Facebook video screenshot

Ammon Bundy, the original High Plains Grifter, has been enjoying a brief return to almost notoriety during the coronavirus pandemic, what with his vow of Eternal Resistance to Idaho Gov. Brad Little's stay at home order and his call for a HUGE Easter Sunday church service and Freedom Wingding, ideally to be held right in Boise, if only he could get a brave patriot to rent him a venue. Surely SOMEONE would stand up to the forces of tyranny so hundreds, maybe a thousand, of supporters of Liberty could gather to celebrate the Risen Lord? He even seems to have founded a new "group," or at least coined a spiffy new name for one.


Bundy didn't announce an actual location for his Easter Parade until Sunday morning, posting a note on Facebook just a couple hours before the shindig, and as it turned out, the only place he could hold the gathering was in a crummy old warehouse on a lot he owns in Emmett, Idaho, about 30 miles from Boise, the same place he's held his previous We Will Not Submit meetings. Hard to believe nobody wanted to rent him a hall or theater or stadium.

Licking Each Other On The Face For Jesus (Not Really) (But Almost)

The service, led by Boise-based "author, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur" Diego Rodriguez, didn't quite get the 500 to 1000 protesters Bundy had hoped for when he announced the big virusfest last week. I watched a Facebook livestream of the service, and by my count there were roughly 100 people there. Only one or two people in the crowd wore masks — possibly more to foil the Deep State's facial recognition tech than to prevent spreading microbes. Nobody was carrying an AR-15, although it's entirely possible some folks may have had a holstered handgun, as one does when attending church.

Also, as far as I can tell, those aren't bullet holes in the wall behind the lectern; someone in the Facebook replies said the building used to be used for batting cages (the netting was visible in videos of earlier events held there).

Despite the less than hoped-for turnout, pastor Rodriguez, an unsuccessful candidate for the state Senate in 2014, did all he could to get a good infection cluster going, encouraging folks to get up and go introduce themselves to a stranger, complete with fearless handshakes and sitting close together, because if there was one theme for this jamboree, it's that these folks are unafraid of some little virus. The government says it's dangerous, so obviously it's not a thing at all, and Ammon Bundy himself has said he's looking forward to him and his family getting it so they'll become immune to it.

Ammon Bundy didn't play a huge role in the proceedings apart from some brief introductory remarks, standing behind a handmade sign urging "DEFY MARTIAL LAW." Bundy explained the gathering is all about, you guessed it, God-given freedoms, even if it means spreading a virus for which there's no treatment or vaccine yet.

We are physical beings, we require association, we want to be with each other. We thrive on that. [...] It's part of liberty. It's part of the rights that have been given to us, to be able to shake hands and show our love and appreciation for each other.

Bundy explained that "when your liberty has been taken from you, then you begin to understand how important it is that we stand up for it," although we should note that he was not, in fact, prevented from saying a word of this. Maybe he was talking about his time in jail following his armed takeover of the Malheur Federal Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, though, and how being found not guilty (following a trial full of prosecutorial misconduct) made him aware that others deserve to ignore the law too.

To mark the resurrection of Jesus, Bundy said,

Where there is Christ, there is Liberty [you could hear him pronounce the capital l — Dok] and that is simply because when you believe in Christ, and when you believe in what He taught, and the example that He showed us, you will never infringe upon your neighbor's rights. You will never do that [...] and you will not stand around and allow others' rights to be infringed upon. And therefore, where there is Christ, there is Liberty.

My, wouldn't it be lovely if that were true?

Could It Be ... Satan?

Then it was time for Wayne Hoffman, the head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a libertarian/rightwing think tank that protested Little's stay at home order. Hoffman has been proclaiming in blog posts that with all these public health measures, "The U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions have been suspended," and that was more or less the theme of his brief talk, too. Hoffman was disappointed that Idahoans didn't meet his opposition with accolades for defending what he thinks is in the Constitution. Instead, most people have supported social distancing and restrictions on large gatherings, probably because they're sheep.

