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What is it about being a Western rural conservative that seems to entitle a person in this country to special treatment by the government? Cliven Bundy owes the government over $1 million in unpaid fees for using land that didn't belong to him. Instead of paying what he owes, he assembled an armed gang and intimidated federal law enforcement officers from enforcing court orders against him.

Anybody else would be in jail right now -- possibly even being charged with an act of terror. His assets would be frozen. He would not be holding TV press conferences, and we would not be talking about his racist views; instead, we would be talking about his upcoming trial.

There is a real story here, but it's not what the media seems to think it is. Cliven Bundy's silly, antiquated rants about "the Negro" are merely a distraction. In fact, they are a convenient distration -- distracting everyone's attention from the fact that a lawbreaker has successfully intimidated the United States federal government by using the threat of violence, as a way to continue flouting the law and refusing to pay grazing fees that every other rancher who uses federal lands routinely pays.

A court had ordered that Bundy's assets be confiscated -- the cattle he was grazing on federal property for years without paying for that privilege. When agents showed up to enforce the court order, Bundy called out a gang of armed men, who pointed guns at federal officers. In response to being threatened in this manner, the government stopped its attempt to enforce the law.

As an L.A. Times editorial summarizes the story:

Bundy is the cattleman who grazes his herd on federal land operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, but unlike more than 15,000 other ranchers, he refuses to pay the associated grazing fees. After 20 years of disagreements and court battles, the U.S. government began rounding up his cattle this month. The rancher and a group of armed supporters confronted the federal authorities, leading to a standoff; the authorities withdrew.
Let's be honest about what happened here: Bundy and his gang used terror, and so far, their act of terror has succeeded.

Unless Bundy is arrested and charged, there is now a precedent in the United States that terrorizing federal officials by brandishing guns can succeed in preventing the law from being enforced. That is a very dangerous precedent.

Why is the government so tolerant of people like this who flout its authority and use threats of violence to avoid paying their bills? In this age when terrorism is such a big issue, why are some Americans allowed to get away with things that fit that description? Why is the government afraid to enforce its own laws against a particular type of people? They are not afraid to come down with the full force of the law on everyone else, so what is it about Western gun-toting conservatives that uniquely seems to get the government quaking in its boots and afraid to act like, well, a government? Do these people have special privileges, because of their heritage or political ideology, that other Americans don't enjoy?

That's the real question the media should be asking. And until they start asking it, it is everyone's responsibility to keep bringing it up.

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