What If…?

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Kazzy

One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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117 Responses

  1. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Local law enforcement would just shoot them, because that’s apparently what local police do these days. If they’re lucky, it’d be flashbangs and tasers all around.

    The Feds, by and large, have been really shy about that since Waco (and they also give mild craps about race relations) and so probably would do exactly what they’re doing now, except Fox News would have it on 24/7 loop and decrying the “political correctness” of the Feds, complaining Obama was overruling the FBI because of his secret Muslimness, and Congress would hold 1000 hours of investigation into whether or not a US General in Hawaii was half-way there with gung-ho soldiers before some White House puke (probably Clinton, somehow) called them back.

    On second thought, they’d also do that if it were local cops and anyone complained.

    The script HERE is brave men standing up for their rights. The right is apparently “We’d like that land there, and we don’t want to pay for it. But it’s not theft because the Feds own it, it’s liberation!”. I mean it worked in fuedal times, right? And back when we were colonizing America. Why can’t it work now? All that useless land and they can have it for FREE if they just mouth the right magic words!Report

  2. That would be totally different. I mean, they’d be protesting their countries being bombed or cops killing black people, or some crap like that, while these people are protesting the un-American outrage of having to pay their fees.Report

  3. Avatar aaron david says:

    Well, in Chicago they would just shoot them, armed or not. With the mayor turning a blind eye.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    You know, if anything is going to change the gun control debate, it *MIGHT* be a handful of the things that might happen in the next week or so with regards to this.

    Might not, of course.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m pretty sure the only thing that’ll change the gun control debate is what changed it in the 60s. The thought that the ‘wrong sorts’ might pick up guns and start acting like these idiots.

      I mean this is just a bunch of good ole’ boys. Sure, maybe they’re misguided, but they ain’t hurt nobody and don’t want to! They’re just standing up for their rights, and the Feds don’t seem particularly excited. A bit extreme, but harmless.

      Now, if they were the wrong sort, well goodness — that’s a threat! Nefarious ne’er do wells. (Let’s see, what related example can I pull? Oh yeah, a member of the Black Panthers, unarmed, suspiciously near a polling place. The hysteria.)Report

  5. Avatar j r says:

    I get this, but I’m not sure where it gets us. Yes, politics is tribal. Did you doubt this before?

    I see a lot of lamenting on social media that a bunch of white guys with guns are getting the kid glove treatment. Would it be better if the Feds pulled another Waco?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to j r says:

      @j-r I actually think it’s more than a political thing. Or perhaps I should say, more than partisan political thing. (Since really, all things are politics.) I think the questions above sets the tee up to point at individual actors who control things as the prime motivators for this kind of stuff.

      I think the more interesting (and disturbing) question is what would everybody in the country do. Because I think there is a real dynamic to this that isn’t setting off alarms in every city across the county — by citizens as well as officials — that would absolutely being set off if these doofuses were black or Muslim.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Because they’re white. As I said upthread, that gets them labeled “harmless”. they haven’t shot anyone, have they? They’re not molesting kids, they’re not part of a ‘crazy cult’ that lets us label them fringe religious whackjobs.

        White men with guns disobeying the law is part of our founding mythology. It’s a bedrock part of the story American culture tells about itself. While not a very accurate description of the Revolution, the comfort food version we tell ourselves (and what we learn before college) is a bunch of fed up good ole boys with guns protecting themselves from tyranny. (And when we teach the more complex truth, it gets labeled ‘revisionist’ because god forbid the history of humans be complex and not a fable).

        So maybe these guys are a little kooky, but we view them as harmless until they shoot enough people. Because they tap into our own Founding myths. No black man, no Muslim, no woman can.

        But white guys? They can wear that role and take a lot of liberties before they get called on it.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Morat20 says:

          Furthermore, they aren’t seen or held as representative of white people. Hell, they aren’t even seen as representative of conservatives or gun owners or anything other than themselves as individuals. No one is going to look side eyed at white guys on the bus or propose we build a wall around Europe. No one is going to talk about country music or “culture”. We will probably see these guys taken to task eventually. What we won’t see is change. Or any meaningful calls for change.Report

          • Avatar Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

            @kazzy You know, while you are right, I also think it’s important to be explicit about WHO doesn’t see this as representative of white guys in general, WHO has the luxury of not looking side eyed at white guys on the bus.

            Because frankly I do look side-eyed at white guys on the bus, as do many of my (minority, workstudy) students – more so than I look side-eyed at anyone else – and some of those students do see this sort of thing (and the many lesser examples they could point to just in the last 30 days) as representative of … if not white guys in general … than of what dangers they have to be aware of when moving in a white-guy-run world. I’m not saying this is fair, just, or even statistically reasonable, but there it is. (Mostly if they talk to me about it, it’s because they are struggling *not* to see things that way. I suspect if they weren’t struggling, they’d pick someone other than a white chick to discuss it with.)

            Seen from that perspective, which is only partially my own, this isn’t so much a comparative issue (white armed protestors vs black armed-or-unarmed protestors) as it is a “yet more evidence that white men can do whatever they want, with or without the cover of being a law enforcement official, and it’ll work out okay for them”. Which makes it more similar to say, the killing of Tamir Rice, than it is similar to Ferguson. And starts to feel like a heads-up-not-so-fast about any stray surviving thoughts that being careful not to piss off the patriarchy TOO much isn’t a life-and-death matter.

            I don’t think I *truly* see things that way. My students, as far as I can tell, are working their butts off not to see any of their white male fellow students that way (even when those guys act in racist and/or sexist ways!)… but it’s there.

            And it makes people both angry and afraid.

            So I think it’s important, when we talk about these things, to specify who isn’t going to see who as representative. Not everyone sees through the same lens.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I think the more interesting (and disturbing) question is what would everybody in the country do.

