Is it a question of free speech or the content of that speech?

Protesters camp blocks oil pipeline. (AP photo)

Protesters camp blocks oil pipeline. (AP photo)

Federal officials are refusing to kick protesters off federal public land in North Dakota, saying they don’t want to harm their free speech rights.

The protesters are blocking a $4 billion oil pipeline that has been approved for right of way across federal land. There have been violent clashes.

“We don’t have the physical ability to go out and evict people — it gives the appearance of not protecting free speech,” a federal official was quoted as saying. “Our hands are really tied.”

Security guards were injured when protesters confront pipeline workers and police later arrested 21 protesters on charges that include resisting arrest, criminal trespassing on private property and possession of stolen property.

The project was expected to create 8,000 to 12,000 jobs during construction.

Meanwhile, in a federal court in Oregon, Ammon and Ryan Bundy of Bunkerville and five others are on trial for occupying federal property and the judge is refusing to allow them to argue that their occupation was a statement about who should really control the public land.

“The ownership of the refuge is not up for discussion,” the judge one of the attorneys this past week. “Please move on.”

The only violence that took place in that occupation occurred when law enforcement shot to death one of the protesters when he tried to go to a meeting and evaded a road block.

It apparently is not the free speech that is an issue but the content of that speech.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy occupy federal refuge in Oregon. (OPB photo)

Ammon and Ryan Bundy occupy federal refuge in Oregon. (OPB photo)


37 comments on “Is it a question of free speech or the content of that speech?

  1. dee21701 says:

    This is different, haven’t the government taken enough away from Native Americans!

  2. Rincon says:

    Civil disobedience is a time honored method of protest. In most cases, protesters allow themselves to be arrested without threatening the safety of the arresting officers. Protesters armed to the teeth cannot be placed into the same category. In addition, there is a major difference between occupying a piece of open federal land and taking over federal buildings. They also trashed those buildings, so add vandalism to the charges.

    One more important question: Are the pipeline protesters interfering with the work being done? That should not be allowed.

  3. Obama ordered the work stopped. They were interfering.

  4. “Dakota oil pipeline protesters are “armed, hostile, and engaged in training exercises” meant to “promote violence,” a North Dakota law enforcement official warned federal agencies Monday.”

    Read more:

  5. Rincon says:

    According to the Chicago Tribune, 95 protesters from several pipeline protests, some as far as 70 miles away, have been arrested. Hard to imagine the feds arresting 95 armed people without incident, but I suppose it’s possible. Note that they have been arrested. The Bundy protesters wouldn’t allow themselves to be arrested until they had essentially no other choice.

    From the Tribune article: “Cramer believes the “bigger problem” of the camp is “the illegal activity that may be orchestrated from there” — meaning a base to launch interference with pipeline construction miles away.”

    If the protesters are camped miles away from construction and Representative Cramer speaks of the POTENTIAL of interfering, it implies that interference with construction had not taken place at the time of the article (2 days ago) Although Obama may have ordered work stopped, is there any evidence that the protesters made continuing work difficult or impossible?

    Wikipedia calls The Daily Caller, ” a politically conservative[2][3] American news and opinion website based in Washington, D.C.” If the details of this story differ, I’ll trust the Tribune.

  6. Steve says:

    Don’t trust the “Caller”? Well, me too. That’s why I look for the sources of their stories.
    (I do the same with MSNBC and many of Patrick’s supposedly solid sources)
    Read the Sheriff’s letter to Loretta Lynch and Sally Jewel for yourself.

  7. I’m surprised the Feds haven’t sent out some cheerleaders or James Taylor to serenade the protesters…since stopping a pipeline is right out of this dismal administration’s PC play book!

  8. Rincon says:

    An interesting read, Steve. Clearly, there are two sides to this story. Which is correct? Perhaps both. Since 95 people have been arrested, I presume these are some of the ones committing the crimes to which the Sheriff referred. In many so called peaceful protests, there are some who will commit crimes. They deserve to be charged. If these individuals can be arrested and/or removed without danger to officers, then removing ALL of the protesters may be more than what’s necessary. If protesters commit crimes and refuse to go peacefully, then officials are justified in the use of force.

  9. Steve says:

    You just endorsed the Bunkerville protest.

  10. Rincon says:

    They did not allow themselves peacefully for a long time.

  11. Rincon says:

    OK, lemme try that again. They did not allow themselves to be peacefully arrested for a long time. There’s a big difference between a group of protesters with some that misbehave and a group that threatens to kill anyone who crosses them.

  12. Steve says:

    Bunkerville isn’t Oregon.

  13. Rincon says:

    The protesters at Bunkerville did not allow themselves to be arrested or removed, they were armed to the teeth and clearly threatened federal officers. Given those characteristics, I don’t see how my words endorsed the Bunkerville Standoff.