Hoffman figures there's a simple explanation: People are just gripped by fear, and that's sad. He didn't even mention the possibility that there might be a legitimate concern with not spreading an infectious diseases, because don't be ridiculous. "Fear," someone once told him, "is the work of the Devil."

Fear keeps you cowering in your house, afraid to to talk to your neighbors, afraid to shake hands, afraid to offer a warm embrace to somebody.

Or maybe two out of three of those could literally transmit a virus, which is an actual real thing. Yes, I know, that's the Devil talking. Hoffman went on, saying the lockdown order is "the ultimate work of the Devil," which suggests to us he may want to read up on some historical events that might better fit that description. Fear, he explained, is not merely the "embodiment of Satan," but also the "tool of tyrants."

Sure, maybe Brad Little and other officials who are perpetrating Satan's plan don't think of themselves as tyrants or tools of the Father of Lies, but that's why Free People need to "encourage" and "educate" leaders to see the light and let us all go out and infect each other like Founders clearly wanted — not simply because they thought Liberty (to spread a deadly virus) was a good idea, but because it's our Natural Right, which no one can take away. Hoffman closed by telling the crowd he never thought he'd have to say this, but "the fate of humanity depends on what we do when we leave this building."

Because darned if these folks are going to go around being afraid of anything, except of course the tyrants who are doing Satan's work on Earth by telling people to stay at home and hold church services online. And next the New World Order will come for your guns, force your children to become atheists, put you in camps, and kill you, just like Hitler started by responding to a pandemic and/or expanding health insurance. Thank goodness they don't believe in fear.

Hey, Was It Eve's Fault? You Know It

Then it was time for Rodriguez's sermon, in which he explained that part of the problem with Americans today is that they simply no longer understand freedom and liberty in their original senses, because modern dictionaries have different definitions than Noah Webster did in 1828. This really is a thing among some on the Right. Just as the only real Bible is the King James Version, the only good dictionary is Webster's first one, the only good laws are in the 1890 edition of Black's Law Dictionary.

He went on to retell the story of the Garden of Eden and the temptation of Eve, explaining Satan "was the very first liberal Democrat," because he tricked Eve into doubting the plain language of God's prohibition on eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. "Just like liberal Democrats do," the Devil twisted that clear injunction, which is why you must always follow God's law of freedom in the Bible, not man's law. That was a central theme of the sermon among these folks who believe a temporary set of public health measures is "Martial Law." (When I pointed out on Facebook that martial law hasn't been declared, I was informed I must be a big fan of Hitler. Who, not incidentally, also relied on typhus epidemics to kill people in the camps.)

And just like Satan, liberal Democrats rebel against God's authority just because they want to control people and lead them astray. That was pretty much the whole thrust of the sermon, which reminded us that Jesus came to make man free, in precisely the way rightwing Americans conceive of freedom, which was nice of Him. Rodriguez explained that anyone who fails to fight for liberty is sinfully rejecting Christ's sacrifice and victory over death, although he didn't quite take it so far as to suggest that those complying with public health orders or practicing social distancing are bound for Hell.

Rodriguez wrapped up his sermon by reminding the congregation that Jesus said his followers would be despised for their righteousness, which we're sure was quite flattering to them, and that the Apostles were hated because their freedom threatened Roman authority. Similarly, the brave souls who might even now be incubating the coronavirus are a threat to the "tyrannical despotic forces" of today, and like Patrick Henry, they can all say "Give me liberty or give me death." Or who knows, maybe both.

Then it was time to decamp to the Idaho Capitol, where eventually about 10 people showed up to demonstrate that they will not be bullied into submission. I stayed across the street, because I am a coward afraid of freedom, the end.

Update: Apparently more of the Branch Covidians* showed up later. By then I'd gone home for a nap.

* I stoled "Branch Covidians" from Twitter; it may have been coined by some podcasters. For the3 record.


[CNN / NPR / Facebook video]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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