By April 24, 2014 2 Comments Read More →

Is the Nevada Rancher’s Land Argument Really What People Are Saying?


After his statements made about African Americans and slavery, it is hard to have any sympathy for the Nevada rancher who recently won an armed stand off with the Federal government. But liking him isn’t really what the issue should be able. Racist, sexist, homophobic, or even just an all-around asshole, Cliven Bundy’s argument should be judged on its legal merits, not on whether or not he is a good, or likable, guy.

It wasn’t long ago that the story of Bundy’s stand-off with the Bureau of Land Management took the nation by storm, and the mainstream media by surprise. At first there was painfully little coverage of the stand-off by hundreds of armed supporters of the last remaining rancher in Clark County, Nevada. It seemed that the media and government were embarrassed that such a massive number of armed protestors could be mobilized via social media in such a short period of time.

But now the national controversy over the private use of federal land has become a major issue, with the tide of public opinion turning very much against Bundy. Bundy, of course, has done little to make himself defensible. Still, the issue of his clash with the Bureau of Land Management raises an interesting point… when it comes to his actual argument with the Federal government… is he actually right?

To answer that question, however, we would have to actually know what it is that Bundy claims. There are many pundits who are quick to tell us what his contentions are. There are even more memes circulating through social media sites that reduce the issue to impossibly simplistic terms. Bundy, however, says the argument comes down to one simple point: “It’s Nevada land.”

He doesn’t believe that the land belongs to the Federal government, based on the Nevada state constitution’s claim that it will be the sole owner of such public lands, rather than the Federal government. Based on that, Bundy says, he doesn’t owe the Federal government a dime.

Whether you agree with him or not, and whether you find the man despicable or not, it’s important to realize what his actual argument is, in his own words. This issue might just be bigger than one racist rancher in Nevada, and we shouldn’t allow Bundy’s personal stupidity to redirect our focus on that issue.

Bundy explains that he has “no contract with the United States government,” and that the federal government has “no jurisdiction or authority” pertaining to anything that “belongs to ‘we the people’ of Clark County.”

When Nevada became a state the federal government did control the land of the territory of Nevada was a territory. Once that territory became a state, the constitution of the state says that all of the land became the sovereign claim of the state of Nevada.

“At the moment of statehood, what happened?” Bundy asked. “At the moment of statehood the people of the territory become people of the United States with the Constitution, with equal footing to the original 13 states. They had boundaries allowing them a state line. And that boundary was divided into 17 subdivisions, which were counties. Which I live in one of those counties, Clark County, Nevada.”

“As a citizen of that county, I abide by all the state laws,” he concluded.

Is he right? Is he wrong? That’s another issue altogether. What is certain is that the claims circulating on social media and in the mainstream media, asserting that he simply doesn’t have to pay because his forefathers grazed there is an argumentative fallacy. This polarized and extreme framing of his position is not at all what the man is claiming.

Be informed, and argue or agree with the man based on what he has actually said, not based on what a meme or pundit has told you he said.

(Article by M.B. David)

2 Comments on "Is the Nevada Rancher’s Land Argument Really What People Are Saying?"

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  1. Lucifer says:

    His comments were kinda offensive, at least to me as a black man. I don’t think that was his intention though. I think he was just trying to make a good analogy and point about the current struggles in the black community and he failed pretty hard. I mean the dude’s a rancher not an orator. Besides, I’m not going to ignore federal bullying, harrasment, and distruction of his property all because he’s now being called a racist. I may not share his excact opinion, but I still stand with him.

  2. blazednconfuzed says:

    Nevada never claimed those lands and the state was carved out of the public domain. Their state constitution is as follows: “That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States;”

    Furthermore, the Nevada constitution goes on to say:

    All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.”

    Could it be any more clear?

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