        I guess that I don’t find this very interesting, because I already know the answer. Like I said, I get it. I’ve gotten it for a long long time. But now what?

        Put another way, the injustice isn’t that white men with guns get the benefit of the doubt or that white rioters don’t serve as a smear to all white people or even that cops who shoot people get the full procedural protections of the law. The injustice is that the poor and the brown don’t.

        The injustice isn’t that we don’t bring to bear the assorted accouterments of the War on Terrror on white militia members. The injustice is the War on Terror.

        So, show me the mechanism by which these sorts of points about hypocrisy lead to fixing the real problems, because I don’t see it. It looks a lot more like partisan tribal signalling than it does like a way forward.Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to j r says:

          I almost completely agree, @j-r . The only point on which we might differ (and maybe we don’t really differ on it) is that some people who are normally introspective and who are willing to challenge their own assumptions might realize that yes, we do tend to be much less tolerant of these things when they’re done by minorities and so maybe we should reconsider how we approach such incidents.

          None of this challenges your main complaint. What I say above about the “noramlly introspective” sort relies too much on a “come to Jesus” moment and not enough on ways to resolve the problem in any systematic way.Report

        • Avatar Guy in reply to j r says:

          This comment is excellent, but it also feels like the weird funhouse mirror version of … something … that I feel like I first encountered over in social-justice-land. I can’t put my finger on exactly what, though it is, for example, vaguely reminiscent of Ozy’s “mental health is an axis of oppression too” post. Except not. The problems faced by poor white miners and farmers in West Virginia have the same roots as problems faced by black janitors in urban NJ? Something like that.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

          @j-r

          I think pointing out inconsistencies in response can bring about change because it undermines the narrative that, “There was no other course of action we could take!” when it is trotted out to justify the injustices you describe.

          When a cop says, “I thought he had a weapon… what was I supposed to do?!?!” about a Black man gunned down while reaching for the wallet the cop demanded, we can say, “You can do what those FBI agents did in Oregon.”

          Etc.Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to Kazzy says:

            I think pointing out inconsistencies in response can bring about change because it undermines the narrative…

            I would be very happy if that were the case, but that does not match my general observations. Mostly what I see is people using these types of arguments not to increase understanding or empathy, but as an instrument with which to bash the other side.

            And that’s not a characterization of your post, @kazzy. It is a comment on the fact that the overwhelming majority of political content I see published and shared across social media is about herding political tribes and directing their frustrations at some outgroup target.Report

  6. I’m interested in Michael Cain’s take on this. It sounds to me like a manifestation of the western grievance over federal control of land he often proposes as the most likely cause for secession.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I think it’s certainly related to it. I’d have to dig around some more.Report

    • A contributing factor, not the primary cause. It’s one of the things that, particularly among the political class, makes Colorado and Oregon seem alike and different from “the East”.

      Rural western resentment of federal land holdings rises and falls over a roughly 30-year cycle. We’re near the peak of the cycle right now. Not coincidentally, there’s also been a rise in rural-secession movements within western states. In more incidents, the cry is to turn federal lands over to the counties, not the states. Because Portland and its suburbs are no friendlier towards the idea of opening up Oregon wilderness areas for exploitation than the feds are.Report

  7. Avatar miguel cervantes says:

    after Baltimore and Ferguson, and other localities, and most of the perpetrators were released, you ask this question, maybe some context should be in order, something impossible on CNN, because they have cheered it all the way,

    http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/01/03/full-story-on-whats-going-on-in-oregon-militia-take-over-malheur-national-wildlife-refuge-in-protest-to-hammond-family-persecution/Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to miguel cervantes says:

      Is this the same Hammond’s who were convicted of felonies?Report

      • And the same Hammonds who want abso-fishing-lutely nothing to do with the Bundy gang.Report

        • Avatar Hoosegow Flask in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Publicly supporting armed criminals probably wouldn’t look good to a parole board.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

            Parole Board chairman: They got a word for people like you, H.I.: That word is called “recidivism.”

            Parole Board member: Repeat offender!

            Parole Board chairman: Not a pretty word, is it, H.I.?

            H.I.: No, sir. That’s one boneheaded word, but that ain’t me no more.

            Parole Board chairman: You’re not just telling us what we want to hear?

            H.I.: No, sir.

            Parole Board member: ‘Cause we just want to hear the truth.

            H.I.: Well…then I guess I AM telling you what you want to hear.

            Parole Board chairman: Boy, didn’t we just tell you not to do that?!

            H.I.: Yes, sir.

            Parole Board chairman: …Okay, then.Report

          • Avatar Guy in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

            I, for one, welcome the Hammonds to the land of people who want nothing to do with the Bundys’ ludicrous crusades.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to miguel cervantes says:

      If you haven’t read the link above, you should.

      At the very least, know that the genesis for much of this does appear to be the injustice of the system (https://reason.com/blog/2016/01/04/rancher-arson-case-that-inspired-oregon).

      This isn’t to say the point of the OP is wrong, only that it appears the Hammonds are getting screwed by the system because they pissed off the players in it, and much of the media I’ve heard about it so far has either failed to learn the backstory, or failed to share it.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        If only the “protesters” were loudly talking about mandatory minimums and overly harsh sentencing instead of the the “evvilllll gubmint” crack pottery and starting an armed stand off with some truly unsavory characters involved. The Bundy types and a few other of the outsiders are loons itching for a fight.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        You mean the Hammonds that have asked these idiots to leave?

        it’s been fun watching the media fall all over itself not calling a spade a spade, though. “Armed terrorists” is apparently too accurate for a group of gun-toting extremists who have taken over a government building until their demands are met.

        So far “protesters” has been the word I’ve seen the most, with the more daring outlets using “armed” to describe them.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

          Yes, those Hammonds.

