Although I do not condone the actions of Tim DeChristopher (Viewpoint: Bidder 70, 7/28), I do believe the nature of his statements to Judge Dee Benson were mischaracterized.
With the analogy of talking back to a police officer, the author implied DeChristopher had done the same to the Judge Benson.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The evidence referenced for DeChristopher’s backtalk, the “continuing trail of statements,” were not statements made in court to Judge Benson, but were rather statements made in a variety of other venues outside of the courtroom.
Yes, DeChristopher did make a somewhat bold statement during his sentencing, but this statement was not in any way sarcastic or demeaning toward Judge Benson and was qualified with language to ensure it was not perceived as such.
Furthermore, the argument in the column “breaking the law goes way too far” when one engages in protest ignores the necessity of civil disobedience in effecting positive social change.
Rosa Parks was breaking the law when she refused to give up her seat in Montgomery Ala., Gandhi was breaking the law when he refused to remove his turban in a South African courtroom and the Atlanta Student Movement was breaking the law when it refused to end its campaign of sit-ins.
Finally, the merits of DeChristopher’s actions deserve proper attention, especially given Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s cancellation of the leases for many of the parcels on which DeChristopher bid.
Salazar said the leases did not receive the appropriate environmental reviews from the George W. Bush administration, displaying an unethical action on the government’s part.
Is it really wrong to meet the illegal actions of one’s government with corresponding illegal actions?
Again, I do not approve of DeChristopher’s actions, but I do believe they should be portrayed accurately and with due consideration given to their position in a long tradition of civil disobedience.