Perspectives: LaVoy Finicum’s death, a watershed moment?

OPINION – Watershed moments in history are seldom recognized as such in the moment.

This is true of turning points in personal matters as well as at the societal level.

Last summer, when I received a letter from a newly published author named LaVoy Finicum asking if I’d be interested in interviewing him on my radio program, I nearly passed on the opportunity.

Thankfully, something made me take a second look.

In his brief yet respectful letter, it was clear that this man spoke the language of liberty, freedom and natural rights. This is not to be confused with the overwrought legalese of those who have been led astray by artificial rules.

I invited Finicum to join me on the air and, a day later, I met the cowboy whose name is now well-known to friends and critics alike.

From his cowboy hat to his dusty boots, Finicum looked every bit the part of a man who was at home in the American West.

But this wasn’t simply a character he was playing. He was the genuine article.

Finicum possessed a sort of authenticity that is rare in a world that adores style over substance. He was down to earth and utterly humble in how he treated others yet immovable in his deepest convictions.

That’s a rare combination.

My friend Jason Smith perfectly described Finicum as:

One of the most intelligent people I’ve ever spoken with – not the stuffy PhD type of intelligent, but a man who was wise because of work, wise because he was self-taught and wise because he was humble.

In my first interview with Finicum, he spoke of his experience at Bundy Ranch in April 2014. He related how it had caused him to think more deeply about how many Americans were tamely surrendering their liberties and what could be done.

It was this conviction that federal authority was becoming more aggressive and more harmful in consolidating unconstitutional power that led him to make his stand to educate others about properly limited government.

Ilya Somin summarizes why legitimate government must have more than simply force, it must have the consent of the governed:

Other things equal, the exercise of coercive power without consent is a bad thing, especially if resistance is often subject to severe punishments such as imprisonment, heavy fines, or even death. It should only be permitted where there is strong evidence that the consequences really are beneficial, and cannot be achieved any other way.

Otherwise, the authorities might manufacture a situation where camping while peaceably armed but without official permission could be considered a capital offense.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the tactics of Finicum and others who peacefully occupied an empty wildlife refuge to air their grievances, there’s no doubt that they had real impact.

Without pointing a single gun at anyone or firing a single shot in anger, Finicum was successful in personally educating hundreds of citizens about the nature of proper government, their natural rights and the need to stand for liberty.

Thousands more have become aware because of his efforts.

The Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Restoration makes this essential observation about the difference between actual terrorists and protestors:

The fact that the protesters didn’t fire a shot gives immense power, validity and innocence to the cause of the protestors. It gives them the moral high ground in every way.

That they were able to do this in the face of the most concentrated media and government smear campaign of our time makes this even more remarkable.

Finicum was no violent revolutionary, as evidenced by his life of sincere service and the words of forgiveness and understanding spoken by his family. He was an effective spokesman for the idea that we the people must be willing to step up as the guardians of our rights.

Blogger Stockton Raso spells out the key point that too many are missing:

The government is afraid of such an idea, and they should be. It is a powerful idea. It is an idea that the Federal Government does not want the American people to believe in. It is an idea worth killing over, and it is the idea we should all be talking about.

Of course, at this point, it’s only the authorities who find it an idea worth killing over.

Right now, a good portion of the populace is experiencing Stockholm Syndrome on a massive scale. They have been conditioned to identify with and to defend their captors as an abstraction of lawful authority.

Dan Sanchez in his essay “The Virtue of Defiance” describes what this type of spiritual disorder brings:

This indoctrination has been so thorough, that otherwise proud and decent people will submit to the most abject indignities, and will comply with orders and edicts to commit the most horrible atrocities.

LaVoy Finicum’s life may have been ended by frightened men acting under the color of law but the resulting awakening in the minds of ranchers and citizens alike is only beginning.

Education, rather than bloodshed, is now a far more credible threat to the power of those denying our liberties. It will be interesting to see how far they’ll go to try to stop an idea that is bulletproof.

Courage can be contagious.

Time will tell if this was a watershed moment in American history.

Bryan Hyde is a popular radio commentator and opinion leader in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Accountable February 8, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Thank you for your perspectives on Mr. Finicum and this cause Bryan.

