Friday, 29 July 2011

DeChristopher's Sentence In Context (Cont'd)

The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial, "A sad day," nails it:

DeChristopher was not prosecuted because he caused harm to the government, to energy developers or to taxpayers, but because he was widely praised for his bold effort to draw attention to a crisis that has been largely ignored by our government. The lease auction that put some precious public lands on the block to be sold for development of fossil fuel energy was later deemed by courts and the federal government to have been illegal. In simple terms, DeChristopher was right.

And, by his own admission, Benson punished him for pointing out something that conservatives do not want to hear: Human-caused climate change and government negligence in addressing its consequences are threatening the globe.

Following the sentencing, the judge acknowledged that DeChristopher’s act of civil disobedience — for that’s precisely what it was — was “not that bad” and should not have prompted a prison term, and possibly no prosecution at all. What sent DeChristopher to prison was his brave exercise of his constitutional right to free speech. He did not apologize, and why should he, when his act later proved laudable?

This is a second aspect of DeChristopher's sentencing that is a shocking violation of justice and the very idea of a fair trial. (The first has to do with which acts of civil disobedience are prosecuted in Utah and which aren't)

Judge Benson's shocking admission that his sentence was not motivated by Tim's "crime," which was (in Benson's own words) "not that bad," but by Tim's outspoken advocacy of his cause and his refusal to shut up and play ball speaks volumes. That this was the case was never in doubt for many people - that he feels so safely ensconced in the "justice" system in Utah that he feels comfortable admitting the fact is appalling.

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