Understand: The esoteric criminal sentencing that mobilized Oregon's Cowliphate

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“The Hammonds appear to have lied ferociously about why and how they were setting fires on their land (fires that spread to nearby federal land)”

Those Hammonds are “real” Americans!


“Oregon’s Cowliphate”


I don’t see the “esoteric” here. The original judge misapplied the law to give a light sentence to arsonists. The idea of double jeopardy doesn’t apply because they were convicted of the offense. The appeal court then decided that the original judge had misapplied the law and the mandatory sentence had to stand. Judges are not allowed to make up law as they go along. The correct action would have been to send them down for 5 years1 at the original trial as per statute, but allow an appeal on human rights grounds - which the appeal court would have disallowed.

We can only speculate on why the original judge might have done what he did, but there is plenty of room for speculation.

1Or longer. They used to guillotine arsonists in France. Generally I’m against the death penalty but with arsonists and mass killers I sometimes get a bit confused.


It may be unfair, but it’s not uncommon.

And honestly, what good ever came of protests against unfair common government practices?

They do look rather…Middle Eastern. Can I say that? These must be some of the “moderate rebels” the CIA keeps looking for. Now we know why they can’t find them in Syria; they’ve all gone to Oregon, away from the MiGs.


I think the point was merely to say that if you think this was about unfairly targeting these individuals, the appeal of their sentence does not support that. I certainly support anyone protesting mandatory minimums and saying that judicial discretion has to be respected. I think this protest is more about a perceived unjust treatment of two particular individuals who have been convicted of arson. I think the issue is more that they were convicted at all, and the protesters probably believe that they never should have been sent to prison in the first place.


Unfortunately mandatory minima have often arisen because of inconsistent and discriminatory sentencing by judges. Elected judges in particular are an abuse waiting to happen because a simple majority can discriminate against a minority simply by electing a corrupt judge. Under Athenian democracy archons were selected by lot precisely to avoid this problem.


Also known as the “Aww, c’mon, they’re just a couple’a good ol’ boys” defence.

Sounds like the Oregon judge was a corrupt good ol’ boy, and the judge the prosecution appealed to overturned it.

Starting a wildfire is a serious crime even if it comes about due to negligence, much less if it is deliberate arson in an effort to cover up another crime. The hell of it is, the crime they were covering up (poaching deer) is a misdemeanor that nobody really cares that much about even if they did get caught.


Probably not hard to cover up either. I’m guessing most people just throw the whole thing in the truck and butcher it in their garage. Fire would just draw attention to the area. Idiots.


My understanding was that the original sentence was set to be fairly light as part of a plea bargain, with the condition that they would not appeal the sentence. The mitigating circumstance was that the intrusion of the fires onto federal land was unintentional. One of the intrusions was only about an acre of Federal land, the other was larger, but also an unintentional side effect of their attempt to do a controlled burn to protect feed land. The burns on their land were lawful, but they did not inform the Feds they were doing them. The original charges were fairly stacked up with conspiracy charges, the arson, etc.

Given the relatively short sentences, the defendents agreed not to appeal the ruling. The prosecution, however, did appeal the sentence to apply a mandatory minimum arson charge. Basically, these guys did get boned.

As far as the yahoos protesting, if this was their response to this kind of sentencing fiasco, you can imagine what the “movement” response would be if the Feds decide to go full Janet-Reno on Y’allQueda. Let’s hope they negotiate a peaceful end. And let’s also hope that someone takes a serious look at reforming how these lands are managed.

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My understanding was that the burns were (a) to cover up illegal poaching (in the first case), and (b) during a high fire danger period when deliberate burning without notifying the fire authorities is prohibited (in the second case).

Not what I’d call “lawful”. I wouldn’t think of laws against poaching, arson, reckless burning and conspiracy to hide criminal actions as examples of tyranny, either.

Basically, they did stupid and illegal things with fire twice, in both cases involving active and negligent criminality, destroyed a substantial amount of protected wilderness refuge each time, and lied about it when caught.

It’s only luck that they didn’t kill anybody. Idiots like this are why laws are necessary.


Any suggestion that the proceedings represent a departure from the norm are incorrect.

When did that ever deter real patriots?

It’s interesting how different perspectives are. Most of this broohaha seems to be about Federal land, but in the UK we’d be more likely to refer to land owned by the government as public land. So from a UK point of view this looks about the same as armed men taking over a school or a hospital.


The Hammonds and the Bundys seem to have a parasitic relationship with resources owned and managed by the people of the United States. My impression is that they feel these lands, instead of belonging to and enriching all of us, should enrich just them and their cronies.

On the other hand, I wonder if there is a legitimate grievance underlying all this. There is precedent for the US government screwing people. Witness the ongoing injustice done to every indigenous American from the founding of the United States to some point in the indefinite future. In theory, abuses like this are exactly why we have a Second Amendment. In practice, the Second Amendment hasn’t given us teeth since the Whiskey Rebellion.

In practice, the Second Amendment is only available to those who don’t need it. Armed resistance by people of colour in the USA has not been notably successful.


If they were put in place to deal with discriminatory sentencing then they aren’t working. I definitely agree that electing judges is a very bad idea - the judiciary should be there to provide objectivity when the individual is wronged by the government or the majority.

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It is an interesting turn of phrase that makes all the difference eh?

It’s hard to imagine this response is brought on solely by the arson sentence. Much like the fire they started, the needed not just the initial flame, but also the right environment for things to get out of hand. I don’t think I really understand the larger grievance. I can only imagine it’s connected to the Clive Bundy standoff for obvious reasons, but I don’t think I really get what that was about either. It seems like we’d all be able to agree that some basic laws about not grazing on land you don’t own* and not setting fires during a dry season are a good thing. Clearly there is a deeper problem between these people and their government.

* Well, as long as we are going to be owning land, I would think we could agree on that. If these ranchers prefer a different model of land use that doesn’t involve private ownership I would be surprised.

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