Opinion » Bill Cope

Mr. Cope's Cave: Counciling

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I will make no judgments on what happened up in Council, and neither should you. Not yet. We haven't heard the other side. At least, as of this morning, 19 days after the incident, we haven't heard the other side. I don't like to think there might be cops in Idaho or anywhere else who would arbitrarily, capriciously, open fire on a man for trying to put his wounded animal out of its misery—the conclusion we might reach from the one side of the story we've been told so far. I want to hear what the cops have to say before I decide where the blame falls. I want to hear what the investigators have to say, the FBI and Idaho State Police. There simply has to be more to this than we've heard. The story is too incomplete.

With that said, I have to wonder if any of this would have happened at all if not for the heavy atmosphere of suspicion, distrust, animosity and perpetual threat that has been stoked and fanned and spread for years by these fervid little gopher people who see every tragic misunderstanding or stupid miscalculation as evidence of their all-encompassing and endless theories that would have us believe government, including all of its representatives, is our enemy.

You know who I mean. They give themselves noble-sounding names like little boys dreaming up things to scratch onto the sign over their ramshackle club house: III Percent of Idaho, Oath Keepers, Posse Comitatus—all essentially cut from the same testosterone-soaked cloth as the open-carry crowd; the Second Amendment fanatics; the whole blustering, blowhard bunch who would race down to Nevada, guns erect, on the pretense of defending Cliven Bundy's right to be a parasite on the American peoples' common lands.

Like the asshole on the overpass—Eric Parker, who is vice president of III Percent of Idaho—aiming his rifle through a gap in the concrete with his sights on lawmen trying to do their job... remember him? That photo was in the news following the confrontation between the Bundy rabble and BLM representatives. Don't you think every cop, every federal agent, every officer of the law who's seen that picture has to wonder: How much would it have taken for that bastard to pull the trigger? Would a shoving match have done it? An arrest? Was the bastard hoping for it to happen? Was that why he was there?... hoping something would give him an excuse to pull the trigger?

Had the deputies up in Council seen that picture?... perhaps questioned if they had ever been in the sights of someone who thought of them as an enemy?

Or those other Bundy supporters, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who moved on from that confrontation to pick out two Las Vegas policemen having lunch and kill them in cold blood. What?... were they disappointed gunfire hadn't erupted on Bundy's ranch? Was their thirst for lawmens' blood so overwhelming it just had to be satisfied?

Had the deputies up in Council heard that story?... perhaps even worried if there were any people like the Millers in the Council area?

Had the victim, Jack Yantis, heard all those angry theories that government, including all of its representatives, was the enemy? Did he subscribe to those angry theories? When he walked out to that accident scene in the dark with rifle in hand, how did he see those deputies? As friends, or foes?

Would those deputies have wondered if Jack Yantis, coming up on them out of the dark with rifle in hand, might be one of those angry men? What did they think they might be up against? A friend? Or a foe?

Tell me, what use is there to having these self-appointed citizen watchdogs involved in the aftermath?... activist gadflies like Matthew Townsend from Meridian or Jason Patrick from Washington state, both of whom showed up at last weekend's rally in Council to promote their cops-can't-be-trusted cause and inject themselves into the scene. What do they add to the mess, other than more paranoia, more suspicion, more distrust? Are any answers to what happened in Council going to come from them? Any resolution?... any solace or closure?

I wouldn't count on it.

Don't you, too, have to wonder: Did the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, or any of the other shootings of any of the other unarmed black men in any of the other urban areas over the last year... did any of that reverberate up in Council when they happened? Even now, after what occurred 19 days ago, does anyone see a connection? A pattern, perhaps?

Or is the Council incident seen as something entirely different by the folks up in Council?—seeing as how Jack Yantis wasn't... you know... dangerous.

Still, how do the friends of Jack Yantis think the cops in Baltimore or Detroit or St. Louis would react if a black man were to approach them out of the dark, with a rifle in hand?

Where is all this suspicion and distrust, animosity and perpetual threat, taking us? Where is America headed, when we all become either friend or foe, with no room in between for a simple tragic misunderstanding or stupid miscalculation?

Like I said, I will draw no conclusions until I've heard the other side. Questions, yes. But conclusions... no. And neither should you.