How Could This Happen? A Constructivist Analysis of Reactive State Terrorism at Ruby Ridge


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Virginia Tech


Once upon a time in the remote northern panhandle of Idaho, in the early 1990s, occurred a series of events that would lead to the deaths of three individuals, a beloved pet, and the overt acts of lawlessness and terrorism of three federal law enfocement agencies against United States' citizens. Thus, I introduce the story of Ruby Ridge, Idaho, the Weaver family, and the federal law enforcement agencies that have collectivity become known as the infamous "dress rehearsal for Waco..." (Kopel and Blackman, 1997:32).

Since this is a constructivist analysis of events surrounding Ruby Ridge, I specifically focus on how reality is constructed through the process of reification. In this research endeavor, I utilize an elaboration of Aho's (1994) steps of reality construction (naming, legitimation, mythmaking, sedimentation, and ritualism) in the understanding of how the situation of Ruby Ridge was constructed. I have integrated these five stages into the chronological events of Ruby Ridge and illustrate how the situation was constructed to be real and how the consequences of crisis management employed by federal law enforcement agencies evolved into reactive state terrorism. In other words, I answer the question-"How could this happen?"



political crime, federal law enforcement agencies