DeChristopher probably going to prison

Fake bidder for oil and gas leases to stop last Administration’s leasing near Utah national parks loses his bid to rest his trial on global warming-

It looks like Tim DeChristopher will pay heavily for his civil disobedience. Republican prosecutors were not amused, and the judge will not allow a defense based on necessity to protect the climate.

Here is an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune on the DeChristopher ruling: An evil day for justice. By Rebecca Hall



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  1. jdubya Avatar

    I keep waiting for the Fed’s to drop the case. But waiting in vain…

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    It seems to me having his primary defense rejected by the court will be his strongest argument against conviction, if he is convicted, on appeal.


  3. Mike Avatar

    What a joke. Meanwhile. you can kill a grizzly on purpose and never see jail time. You also get your hunting license back in three years.

  4. mikepost Avatar

    If you engage in civil disobedience you should have an expectation of punishment. Purposefully doing the crime and then seeking to avoid the consequences removes the positive moral and ethical impacts of your act. The true heroes of past struggles welcomed their jail time and used it to further their cause. Anyone who cant handle the whole deal should stay out of the arena. All this guy has done is make it harder for others to use the system against itself.

  5. Richie,NJ Avatar

    I do not think what he did was correct, but jail time is too severe. All he did was try to save the land but again he is a little guy, against powerful people .

  6. JW Avatar

    With all of the people pardoned over the years, he might be a good first (?) one for Obama….

  7. Rebecca Hall Avatar
    Rebecca Hall

    DeChristopher has consistently said that he is willing to go to jail for his actions, that he understood the risk when he picked up that bidding paddle. But a valid and absolute defense to a criminal charge is “necessity,” which is based on the idea that sometimes one must break the law to prevent a greater harm, or a more serious law from being broken. Some call this “civil resistance,” where the defendant is not an outlaw, but rather a sheriff, enforcing the law. The point of my op-ed is that the jury should decide decide if this apply’s in Tim’s case, not the judge.

  8. Richie,NJ Avatar

    He should be pardoned all the others who got out in the past,this guy did it for the environment not for the greed of money.

  9. Kropotkin_Man Avatar

    I would imagine that Mr. DeChristopher was/is prepared to go the distance but I doubt he had any idea he would be facing up to 10 years. This is nothing short of Green-backlash and intimidation. It sends a huge warning to those that would even dare consider speaking out against the Corporate Machine.

    Perhaps we should place him in the custody of the CIA and allow them to fly him to a secret prison in Eastern Europe. They know how to deal with the likes of this eco-terrorist. Let them determine if it’s real civil disobedience. Filthy scum, this is America who the heck does he think he is. I bet he’s not even Christian.

    Call out the dogs, get a hood and hook him up to the juice. He won’t be crying civil disobedience for long. If only he’d carried a weapon into that auction things might be different. As it stands he’ll do the full 10 years as a political prisoner in solitary confinement (for his own safety!). You got it right mikepost, he’s making it harder for the rest of us.

    Read on:

    Benson, Dee Vance
    Born 1948 in Sandy, UT

    Federal Judicial Service:
    Judge, U. S. District Court, District of Utah
    Nominated by George H.W. Bush on May 16, 1991, to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089; Confirmed by the Senate on September 12, 1991, and received commission on September 16, 1991. Served as chief judge, 1999-2006.

    Brigham Young University, B.A., 1973

    Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, J.D., 1976

    Professional Career:
    Private practice, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1976-1984
    Counsel, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, 1984-1986
    Chief of staff, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, 1986-1988
    Counsel, Iran-Contra Congressional Investigating Committee, 1987
    Associate deputy U.S. attorney general, 1988-1989
    U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, 1989-1991

    Race or Ethnicity: White

    Gender: Male

    From Wikipedia:

    Dee Vance Benson (born August 25, 1948) is a former chief judge for the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Judge Benson was nominated by President George H. W. Bush on May 16, 1991, and confirmed by the United States Senate on September 12, 1991. In May 2004, Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed Judge Benson to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a seven year term.

    Benson was born in Sandy, Utah. In 1973, he received a B.A. from Brigham Young University, and a J.D. as a member of the charter class of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in 1976.
    From 1976 to 1984, Benson practiced law in private practice. He was a Counsel, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution from 1984 to 1986. He was a Chief of staff, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch from 1986 to 1988. He was a Counsel, Iran-Contra Congressional Investigating Committee in 1987. He was an Associate deputy U.S. attorney general from 1988 to 1989. He was a U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah from 1989 to 1991.