    • Dave February 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      The cause,, you make it sound like this cause is something good. Privatizing public land, will only be good for the few that are lucky enough to get it. The bottom line agenda, is the Koch Bro’s, Tea Party agenda,,, ” put public lands in private control”

    • observer February 8, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      What started with a dialogue about ranchers feeling the squeeze from the Federal government, to who’s buying up, controlling and going to be mining Uranium in the US. Russia, China, and the Middle East are not part of the US for a reason.

      Over the years it’s been no secret that China has owned investments such as AIG, a financial entity. The Middle East and OPEC owns investments in oil, a commodity. But it came with much secrecy that Russian owned companies actually own mining rights and real estate, through subsidiaries for uranium extraction and processing on our soil, which is used for Atomic Energy and warfare.

      The Hammonds, Bundys and others who’s cattle have roamed on wide open spaces for centuries, are within the buffer zone for EPA and other regulatory requirements. Although some just want us to think it’s only about the cows, it goes way beyond.

      Oregon Steel Mills is now owned by a Russian Company EVRAZ. Willow Creek and subsidiaries in Wyoming, Uranium One owned by Rosatom headquarters Moscow. M2Green Redevelopment LLC (GIGI) along with subsidiaries SSPM Pontiac and Alton Steel, President Ray Stillwell (attorney), Gerry Philippe, VP Canada hired 2013 CEO Jim Hrusovsky to manage Alton. 3.2mill from Hon. Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs and the buying of Smurfit-Stone mill in Missoula, Montana – buying up brownfield (distressed sites), recently selling the Canada plant in January 2016 and gearing up the 3,200 acre site for renewable energy needs.

      Pacific Patriots represented Intermountain Mining in Montana re: 4th & 5th Amendments against USFS who threatened miners with Fire. The owners of this mine are war veterans. Many of the Patriot groups have members that have served in US Armed Forces. Many of these Patriots, known as Militia, have been involved at Burns. Many connected live or lived in Missoula Montana. Several stated they came to pluck Ryan Payne from the Refuge, but he chose to stay. Some were involved in a fistfight against Veterans on Patrol who came peacefully and unarmed. On 1/9/16 Pacific Patriots stated they were “separate” from Bundy and not under his leadership. As many have served with law enforcement, some created their own dialogue with the FBI, attempting to, what they say was “diffuse” the situation. David Fry on 2/6/16 posted video from refuge stating Pacific Patriots are lying. Patriots noted that there were possible informants from Day One and that the refuge was very relaxed, people coming and going, with little organization or leadership.

      It’s noted many times, that persons outside of those arrested for trespassing at the refuge and LaVoy, have been purposely instigating trouble and harassing employees. Some stating it’s the Feds, while others say it’s the militia groups. Whoever was doing the instigating clearly had “motive” outside of any peaceful situation. I believe many came with ulterior motives serving their own personal interests with trickery; almost as if “someone” had sent them. One that was arrested and released Duane Kirkland, created a facebook after LaVoy’s death and clearly the laptop is situated in a room at the Silver Spur Motel posting a lit torch and his alter account Larry Right.

      The cause, the education, the interest in the Constitution, the ambush, and the imminent danger the US is facing does have people all over the US talking, sharing and discussing. News Alert: The FBI arrests nearly every single elected official in a Texas town! The future is dependent on America waking up, becoming a solidified nation, standing on it’s own two feet, without causing wars in other countries, and frankly getting back to the roots of “We the People, for the People”. Greed, self-serving, manipulation, and hate has no place in a peaceful world. If America is to stand in freedom, liberty and justice for all – this country must find peace- a positive energy, and it begins in the home.

      Thank you to LaVoy’s family for sharing him with all of us in his teachings, his videos, and his time trying to educate in a volatile situation.

  • Curtis February 8, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Education is a credible threat to the power of those denying our liberties. Ok, so who is going to do the teaching? The left leaning main stream media? The universities?
    Whether it’s a result of Stockholm Syndrome or not most of the MSM is inclined to favor an expansionist central government and perceived safety and stability over unrest and individual liberty. Even popular right leaning Fox TV shows like O’Reilly and Kelly don’t explore the loss of individual liberty and the withering away of the 10th Amendment.
    I don’t listen to Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity so I don’t know what they are saying. I do listen to Prager and Hyde who do try to educate their listeners. How wide an audience do the pro-liberty voices reach?
    There are ample resources in print and on-line for those interested in educating themselves on issues involving individual liberty, but that requires being proactive and most people are passive. They need to be force fed information. That is not going to happen in a meaningful way in today’s environment.
    The only hope I have is that an active minority can prevail over a passive majority.

