DeChristopher sentence spurs outraged charges of Utah hypocrisy (updated)

DeChristopher and Noel, a tale of two crimes. Salt Lake Tribune. This is about the difference in the sentence given DeChristopher versus a notorious Utah plunderer of historical antiquities on public lands.

DeChristopher sentence riles protesters. 26 arrested. By Derek P. Jensen. The Salt Lake Tribune

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Added July 28 and 29, 2011. Update
There was a big rally in support of Tim DeChristopher outside the Salt Lake City courtroom during the sentencing hearing.This Huffington Post article reports on it.

Here is an op-ed By Peter Yarrow (folksinger and activist) in the LA Times. “Tim DeChristopher’s courageous bid to save our world. In disrupting a federal auction of oil and gas leases, Tim DeChristopher became a hero, but he now faces as many as 10 years in prison.” LA Times

In my view, times are grim when those who would impose tea bag ideology on us are holding our entire economy — our livelihoods — hostage and someone who tried to save a  little bit of the world in a peaceful way is in prison. Ralph Maughan.



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  1. CodyCoyote Avatar

    It’s just the latest in a long litany why we progressive Wyomingites say Utah is a four letter word…

  2. WM Avatar

    A comparison to eco-terrorism only for the fact that it appears to be another mutated form of “civil disobedience,” carried out by misguided youth (property destroyed but nobody died is the mutated form). The sad thing is these little shits got the basic facts wrong on their target.

    The string of prosecutions for a fire bombing of the University of WA horticulture building in 2001 is about mid-course now.

    This defendant has the audacity to plead “not guilty” and then was on the lam in China for several years. Two other defendants have pleaded guilty and are doing their three or five year stints in prison.

    1. WM Avatar

      Sorry, forgot the link:

      and the sentence should read, “The sad thing is these STUPID little shits got the basic facts wrong on their target.”

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      This story you wrote of above has nothing to do with civil disobedience. In CD you break the law openly and submit to arrest and prosecution in hope of winning sympathy with your cause.

      You, or at least your supporters certainly do, and are expected to complain, because the goal is to change the law or policy by means of public opinion.

      Someone who builds a bomb, explodes it and runs is just like someone who shoots an endangered species buries it and “shuts up.” Both are just lawbreakers, and their acts have no relationship to CD.

      1. Brian Ertz Avatar

        call it whatever you want – call it “direct action” if that word somehow shirks the sanction of what others would consider appropriate. But the facts are the facts whether they’re always given their due regard in the history books or not.

        Historically, successful acts civil disobedience usually have a wayward cousin – think Subhas Chandra Bose’s ideological conflict with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, or Malcom X v. Martin Luther King Jr. — they both wanted the same things – willingness to employ violence was the principle difference. They acted in tandem.

        Now – we know who finds more sanction and notoriety in the history books & contemporary culture — but that sanction cannot stand-in as a compelling argument that Gandhi or MLK’s “civil disobedience” was effective in its own right. It didn’t take place in its own right. the effectiveness of “civil disobedience” is wholly contingent on the powers that be recognizing the alternative to be a groundswell of militant disobedience – that if Gandhi and MLK weren’t legitimized within those broader movements by establishment concessions – Subhas Chandra Bose or Malcom X would have found that support.

        It is impossible to say that civil disobedience – in its own right – is an effective tactic (let alone ‘the’ effective tactic) in bringing social change.

        the legitimization of violence is interesting. outrage and focus on the negativity of violence seems disproportionately reserved for those without power. usually it has something to with the monetary value/interest associated with the target – gained or lost.

        the U.S. corporate state pours bombs on iraq, afghanistan, and a thousand other places violently slaughtering the unknown.

        The U.S. corporate state poisons our water – and our land-base – and our air – and our bodies – delivering violence and casualty to the little-recognized statistics in our own country.

        but there is little meaningful outrage – we’re too busy pretending we have voice in the political apparatus and too scared seeking to maintain that legitimacy within that political establishment.

        violence is always justified – at least enough to continue – when it is aimed down the pyramid of power and is sanctioned by the corporate state.

        but we waste our time and focus condemning a few kids for failing to pay reverence to their position on that pyramid ?

        the problem isn’t misguided youth – it’s a political and legal system that fails in its lack of access and openness to grant those with legitimate grievances a reasonable alternative to violence.


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