Wide open spaces, cowboy poetry, and the senseless death of Lavoy Finicum

Lavoy Finicum will no doubt be painted as a martyr by the occupiers of Malheur refuge in Oregon. I see him as more victim than hero. And I may condemn his actions, but still I mourn his death.

Mr. Finicum seemed to belong to a different time. The ridiculous figure under the blue tarp became eloquent when talking about his loves — the sun and wind on his face, the ranching life, his family. I know absolutely nothing personal about him, but he stirred my imagination. He seemed the kind of guy who, if he had a pond, would invite friends and friendly strangers to fish it with him.

And there it is. It’s nice to be asked. In a world of open spaces increasingly threatened by urban sprawl, factory farming,  and shrinking revenue for small farmers and ranchers, nobody seems to ask anymore. Every transaction seems to include paperwork and a faceless bureaucracy. The cowboy way of life is disappearing fast, and with it the glorious independence that we dreamed it promised.

The West loves its legends of outlaw heroes, cowboys, fast horses. The sheriff is not always the good guy in those stories. Sometimes standing up to a much bigger foe is noble, manly, and dying in a hail of bullets is a way to ensure your story will go on.

Unfortunately, there is also a seedy side to this story. Increasingly, the federal government has been painted by some politicians on the right as the tyrannical enemy of the people. I am fairly sure that was the political philosophy of the refuge occupiers. They were going to liberate the land, and the (white) citizens of Oregon would be grateful once they understood the goals of the occupiers. Under the banner of citizen rights, the Bundy Bunch prevented kids from learning about their environment, rifled through Paiute artifacts, with breathtaking insensitivity told the Paiute to come pick up their “stuff”, and caused a town to be divided and deeply unhappy.

And what would happen if the federal government decided not to lease, but actually give back, its land holdings to private ranchers? That land would no longer be accessible to the public — think about the very limited beach access in some coastal states. It would become increasingly difficult to protect animal and plant species from extinction. Some of the land considered by the Bundy group was actually Native American land.

Government is not always right, but if injustice is done, there are ways to remedy it other than taking up arms and bringing havoc to a community. Lavoy Finicum died because he had put his faith in the wind on his face and a bunch of grifters. And that is a crying shame.

Disclaimer: Marie-Anne writes under “Blog”. Most of the time, her views echo those held by Rockwall Democrats. Marie-Anne, however, is solely responsible for the content of this post.

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1 Comment on "Wide open spaces, cowboy poetry, and the senseless death of Lavoy Finicum"

  • Marie-Anne,
    Your thoughts on Finchum’s death make clear the possible underlying motivations that prompted his actions. I see Flinchum and others like him as victims clinging to fundamentalist ideology and a romanticized past which are both in conflict the reality and an emerging future. Those who hold his views see him as a victim of federal tyranny while others fully engaged in the reality of the emerging future see him as a victim of his ideology.

    Great blog post.