    Benson was a federal judge to the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Benson was nominated by President George H.W. Bush on May 16, 1991, to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 12, 1991, and received his commission on September 16, 1991. Benson served as chief judge of the district from 1999 until 2006.

    Benson is a twin; his brother, Lee Benson, is a newspaper columnist for Salt Lake City’s Deseret Morning News.

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson also sits on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the 11-judge panel that secretively approves wiretaps and searches in the most sensitive terrorism and espionage cases.

    US District Court Judge Dee Benson, a prominent Utah political figure with close ties to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT),

  10. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Mike Post

    No one said he should have no expectation of punishment if convicted. What we have here is a clear decision on the part of the judge to deny Christopher his best and only defense, which in my mind is a denial of due process.


  11. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Kropotkin Man – how might things be different if Mr. DeChristopher had “carried a weapon into that auction”?

  12. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    It would be the right thing for Obama to do which is why I expect he will do nothing.

  13. JimT Avatar

    The necessity defense was going to be a long shot in any case, but he should be allowed to present it and have it duly considered

    Maybe he should change his name to Libby….;*) ..

  14. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    Is there any way they could demand another judge because this judge was appointed by the same president that authorized the sale and thus is a potential conflict of interest?

  15. Virginia Avatar

    TwB: Based on the fact that people have carried weapons where the POTUS spoke, nothing at all should have happened if DeChristopher had “carried a weapon into that auction.”

  16. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Kropotkin Man – still waiting……

  17. Elizabeth Parker Avatar
    Elizabeth Parker

    Is there anything private citizens can do to protest or help avoid a prison sentence? He does not deserve prison time.

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    You can demand as much as you want, you can send letters, but ultimately, the punishment is going to be up to the Judge.

  19. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    “What we have here is a clear decision on the part of the judge to deny Christopher his best and only defense, which in my mind is a denial of due process.”

    I read the ruling, which the newspaper articles sometimes get wrong. The necessity defense is a four part test, and DeChristopher, it appears, could not meet ANY of the four parts, as a matter of law in the 9th Circuit. [Judges don’t like to have their decisions overturned]

    His due process is protected: If he believes the judge is wrong, he can appeal to the 9th Circuit, after the trial. If he wins, he will recover costs and legal expenses, and be able to present his novel defense. He went into this with his eyes open (and apparently with some legal advice) before the auction. The most troubling fact is that he represented on the bid registration form that he was a “good faith bidder,” which it appears he was not.

    I do not disagree with his moral motivation, but his method to protest was really kind of dumb. The Judge, in my opinion, ruled correctly.

  20. JimT Avatar

    Was the 9th law on the necessity defense a full panel decision, or a 3 panel decision? Do you have the cites used to say it was prevented as a matter of law? As I recall, and this was in the criminal context, one of the elements was a reasonable belief requirement in the classic version. Surely he would have been able to meet that one….but it could be different in the federal cases. Even in the criminal cases I read, it was basically a loser defense in 99% of the instances used.

    And perhaps the process itself is kind of dumb and weighted in one direction; perhaps that led to his action as being the only one possible?

  21. JimT Avatar

    Nathan, no, the party of appointing President is not available for that purpose, though we all know the so called neutrality of Federal judges is a myth. Read the High Country News interview with Judge Brimmer if you want a scary but true assessment of the seat, and how you get it and stay out of trouble with the local powers.

  22. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Judge Brimmer is a very scary person, who should not be serving in the position of power he is, I will be very glad when he retires!

  23. mikepost Avatar

    The 9th circuit is the most overturned court in the US. Good Luck.

  24. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I should have been a little clearer. Judge Benson, relying on both the 9th and 10th Circuit, found DeChristopheer is denied the necessity defense as a matter of law. Here is a cite everyone can get to:

    If the courts permitted this kind of defense without restraint, one can imagine the number of “civil disobedience” type cases that would clog the dockets across the country from both sides of environmental issues (and other issues as well).

