Just before George W. ineptly left office, the Bureau of Land Management in Utah started selling off nearly 400,000 acres of coveted redrocks land to the highest bidder looking to penetrate the shaled Earth for that black gold we’ve been fighting multiple wars over for more than 10 years now. Much of that land lay adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument—land that is preserved in this country against these very things. For some reason though, that didn’t seem to matter. As you can read a little bit of background on the issue here, the National Parks Service wasn’t even consulted.

The auctions came in December of 2008 and a man we should all aspire to be like stood up to the challenge, a true American and human being. Tim DeChristopher went into the auction merely as a spectator and potential peaceful protester—there was no intent to bid on or win any leases. But when push came to shove he knew he needed to do the right thing and win those bids to help preserve America’s Best Idea. DeChristopher successfully won $1.8million in leases and was immediately approached by a Federal agent upon the completion of the auction. And from there, well, the rest is pure frustration.

DeChristopher was found guilty last week on two counts of felony and could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $750K in fines. Throughout the trial his motives were underplayed and not focused on, and the defense was limited to how much they could talk about federal energy policies, climate change, and how DeChristopher was merely looking to halt the sale of these lands until the Obama administration would have rule and hopefully toss the leases out the window (i.e. his strong environmental beliefs that these leases would only hurt the Earth).

I’m reminded of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience from all this. DeChristopher is being made an example of to scare others into following the rules and letting our government do what they want with the land, not what the people want with that land. Both acts of civil disobedience were ultimately protesting wars (DeChristopher’s for oil, Thoreau’s for slavery and the Mexican/American war). Thoreau, mind you, only spent one night in a local jail. DeChristopher is staring down 10 long years inside a federal prison with rapists, murderers, and psychologically disturbed men.

This is an abomination of the word justice and shows how far our legal system has strayed in protecting it’s citizens. If we stand around and do nothing while evil is occurring are we none the less responsible for that evil? A man must stand up for what he knows in his heart and mind to be right, and that’s exactly what DeChristopher did. Honestly, whose lives did he ruin by doing this? What actual crimes against humanity has he committed? Is what he has done any more horrible than what the financial institutions have done to the American people and their economy?

Check out the site set up for DeChristopher’s cause at bidder70.org and lets hope he gets that appeal. And while we’re at it, lets take a piece of his respectable actions into our everyday lives.

And check out this video conversation from the NY Times with DeChristopher.

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