          I agree that Bundy is out of his gourd and is doing a great job of sucking up all the oxygen, but there is an actual story about an apparent injustice going on here that the media is largely ignoring.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            “Actively ignoring” is doing a lot of lifting. For instance, if the media was actively ignoring it — how did Bundy find out about it? How did all the local sources reference is casually?

            I think what you mean is “local story was local” followed by “But armed crazy people are national news”.

            Also, “apparent injustice” is doing a lot of lifting there too. They got five years for deliberate arson, set to cover up gaming violations. Admittedly, they’d have gotten 5 years for setting a fire for ANY reason on federal land, but setting one to cover up further violations of the law is not particularly sympathetic. (Especially when their apparent goal was to burn a lot more than 140 acres). I’m not seeing the injustice, actually.

            Can you point it out to me?Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

              From what I read (and perhaps I missed something), the government argued that there were goals in play other than those stated by the defense, but failed to prove it. So the injustice is that the government is pushing for the max because they are annoyed/pissed that they could not make their full argument.

              To which I say, tough. Justice should be about what can be proven, not what is strongly suspected. This is something that goes on across the justice system and it is allowed because it’s seen (and popularized in entertainment) as some kind of Karmic balance thing. Bad guy is bad but gets light conviction, then harshest penalty because …bad guy. It ignores bad guy who isn’t really bad, but screwed up, then annoys TPTB by refusing to confess or plea & actually having a robust defense that makes them work for it. I mean, isn’t that the basis for almost every plea bargain – take this light penalty, but if you make us work for it, even a little, we will bring the hammer down, even if we don’t actually have enough to convict.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                You seem to be confused about several things.

                First and foremost: That five years isn’t a maximum penalty. That five years is the minimum mandatory penalty for arson on federal lands. Of which the Hammons were convicted of two separate counts (five years apart). (This is off a link from the very Reason piece you selected).

                The Hammonds argued that five years for arson was unconstitutionally harsh, which the trials court agreed, but they were overturned on appeal.

                Federal prosecutors didn’t argue for a “maximum” sentence — they argued for the minimum sentence required by law.

                Secondly, I’m confused about your “can’t be proven”. They WERE convicted of two counts of arson, right? And at trial there was a great deal of testimony that the first was done to cover up game violations (hence why I’m not sympathetic towards them at all on the first count), but they weren’t charged with game violations.

                And heck, they appear to be serving their sentences for two counts of arson concurrently, so it’s not like they’re being punished.

                I think I see the “injustice” here — you seem to think the Feds threw the book at them for arson, when in fact they were convicted of two counts of deliberate arson and are supposed to spend the bare minimum amount of time in jail that they’re legally required to.

                Even that Reason piece, the only explanation they have for “unjust” seems to be that the Hammonds claimed they “unintentionally” set fire to federal lands. I’m sure they claimed that, but that was part of what the trial determined, wasn’t it?

                Sorry, I’m just not seeing it.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Digging further into the Reason comments, there seems to be a huge amount of non-lawyers screaming about ‘double jeopardy’ because the Hammonds had already finished their few month (three or six, can’t remember) jail time by the time the appeals court told the trials court they couldn’t alter mandatory punishments because they felt like it, and thus had to report back to jail.

                I’m sure they’d have loved to keep their three or six month punishment, but that wasn’t the law and they lost on appeal. They STILL only got the one punishment, and it’s not like their time in jail doesn’t count towards their five years. (less on good behavior, I am sure).Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                So next time we talk about Ferguson, and how the law was being used to screw over a population because it benefitted the governments interests, I can just say – “what’s the problem here, this is the law! Those were the fines levied against these people and they failed to follow the rules!”

                This is something with a lot of grey in it, a LOT of acrimonious history, and you seem content to swipe that all away for the sake of “bad guy is bad”.

                Thing is, I’m not even sympathetic to the guy. I think that style of ranching is damaging to the land, and a lot of those ranchers should find better ways to do things or go out of business. But I also see a lot of the conflict out west between private landowners and the various federal wilderness services, and the feds do a great job of being long term dicks to private landowners until the landowners give up and sell, or do something stupid like the Hammonds did.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                “But I also see a lot of the conflict out west between private landowners and the various federal wilderness services, and the feds do a great job of being long term dicks to private landowners until the landowners give up and sell, or do something stupid like the Hammonds did.”

                I offer this without irony or cynicism: think about what a remarkable coalition could be formed by groups with legitimate grievances about government abuse of private property. Unfortunately, too many people make their hay of one kind or another pitting these groups against each other.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                That’s because the abuses happen across different agencies & demographics, with very different timelines and tactics.

                Combine with tribalism, and everyone only ever sees their own problems as legitimate. I bet Bundy (if he supports the War on Drugs to any extent, not sure if he does) probably has little issue with Civil Asset Forfeiture, since it largely affects minorities and is justified in that War. While urban people who hate CAF are fine with the feds pushing for people to leave their lands in remote parts of the country because Wilderness is Awesome!

                It’s still people being forced to give up their private property because the government wants it and doesn’t want to bother with eminent domain.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

                “think about what a remarkable coalition could be formed by groups with legitimate grievances about government abuse of private property.”

                You mean like the guys at Reason who’ve been concerned about civil forfeiture and police militarization since, like, forever?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                @oscar-gordon

                True, but I don’t think that is a knot that can’t be untied. Just too many folks have a vested interest in it being as big a tangle as possible.

                @densityduck

                They would certainly be part of that coalition. If they could bring together the different groups Oscar spoke about above, they could probably effect some real change.
                Note: This isn’t meant to be a criticism of them not having done so… more pie-in-the-sky idealism.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I don’t even know where to start with that mess. You clearly screwed up your facts, because you started off by claiming the Feds “threw the book” at the Hammonds because the Hammonds irritated them. That was the injustice you were talking about.