    Here is one: I can just imagine some idiot who shows up on the federal courthouse steps with a dozen dead wolves he killed, and says, “I was just exercising my right to keep them from eating elk/dogs/horses/cows/sheep, or threatening the lives of my family. I knew it was wrong when I killed them, but I had no choice. I think I can get a jury of my peers (in say Idaho), that this was the lesser of two evils, and who agree with me that the ESA is not being interpreted correctly and this species is recovered, no matter what Congress said when it passed the law, and Judge Molloy in MT says about relisting them.”

    Absurd hypothetical? Maybe not in the coming months.

  25. kt Avatar

    This is insane.

    The Obama Admin. is going to get a serious wake-up call in 2010 – when NO ONE -especially the Youth Vote – shows up. I look forward to the day when Harry Reid and several other of the spineless Dems go down.

    Maybe then – the rest of them will do something.

  26. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    KT – what should Obama do? Play more golf while more American citizens lose their jobs??

  27. Mike Avatar

    Maybe he should start two wars and sink the country into the greatest economic collapse since the great depression….

    oh wait, Bush already did that.

  28. Layton Avatar

    Bush started two wars?? Gee, and I was under the impression that 11 guys, a few airplanes, a couple of big buildings and about 3000 American deaths (more than Pearl Harbor by the way) might have had something to do with that.

    Gosh Mike, do you hate republicans with the same fervor that you hate hunters??

  29. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’ve got some views on this, but I know the position a person takes on Bush or Obama depends almost entirely on their party orientation (a.k.a. whether they consider themselves, Republicans, Democrats, independents or what). Party seems to have become like religion in the Unites States in recent years.

    I taught elections and political parties for 35 years. I know what I’m talking about. Why don’t we drop it? It’s like arguing for or against Protestant, Catholic, Jew, atheist, Muslim, etc.

  30. Gerry Miner Avatar
    Gerry Miner

    by the way Layton, 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq

  31. JimT Avatar


    Thanks for the link.

    I would hope that your basic competent defense lawyer would cut those kinds of client’s request for that kind of defense off at the knees…~S~…

    I agree with Ralph in terms of no one is going to change their opinions about Bush, the wars, the effects still reverberating through the country and the economy.

    Ralph, I will say, the general comment about party and position generally didn’t hold true after 9-11 with regards to holding those accountable for the tragedy. I felt going into Afghanistan based on the facts of Taliban-sponsored connections was a logical and reasonable step. Ialso thought we should have done something with Saudi Arabia since most of the hijackers were from that country, but the “oyl bidness” trumps all in the world these days. In any case, most liberals I know jumped ship on the military actions when it came to the BS reasons for going into the Iraq, and the subsequent years of chaos that continue today.

  32. JimT Avatar


    There is no sense in quoting facts. The true believers and followers of folks like Palin, Glenn, Hannity, Will don’t care about facts, only emotional invectives, finger pointing and blaming liberals. You should read George Will’s recent column where he hold environmentalists responsible for making up climate change and celebrating the fact we are in the middle of the frying pan and closer than ever that finding ourselves in the fire. Will was actually making sense towards the end of the Bush Administration in some columns, but he has drunk the radical conservative kool-aid. I am so hoping for a Palin-Glenn Beck ticket in 2012…and so are the Obama folks

  33. outsider Avatar

    What, we’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan? I hardly ever hear anything about it ever since the “choosen” took over, no more hourly body counts, no more “camping out” in Crawford tx.

    As to DeChristopher, its pretty cut and dried, he broke the law, he commited fraud, and what he did was dishonest. Now I know that there are several people who think that it was justified, but seiousely fokes, isn’t this what you have been screaming about when it comes to the fish and game, governors office, bush administration? Yah yah I know when its your side that does it, well thats justified, well its not. A crook is a crook, laws are there for a reason, we cannot just choose which ones we want to fallow, or how we want to interpet otheres. If you don’t like one or a set of rules that have been put in a place for a process, than get it changed, PROPERLY.

  34. JimT Avatar


    I would support what you are arguing…apply the law…but where was your voice during the hundreds of ethical and legal violations committed by Bush folks, especially in the Interior Department? Don’t lecture one side unless you have a clean slate…Christopher knew the risks; but the process allowed him no other way to protest it is so weighted for the oil and gas development option; same for grazing leases. I do think the punishment potential is a bit much given how it all played out, but I guess the final result will depend on the judge, if there are mandatory sentencing guidelines, and the political pressures on the judge to teach these “lefties” a lesson.

