JOHN DERBYSHIRE: “This Is Not A Normal Situation”—Ferocious Proud Boy Sentences Show U.S. Moving Beyond Electoral Solutions
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

See also: Tale Of Two Inaugurations: D.C. Judges Rescued Anti-Trump Inauguration Day Rioters In 2017 But Go Berserk On Jan 6 Protesters

Sentences were handed down on Thursday this week against two January 6th demonstrators, members of the Proud Boys group that was created seven years ago to defend conservative events and speakers from assaults by Antifa ... in jurisdictions where the police refused such protection [Proud Boys Lieutenant Sentenced to 17 Years in Jan. 6 Sedition Case, by Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, NYT, August 31, 2020].

Joseph Biggs was sentenced to 17 years in jail; Zachary Rehl got 15 years. The charges were ”seditious conspiracy.” The sentences were less than the government prosecutors asked for: they wanted 33 years for Biggs, just 30 years for Rehl.

What did these guys do to merit such ferocious sentences? Well, Biggs removed a metal fence that police had put up for crowd control. Rehl was convicted for assaulting cops with some chemical spray, although he denies having done so.

Dominic Pezzola, another Proud Boy, was sentenced to ten years in prison. He broke a window in the Capitol building

Two more members of the Proud Boys

convicted in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Friday, with one of the group’s leaders that day receiving an 18-year sentence for seditious conspiracy, the longest term for a Proud Boys member so far and equal to the longest Jan. 6 sentence yet imposed. Another member who gained national renown for smashing a window at the Capitol, enabling the first breach of the building by rioters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

But some of the defendants seemed unrepentant. After expressing his deep remorse over his actions on Jan. 6, and receiving the 10-year term, half what prosecutors had sought, Dominic Pezzola turned to the audience as he left the courtroom Friday, raised his fist and yelled, “Trump won!”

[Proud Boys leader gets 18 years, matching longest Jan. 6 punishment to date, by  Tom Jackman, Washington Post, September 1, 2023].

Prosecutors were asking for a 20-year sentence. I should have thought that breaking a window is more serious than moving a fence, but I guess these prosecutors know their job best.

Plainly these Proud Boys are very dangerous men. Well may you tremble in horror, hearing of their dastardly deeds.

IZm being sarcastic, of course. I don’t have much left in my armory but sarcasm where this January 6th farce is concerned. My outrage is all burned out.

This is January 6th, 2021 we’re talking about, remember. These men have been held awaiting conviction for two years and eight months in brazen defiance of the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a speedy trial. These proceedings are a jeering, cold-blooded assault on law and justice.

Oh, you want some whataboutism? I got some. Last week the city of Denver agreed to pay five million dollars to seven Black Lives Matter rioters [Denver to Pay $5 Million to BLM Rioters, by Eric Lendrum, American Greatness, August 30, 2023]. The rioters claimed they had been wrongly arrested for violating a curfew imposed during the violent riots of summer 2020. Along with the cash settlement, Denver promised that it would never again enforce curfews against rioters and protesters.

So: Proud Boys, milling around in the Capitol grounds: 15- and 17-year sentences. Black Lives Matter, trashing and burning stores and throwing rocks at police: five million cash.

American justice today.

As I said, my outrage at the January 6th show trials is all burned out. Mark Steyn feels the same way. I can’t improve on the piece he posted August 21st at SteynOnline, when he’d been asked to comment on the recent Trump indictments.

I can’t improve on Steyn—nobody can—so I’ll just quote him from that piece:

By the following morning—January 7th—I was even more steamed. Whatever the appropriate term for a legislature that passes thousand-page bills unread by any legislators, it certainly isn’t a ”citadel of democracy.” So, in a cranky mood, I called it a ”citadel of crap” …

So two years later the American Right still talks about the justice system and the election campaign as if either term means what it does in functioning societies. As I said above, I don’t intend to comment on this week’s Trump indictment either, nor do I wish to talk about who would make the best president, who has the best platform, who has the skill-set to implement the platform … That would be all well and good if we were in, say, France, but, when the dirty stinking rotten corrupt U.S. justice system is criminalizing political opposition, there’s no point pretending this is a normal situation, right?

[The Voters vs the Party,, August 21, 2023]

Right, Mark.

With flagrant outrages like the January 6th prosecutions, the opening of our borders, the indictments of Donald Trump, and the Establishment cover-ups of corruption by Joe Biden and his family, this is not a normal situation.

Watching that televised debate for the GOP candidates last week, for a moment I had the thought that I was watching something irrelevant—the acting-out of some formal ritual that no longer has any actual significance, from which nothing of any consequence will follow.

It was a fleeting thought that I felt ashamed of and pushed from my mind.

As an American, with a strong attachment to our Constitution and our political traditions, I’m still a bit ashamed of it.

But reading Mark Steyn, at least I know I’m not the only one who’s thought it.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.

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