LaVoy Finicum: Folk Hero Patriot, or Suicide By Cop?

Ha — finicumIf you root for neither team, both sets of fans will hate you.

I said some time back I no longer consider myself a liberal, but rather a Rational Centrist. Certainly I’ve managed to piss off an ample number of liberal-trending people with my jaundiced view of modern feminism, and rejection of those liberal-heartstring-plucking outrage stories (Fort Lauderdale hates the homeless!, etc.) and memes constantly projected at us.

But lately I seem to be equally good at pissing off certain conservative-trending people with my views regarding LaVoy Finicum, the “militia” member involved in the wildlife refuge takeover in Oregon.

My response to the picture-meme above:

Yeah, two more miracles and he becomes a saint.

When you arm up and take over a public building, vowing repeatedly to go down shooting, and then almost hit an officer with your vehicle, your “Honest Law-Abiding Citizen” card is voided. After that, any action but peaceful surrender MUST be considered an active threat to officers and bystanders. Sitting under a tarp with a rifle didn’t do his “sane, peaceful citizen” image any good either. To the officers involved, he must have looked loony and dangerous, and I can’t blame them even a little bit for taking him down in that tense situation.

Seems to me the people in that vehicle ALREADY KNEW the cops weren’t aiming to kill them. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been out driving around so casually. If you know you’re only going to be arrested, and you deliberately do something that gets you killed — say charging out angrily and reaching into your coat — it’s hard to see that as anything but Suicide By Cop.

Probably every one of the officers involved have families who hoped for their safe return that day. I can’t help but remember that. It will be interesting, in the days to come, to find out who those officers are, and what sort of service histories they have. I’ll bet we’ll see records of cool-headedness and restraint.

It seems to me that trying to make this guy into some sort of patriotic folk hero is not simply a mistake, but an insult to real heroes — many of which serve in “the American Government.”

The police roadblock at which Finicum managed to get himself killed is being characterized in conservative circles as an “ambush.” One of the mildest comments I saw criticized the police with “Diplomacy in resolving conflict, no matter how long it takes, is the wiser course.” I responded:

This WAS diplomacy. If these were heavily-armed black gangstas holed up in a building in NYC, they’d all be dead and the building burned down ON THE FIRST DAY. But even in diplomacy, I don’t expect officers to let themselves get shot.

I dismissed the hero-worship elsewhere with:

The thing about Finicum is that he was ON RECORD that he wouldn’t be taken alive, that he would fight to the death. That he came close to killing an officer with his vehicle adds on. The question isn’t “Did he have his hands up?”, the question is “Did he act in such a way as to make it obvious he was no threat? Did he act to guarantee his safety and the safety of the officers involved?” And the answer is, no, he ratcheted up the danger by failing to surrender instantly and peacefully.

His obituary was interesting, in that it baldly asserts he was “murdered.”

Robert LaVoy Finicum was born on January 27, 1961 in Kanab, UT and was murdered the day before his 55th birthday on January 26, 2016. […] LaVoy loved God, his family, and his country. He believed that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God and he was willing to, and did, die while defending our freedoms stated within.

The guest book attached is filled with glowing tributes, a LOT of them. (By the way, do NOT go over there and add comments. I realize the thing is public, being on the Internet, but this is not the time or place to set anyone straight.)

They’ve already got the makings of a shrine. I can’t help but imagine a statue in a year or two.