  35. JimT Avatar

    You can hear plenty of criticism from the right wing media folks..just tune in..if you can stomach it.

  36. jdubya Avatar

    This was in the Trib today. I have not seen the real paper yet, and I am not sure I buy his argument. Basically he is saying if we turned off 1/2 of our lights such that a coal fired plant could be de-comissioned that it would make no difference in total CO2 release. Really?

  37. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, if you are trying to inject some reason and focus into this blog you are going to be very disappointed. Nice try though. This is the only blog I know where the string can move from grazing lease bids to Iraq in less than 3 hours….

  38. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    mikepost and all,

    Maybe the reason the topic shifts is that we need more open discussion threads. Does anyone have a view on this?

  39. JB Avatar


    Many discussions of late seem to get hot and hop threads, especially bear spray, hunting v. animals rights, hunting wolves, and the NRM wolf listing/delisting.

    You might consider a “sticky” post (i.e. one that stays at the top) on NRM management and policy? Not sure how others feel about this? As far as the other topics go, they seem to lead to a lot of the same ideological chatter that you’ve witnessed here. I’ve been trying to avoid this of late, as I don’t believe anything I write will change anyone’s mind.

  40. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    Mike why are you dissapointed in this guy going to jail for breaking the law? You critized Ryan for not turning someone in who broke the law, this guy obviously broke the law and deserves everything he gets. You cant have your cake and eat it to….. that would bring up concerns about “poster sincerity”… 🙂

  41. Mike Avatar

    Josh –

    Can you tell the difference between violent crime and a hoax?

  42. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    Mike this guy broke the law… You cant only use the “law” when it benefits you.. Its not buffet style where you pick and choose what you want to obey, you know that as well as I do.. And of course I understand the difference between a fraud and a violent crime.. This was not a hoax, taking a picture of a dude in a monkey suit and saying its bigfoot is a hoax, what he did was fraud. You know the difference between fraud and a hoax right?

  43. gline Avatar

    DeChristopher is an environmental advocate, a true activist. His was an ethical choice. (We are at the beginning of global warming law so to speak, I am even taking a class on this subject next semester. )

    Some laws need to be made and some need to change. We are in the process of doing that ALL the time.

    Laws protecting individuals from being kidnapped and beat up for doing his Federally appointed job of protecting wildlife from poachers is not a just comparison to this example of Dechristopher. Kidnapping and beating someone to hell is not an ethical action. and BLM needs to change their ways…

  44. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Just to understand your thinking, here, do you think DeChristopher should have been prosecuted under the laws governing the auction? And, why or why not?

  45. Virginia Avatar

    Ralph – all of the open discussion threads turn to hunting/anti-hunting, bear spray/anti bear spray, wolf/anti wolf, bear killing/anti bear killing, etc., etc. regardless. I think everyone on both sides are in an angry mood right now and even though you try to steer the conversation in a more positive way, you may be wasting your time. However! please continue to post the great variety of stories that you do put up and I, for one, would like to see more from posters like Brian, Dusty, Ken and others who actually have valuable wildlife/nature information to share with the rest of us who don’t actually have the knowledge, just opinions. Thanks!!!

  46. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    Are all environmental advocates exempt from the law?

  47. Virginia Avatar

    josh – yes.

  48. JimT Avatar


    Can you come up with a few names for us, and a few cases where environmental advocates broke the law and deserve jail time? Except for the Christopher case, I am unaware of any, so I would welcome any information you have.

    Wilderness Muse,

    I think the mood about Christopher stems, in part, from the casual attitudes BLM and Interior in general has had, particularly under Bush, but Clinton had a more than a few missteps as well…Remember Babbitt?…..Still, the way the whole lease process has been handled for the last 8 years, with a wink and a nod at environmental protection issues, the idea that ONE environmentalist screws with the process and legal wrath from on high is called for to have the maximum penalty thrown his way makes one’s gorge rise just a tad. I understand it, and feel a bit of it, but not enough to say the law shouldn’t apply equally to all. The problem is, for the last 8 years, it hasn’t been applied equally. So, you get the polarization on any issue. It is indeed a stressful time, and both sides of the conservative-liberal issues are strident in their views.