                Instead, the actual facts are that the Hammonds got sentenced to the lightest possible sentence. Rather than admit you screwed up the facts, you have now shifted to talking about Ferguson and shift this to a debate on unjust laws. Okay, let’s do that.

                Do you think 5 years for arson is injust? Because just glancing at state laws, that appears to be pretty much ballpark. It’s quite low for some states (CT is 10 years, as an example), because deliberate arson is generally classified right below murder in terms of “stuff governments are really down on”. (Because it’s destruction to property and can lead to people getting killed. Fire spreads, after all).

                5 years for deliberately starting a fire, a much lower minimum sentence than many states would impose.

                So is sentencing someone to the minimum mandatory sentence unjust? Is this particular mandatory minimum unjust? If so, why are you so focused on THIS injustice, and not the worse injustices for the same crime in many, many states? Is it mandatory sentences in general? If so, same question — there are people in jail for far longer on far smaller crimes. So why are you focused here, to the point of lambasting the media for “not paying attention”?

                Where’s the injustice, specifically? Is it the concept of mandatory minimums? Holding these people to those minimums? This particular minimum for this crime? Be specific. Don’t shift into broad generalities.

                You said there was a specific injustice HERE. So let’s talk about here — don’t switch the subject. Specify it.

                Is it the sentence? The mandatory nature? What? The only specifics you’ve given turned out to be completely wrong on facts, so I’d like to know where you’re coming from now that you’ve corrected that.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                Multiple injustices at play.

                Mandatory minimums – unjust, flat out

                Do I think 5 years is unjust for Arson – yeah, I do, if no people were harmed or displaced. 140 acres of burned land is NOTHING. The feds screw up and burn many hundreds of times that every damn year they fail to manage fire risk in the wilderness, and those fires rarely stay in the federal borders. At best, they should have gotten a fine for the damage. I’d say 5 years for a fire that goes wild and burns thousands of acres or homes is probably appropriate.

                But according to this, they were sentenced as terrorists, not simple arson (PS controlled burns of grass lands is very common out here, it’s called fire risk management, so calling it arson is quite a stretch to begin with, even if it does become uncontrolled for a bit). Which is why the judge tried to levy a lighter sentence.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Apparently they could have asked for and received permission, which makes it seem like even less of a big deal; certainly not 5-years worth of a big deal. Really, it seems like the sort of thing you’d fine someone for and make them pay for whatever monetary damage they caused.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris says:

                Unless, of course, getting a terrorism conviction gives you different legal options. I’m curious what happens to a person convicted of something under a terrorism statute? What do they lose? Does the government gain certain powers over them it didn’t have before, beyond instant lifetime membership to the No-Fly list?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m sure mandatory minimums help to deter terrorists, too.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris says:

                Without question. As evidence I give you all the terrorist attacks that didn’t happen in America last year!Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                The fact that they weren’t tried as terrorists undercuts your point more.

                Honestly, it’s like you’re so wedded to finding some federal fault here that it’s blinding you.

                The article you linked had a link to the law in question, and the changes involving arson were simple changes to the mandatory minimums for arson crimes against federal property — no need for terrorist intent. ANYONE who burns down federal property, be it land or buildings, on purpose falls afoul of that — because that “terrorist bill” amended the mandatory sentence for already existing arson law.

                They were tried as arsonists, not terrorists.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Chris says:

                As I said above, arson laws tend to be pretty punishment heavy. While Oscar has decided 5 years must be terrorism related, 5 years for deliberate arson is actually a fairly small sentence.

                The reason being that fire spreads. That 140 acres could have ended up being 10,000 acres. A small fire started in an empty building can easily engulf others, maybe not so empty, and kill people.

                Arson laws are very form because the people setting the fires can’t contain them. They’ll burn what they burn, and can and do cost others their lives — even if the intent of the arsonist was otherwise.

                So “it was only 140 acres” is a red herring.

                Now the 2006 fire, that had some mild mitigating circumstances (unfortunately it also endangered firefighters, which is why setting your own back fires is a Bad Idea), but the 2001 one? Per testimony from people actually involved, it wasn’t to clear brush and it wasn’t planned to be contained. “Burn down the whole county” is not exactly something the Federal Government is gonna okay.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Morat20 says:

                Being a resident of So Cal and veteran of several really hellacious wildfires, I completely understand why 5 years minimum for arson is just, for all the reasons you stated.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip-daniels

                See my reply here, I was arguing with incomplete info.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                Link to where you found the trial testimony? I’m not finding it. I had read something about a teenager making a statement about “burn the county”, but it was in passing.

                While looking for the trial testimony, I did run across a statement that the government did deploy firefighters to deal with one of the fires at a cost of ~$600K. That does change the calculus quite a bit (previous articles left me with the impression that the forest service found a burned section, but did not deploy resources to fight a fire). It’s one thing to burn grassland and have it get away from you temporarily, it’s something else if others have to come clean up the mistake. The fact that it was only 140 acres is not a red herring, it’s relevant to the extent of damage had the Hammonds been able to contain the fire on their own (which I believed was the case).

                And yes, I do take issue with mandatory minimums across the board. And boosting them in the name of terrorism doesn’t help.

                PS Just a reminder that I don’t find the Hammonds to be sympathetic at all. As a matter of fact, a lot of people who clash with the forest service like this tend to be very unsympathetic, and generally are very unsociable people (which is, perhaps, why they live so damn far away from everyone else). But these kinds of land clashes involve all manner of bad behavior on all sides, and I am much more inclined to be highly critical of the government because they have the greater power in these cases, and are less able to be held accountable.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yes, but you used the words “injustice” the Hammonds faced and wondered why the media wasn’t focused on it.

