After almost six years of warring on Iraq, I sometimes get hints among some who demonstrate faithfully against it that it's time to "step it up a notch." To voice their opposition employing acts of greater disruption, i.e., to commit civil disobedience. But that sounds a little negative too. (Maybe a little uncivil obedience would make it more tolerable?)
The conversation then inevitably turns to ways one might manifest their civil disobedience. I don't know, but it seems difficult to break out of that go-downtown-turn-cars-over-light-them-on-fire-and-break-windows-out-of-McDonald's-and-Bank-of-America type stuff.
We've all seen what lying across railroad tracks or in front of a bulldozer can get you - the loss of a limb or, worse, a head and your life. So coming up with something creative, like calling a person a dog while hurling your shoes at them or the Native American custom of throwing dung water on tribal members returning from an unsuccessful hunting trip, can be very challenging.
BLM office in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday." (Al Hartmann/ The Salt Lake Tribune)
Ah, but this past Friday enters one University of Utah student, Tim DeChristopher, 27. He had gone to join other demonstrators in front of the Bureau of Land Management which was about to auction off leases of the public's land to oil and mining interests in southern and eastern Utah.
But remembering the frustration of "the times he has marched, fired off letters to his congressmen, signed petitions and supported environmental organizations -- all to no avail," DeChristopher suddenly got an inspiration. And then he got creative.
talks with members of the media.. (Steve Griffin / The Salt Lake Tribune)
"I decided I could be much more effective by an act of civil disobedience." So instead of joining other protesters outside in front of the BLM, he went inside and registered with BLM to bid for the right to win leases on the our public lands. And, as it turned out, he was very, very good at it!
DeChristopher's Salt Lake Tribune story makes for an interesting read. But for those who haven't the time, I'll just highlight a couple of results from his "uncivil obedience":
- DeChristopher, wielding only his bidder's paddle, successfully won $1.8 million of lease rights on 10 parcels of land around the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks that he has "neither the intention nor the money to buy." He also upped bids on other parcels by about $500,000 he didn't win, making them more costly for energy company representatives who did.
- He faces possible federal charges, but he's "not sorry."
- Most importantly, president Bush's last passing of rights to these lands to energy companies for pennies on the dollar was stopped and won't be conducted until February at the earliest after the Obama administration has been installed. All because DeChristopher got creative to commit a little "uncivil obedience" inside the system.
"What the environmental movement has been doing for the past 20 years hasn't worked," DeChristopher said. "It's time for a conflict. There's a lot at stake."
So Friday, Tim DeChristopher became inspired to step it up. And he did his bidding. Dada extends kudos to Tim DeChristopher!
(Dada note: Special thanks to "Shug" of Utah for connecting me to the link of this story.)