    So be it, but I, for one, would be willing to take my lumps for my views if the wildlife and land issues were decided on the basis of vetted, consensus science (the 100% certainty principle is a myth), laws and regulations rigorously implemented. I am not positive, but I feel that the extractive, exploitative sides of these issues would not.

  49. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    He is not charged with being an environmentalist, he is charged with a felony fraud violation, you have to sign a contract with the auctioning agency to be able to bid on these auctions and swear that you have the funds to pay for your win.

    There are many ways to fight for positive change in environmental law, but committing fraud is not the right way to do it.

  50. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    JimT…. lets see the Sea Sheperd dudes have actually sank ships in port before, rammed ships at sea etc.. That probably breaks ALOT of laws, especially sinking multi-million dollar ships, I am not an expert on maritime laws though. I do remeber advocates putting spikes in trees that were being cut down and those would cause chainsaws to throw chains and cause serious injury.. JimT I am sure a simple google search could pull up many cases.. Not to mention those dudes that burn down science buildings in the name of animal rights… that would prob deserve jail time.. What do you think JimT?

    Virginia- that could bring up scary scenarios… As long as you do it in the name of the environment then its cool? So you could burn a few oil rigs to the ground and no harm done?

    I am in no way saying that the purpose of his fight is not valid, my home state is UT so I would hate to see it drilled and destroyed etc.. but I am sure there are more effective ways to get things done, like the courts.

  51. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I definitely agree with you regarding the Bush Administration’s handling of so many things. BLM and its historic origins, especially with its too close relationship to the group it regulates, since its inception, needs to stop. I view it as no different than EPA and private industry, which has much more transparancy and arms length with the regulated community. I am confident in the coming three years (maybe longer if we don’t screw it up) things will get better if the pressure is applied in th right manner. With the Legislative and Administrative branches of Federal government more pro-environment, hopefully that can happen. Maybe not as fast as some would like.


    I think you stepped in a cow pie with your question of Josh. Here is an excerpt of Testimony of James F. Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, FBI Before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health (Now bear in mind this is from the Bush Admin., but there is considerable substance here):

    “During the past decade we have witnessed dramatic changes in the nature of the terrorist threat. In the 1990s, right-wing extremism overtook left-wing terrorism as the most dangerous domestic terrorist threat to the country. During the past several years, special interest extremism, as characterized by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), has emerged as a serious terrorist threat. Generally, extremist groups engage in much activity that is protected by constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. Law enforcement becomes involved when the volatile talk of these groups transgresses into unlawful action. The FBI estimates that the ALF/ELF have committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars.”

    There are also reference to GreenPeace, and other groups. Here is the website. I urge you to read the full testimony.

    I might also add the University of Washington lost a huge research lab to arson caused by environmental/animal rights activists. By the way, they are all doing time after their convictions.

    And, then there is my favorite peeve with the axxholes that spiked trees in the forests in the Northwest to prevent loggers from legally cutting them down. No way to know a tree has been spiked until the chain breaks on a saw and maybe takes the arm off of logger, or shreds his face.

  52. Ryan Avatar


    The list is pretty long.

    Coalition to Save preserves
    Earth First
    Sea Shepard
    Theodore Kazinski

    ELF and ALF have been linked to Numerous Arsons etc
    Earth First has been linked to tree spiking
    Sea Shepard has been linked to fire Bombing ships, sinking ships etc,
    The una Bomber speaks for himself
    PETA has been known to break into reserch facilities, vanadlism, etc.

  53. JimT Avatar

    The Sea Shepard folks would offer the whaling nations’ own violations of treaties as a justification for defending whales who can’t defend themselves; methods may be a bit confrontative, but you neglect to mention that the Japanese have sunk a few of the rubber craft used by the Sea Shepard folks, and I think one was killed. I doubt VERY MUCH that a small rubber dinghy has ever sunk a whaling ship.

    Spiking..same thing. Forest Service not adhering to the rules and regulations governing forest plans, and timber sales, so if one side doesn’t adhere, the other side feels freer to use extreme tactics.

    ALF folks are arsonists, for sure, and I don’t approve of the methods. But, having seen several films on lab testing on dogs, cats, etc. , I can see the motivation. The tragic thing is that with the development of gene research, etc, alot of the live animal testing is no longer necessary; it is just carried on because it is cheaper. Period.