  14. Steve says:

    Bunkerville was on private property, not one of the protesters fired a shot, the feds were far better armed and the feds were the only ones who used any kind of device meant to disable or injure. A tazer was used on private property.

    The local sheriff had advised the BLM to stay away from the private property and the BLM refused to listen.
    The BLM was the cause of their own trouble.
    Once Bundy (senior) left his property it was easy to arrest him on the open warrant, no problem at all.

    Bunkerville was the direct responsibility of power hungry overarching bureaucratic bullshit.

    If they wanted Bundy for rwal, all they had to do was watch him leave his property and arrest him off site, file charges and go to court, then prove their case.
    After that they could round up the cattle and close off access to the rest of the family and with no trouble.
    But no, those bureaucrats insisted they were judge, jury and executioner all wrapped into one body.

    Just like you buying into the media “second Snowden” hype.

    You are letting yourself be encouraged to jump to conclusions.

    The media love you people. Keep swallowing their bullshit, you seem to think it tastes great!

  15. Rincon says:

    The protesters blocked Interstate 15 for more than 2 hours. That’s not private land. And according to Wikipedia, “Protesters also converged at the mouth of Gold Butte, the preserve where the cattle were corralled, and a tense, hour-long standoff ensued.” Are you claiming that the cattle were corralled on private land? Seems very unlikely to me.

    “Just like you buying into the media “second Snowden” hype.” You’re speaking of Thomas. He felt that Clinton’s actions were just as egregious as those alleged by our Snowden character. I merely replied.

  16. Steve says:

    Show me where Mitch compared the two to Snowden, Rincon.

    The protest spilled out to public places and remained peaceful. Local police shut down the roads for safety’s sake.
    The BLM started the situation by ignoring local police advice.

  17. Rincon says:

    You might need a scorecard, Steve. In this article, Thomas contrasted the treatment of the pipeline protesters to that of Ammon Bundy and company. Thomas compared Clinton to Snowden previously, but I didn’t bring that up in this thread. You did – in order to insult me. We should stick to the subject.

  18. Steve says:

    Mitch never conflated Clinton and Snowden.
    But you did,

    Amnon Bundy is not the Bundy “clan”. No matter how much you would like to conflate that too.

    How about comprehension….


  19. VernonClayson says:

    The fed’s reluctance is based on Obama’s orders, no different than his catch and release for illegal immigrants. The presence of the feds is more to observe the actions of local authorities than to take any control or responsibility on civil unrest. Witness his concern for black rioters, looter, young thugs, one akin to a son if he had one, these are only Native Americans and some white supporters of their cause. He wants this to blow over so he can claim calm on an issue he actually cares nothing about.

  20. nyp says:

    Ah yes, Vern Clayson, the unfiltered id of the conservative movement in America: “black rioters, looter, young thugs, one akin to a son if he had one.”

    That makes sense to you, Vern because you consider President Obama to be (in your words) “a common Chicago street hustler” — right?

  21. VernonClayson says:

    Right, why don’t you provide a list of official records of his background, that would be actual records, not the books that launched him into public notice. He probably didn’t write them any more than he has the near daily announcements he’s made since taking office. I laughed aloud today when the news was reporting he wants to send people to Mars by 2030, will it be Syrian refugees??

  22. Nyp says:

    Right – you can’t accept that an African-American like President Obama could be so infinitely more accomplished than you. That wounds you deeply.

    A terrific insight into Trumpism.

  23. Steve says:

    Nyp, I have blood from Armenia, Scotland, England and Ireland.

    Does this make me an Armenian American? OR a Scotish American? OR an Irish American or and English American?
    OR….. does it make me the same thing as Barack Obama a mixed blood, Mutt-American?

  24. VernonClayson says:

    Doesn’t wound me so much as it marvels me, nyp, for the first half of my life, having been indoctrinated in patriotism for over 40 years, I believed in presidents and members of the Congress, now it’s abundantly clear that I was led by a system of politics and propaganda, don’t know how old you are but you are in the thrall I was early on. Obama and his gang, including the current Congress, are enjoying the spoils of a lost empire. They, not immigrants, are the barbarians at the gate.

  25. nyp says:

    I can see how much it unnerves you that someone you characterize as “a common Chicago street hustler” could be our President for eight years. The idea of an African-American Comander in Chief upends your idea of how the system should work for people like you.

  26. Barbara says:

    NYP – Obama has been the worst President in my lifetime. The only impact race had was that he was able to habitually violate the law without being impeached.

  27. Steve says:

    Barack Obama is African American any more than I am Armenian American.

    Barack Obama, like the vast majority of this countries population, is mutt-American.

  28. Nyp says:

    A Democrat is about to win the popular vote for the sixth time in the past seven elections.

    You guys really should rethink your entire approach to all this stuff.

  29. Steve says:

    “you guys”

    I’m not a Democrat. You are being pregudiced, nyp.

  30. Steve says:

    Clarification.Also, not a Republican.

