Prison Time for Utah Hero Means Death to an Entire Generation

tim-courtneysargent200Its been my great honor getting to know Tim DeChristopher since his brilliant act of civil disobedience. But it is especially sobering to consider that he could easily end up in prison. I understand, the willingness to suffer years of incarceration is part of the romanticism of civil disobedience. But it this case, it would send a devastating signal to this generation.

One of Tim’s most ardent and more senior supporters chaffed at the decision to raise money to cover the $45,000 bond on the leases exclaiming, “What’s the point of civil disobedience if you’re not willing to go to jail?”

Just the day before, after meeting with the lawyers, Tim quietly corrected me when I used the word ‘jail’. “It’s federal prison” he reminded me.  That hit me like a ton of bricks. Tim is your average exceptionally bright, humble and brave guy trying to do the right thing and suddenly faced with years in a federal prison.

Tim is at the mercy of a politically motivated federal prosecutor in a state that – lets get serious – HATES environmentalists and loves Oil & Gas jobs. If you need to be reminded, take a moment to review a few Utahn’s sentiments toward Robert Redford.

“Please know that by stopping the gas and oil development many families and communities will be hurt tremendously.”

“Interesting that all these rich people are so ‘for the environment’ and so out of touch of the rest of the people, their neighbor, brother, sister, other human beings. At what point are they going to get it (probably never) that PEOPLE and their livelihoods are more important.”

“Can you say elitist snobs or environmental hippocrites [sic]?”

Unfortunately, we are not dealing with a simple matter of right and wrong or of justice and law. Tim is facing a complex combination of forces uninterested in the future and welfare of a college student who acted out of frustration by the failure of an entire movement to stop eight years of a devastating and illegal assault on the environment by the Bush administration.

Tim’s generation is looking at a worldwide scientific community telling us its probably too late; that the environment is past the tipping point. Tim’s generation has two choices: become hysterical, or do nothing. We wonder why today’s youth are so apathetic.

Lets send a message to Tim’s generation by doing everything we can to keep him out of ‘prison.’  The alternative will not only destroy Tim’s life, and justify the apathy, but it will also signal an entire generation to just give up.

Help us raise $45,000.00 by Jan 9th.  You can check our progress at*

Read Tim’s letter.

* We are over $18,000 as of this writing.

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  1. #1 by Moribund Republic on January 4, 2009 - 3:35 pm

    No pointed a gun to his head. That said hope he doesn’t go.

    As your friend said, there is no point in civil disobedience if there is no consequence.

    We never figured the Feds and the oil and gas people would just roll over. I think I pointed out the liklihood of Federal charges from the beginning of this. Tim knew, and acted anyway, regrets now, are just that.

    “Into the cannon rode Tim, too bad it wasn’t 600”.

    As is said in the oil and gas business, and Texan style concern;

    “Mess with the Bull, Get the horn”.

    It’s good to be the horn, better start growing some, and teeth wouldn’t hurt either.

  2. #2 by Ken on January 4, 2009 - 7:44 pm

    I don’t agree with what Tim did but to be honest I would hate to see him go to prison over this.

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on January 5, 2009 - 12:40 am

    Only an intolerant system would throw the book at Tim for his landmark resistance in honor of all generations to follow. He did the right thing.

  4. #4 by Moribund Republic on January 5, 2009 - 7:29 am

    Well as a nation that has the highest per capita prison population on Earth, tolerance is a open shower without privacy. Don’t drop the soap.

  5. #5 by cav on January 5, 2009 - 7:55 am

    It almost seems to me that we’re talking ‘Renaissance’ here folks. Keep up the good work.

  6. #6 by Leo Brown on January 5, 2009 - 8:43 am

    Fifteen days until we have a new administration and following that a new Attorney General and a new Justice Department. As a billboard I saw in Iowa in late November put it: Now we have hope.

  7. #7 by rmwarnick on January 5, 2009 - 9:16 am

    I don’t think Tim deserves to go to prison for doing the right thing. Let’s remember that the BLM was breaking the law by holding this auction in the first place, one of countless illegal acts perpetrated by the Bush administration for which nobody is going to be prosecuted.

    OTOH it’s repugnant to have to pay money to protect public lands that belong to us already, and that the federal government was responsible for protecting.

  8. #8 by Jim on January 5, 2009 - 11:58 am

    Personally, Tim is in the self destruct mode. This is nothing short of suicide bomber mentality. If enough people follow in his footsteps there won’t be many left to provide the financial backing. Still there are others that will cheer him on like the school yard kids chanting jump to a kid on the school roof. If Tim is smart he will quickly change his strategy and take proper legal steps to defuse his soon to be famous demise (politically). This fundraiser is poorly timed and may backfire being such a tight economy. If ever there was an example of when to put up and when to shut up, this is it. Tim would have done better to have secured funds to tie up the leases before going to the auction. The next auction won’t be as easy to get into thanks to Tim’s reckless behavior. The best wisdom when you meet insurmountable odds are to keep your head about you, conserve resources and plan each move carefully. Tim could use a little counsel from the Dali Lama.

  9. #9 by Wisco on January 6, 2009 - 12:40 pm

    Um, how about a presidential pardon, say, next Tuesday? Can anyone fit that on their schedule? Elections have consequences.

  10. #10 by Anonymous on January 6, 2009 - 1:04 pm

    Prison should be reserved for violent and habitual criminals. I hate to see murderers, rapists and child molesters go free to make room for drug users, tax evaders, and pretend oil lease bidders.

  11. #11 by Chris Carpenter on January 13, 2009 - 1:09 pm

    I’m sorry but comparing this gentlemens actions to a suicide bomber is quite outrageous. Who did he murder?

  12. #12 by Anonymous on April 2, 2009 - 1:50 am

    “Prison should be reserved for violent and habitual criminals. I hate to see murderers, rapists and child molesters go free to make room for drug users, tax evaders, and pretend oil lease bidders.” – Anonymous January 6th, 2009 at 1:04 pm


    I hope you have made this story and the donations accessable to ouside of Utah as well.

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