Des Moines Register Editorial: A disproportionate response to the pipeline protesters

by the Des Moines Register Editorial

Eleven months ago, a group of armed militants piled into a couple of pickup trucks and headed for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Once there, they took control of the headquarters building, stationed armed guards around the perimeter and began issuing ominous threats of violence unless the federal government relinquished control over 1.4 million acres of national forest.

Just for good measure, they named their merry band of flag-waving commandos the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, underscoring their bizarre belief that as individuals we all have a constitutional right to simply take, at gunpoint, land and property that belongs to all of us collectively.

The government responded the same way parents react to a child’s tantrum: quiet patience. Authorities adopted a strategy of waiting out the offenders, at one point attempting to gently nudge them back into the real world by offering them a police escort out of the county if they’d just quit misbehaving.

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