Viewpoint: Bidder 70


Public nuisance or eco-hero?

Protesting’s not my thing. We’ve already discussed that here.

I believe protest turns into madness much of the time.

When protest becomes madness, no one converts to your cause.

People don’t like to follow madness.

Tim DeChristopher does not seem to agree with my humble opinion.

He’s a man of action, a man who cannot be satisfied with simply picketing in protest.

In December 2008 DeChristopher waltzed into a private U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease auction and decided he would bid on the parcels — with no intention of, and no money to, purchase — in order to halt oil and gas production.

Instead of protesting outside the auction site, he deemed it necessary to protest within.

By the end of the auction he prevented 14 land parcels from distribution, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

By the end of the auction he owed $1.8 million.

That’s $1.8 million more than he could afford.

After two and a half years of legal red tape, DeChristopher received his punishment.

Two years jail time and a $10,000 fine.

Normally, I’d say he’d get off early for good behavior, but the Salt Lake Tribune reported the judge would have reduced the penalty if not for DeChristopher’s mouth.

“The offense itself, with all apologies to the people actually in the auction itself, wasn’t that bad,” U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said. The trouble, he mentioned, was with DeChristopher’s “continuing trail of statements.”

Now, Cougars, I’m sure you’ll tell me if I’m overreacting, but who talks back to a judge?

You’re in court, looking at a federal sentence for which you plead guilty. Your only chance of salvation lies in the hand of a judge.

How would you act?

Since I know many of you have not been in that exact situation, I’ll give you another one to think about.

You’ve been pulled over, the cop’s at your window.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” he says in his extremely intimidating cop-voice.

You look at the cop, upset over him infringing on your right to drive and respond in one of the following ways:

“Well, if you don’t know, why would I tell you?”

“Because you have nothing better to do?”

“Because you want my number?”

Cougars, this is not a good idea. Unless the cop is in a very good mood, I think you’ll have guaranteed yourself a ticket — and probably a larger one than before.

DeChristopher’s actions were inexcusable. I understand acting for something you believe in, but breaking the law goes way too far.

There’s a line, he crossed it.

Was his sentence harsh?


Was it deserved?


If we live in a society where protesters are allowed to break the law for a cause, criminals will stop committing crimes and simply commit protests.

DeChristopher understands his jail time is a consequence of his actions. I must respect him for that.

However, his supporters need to understand the same: we are free to act as we please, as long as we willingly accept the consequences.

So next time you feel the need to protest, or talk back to the intimidating cop, remember the old Confucius saying:

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

It may serve you well.

If that doesn’t work, think of DeChristopher. I’m sure that’ll do the trick.

Allie McCoy is the opinion editor for The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and not necessarily that of The Daily Universe, BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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