    What all of these cases have in common is a reaction to either the breaking of laws and regs, or sanctioned treatment of animals in ways that cause them pain and suffering for human benefit and not being committed to a path that commits to computer modeling instead of maiming and blinding. So….

    If I were their spokesperson, that is what I would say in reply. I would also point out the great disparity in numbers of violations for each “side”. Eventually, Josh, people reach the point of not caring if their actions break the law if the whaling nations, or the developers, or miners, or forestry folks don’t. Doesn’t mean it is the right reaction, just understandable. As I said, I would be happy if the laws and regs were strictly enforced; I could live with that process. Unfortunately, that isn’t the process we have, especially in the management of wildlife and natural resources.

  54. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Notwithstanding the serious side of environmental issues and how they should be addressed, HEYDUKE LIVES in the hearts of many of us with a more centrist view of how to affect change.

    [For those who do not know of Hayduke, read “The Monkeywrench Gang,” by Edward Abbey.]

  55. JimT Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    No stepping in cow pies, though I have done it in my youth..LOL. No doubt these folks have caused much economic damage, but except for the Vietnam era bombing that caused the death of a guard? in Wisconsin, I believe, all of these cases of arson have not resulted in human injury or death. As for calling them terrorists, I think that is the language of the times to inflame and label in the hopes of buttressing one’s argument. I have always read and thought the laws that addressed terrorism were aimed at actions deliberately done to cause injury and death to human beings. The ELF, ALF, etc. have traditionally made sure the buildings were empty when fires are set. Now, there may be a more radical subset out there who are not warning, and if human injury results, then apply the appropriate laws, certainly.

    Tis a slippery slope. At what point does one continue to rely on the law to redress one’s grievances when those avenues have been tried repeatedly over the years, only to be turned aside for political or economic reasons? I don’t condone the arson; but I understand the frustration that leads to it.

  56. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    JimT so what your basically promoting is anarchy…. ?? SO what your saying is that if the individual feels the cause is just, then criminal activities are fine.. Imagine the flood gates that would open? And it would flow both ways, a large majority of the time it is the extreme activists doing the criminal acts. I am sure you would be very angry if a couple of anti-wolf wackos went on a killing spree and poisoned/trapped/shot a few hundred wolves because they felt “they had no choice”. But according to your logic if they feel their cause is just, then breaking the law is acceptable? It goes both ways.

  57. JimT Avatar

    I think it is common knowledge that Abbey modeled Hayduke on Doug Peacock, a passionate warrior in defense of the griz and wild places. That book certainly speaks to the frustration I mentioned in earlier posts, and Abby was a bit of a nihilist at heart, I think. But, the legal and political path are certainly the preferred choices to use to effect change. I just wish the processes themselves were not so rife with fault, and that money didn’t rule the political process no matter which issue you look at, no matter which side of the aisle you are on. THAT, to me, is the greatest danger to the governing of this country..the influence peddling of K Street in DC, or in the aisles of the state houses…I think I have said before that if one could guarantee that money would be a non issue in elections and the governing of our country, if it took amending the First Amendment to do so, I think it would be a worthwhile debate to have.

  58. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    JimT this statement of yours is my exact point…

    ” Now, there may be a more radical subset out there who are not warning, and if human injury results, then apply the appropriate laws, certainly.”

    So who decides what laws are “appropriate”? Its not buffet style where you pick and choose. Thats my whole point.

  59. JimT Avatar

    Josh, I am not promoting anything. I am just saying I understand how someone could get to the level of frustration to step outside the boundaries of the law. I said several times I didn’t condone these approaches, so don’t go down that road with your comments.

    And, having worked in the corporate legal world for a time, doing environmental compliance by a large multinational corporation, I can tell you in all honesty that the first thing that goes on is a discussion about how to make money. The second conversation is about how to avoid the laws and regs that would impede that goal. 4 years of trying to get the decision makers to see the error of that thinking proved fruitless. I left with no illusions about there being a corporate conscience. If you are buying all these “green” commercials by the oil and gas industry, or the notion that clean coal isn’t an oxymoron, boy, do I have a bridge for you…~S~

  60. JimT Avatar

    Context, Josh, context. That statement was made addressing the terrorism laws and the issue of human harm the intended goal, and the laws that should apply to those actions. If someone sets a fire, arson laws apply.Stop the selective quoting to buttress your views. If you disagree, fine.