  • Roy J February 8, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Hard to understand this position in light of the fact that Finicum would have been indicted for under Title 18 article 372 had he not been shot. I wonder what the trial of those already arrested and charged, and those still holding out at the refuge, will decide?

  • Pheo February 8, 2016 at 11:26 am

    The capital offense was reaching for his weapon when he was being arrested. Duh.

    The fact that people can watch that video and not see that his right arm was reaching across his torso to his left waist illustrates how wishful thinking can take away all objectivity.

  • Rainbow Dash February 8, 2016 at 11:46 am


    Just because they didn’t kill anyone at that Bird Sanctuary in Oregon doesn’t mean that they weren’t looking for a fight. LaVoy gave an interview with NBC’s Tony Dokoupil. During the interview he sat with a rifle in his lap (you can see the butt in the video) When asked what he intended to do when and if an arrest came for him he stated ‘I have no intention of spending my days in a concrete box”. When asked “So you’re prepared to die, better dead then in a cell?” he replied “Absolutely!”

    Every single bit of evidence that I have seen from both sides of this debate supports the idea that LaVoy had a weapon, that he intended to die if they tried to arrest him and that he was reaching for that weapon when they shot him.

    I do not support the actions of this group. That said, I’m all for people protesting something they feel is incorrect or unjust. If these people had gathered somewhere like a city street or The Washington Monument or Wall Street, unarmed (so there’s no doubt that your intentions are peaceful), with signs and shouted some slogan (Most protests), made speeches (I have a dream, MLK) or played music (Woodstock) for days on end, I would be all for it.
    Unfortunately, these people decided the best way to get their point across was to arm themselves with everything from little .22’s to high powered rifles and take over a bird sanctuary in the back woods of Oregon. The actions of this group put innocent American people out of work, children out of school, wrecked a federal building, cost taxpayers a lot of money and put the lives of people on both sides of this issue in danger.

    • KarenS February 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Well put, Rainbow Dash. It is only the far right extremists that think Mr. Finicum’s death is a watershed moment. I would guess that most of America would classify him and the Bundy group as domestic terrorists. We’ll see what comes out at trial.

    • NotSoFast February 8, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      Interesting reply Rainbow Dash. I’d like to hear your argument in defense of other examples. Like Ruby Ridge, like Nazi war crimes,
      like the authority of the EPA regarding citizens private land, etc. Why is it OK for armed Black Panthers to intimidate voters at their polling places and not a word is said? This subject is far more important than the Oregon example. Bryan mentioning a watershed moment example using this man’s feelings of unfair control is just an example. ML King made other watershed moments stand out.
      I agree with you that this protest in Oregon was a stupid way to protest. Like wise, the ‘Black Lives Matters’ protest marches was stupid. It’s also not a Right vs. Left thing. I’m really sick of this left vs. right crap. And for people who can’t think as just Americans,
      I have no use for you.

      • Rainbow Dash February 8, 2016 at 6:04 pm

        Nazi War crimes and Ruby Ridge(at least what I know of it) are like comparing Apple to Oranges. In the case of the Nazi War crimes the german gov’t headed by the SS entered private residences, residences that were not managed by the government, the people of Germany or anyone except the men and women who owned the residence. They seized assets, killed innocent people, forced them from their homes and just caused all sorts of ruckus simply because the people inside those homes were Jewish or, if we’re being real here, anything but whatever the Nazi regime defined as Aryan. These were crimes committed against innocent people for no reason. I do not support them.

        In this case, the government has never encroached upon the Bundy’s, the Hammonds, or anyone else in that fashion. The closest thing to that happened last year when the BLM attempted to remove Cattle owned by Bundy and sell it because he was grazing them on publicly managed land without paying the fee required of him and every other Nevada rancher by law and had not been doing so for 20 years. They had given him ample opportunity over the last 20 years to pay his fees and move on with life. At no point did any law enforcement official ever provoke anything other then a court fight with the Bundy’s. No one pointed anything other then a taser (in self defense when the Bundy supporters surrounded them) until the “militia” showed up. Even after the militia showed up, no one was arrested, no one was hurt and after a day or so the government let them go about their business.