                Well, because the Hammonds were convicted in court and sentenced to the minimum possible sentence.

                Mandatory sentencing might be an injustice in of itself, but the Hammonds faced nothing unusual. In fact, as far as mandatory minimums for arson go in general, the Hammonds got off lightly.

                If they faced an injustice, it’s one virtually every convicted arsonist in America faces, and frankly a lot more people besides.

                The media didn’t cover it…because why would they? 5 years isn’t a particularly harsh sentence for arson. They weren’t given an unusual punishment, or tried in an unusual way. The only thing different about their case at all was the trial judge ignored the sentencing laws, and got smacked down by a higher court for it. Again, not exactly an unusual occurrence.

                You’ve been “highly critical” of the government and “not supportive of the Hammonds” but what that’s amounted to is multiple instances of you citing incorrect facts (that the sentence was a maximum, not a minimum. That the Hammonds were tried as terrorists. Even your claim of ‘injustice’ got reduced to a generic dislike of mandatory sentencing).

                It honestly appears like you’re straining to find something, anything to use against the government here.

                It’s like you came to this case believing that these armed morons must have had some legitimate point, that the government must have overreached somehow — and now you’re straining to find one, accepting anything that fits that story without even a basic check.

                In short, it seems like you felt there had to be some justification here.

                There’s not. These guys are going to jail for arson. They’re getting the minimum sentence possible. Those armed idiots are there because they are, bluntly, idiots.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                I misunderstood a lot, it seems (and thank you for pointing out where I was).

                The injustice I thought was there was getting a 5 year sentence for a very small amount of burned federal land. That seems harsh to me (and still is, given how inconsistently that sentence is sought – run a search on wildfire convictions), and still would be an injustice if my initial belief was correct, that the feds found a burned patch and came down on them as arsonists for letting a controlled burn get away from them for a bit. But once firefighters have to deploy, because it clearly is out of control, then it changes things. Even more so because a rancher should know how to do a controlled burn.

                So, this is me eating crow, nom nom nom.

                PS I don’t merely have a general dislike for mandatory minimums, I think they are an injustice across the board, and while I understand the prosecutors were legally within their right to appeal the initial sentence, the initial ruling seemed reasonable to me (along with a bill for $600K) since no one got hurt or lost a house.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Links from the Reason article, links to basic news stories — quite a few contain some facts from the case.

                And again “And boosting them in the name of terrorism doesn’t help.” is assuming your conclusion. You’re a smart, experienced person. You know how laws are made. Just because that’s the title of the bill doesn’t mean that’s why any given thing was added, and you should certainly know that 5 years isn’t a large sentence for arson!

                This is the third time I’ve said it — arson, in the US legal system, is treated with a severity right below murder. It’s done that way for a reason, because the difference between “arson” and “arson + homicide” is luck. The difference between 140 acres and 10,000 acres is “luck”. The difference between 100k in damages and 10 million in costs is “luck”.

                This isn’t a “new” thing. IIRC, this goes back to common law. It’s a very OLD thing to consider arson as a close second to murder.

                This isn’t specific to Federal law. It’s not specific to this bill.

                CT has a 10 year minimum. Texas’ is 2 to 20, depending on the severity (this would have been on the higher end).

                The government has always been really unhappy with people who start fires and expresses this in lengthy prison terms. A casual glance at history, both recent and ancient, should show why.

                I personally think 5 years for both offenses was generous. The 2001 offense was egregious, set for either no reason (their stated reason about invasive plants was not credible) or to cover up poaching. Their 2006 was less egregious (their intent was understandable), but no less forgivable because in an attempt to save their property they endangered other’s property — and the lives of people fighting the fire.

                I get you don’t like mandatory sentences. But are you honestly claiming 5 years for two counts of arson is unjust? Served concurrently, no less?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                It isn’t the Arson part I had a problem with, which is why I talked about controlled burns being normal. Setting a controlled burn (usually with permits, etc.) is perfectly normal out here. Arson implies willful & malicious destruction of property.

                The case for willful and malicious seems thin to me (which is why I asked if you had a link to the testimony, since you said there was something there that offered evidence toward that), but the terrorism law, as you point out, is only concerned that there be an intent to start a fire, which strikes me as problematic, since a person who starts a campfire can then be tried as an arsonist.

                ETA:
                So yes, I’m not sure they are actually guilty of Arson. Destruction of property, sure, especially in the 2006 case. The 2001 fire might have an element of arson, but aside from speculation, I didn’t see any evidence that it was, except for the fact that the law was overly permissive in the definition.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yes, they are guilty of arson. I know this because they pled guilty and also 150 acres burned down.

                And furthermore, even if they were setting up controlled burns, those are arson without the permits. Which they didn’t have.

                So we have two people who, twice, claim to have set “controlled burns” without permits. One of which burned down 150 acres of someone else’s land and one of which endangered people fighting a bigger fire.

                Those results being, of course, why you need permits. (Heck, one of those fires was during a burn ban even).

                That’s their own story, ignoring every other aspect of the case against them. Their own defense is literally an admission to arson, which is probably why they pled guilty.

                Because their defense started with “Yes, we committed arson” before anyone had to call a witness.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                Too neat.

                Do you honestly think every drug possession case that cleared the statutory limit is honestly a case of possession with intent to distribute, just because that is what the person plead to?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Nope. But their affirmative defense was, in fact, an admission of arson. They explained both fires, to authorities, as attempts at ‘controlled burns’ and lacked permits.

                They freely admitted to the exact crime they later pled guilty to.

                Surely you can see that, right? Laying aside the entirety of the prosecution’s case, both people stated — from their own lips — that they set the fires. And their lack of a permit is public record.

                Did they lie? This isn’t a case of a government playing hardball and charging the moon to plead down. They literally got convicted for what they admitted to. There was never any question whether they set the fires. No claims of “it was just a campfire that spread” or “an accident with a match” — they admitted to intentionally setting the fires.

