Brevity is: Bundylands

brevity-isIntroducing a new series entitled simply: “Brevity is.” I’m tackling subjects and keeping things as short as my temper. -Ed.

Cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has a bone to pick with the federal government. What’s his point?

Paraphrased in my own words it’s something like this:

It’s always been this way. Therefore it can’t be changed.

Refresher: Law is an arbitrary human construct. Everything is subject to change. Even the U.S. Constitution includes a procedure for updating itself.

Bundy’s beef began when grazing rules on federal lands were revised. Lands where Bundy claims “ancestral rights.”

What are “rights?” It’s more complicated than you might think. One thing is certain, though. Rights are not absolute.

Take water rights, for example, a system for determining who can legally use a water source. Historically that’s the first white person (non-native American) to come along, forcibly remove the previous residents, and yell, “Dibs!”

Our system of water rights includes the doctrine of prior appropriation which means, in short, those with senior rights are not required to consider the needs of those with lesser rights.

This works okay when the system is reasonably in balance, like back in the 1800s. What happens when it falls out of balance, though? What if downstream access to water becomes a matter of life and death? Should those rights always remain absolute no matter what?

Bundy refused to accept a change to his rights. He continued using the federal lands without a valid permit. He position was eroded further when “supporters” held a pep rally in his name by driving ATVs through Native American archaeological sites.

New information and circumstances must cause reevaluation. This is a sign of intelligence. Counterpoints like, “It’s been that way for 130 years” are brilliant logical fallacies.

Bringeth forth thy pith and vinegar

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