  31. Rincon says:

    Hard to imagine that you considered Bush a better President than Obama, Barbara. Let’s see…Bush actively got us bogged down in two wars, both badly mismanaged, while Obama has failed to right the original wrongs as well as we would like, although at least he cut the massive spending on this foolishness. In fairness to Obama, I think it’s a certainty that if Obama had maintained large forces in Iraq and Afghanistan without success, then Conservatives would have complained that he should have gotten out. If Obama’s efforts were successful, then Conservatives would have claimed that he could have done it better, with fewer lives lost and less money.

    You accuse Obama of managing our economic recovery poorly, yet this is the 2nd longest and 4th strongest recovery on record – and it’s still going! Bush, on the other hand, inherited a strong economy from Clinton, but at the end of 8 years, we were in the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. While it’s true that Obama’s deficits were greater than those of Bush, the largest of them all was 2009. The 2009 budget and spending obligations were generated during the Bush Administration, not Obama’s. While still very large, the deficits decreased in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2013, 14, 15 and now projected for 2016, the deficits as a percent of GDP have been on a par with Reagan and Bush.

    But what about Bush’s other escapades?

    Do the names Blackwater and Halliburton ring a bell? How about Gitmo? The torturing of prisoners? While waterboarding could possibly be a legitimate method of extracting information, anyone with a brain would have promised to examine the accusations and pledged not to allow it in the future. Defending it was a great way to convince the average fundamentalist Muslim that we really were the great Satan.. How about Bush’s handling of Katrina? “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” And the “Healthy Forests Restoration Act”, otherwise known as the no tree left behind act, allowed lumber companies to cut indiscriminately on federal lands under the guise of “fire control”. His No Child Left Behind initiative has managed to leave every child behind.

    As for Obama ignoring the laws of Congress, he appears to have been taught by his predecessor. According to the Boston Globe, “President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.” You guys all seem to forget that one.

    You may also recall the secret meetings during the formulation of the Bush energy policy, which were heavily attended by energy company executives and by no environmentalists.

    You fault Hillary for Benghazi, but forget about the ineptitude of both the Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. There were 10 opportunities to have prevented the attack. The administrations muffed them all.

    Bush also fought any action on global warming, but of course, most of you continue to claim against a huge majority of our climatologists, that you know more about climate change than they do, so I guess there’s no way to convince you on this one.

    And last, but not least, I seem to recall Bush pushing through and signing the unfunded prescription drug bill, the largest entitlement program by cost since Medicare.

    There’s more, but it’s getting late. Hard to imagine that Obama was worse than ol’ George.

  32. Barbara says:

    Bush did indeed do much to further the statist cause, but you refuse to acknowledge that Obama has advanced the same cause, but on steroids. Bush had his prescription drug program – Obama took over the entire health care system with Obamacare.

    Rincon you have demonstrated nothing but your complete indoctrination into liberal ideology.

  33. deleted says:


    A valiant effort and I commend you for it, but don’t feel bad that you had to quit before you listed all (or even a significant portion) of the misdeeds committed by the “compassionate conservatives” that tried to destroy this country for 8 years.

    History will not forget, even though many self professed conservatives will try.

    Good work.

  34. $20 trillion debt.

  35. nyp says:

    ” Obama took over the entire health care system with Obamacare.”

    I don’t know about you, but my employer-sponsored health insurance plan hasn’t changed much since 2009. That’s probably true of most people.

  36. Rincon says:

    IN 2009, the year before Obamacare took effect, health care in the U.S. cost 17.1% of GDP. In 2010-2014, it still cost 17.1%, as I’ve posted elsewhere. I checked for 2015. Lo and behold, the increase (yes, it’s still increasing) was the lowest in 20 years. The so called apocalypse never occurred and, as usual, the Conservatives are not only wrong, but unrepentant. So tell me Barbara, where are your figures? To paraphrase, you have demonstrated nothing but your complete indoctrination into conservative ideology. Sound familiar?

    No question about the debt, Thomas, although a goodly portion was the hangover spending from the two poorly waged wars that Obama inherited plus paying for the largest entitlement since Medicare, Bush’s unfunded prescription drug program. We had to pay for all of that during the Obama administration, but the costs were all generated by the Bush Administration. Much of the rest was from trying to stave off the greatest economic downturn since the Depression, which came after 8 years of George W. Conservatives don’t seem to remember how severe the economic shock was at the time. There was genuine fear of another Depression as banks and other corporations threatened to fall like dominos. Had Obama and Bush failed to spend, they would have followed in the footsteps of Herbert Hoover.

    Keep in mind as well, that the Bush administrated budgeted the largest of the deficits in 2008 for 2009. Obama’s deficits grew smaller each year from there. Deficits since 2013 or so have been on a par with those of Reagan and Bush, so you’re griping about two to three years, not 8 – and spending during those two or three years was less than what Bush budgeted for 2009..

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