    As to who decides, depends on the alleged crime and jurisdiction, unless you have a different legal system you wish to advocate for…

  61. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There is some overlap between environmentalists and animal rights/liberation groups, but I don’t think it is great.

    The sabotage, and other disruptions that have taken place are overwhelming on the animal rights side. I guess the position one takes on animals just generates more psychological heat than your position on how to clean up toxic waste.

    Does Earth First! still exist?

    Homeland Security under Obama released a report which the right hated arguing the danger of domestic violence is now in that quarter.

  62. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    JimT not trying to distort anything you said, you just asked me to provide some cases that activists acts would deserve jail time. I provided them and from your post I thought you were defending their actions because no one was physically hurt etc.. Do you feel the actions of the people that were mentioned like Sea Shepherd, ALF and ELF deserve jail time?

    I am aware of the environmental cost of coal and oil etc.

  63. JimT Avatar

    I am not sure if EF still exists, Ralph. I know the old guard has nothing to do with that after Foreman’s experience, and perhaps, the wisdom of making mistakes and finding other ways. Isn’t Dave Foreman working on the Y2Y land linkage kind of stuff these days?

    I think you are right;’ the arson cases are almost exclusively linked to the defense of animal’s welfare, habitat, etc. The spiking was regrettable; it wasn’t the folks on the ground doing the cutting that were the ones responsible, but the decision makers were out of reach, so to speak, so…As for the whaling, the practice of whaling is indefensible using any criteria, and those nations who practice it the most..Japan and a few Scandanavian nations…should be pariahs for that practice.

  64. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    So do those people that did those acts deserve jail time?

  65. jburnham Avatar

    Ralph, I think the idea of more open threads is a good one, and second JB’s recommendation about ‘sticky’ threads for some of these recurring discussions. Reading the same arguments over and over between people who know they will never agree is tiresome.

    It seems to me some people are more interested in touting their credentials (green, hunter, or know-it-all) and scoring points, than they are in thoughtful discussion.

    Another thought, a max number of posts per person per day? People might choose their arguments more carefully that way.

  66. JimT Avatar

    Josh, if they are tried and convicted, then the applicable penalties apply in the usual manner. What is so hard about understanding that one can understand what motivates someone to act, and not condone those actions, and have those two thoughts not be mutually exclusive.

    JBurnham has a point, though I don’t agree with artificially imposing a limit on posts. There is always the delete button. As for convincing someone, sometimes it take repeated discussions before it can happen, but I have seen it happen, so let’s not reject repeated debate out of hand. So, maybe there is some way to have political discussions in a separate place?

  67. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Earth First, does indeed exist, website, clinched fist logo and all. What they do these days, beyond what they state publicly, is for speculation.

    Animal rights groups (HSUS, PETA, PAWS, and NRDC) have been very active in the ESA delisting litigation. Recall the first DPS issue suit for gray wolves in DC was championed by HSUS as lead plaintiff.

    The overlap, is substantial between environmental and animal rights groups on the ESA issues. Interesting to see how some position themselves for fund-raising these days. JB had a great post a few weeks back about the distinctions and motivations of the animal rights groups in the delisting suits, as opposed to others. If I recall correctly he even distinguished them from Defenders.

    I suppose one could label another activist “liberation group” but I would not know how to define one – except by the use of the term in their name. Certainly the tone suggests more aggressive, maybe violent, tactics in violation of law.

  68. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    JimT I understand what you are saying about them feeling they had no other choice. From your posts I just thought you were defending their actions not simply understanding where they are coming from. Either way I will stop beating the dead horse.. 🙂

  69. Virginia Avatar

    JimT- I appreciate your eloquent defense of some of the animal rights/environmental groups that try to highlight the plight of indefensible and mistreated animals. PETA is a group that exposes the disgusting practice of many universities that profit from animal testing, University of Utah to name one. Often these tortuous tests are for no particular reason, just the fact that U of U gets federal monies for animal testing should be exposed to all. I have stated before that if we did not have radical groups in this country to defend civil rights, animal rights, womens’ rights and the rights of those who have no voice, there would be nothing done to further these rights. I understand why the people in these groups feel they have no choice but to take action. Hayduke does live in the minds of many of us “old hippies.”