        In this case Bundy and friends, armed themselves, went to Oregon and took over a Bird sanctuary filled with government employees who had nothing to do with them, the Hammonds, any land grab, or anything else really. Just people going to work. At no point in time did these employees ever provoke them, threaten them or anything else.

        In my opinion, the Bundy’s had no reason to be there. Even the Hammonds wanted nothing to do with them. Undeterred Bundy and Pals did not acquiesce and demanded that the government not only release the Hammonds but turn all publicly owned land “back to the people”. Various federal agencies attempted to work with them using existing law for 3 weeks but got nowhere. On January 26, the government decided they’d had about enough and set up a roadblock to arrest the ringleaders for their crimes. They fired, flashbangs and bean bags at them until one of them went for a gun in his pocket.

        The fact is that the government did not threaten them, were not out to harm them, and made every attempt to reach a peaceful solution while staying within the law.

        Your reply implied that I think the Black Lives Matter and Black Panther actions were/are justified. They were not and I have never supported them for the same reasons. Violence and threats in those cases was as unjustified as it was in this case.

      • IDIOT COMMENTERS February 8, 2016 at 8:53 pm

        true, the left and right parties when in practice are nearly identical in their policies. They both serve the same masters

  • godisdead February 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I have no doubt that there are some who feel LaVoy was a great guy. He may have been a nice guy at home and at church. His public words and actions speak otherwise. When this group, Ya’ll Queda, voluntarily spoke to the media, making threats and utilizing loaded firearms to make their lame point, they became terrorists. There should be consequences for their actions. It’s unfortunate a man lost his life, but this death can only be blamed on the actions of this bizarre terrorist group. The other lawbreaking supporters of this group, like Cliven Bundy, should not be allowed to propagate fear and lawlessness. Mr. Hyde, the right wing commentator, is obviously supportive of Ya’ll Queda’s message and actions. Mr. Hyde, you are wrong, the Bundy clan is wrong, and Mr. Finicum, his illogical actions cost him his life.

  • Dave February 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    The agenda, is what everybody needs to see here. Not how nice a guy somebody seemed, when you aired his agenda. THE AGENDA, is to take public lands away from the public. put it into private ownership. The Bundy Finicum agenda is give it to the rancher, because they have used it for so long. Hunter groups, outdoor lovers, even the NRA, should be against this idea.

  • Real Life February 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Well THAT has to be the biggest pile of garbage ever published on this site.

    • voice of reason February 8, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Give it time. Bryan will top it.

  • Bender February 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Ignore Hyde’s ignorant bleatings; the take away is that even the most well intentioned and personable among us can make tragic mistakes. Finicum threw in with the Bundys all the way. He was loyal to a fault to a bogus narrative and a treasonous agenda. RIP brave cowboy. You were steadfast but horribly misguided.

  • Roy J February 8, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    You can read part of Finicum’s book here, as well as the (rather lengthy at this point) reviews :

  • .... February 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    The only thing missing from this idiotic article is. The clowns and the dancing Elephants and the ball bouncing Seals and the Ringmaster and the bicycle riding bears. and a political commercial from Hillary Clinton

  • Brian February 8, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    He may have been an intelligent patriot, but his death was shameful. His actions forced (yes, forced) one or more federal agents to shoot him. I guarantee you they didn’t want to shoot him, and they have to live with that moment for the rest of their lives. Watch the video. At least 3 times in 6 seconds he goes for his gun, meaning the officers had incredible restraint. I’ve heard many people say he was “murdered”, which is completely ludicrous. He committed “suicide by cop” in an attempt to be a martyr and / or avoid jail time. Neither is noble, and both are a shameful act for a father and husband to do to his family, not to mention the officers involved.

    • Chris February 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you, Brian. I know that you have little sympathy for big government, so I appreciate that you see Finicum’s death for what it is. I agree that what he did was shameful.

  • Bender February 8, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Hyde and the Bundy’s spiritual brothers: The Sovereign Movement

  • mesaman February 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Bryan, you have magic in the prose you write. It would seem each article you pen immediately sends an SOS to liberal vultures to dive at the roadkill of common sense and devour any morsel not already destroyed by their classical conditioned Bammie-like reflexes. But a question, has any of your articles, or the responses of the parallel thought processes ever changed one person’s attitude?

    • Bender February 9, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Get a room you two. No one wants to hear this in public.

      • mesaman February 9, 2016 at 3:42 pm

        Sorry I missed you lovely comment. So deep and perceptive, so compassionate. To show you are not a ROBOT please type in the following phrase; BenDEr is a FReak.

    • Chris February 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Bryan is a small time radio personality in a backwater market. As such, the attitudes he changes are few.

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS February 8, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    our federal gov’t is out of control and getting more tyrannical by the day, but the bird preserve was the wrong cause. find a cause that you can get more support,, no more bird preserves in the middle of nowhere.

  • .... February 9, 2016 at 8:21 am

    They’re all nothing but a bunch of flag waving thugs !

  • James February 9, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Once again, people, THERE WAS NO GUN! LaVoy Finicum had no gun on him. If he were to have it, it would have been holstered on his right hip and leg where he carried one except on special occasions such as this one where he would be meeting a crowd.

    The gun they claimed was his was stolen two years ago. The gun registration number was run and is publicly available. The gun was stolen somewhere across the country, taken into police custody, and now, surprise, surprise, it shows up in Mr. Finicum’s left coat pocket?

    There’s lots of evidence that police, FBI, etc. routinely plant guns. What evidence is there that LaVoy Finicum has EVER been dishonest, a thief, or a dealer in stolen guns???

    • KarenS February 9, 2016 at 10:12 am

      That’s nuts! Someone got an email about this supposed gun from the someone else and passed it on as truth to every extreme right-wing website. How on earth would they know anything at all about the gun found in Finicum’s jacket? The FBI and OEP told them? That is laughable. There has been no official information at all. The report from the investigation that is ongoing by a different county will be out 4-6 weeks. It would probably be a good idea to stop spreading rumors and wait for the report. (By the way, Finicum was not shot in the face as the open casket proves.)

    • Chris February 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Really? So what is this “gun registration number” you claim is publicly available?

  • anybody home February 9, 2016 at 9:58 am

    For the people of Oregon, especially Harney County, this was definitely a “watershed moment.” But not the way you want it to be, Bryan. It was a frightening and selfish armed invasion by people from out of state, 20 to 40 armed men and women, led by a couple of crackpots who swaggered around with rifles and sidearms threatening to “get violent” with anybody who interfered. This is not a protest. It’s a hijack.

    You and your collection of sob sisters who are pushing this agenda are going to get your come-uppance. And if it’s true that Cliven Bundy is now headed to Oregon to claim that he and the sob sisters are taking over the land, he’s going to get his for sure. Come on up, Cliven. Oregon is waiting for you. Your uneducated threats and violence might do fine in Utah or Nevada, but you don’t know Oregon.

    To continue to claim that this was a “nonviolent protest” is pure Shinola. For those who have a gripe about the government, stop wearing your halos and angel wings and proclaiming you’re sent by God to do God’s work. God doesn’t send people out with heavy arms to destroy the lives of innocent people, nor does he/she send messages calling for more help “and bring your guns.” You are as wrong as a 3-dollar bill, Hyde, and I hope you will perhaps one day find yourself charged with aiding and abetting this mayhem.

    If you think the people of Oregon are happy that Finicum is dead, you’re wrong. We really wanted to see him in prison with the rest, banging his head against that concrete wall. He is neither a hero nor a saint nor a brave leader. He ripped out the hearts of many an Oregonian who loves the Refuge and gets along with the government. For that, he deserved much more than he got in the way of punishment.

    And so do the rest of the yahoo yokels who don’t have a brain among them. You do serious and honest thinkers a great disservice, Bryan Hyde. And you embarrass yourself and the sob sisters more than you even know. Laughter is ringing at your ridiculous claims for this element in society.

  • 42214 February 9, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Watershed moment, no. Bloodshed moment, yes. Carry a gun and reach for it when confronted by the law, you get lead poisoning.

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