                They did so back in 2001, over the phone, when the notified authorities of the fire they started!. They set the fire, saw it get out of control, and called authorities because there was now a raging fire they admitted starting.

                Would it be so hard for you to familiarize yourself with this case, if you think it’s such an injustice?

                You keep wanting to argue broad-scale criminal justice reform. I’m talking this case, here and now.

                Seriously, for a man who claims not to be invested in either the armed idiots or the guys going to jail, you’re going to the mat for the jailed. Why is that? Why these guys?

                I’m guessing you’d never heard of these guys until the armed idiots made them the cause of the day. So why, on the basis of clearly skimpy research, are you so invested in it?

                (Speaking for myself, I’m invested only because I saw egregious errors of fact, which were clearly refuted by the links provided by the guy screwing up the facts. Also, a rather laid back approach to arson. ‘Only’
                a 150 acres. It was 150 acres of someone’s land. How blase would you be if it was my relatives land? He’s got 60 acres, and I can assure you he’d want to see someone in jail if it was deliberate. Or the result of some idiot setting fires on his own land without permits, oversight, or the intelligence to do it right).Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                Because an attempt at a controlled burn is not really arson. Permits or not. Just as carrying X amount of a controlled substance is not really drug dealing.

                It is only arson because the legislature has removed any requirement that the government prove any kind of malice or willful intent/neglect, and the courts have (inexplicably) decided this is A-OK, because of drugs, or terrorism, or what have you.

                From Merriam-Webster:
                Full Definition of arson
                : the willful or malicious burning of property (as a building) especially with criminal or fraudulent intent

                Property damage, sure. Failure to get a permit, obviously. I could even see reckless endangerment. But arson, as it is traditionally defined, as you yourself defined it, is only possibly because of what I said above.

                I’ve been trying to familiarize myself, but I’m also working. I truly appreciate you finding information & sharing it. As for my interest, it has little to do with the actual people involved, whom I don’t know from Adam, and more to do with over-criminalization and aggressive prosecutions that don’t actually serve the interests of justice. It’s also because I do care about how the forest service treats people who live on the edge of the service lands. Such people are, as I said, often unsociable, and unsympathetic, and thus get treated harshly not only by the agents of the forest service, but also by the media.

                You live in Texas, which has like, a couple of postage stamps of federal land. Look at the maps of federal land holdings in WA or http://www.worldofmaps.net/typo3temp/images/oregon-federal-lands-indian-reservations.png, or MT, or ID, etc. Understand that there is a lot of contention between the forest service and private land owners, and it isn’t all a bunch of empty grievances from ignorant people. That much contention doesn’t just spring up out of the blue. Those folks get marginalized a lot.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @morat20

                This has more information.

                Of note:

                “They called and got permission to light the fire,” she said, adding that was customary for ranchers conducting range management burns – a common practice in the area.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                They also want free land. Bundy, the ringleader of the armed half of this idiocy, is basically a man who thought he had the right to graze for free on public land. He didn’t want to pay the pittance that was actually charged.

                Also:

                It is only arson because the legislature has removed any requirement that the government prove any kind of malice or willful intent/neglect

                Is false. Both federally and in any state I’m familiar with.

                In fact, it’s wronger than that because even English common law didn’t require intent! Significant negligence was sufficient for arson.

                So by “legislature removed” you meant “Has never been a part of”. Ever. It’s been that way for hundreds of years.

                Here:

                However, even though a defendant cannot be convicted of arson for burning the dwelling of another through an act of negligence, if a person sets fire to his own dwelling and, by doing so, creates a high risk that someone else’s dwelling will also catch fire, and the other person’s dwelling actually does catch fire, the defendant can be convicted of arson.

                “Dwelling” btw, does not refer to just houses. Property of any sort is covered, including land. Although personal property (such as burning someone’s T-shirt) is treated differently than real property.

                150 acres is, btw, “real property”.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                They weren’t tried as terrorists. That terrorism law amended, among many other things, the penalties for burning federal property. That particular amendment had no mental component beyond “intent”, which just made it a plain amendment to federal arson law among a lot of other changes, some terrorism related some not.

                They were tried as people who committed arson on federal property. Claiming they were tried ‘as terrorists’ is hyperbolic and flatly false, which is why the appeals court smacked down the trial court and why SCOTUS ignored the appeal.

                So back to injustice: You find mandatory minimums unjust. They’re also incredibly common, so basically you find about 95% of all criminal convictions unjust. So why exactly should the media have singled out this one for special treatment again?

                And Oscar, in the trial, testimony was the 140 acre fire was deliberately set, not to clear out brush or plants (as they claimed, something they could have asked for permissions), but to cover up other things. These things were adjudicated at the trial. YReport

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

              I think what you mean is “local story was local” followed by “But armed crazy people are national news”.

              Yes. Now it is national news, how about some context.

              I know, I ask a lot of media organizations with billions of dollars in resources to do a bit of public records searching and actually provide context. Click bait is so much more informative and compelling of modern journalistic standards.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yeah, your point sort of evaporates once you realize that the Hammond’s jail time was the minimum allowable under the law. Maybe you don’t like mandatory sentences in general, but even if that’s the case you can’t single out the Hammonds as particularly unjust.

                They were convicted of two counts of arson on federal property, and sentenced to the minimum amount of jail time possible — even, as it appears, allowing them to serve time for both instances (5 years apart) concurrently. Which is the opposite of “unjust”.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                See my comment above.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Morat20 says:

          Just don’t call them thugs!Report

      • The Hammond family’s history of conflict with the feds over use of the refuge goes back most of 30 years. The High Country News has its own editorial bias, but isn’t shy about admitting it. The 2001 and 2006 cases were not the first time the Hammonds were charged with felonies, but earlier cases all appear to have been plea-bargained down. Given the margins involved in western ranching, the Hammonds (and the Bundies down in Nevada) are no doubt bankrupt if the feds ever collect back fees and fines.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        @oscar-gordon

        The context matters… but only to an extent. Even if these guys are justified in their outrage… even if they are correct that what happened to the Hammonds (and the broader context in which it happened) is wrong… even if they are correct at pointing out issues with the way prosecutors pursue charges… is this an appropriate response?

        We see much criticism from many angles of the tactics employed by BLM, college students on campuses, and protestors in Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere. But with the possible exception of Baltimore, I don’t think *any* of those tactics rise to the level of what we are seeing here. For anyone arguing that this response is appropriate, a really dangerous precedent is being set: air your grievances by armed occupation.

        Now, it should be considered that they are currently occupying an unoccupied building. This was probably strategic: they’d be far less sympathetic if they left a pile of bodies or room full of hostages in their wake. At the same time, it seems entirely reasonable to suspect that their “strategy” is to lure the government into a gun fight. Which, again, is hugely problematic.

        There may be times where the tactics being employed are appropriate. I struggle to accept that this is one of those times. And I’m rather certain that those who seem to be arguing it is appropriate would sing a very different tune if those employing the tactic were of a different race, religion, or ideological background.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

          I said:

          This isn’t to say the point of the OP is wrong, only that it appears the Hammonds are getting screwed by the system because they pissed off the players in it, and much of the media I’ve heard about it so far has either failed to learn the backstory, or failed to share it.

          Did that somehow imply that I agreed with Bundy, et. al.? Oh, wait, I also said:

          I agree that Bundy is out of his gourd and is doing a great job of sucking up all the oxygen, but there is an actual story about an apparent injustice going on here that the media is largely ignoring.

          Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            @oscar-gordon

            Yes and I apologize if I implied otherwise.

            I suppose my base question is: Are these tactics legitimate given the grievances they seek to address?

            I don’t have a nuanced understanding of the matter but I did read up on it before writing this post so as not to talk out of my ass and, to me, the answer is a resounding, “No”.

            My second question is: If these tactics are illegitimate, why do they not seem to be treated as such by the media and other Serious and Important People?

            It seems you agree that the tactics are illegitimate but that the grievances may be well-founded. I’m not sure that that matters ultimately.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

              I think the grievances have merit, but Bundy is trying to play the part of Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton and sucking at it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Has Jackson or Sharpton ever taken up arms? Occupied a building? Or even advocated either approach? I ask that genuinely… I’m younger than you but don’t have anything in my working memory of either doing any of that.

                The thing is, it seems to me that what Bundy is doing is far worse than what Jackson or Sharpton (who are not without their faults) have ever done and yet there is a large segment of the media and Powers That Be who condemn the latter far more vehemently.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

                Occupying places that were segregated was a big part of the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, of which Jackson was a part. And then there was the Occupy movement.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chris says:

                If these nincompoops were occupying the building without their guns, I suspect roughly nobody would care. It’s not like the civil rights activists were packing when they had a sit-in at the Woolworths lunch counter, you know?Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Chris says:

                The Occupy movement would have turned even more heads if they had announced their intent to shoot law enforcement officers that tried to get them to disperse. That would have ended up being quite the show.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Don’t recall either of them doing that. But they’ve been around longer than I have.

                And again, not disagreeing with you or trying to say Bundy is less wrong or something.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    If 150 suicide bombers took over a Federal Building, they’d already be dead.Report

  9. Avatar Chris says:

    I can’t imagine many people have trouble answering this counterfactual (though I’ve seen a free people on Twitter who have), but the real question, to me, is whether the government response should be more like it would be of these guys were black or Muslim, or if it should be more like it is now even if the armed protesters were black or Muslim. Or perhaps there is some middle ground?

    The media coverage was pretty lazy, perhaps, but it seems to have caught pretty much everyone off guard, and it’s in a place without a lot of people. The stories are ubiquitous now, and it’ll be all anyone’s talking about as the week starts.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

      I hope they’re taken peacefully and force is used only if absolutely necessary and then as restrained as possible.

      And I *really* hope this becomes the universal norm.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

      “and it’s in a place without a lot of people.”

      I don’t think this is emphasized nearly enough. It’s one of the more remote places in the lower 48. My wife and I took a cross country road trip, and one leg was Winnemuca, NV to Portland, OR, which goes right past this land. The stretch from the Nevada border (which only has something in any case because its a border town with legal arbitrage) to the first town before Burns (just east of where the fracas is happening) is about a 150 mile stretch where there’s hardly a bush for an emergency rest stop, much less buildings and people.Report

  10. White men isn’t the entire distinguishing factor, really. The kids who were teargassed at UC Davis for the crime of sitting down peacefully were largely white males. To get this level of immunity also requires being right-wing and armed.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      And possibly able to afford lawyers AND look sympathetic to a jury that will also, very likely, be older whites.

      Young, trouble-making kids who clearly weren’t respecting their elders/authority figures aren’t sympathetic to juries composed of people who clearly feel they are ALSO elders and authority figures.

      And of course, the racial skew of juries is well known.Report

  11. Avatar Damon says:

    We can’t have another Ruby Ridge or Waco. That might convince the white population that they’re serfs just like the rest of the ethnicities, that oppression isn’t just something found in the inner cities, and that maybe those other ethnicities have been right about police brutality and oppression all along.

    Nope, can’t have that.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Damon says:

      It seems that a lot of white people or at least white men already see themselves as serfs to some imaginary PC government and they are the only ones that come to the conclusions you do. Non-whites who see themselves as serfs tend to come to more leftist conclusions.Report

      • Avatar Guy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The main difference between poor whites and poor nonwhites is that if the poor whites manage to shout “leave me alone!” loud enough, there’s like a 40% chance it’ll work.Report

        • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Guy says:

          “Noble lie(s)” all around?

          Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Guy says:

          The War on Some Drug Users is evidence of this. From what I can tell, there is a massive drug addiction problem based around meth in overly white rural areas and rust belt cities. There does not seem to be a corresponding crack down and massive imprisonment campaign. Poor nonwhites or even affluent nonwhites still feel the War on Some Drug Users with disproportionate force for a much less deadly drug.Report

          • Avatar Guy in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Do you mean marijuana?

            In my mind, I see meth mostly as an “excuse drug” – cops (or whoever) want someone arrested, so they say “hey look, it’s a meth lab!” and get an arrest that people aren’t particularly likely to object to. Compare pot, where they say “but marijuana farms!” and there’s a sizable faction calling bullcrap (not that it does anything to help those arrested), or crack, which is something that the public (at least seems to) approve of arresting people for outright. Cocaine makes me think of kingpins and big distribution rings. Also strange things happening to Florida Man. Heroin just reminds me of The Corner.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Guy says:

              Yes, I mean marijuana. There are probably more people of color in jail for marijuana related crimes than there are white people for crystal meth related crimes.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco in reply to LeeEsq says:

                This was my intuition as well, so I thought I’d spend 10 minutes digging in:

                From 2015: “More than half (54%) of drug offenders in the federal prison system had a form of cocaine (powder or crack) as the primary drug type (table 2). Methamphetamine offenders (24%) accounted for the next largest share, followed by marijuana (12%) and heroin (6%) offenders. Offenders convicted of crimes involving other drugs (including LSD, some prescription drugs, and MDMA or ecstasy) made up 3% of offenders.”

                Eyeballing incarceration rates, it looks like 20% of prisoners are black drug offenders, 11% Hispanic drug offenders, and 15% are white drug offenders. So 2-1 almost exactly in terms of numbers, and … 2-1 meth vs. marijuana.

                TL,DR – By rough order of magnitude, there are roughly the same amount of whites in prison for meth-related crimes as there are nonwhites for marijuana-related crimes.

                N.B. Although this is Federal prisons only, a different cite from 2004 suggests that the rates were broadly similar at the state level.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        It’s immaterial whether or not one’s outlook ends in left or right or something else, the key point is to realize that you are a serf. You can’t leave the cave until you realize you’re looking at the wall.Report

  12. Avatar Kolohe says:

    btw, Vanilla Isis is the best nomenclature, accept no substitutes.Report

  13. Avatar miguel cervantes says:

    this is par for the course, the year of the second burn,

    http://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/IMSR/2006/20060920IMSR.pdfReport

  14. Avatar miguel cervantes says:

    well it was a much smaller force, but it wreaked considerable damage,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1977_Hanafi_SiegeReport

  15. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Twitter does not let us down.

    #YallQaeda (Twitter automatically removes the apostrophe from #Y’allQaeda)
    #VanillaISIS
    #YeeHawd
    #YokelHarum
    #CowliphateReport

  16. Avatar pillsy says:

    Jamelle Bouie has (IMO) a great post at Slate about this. The key point:

    If there’s a question to ask on this score, it’s not why don’t they use violence, it’s why aren’t they more cautious with unarmed suspects and common criminals? If we’re outraged, it shouldn’t be because law enforcement isn’t rushing to violently confront Bundy and his group. We should be outraged because that restraint isn’t extended to all Americans.

    Report

  17. Avatar Autolukos says:

    More pieces on the Hammond case, from Ken White (narrowly focused on the sentencing aspects) and Patterico (digging a bit more into the trial record; notably to some discussions in this thread, he finds that the judge was skeptical of the testimony of the witness who was the source of the poaching cover-up allegations, apparently due to a falling-out between the witness and one of the defendants, and that some records are apparently more consistent with the defense’s account of that fire than the prosecutions).Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Autolukos says:

      Of course it’s entirely reasonable to question the government’s position in the underlying criminal case and simultaneously condemn the Hammonds’ .., carelessness? I don’t really know much about their case but that they caused about a quarter section of public land to be lost to fire somehow… And simultaneously condemn Bundy and his associates too for lawlessness deployed in the service of questionable goals both explicit and implicit.

      And maybe also simultaneously condemn a criminal justice system with draconian minimum sentences for situations like the Hammonds’ which denies a judge the flexibility to craft a meaningful, appropriate response to the actual case at hand.

      Yes, I’m comfortable pronouncing that there are no good guys in sight here, only different parties’ varying qualities of bad acts.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Autolukos says:

      Good links. It explained something that I’d been curious how — how there was both a jury verdict AND a plea deal.

      Apparently the jury convicted on arson, but was still deliberating on the other counts.

      The deal was pretty simple: The Hammonds wouldn’t appeal the arson charges they’d been convicted on, the government would recommend both sentences be served concurrently, and all other charges be dropped. Sentencing hadn’t been decided, but as the government was asking for concurrent service and there was a mandatory minimum, I have no doubt everyone — Hammonds included — thought “five years”.

      The judge deciding to find the statute unconstitutional and ignore the mandatory minimums was undoubtedly a surprise to everyone.Report

  18. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “Seriously, what would the response be if the 100-150 heavily armed militia members who took control of a government building were Black?”

    Riots with massive property damage in cities 2500 miles away?

    Handwringing over the legacy of racial injustice that led 100 black men to invade a government building?

    Chortling over the “delicious white tears” of people who couldn’t get their drivers’ licenses renewed that day, or pay their taxes, or apply for business permits?Report

  19. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I wondered the same thing about Occupy Wall Street actually. Not that police violence wasn’t used, but how much differently it would have ended.Report

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