  70. JimT Avatar

    The whole issue of animal rights is a series of positions, ranging from PETA and some of their more extreme views I cannot support (no more domestic dog breeding or even having them, for example, or the release of the minks in England several years ago that resulted in almost all of th them dying) to groups fighting for local domestic animal basic protections like not chaining a dog up as a matter of lifestyle, or keeping them out of cars in the summer heat, etc. One benefit of having groups like PETA and HSUS is that they force us to look at issues perhaps too ugly for us to engage on our own…slaughterhouse and feedlot abuses, domestic chicken farms, hog farms, importation of exotic animals for sale (see how well that has done with the constrictor issue in Florida recently) Problem solving begins with awareness, however distasteful or difficult it is to internalize.

    I tend to view the whole environmental movement in a similar way. From the conservative agendas of TNC and TPL and their corporate leanings and ties (but alot of large land preservation would be impossible without them), to the more confrontative postures of groups like Wildearth Guardians and Center for Biological Diversity. I think the issues are too complex and too interwoven for any one approach to work, so I welcome all of the discussions, radical as well as conservative, in hopes that out of the mix, different solutions for different problems will emerge. But I will confess–I do lean in the direction of Hayduke, Abbey, Peacock..hence my signature scrip, which roughly translates as “don’t let the bastards get you down”…~S~

    BTW, wherever you are, whatever your views, whatever you are eating, have a wonderful, peaceful, fun Thanksgiving feast with family and friends.


  71. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, I do support some liberal cap on posts in any single thread. I know, it smacks of censorship, etc, but many of us really don’t care to slog thru the political diatribes that go on and on and have no focus or relationship to the specific posting. I agree that a cap will encourage better thinking, better writing and keep people on the subject. Open threads can be exempt of course.

  72. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Is it the number of comments or straying off the topic? Perhaps both could be done if I wrote “there will be about 20 comments allowed; please don’t change the subject.”

    I could delete comments off the topic, but that is labor intensive and will soon irritate almost everyone — “Hey Ralph, my comment was very much to the point.”

    Essentially, Virginia suggested that a set of Frequented Asked Questions (FAQs) be created. When someone new says “what about those 200 pound Canadian wolves not giving our elk any chance,” we could say, “go read the FAQ on wolf sub-species.”

    I could write some FAQs, but this is very time-consuming. A group product might be better too.

  73. Ryan Avatar


    Have you ever considered going to a UBB system, with registered users etc like many Forums use now Days?

  74. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, you won’t please everyone. Some of our folks just like to pontificate at every open opportunity and they will scream ay any limitation. Your blog, do what you think is best and the hell with the complaints…

  75. JB Avatar


    Perhaps we could open a post to “socially construct” answers to your FAQs?

  76. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Do you mean like the Wikipedia?


    No I don’t want to go to a registered system. It doesn’t fit with my goals in doing the blog.

    I notice that people comments in spells. They write intensely for a while and go away to come back several months later. Of course some commenters never come back. I guess it’s like eating too much of one kind of good food. 😉 New people arrive. A FAQ would be for them.

  77. JB Avatar

    Do you mean like the Wikipedia?

    In a way, yes. I was thinking you could start a thread by posing a question (e.g. What is the largest wolf ever recorded?), and then let the discussion unfold. Might be helpful in getting background to your facts and a lot of other interesting info.

    Now that I think about it, you wouldn’t have to create any content at all, just a link to the thread with the question. Let people here fight it out and do the work for you.

  78. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    As for post content have you had a chance to look into adding a preview option. I have many times read a post of mine and thought it said one thing and then put it out there and find that I did not say what I wanted. Not to mention typos.

  79. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Jeff E,

    I have checked. Previewing comments is not an option at

    I am surprised because it is a sophisticated and huge platform for many thousands of active blogs.

    I am well aware that many other web sites have this feature.

    If someone messes up too badly, email me and I can fix it. I sometimes do it on my own.

  80. jdubya Avatar

    A new defense strategy: selective prosecution. This one makes more sense than invoking the fear of global climate change.


  81. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Thanks for posting this. When I first posted about the attempt to get DeChristopher months ago, this is exactly what I complained about — selective prosecution.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan