A sentencing hearing turned into a rally supporting an environmental activist who has become an antihero after disrupting a government auction of oil and gas leases near two national parks in Utah.How about protesting the government that does nothing to earn money yet profits more than any industry could ever imagine?
Protesters gathered around the courthouse and dozens were arrested Tuesday as Tim DeChristopher launched into a lengthy address urging others fight climate change by taking similar steps of civil disobedience.
But U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said there was no excuse for the 29-year-old former wilderness guide's blatant disrespect for the rule of law.
Benson sentenced DeChristopher to two years in prison on Tuesday, making him the first person to be prosecuted for failing to make good on bids at a lease auction of Utah public lands. He ran up bids on 13 parcels totaling more than 22,000 acres near Arches and Canyonlands national parks in 2008.
"My intent both at the time of the auction and now was to expose, embarrass and hold accountable the oil and gas industry, to the point that it cut into their $100 billion profits," DeChristopher told Benson.
In one fell swoop he goes from "antihero" to martyr. Yes, really.
DeChristopher certainly is a martyr for those who want to focus attention on human-caused global warming, and he probably takes some comfort in that. He said he has no regrets. But this extreme sentence, more than a rallying point, is an indictment of the judicial system that zeroed in on one young man who was acting according to his conscience but looks the other way when others illegally make the opposite point.Two years is extreme? Really?
It gets even more amusing.
Since his arrest, DeChristopher has become a hero to others worried about environmental damage from drilling and convinced that greenhouse gases released from burning fossil fuels are warming the Earth, causing extreme weather, drought, wildfires and ultimately starvation, homelessness and disease for millions around the globe.He's convinced of things that just aren't happening.
Maybe a couple of years in the clink will make him comes to his sense. Yet judging by the company he keeps, that's an extreme long shot.
The case has become a symbol of solidarity for environmentalists, including celebrities like Robert Redford and Daryl Hannah. Peter Yarrow of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, led a sing-a-long and rally outside the courthouse in the hours leading up to the hearing.OK, so if they don't get their way, just threaten violence. Thanks for the heads-up, Carlos. Now the authorities know your name.
The event was organized by DeChristopher's nonprofit group, Peaceful Uprising.
Carlos Martins, a college student at the protest rally, said after the sentencing that "they gave him that sentence to deter us, but they're proving that by making civil disobedience impossible, they're making violent actions inevitable."
Does Carlos see the irony that he's with a group called Peaceful Uprising while he's threatening violence?
Meanwhile, leave it to convicted child molester to rally to his side.
"Throughout American history, acts of civil disobedience have led to change. Think about the Underground Railroad that helped escaped slaves to freedom, or about the courageous actions of people like Rosa Parks, who refused to stay in the back of the bus simply because of their skin color. Without this kind of defiance of unjust laws, our country would likely still be denying people of colour basic freedoms."Rosa Parks? Huh?