Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Cliven Bundy and Tim DeChristopher: Is civil disobedience ever justified?

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  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    May 23, 2014 9:25 p.m.

    is civil disobedience ever justified? The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773. Civil disobedience against an oppressive corrupt King and his imperial government was how this nation was born. I suspect the same sort of thing will have to happen again to root out the same sort of corruption. YOu can only push a people so far.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    May 21, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    Thank goodness the Founding Fathers didn't have to listen to this silly argument, or we'd all be eating kidney pie and voting for MP's instead of congressional reps.

    Our country's citizens have a long history of resisting improper gov't action, sometimes using arms to do so, and if you don't understand just how bad the BLM is, and how unfair, inefficient and overbearing their control of 70-80% of Utah and Nevada is, you really need to start studying the issue.

    Essentially, you have a disconnected gov't over 1000 miles away deciding what happens to the land out here, and those of us that live here are tired of our needs and desires not being fairly represented. The fact that the BLM controls "our" land due to poor gov't policies and decisions 100+ years ago is deplorable, and should be addressed.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 21, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    "Is Civil Disobedience ever justified?"

    Of course it is. Just ask Thoreau.

    But if you are holding up Cliven Bundy and friends as an example, then you're confusing Civil Disobedience with thievery and thuggery.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 21, 2014 7:24 a.m.

    @2 bits
    Cottonwood Heights, UT

    Carrying a gun to protect yourself from BAD guys, criminals, wild mountain lions, gangsters, burgulars, etc from your own one thing.

    Carrying a gun to threathen and intimidate the GOOD guys, while you are illegally tresspassing on THEIR property is quite another.

    But you still can't see that.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    There's carrying guns and then there's threatening to shoot BLM officials, a detail you seem to be ignoring.

  • wjalden Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 19, 2014 5:31 p.m.

    "DeChristopher served time for his crime, and the recent protesters must be punished. Otherwise, what's the point of civil disobedience? In fact, they should welcome any reaction from the government. Nothing breeds a cause better than a martyr."

    Perhaps the first, last, and only time I will ever agree with Pignanelli on anything regarding politics.

    But that's not the argument most leftists make. Most of them argue, as they did for DeChristopher, that his moral objection to the law entitled him to be free from punishment. Meanwhile they're all too happy to throw the book at rightwingers who engage in civil disobedience.

    And the Obama Administration doesn't help matters by willfully refusing to enforce laws that would harm its political allies, such as laws against illegal immigration. Our leftwing government has become the most flagrant violator of the law. They have lost the moral authority to fine or jail people for lesser crimes while far greater crimes are ignored and encouraged.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 19, 2014 4:15 p.m.


    The Bundy protesters weren't in Logan Hospital or a bank. They were on BLM land (which is where I go to shoot my gun).

    Nothing illegal about what they did. Logan Hospital is an apple (there's rules prohibiting guns in the hospital)... BLM land is an orange (there's no rule prohibiting guns on BLM land).

    I think we outgrew the double-dog dare in the 3rd grade... but I dare you to stay on topic... They weren't in a bank or a hospital.


    It IS illegal (fraud) to sign a legal document stating you will honor your bids at the auction (when you had no intention of honoring any of your bids). And bid up other people and businesses looking to purchase legitimate State leases for their business.

    Carrying guns - Legal (on BLM Land)..... Fraud - NOT Legal (anywhere anytime).... Do you get the difference??

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 19, 2014 3:52 p.m.

    "or if you're just against it because it involved rednecks, not well dressed environmentalist Democrats... "

    Do you have a clue to where I live? You think North Carolina is the land of "well dressed environmentalist Democrats"? Heck, I am not even a Democrat. But I am aware of Nevada State law CHAPTER 598A - Unfair Trade Practices. So yes, I do understand what is going on here.

    This has nothing to do with environmentalism - where did that come from? It has to do with the fact that other ranchers pay the BLM leases and fees to graze their cattle on BLM land, to which Mr. Bundy refuses to do. It is the same as if one of my clients who has an oil lease on government lands decides they don't will not pay for that lease and still pumps from that plat, thereby lowering their cost basis, and in doing such, is able to sell their product at either a lower cost to the consumer, or at a higher margin.

    How am I doing? You do understand my job is to advise companies how to pump as much oil and gas as they can - legally? "Environmentalist Democrats" - good grief!

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    May 19, 2014 3:25 p.m.

    @2 bits
    Cottonwood Heights, UT

    And the point you keep bringing up... that they had GUNS! (which is still legal in the USA)... Is not criminal, and doesn't make them "bad people" or make the protest illegal.

    It's only illegal IF they ABUSE their right to bear arms... THEN it becomes illegal.

    10:47 a.m. May 19, 2014


    OK then,

    I double dog dare you to walk into any Airport, Bank or even the Logan Hospital with "legal" weapons...

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 19, 2014 3:22 p.m.

    Tim DeChristopher, MLK, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi,
    were not fighting for themselves...

    They were fighting repression, for other than themselves -- for the common good.

    Cliven Bundy is fighting for Cliven Bundy.
    ATV ridiers are fighting for ATV riders.

    THAT is the difference.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    Did DeChristopher need a militia instead of peaceful protestors?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 19, 2014 1:24 p.m.


    Agency personnel on a federal certainly do take an oath (not just the badged ones).

    One of the primary roles of govt. is police power. Legislatures (local, state, federal) make empowering laws and local, state, and federal regulators put them into action. If they were illegally done then they would not stand a constitutional challenge.

  • CynicJim Taylorsville, UT
    May 19, 2014 12:58 p.m.

    I commend the comments from our esteemed columnists regarding civil disobedience. Surely, we have a responsibility to support and live up to the tenants of the Constitution and statutes that provide order to society. May I point out that while the BLM, ICC, FDC, etal have been funded by the State and Federal legislators and their objectives are certainly worthy, the people running those various organizations are only bureaucrats that pay lip service to their mission statement, but institute various regulations and rulings that never go before “advice & consent” and are therefore NOT laws. They may use the Army Core of Engineers, the EPA, or whomever, but none are legislated. So the “violation” of trail signs, speed limit signs, occupancy limits and fire regulations are only those of people in place to provide for the use and preservation of the facility. They are not police, enforcement must come from the local law enforcement agency. Agency personnel do not take an oath, they are not bonded as required by the Constitution and therefore cannot legally issue a summons or citation. Bureaucrats are only observing Parkinson’s First Law of employment in the preservation of their jobs, careers and power.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 19, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    How were ranchers who pay their bills harmed by the Bundy protest?

    They may have been harmed by Bundy, but not by the protest. And I really can't see what damages ranchers could claim Bundy himself caused other ranchers in a court of law.

    The BLM has a case against Bundy (and that's valid). But no other rancher was harmed. Bundy has to answer for his fees, but that's not what the protest was about. I wonder if you even know what the Bundy protest was about... or if you're just against it because it involved rednecks, not well dressed environmentalist Democrats...

    And the point you keep bringing up... that they had GUNS! (which is still legal in the USA)... Is not criminal, and doesn't make them "bad people" or make the protest illegal.

    It's only illegal IF they ABUSE their right to bear arms... THEN it becomes illegal. IF they did that... they should be charged (just like the Black Panthers posted outside the polls to intimidate white voters recently).

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2014 10:45 a.m.

    Sure why not? However, armed protests like Bundy's militia friends are more like the Black Panthers than MLK Jr.

    "They have been threatened with being shot"

    In response to threatening to shoot gov't officials to the point of setting up sniper positions for those militia thugs...

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    May 19, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    Somehow in the article, a myth is propagated by the author. Recapture Canyon is not a wilderness area. The closure was a temporary closing of an old trail previously used by ATVs.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 19, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    "Nobody was harmed in the Bundy BLM protest..." ???

    What about all the ranchers who pay their bills... who have higher cost to do their jobs because they play by the rules and obey the law.... do you not think they are hurt by having a competitor on the market who chooses to feed his cattle for free?

    "Is civil disobedience ever justified?.... Apparently only if it's for a liberal's cause."

    Really? "Civil" disobedience though doesn't require bringing guns or any other weapons to the dance. There is a huge difference between for example those who followed Dr. Kings example, and those who choose to follow the tactics of the Black Panthers. Likewise on the conservative side. There are Tea Party members who raise their concerns and make their voices heard, and then there are those who go beyond social norms to try to make their point.

    Its not a liberal or conservative things..... it is about doing things that garner your causes respect, and those that bring harm to the causes name. Has absolutely nothing to do with liberal nor conservative. Currently the most justified conservative causes is the fair treatment of our Veterans by the VA.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 19, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    Is civil disobedience ever justified?.... Apparently only if it's for a liberal's cause.


    LDS Liberal's analysis of the differences between DeChristopher and Bundy's protests left out some key pieces of information.

    Sure some people at the BLM protests carried guns. But those people had the 100% legal right to have guns (it's in our Constitution). Nobody was harmed in the BLM protests (the only person who got hurt was Bundy's son who got tazed by the anxious BLM guy).

    Tim DeChristopher's protest did harm people (financially). Some people had to pay more for leases because they had to out-bid the fraudulent bidder (DeChristopher). DeChristopher's activities were deemed to be "fraud"... that's why he went to jail. Because he broke the law... and cause financial damages to his victims.

    Nobody was harmed in the Bundy BLM protest...


    People having guns at the Bundy protest seems to freak some people out. But remember... that's a 100% legal thing.

    Perpetrating fraud and costing people financial damages... is NOT legal.

  • Supercool11 R-Valley, NV
    May 18, 2014 11:04 p.m.

    My main issue with the Bundy case is the way the BLM handled it. Instead of going through the local sheriff's office to remove the trespass cattle, they brought in their own army. They herded cattle with helicopters running the animals to death. Imagine if a bank hired mercenaries to evict someone from a foreclosed house. Sure they have the right to evict someone, but they are breaking the law if they take matters into their own hands and don't got through the proper channels.

    I don't know that the BLM had a judgement against Bundy so they could repossess the cattle for unpaid fees. It's been thrown out that Bundy owed a million dollars in unpaid fees, but my understanding is that the BLM revoked his grazing priveleges 20 years ago, meaning this was simply a trespass issue. I don't know if the BLM could have legally sold Bundy's cattle. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the grazing fee line was just a little government propaganda to paint Bundy as a moocher.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 18, 2014 8:59 p.m.

    No ShaunMcC, I'll stand by my judgements except for the fact that I didn't like the government taking their cattle.

    Dr. King ultimately gave up his life for the cause and was arrested many times. Many other Civil Rights workers were jailed and beaten, and some also paid the ultimate price. See, these people were actually arrested and beaten and SHOT, not just threatened to be shot. And they protested unarmed and didn't fight back. There is no historical parallel here. It's nice that the Bundy's fed their supporters and let them camp out or whatever, but let's not put this on the same level as Dr. King or the Freedom Riders. As stated before, when they show up and say arrest me I've broken the law and I'm willing to be arrested to bring attention to changing the law, then I will be impressed. Until then not so much...

  • KDave Moab, UT
    May 18, 2014 5:06 p.m.

    So all those people flying by me at over 80mph one the freeway in SL a week ago, were really anarchist that were protesting Govt. imposed speed limits. People that live in glass houses should not throw stones.

  • U-tar Woodland Hills, UT
    May 18, 2014 4:14 p.m.

    DeChristopher lied and mis represented himself.

  • ShaunMcC La Verkin, UT
    May 18, 2014 3:44 p.m.

    @HB. "What has Bundy sacrificed?" I know his daughter and I know some of the people that have been there at his ranch. They have sacrificed a lot and until you know the facts of what they have been through it might be better to reserve judgement. They have been threatened with being shot, they have been manhandled and some have been jailed. They have had their property invaded, their cattle killed and have to have bodyguards at their home and with them if they ever leave the home. They have had to feed the people that have gone there to help them. They have a reasonable claim of injustice. They have 51 (out of 52) of the local ranchers in their area run out of business by the unjust tactics of the BLM, so yea, I think they have sacrificed. Just take the time to research a little before you make judgements.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 18, 2014 3:11 p.m.

    If Mr. Bundy can occupy federal land free of charge because he has a cadre of gun toting followers, I should be able to take control of that federal land with my even larger and better armed cadre of followers, right?

    He is advocating that might can defy the rule of law. The result is the law of the jungle - might makes right. I can take whatever I can defend with firepower. A return to the government of warlords.

    No thank you.

  • Horses Star Spanish Fork, UT
    May 18, 2014 3:02 p.m.

    I wonder if these acts of defiance stem from a greater problem. I witness a government that takes land from families, from the public, from economic growth and makes it a protected land on the a false pretense that everyone knows is a lie.
    We have a government that is buying millions of rounds of ammunition again under a pretense.
    We have a government that uses the mantra that we should do as they say and not as they do.
    We have a government that is printing money that decrease the very dollar that we use to keep our families alive
    We have a stock market that is inflating the market similar to 2007 and then the money from our savings disappears into a black hole, making many rich and the masses poor.
    I wonder if the people of America are starting to wake up and these are the grass roots beginnings?

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 18, 2014 1:17 p.m.

    Thoreau volunteered to go to jail rather than pay tax to support the unjust Mexican War. ML King went to jail gladly. DeChristopher went to jail willingly. If Cliven Bundy and the yahoos of San Juan County really mean what they say, let them show up at the local federal lockup and demand entrance. Otherwise, they're all talk.

  • ShaunMcC La Verkin, UT
    May 18, 2014 11:00 a.m.

    I encourage all who want to comment on this to fully inform themselves as to both sides of the Bundy issue. Many statements about what he is doing or has done are incorrect. As for me, the big issue that I was going to civilly disobey was to travel down there and step out of the "free speech zone" and indicate my disagreement with that particular nonsense. This country is a free speech zone and no bureaucrat has the right to stick those who want to speak out in a fenced area half a mile from the news and government people so they can't be heard. There are very few places in this country where we are not free to speak out openly unless we are inciting to riot or yelling "fire" in a crowded building. Too bad they took down the free speech zone before I could get there. I might be in jail today.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 18, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    I want to know from Webb, as well, was Rosa Parks and MLK were right or did they need to wait for legislative redress for their causes? And I would guess this might be a problematic thing about state rights and states making laws. Ultimately, federal response was needed to move the Civil Rights movement forward and guarantee that these God-Given rights, as Webb described, were available to all citizens. The normal legislative channels weren't open or would have been so slow that it would take generations. I would even say Bundy has something to fight for in regards to some issues, but unless he and his supporters are prepared to sacrifice for their cause, other than some time riding ATV's on federal lands, they aren't participating in true civil disobedience.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 18, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    Civil disobedience comes with sacrifice. Just what has Bundy sacrificed? To put Bundy in the same frame as MLK or Rosa Parks is ludicrous.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    May 18, 2014 10:42 a.m.

    "I don't advocate rebellion or revolution since we as a nation nor groups of us posses the requisite moral authority to replace this with something better, ..." - Jeremy Parker

    I strongly disagree, the founders of our nation have stated that "We the People" have the right to replace it.

    "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, ... it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    The Declaration of Independence - Action of the Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776.

  • BYR West Bountiful, UT
    May 18, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    Anyone who is willing to exercise civil disobedience must be willing to pay the price. This is the sometimes missing element about civil disobedience. Ghandi was aware of it, I suspect Bundy and DeChristopher were. These, among others, paid the price, some won, some lost. If you believe in something and are willing to go to jail for that belief, then you have my respect. For those who are LDS and disagree, just remember our own history. Sometimes taking the civil route, running the legal gambit of those more powerful and better funded, is fruitless. You have to take a stand.

  • BYR West Bountiful, UT
    May 18, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    Ask Ghandi.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 18, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Bundy isn't protesting some unfair law!

    Bundy is merely trying to skip out of paying his fees.

    I'm sorry, but this is like me refusing to pay an electric bill and then complaining about my electricity being turned off.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    May 18, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    If you want to use civil disobedience to get a point across, you should be willing to suffer the consequences. Its also helpful to have your chief spokesperson not be someone who thinks slavery was a great idea and should re-instituted.

  • Jeremy Parker Petersburg, Alaska
    May 18, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    "not so fast. Who gets to decide when a law is in violation? If everyone gets to decide for themselves, then we have anarchy."

    The justification or lack comes organically if we are right. Every man following his conscience does not an anarchy make. As the Declaration of Independence states, "prudence dictates" when it is wise to act and when the cause is sufferable (to serve the greater good/rule of law).

    The rule of law cannot be absolute or unalienable rights are indeed a creation of the state and thus quite alienable. The rule of law of right ought to be subject to the discretion and the consciences of those "separate but equal" by nature. And in fact the Declaration declares defiance of the rule of corrupted law as not only right, but duty!

    I don't advocate rebellion or revolution since we as a nation nor groups of us posses the requisite moral authority to replace this with something better, but the causes articulated in the Declaration of Independence pale compared to our awful situation!

  • johhen Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2014 8:25 a.m.

    Thanks for a thoughtful and reasoned analysis. Truly "fair and balance".

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 18, 2014 8:11 a.m.

    There is a difference between DeChristopher and Bundy. DeChristopher did not act for his own selfish, economic interests. Bundy is acting for his own greed. DeChristopher accepted the judgement and consequences of the courts, while Bundy flaunts 20 years of court decisions. Bundy should be in jail. His only stand on principle is his pocketbook.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 18, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    The differences?

    Tim DeChristopher was tree-hugging Liberal, who without weapons or threats of violence, protested against BIG oil -- and HE actually went to jail!

    Cliven Bundy, and the ATV riders had guns, were protesting the mean 'ol nasty Government, and didn't even get fined for trespassing.

    Can Conservatives tell the difference?
    I didn't think so either.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 18, 2014 6:27 a.m.

    "Rosa Parks succeeded because she had a strategy and everyone knew why she was violating the law."

    To put Bundy and Roaa Parks in the same utterance almost makes me ill to think about. Yes, Rosa Parks was successful, but how many times were those before he put in jail for the same actions. How many times was Martin Lurther King and his supporters jailed for their actions. In doing what they did, the did so knowing they were going to be jailed. That was the price they were willing to pay.... because the cause was just.

    On the other hand we have a rancher who doesn't want to pay his bills, so he turns it quest to get out of paying his bills into a cause. There are those who on both sides of the political spectrum that are fighting just fights for what they believe in - how our country should manage our public lands. They do so far the good of many.. Bundy isn't one of those. He does what he does apparently for his own benefit.

    If the ATV riders get fined, they should pay those fines as the cost of a just fight.