence, making it worthless. So, an easement right is recorded to Fred to use part of Tom’s land to access his (Fred’s) land. It becomes Fred’s right of access, not a permit and not a lease. Ultimately, it becomes an asset of Fred’s, making his land more valuable.
Now, imagine the reaction of Fred, who holds this easement right, if Tom now wants to charge Fred rent for the use of that easement and only allow Fred to use his (Fred’s) easement a couple of times a year – or, better yet, Tom wants to lease to Fred the right to cross his land (a right Fred already owns with his recorded easement) … and this lease would allow Tom full access to the all of Fred’s other lands and even encumbered them!
You can see that Fred would certainly resist this new proposal of Tom’s - to rent or lease from Tom less access than Fred already owns and additionally, give away the access rights to this and all of Fred’s other lands to Tom?
But essentially, that is just what the BLM (Tom in the scenario above – sorry to all of my readers named ‘Tom’) has proposed – even insisted should be the new relationship between the BLM and the easement owners – the ranchers – just because the BLM is really big and blustery and thinks and says that they can do it.
In this debate, the uninformed often quote back to the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 to repudiate such an easement claim as the ranchers may have. Selectively quoting from the act:
…the creation of a grazing district or the issuance of a permit...shall, not create any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the lands.
But noticeably absent from that out-of-context, selectively-quoted provision, is the term ‘easement over the federal land’ which the Act specifically recognizes – both with grazing rights and rights of way / easement rights by stating:
Whenever any grazing district is established pursuant to this Act, the Secretary (of the Interior) shall grant to owners of land adjacent to such district, upon application of any such owner, such rights-of-way over the lands included in such district for stock-driving purposes as may be necessary for the convenient access by any such owner to marketing facilities or to lands not within such district owned by such person or upon which such person has stock-grazing rights, …” (Emphasis added.)
Also, while the Secretary of the Interior was assigned authority to issue permits and enter cooperative agreements under Section 4, the Secretary is bound by Section 6 of the Act, which states:
Nothing herein shall restrict the acquisition, granting or use of permits or rights of way within grazing districts under existing law; or ingress or egress over the public lands in such districts for all proper and lawful purposes.(Emphasis added.)
Cliven believes that these rights bring intrinsic value to his family and to his way of life as a rancher. In fact, without them, his way of life ceases. It’s no wonder he is fighting so hard to maintain them. It’s hard for most of us modern Americans to understand what the big deal is; because all you need to do is open a newspaper and you will find yet-another family business shuttering its doors. But farming and ranching are different. Farming and ranching are more than a good idea that has had its time in the sun and now is no longer needed.
Families like the Bundy’s, have generation upon generation of family who settled this land. Every nail in every fence to every shingle of every building has a history and tells a unique story. The animals themselves have generational history and a man like Cliven can see the great, great grandsire of a cow in the very step of that momma’s baby calf.
But it is even more than all the history and connection to the land, it is a pride that says, as these farmers and ranchers would put it, “I am making a difference; I am feeding people.”
After all, we still, and will continue to, need to eat!
“Others think I’m a joke,” Cliven said. “But I don’t care what anyone says. This is the life I want to lead. I’m a cowboy and always will be.”
Without men and women like Cliven – who did not and have not given up for easier lives – the rest of us would suffer real and tangible consequences.
Cliven’s story, unlike many of those ‘closed family business’ articles in the newspaper, is not one of failure in the face of fashion- or technology-risky markets, products, or investment business decisions. Rather, it is, in fact, the result of an act of theft by fraud: Someone is trying to take something from the Bundy’s that is not theirs to take, and making the victim think that it is theirs to take.
No wonder he is fighting mad; no wonder he won’t leave lock-op until the government admits they are wrong and drops the Bundy 19’s indictments.
The real difference between Cliven Bundy and the 50 or so neighbors put out of business by the BLM, is that Cliven knows his rights, knows the history of that land, and most importantly, is willing to fight for it. He told me once, “Mike, the State of Nevada is who should be fighting this out with the Feds, not me.”
But I guess when a bully comes into your yard looking for your brother, then faces off with you because your brother is not there, you are the one who gets the scuffle.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, ex-felon, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column. (MikeStickler.net)