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This Hero Didn’t Stand a Chance

Posted on Jun 20, 2011
Illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

“We weren’t able to tell the jury either of those things,” he said. “They never knew that the auction was overturned. They never knew I offered the BLM the money. They were told over and over by the judge they were not allowed to use their conscience. When the verdict came it was not a surprise.”

“When our Founding Fathers created the jury system they called it the best defense against legislative tyranny,” he said. “They expected that if the government was passing laws that were out of line with the values of the community, then people would break those laws and take their case before a jury of their peers who would decide whether or not that person’s actions were justified. That was the system our country was founded upon. That shifted radically as the role of the jury has been minimized in our criminal justice system. Juries are no longer given the opportunity to weigh all the factors of a case and are specifically told they are not allowed to use their conscience. It is not their job to decide if things are right or wrong. This is a drastic departure from the system that was originally created in this country.”

When I asked DeChristopher why he did not work within the system, perhaps by backing a progressive Democrat, he answered that “if there was such a thing I might consider it.”

“I don’t see anyone in our political system advocating for significant change,” he said. “I haven’t ignored the political system. I paid attention when the Waxman-Markey [cap and trade] bill was being debated. I saw that there was a Republican amendment that if energy prices in any region of the country ever go up by more than 10 percent the whole bill is null and void. In other words, if the survival of our children ever costs more than about $300 a year per household, we are going to stop and give up. Both sides debated for over an hour whether it would or not ever cost $300. But there was no one who ever stood up and said maybe the cost was worth it, maybe that was too low a price to put on the heads of your children, maybe it was immoral to put any price on the heads of our children. There was no one standing up and addressing the severity of climate change.”


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DeChristopher helped organize a grass-roots campaign in an unsuccessful effort to unseat five-term U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah.

“I saw after the experience with the Waxman-Markey bill that our Blue Dog Democrats in Utah had to go,” he said. He worked for candidate Claudia Wright in a campaign that split the delegate vote and forced a runoff primary.

“There is value in working within the democratic system, but first we need to create a democratic system,” he said. “When we ran Claudia Wright it started with a Craig’s List ‘help wanted’ ad for a ‘Courageous Congressperson.’ We pulled together a panel of longtime activists who were well respected in Utah representing various issues, from environmental issues to peace and justice to LGBT rights, labor, immigration rights and health care. That panel held public interviews at the Salt Lake City Library with all the people who had applied to the Craig’s List ad. Everybody from the district was invited and got to vote in instant runoff voting. That is how we came up with that candidate. We started from scratch.”

“If we were going to have a democracy, what would it look like? That was one experiment,” he said. “Craig’s List is probably not the ultimate answer. But we started from the acknowledgement that if we want to work within the democratic process we had to build it first.”

DeChristopher, who is 29, admits he was “cautiously optimistic” during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“I saw that nothing Obama was saying was actually good enough in terms of the climate crisis,” he said. “There was a faint hope in me that perhaps he was saying what he needed to say to get elected and then he would turn out to actually be a progressive.”

He heard Naomi Klein give a talk shortly before the election. She told her listeners that if Barack Obama was a centrist and the center was not good enough to defend our survival then our job was to move the center.

“That resonated with me,” DeChristopher said. “That was where my thinking at the time was. We as a movement had to move the center. That is another reason I turned to civil disobedience. I was looking to do something beyond what was considered acceptable to shift those boundaries, to create more space where people could be more aggressive without being on the radical edge.”

“The chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said what we do in the next two or three years will determine our future, and he said that in 2007 and we didn’t do anything,” he said. “A lot of folks like Jim Hansen admit it off the record, but won’t say it publicly, that it is actually too late for any amount of emission reductions to prevent some sort of collapse of our industrial civilization. That certainly doesn’t mean all is lost. It means we are in a position where we are definitely going to be navigating the most intense period of change humanity has ever seen. What that means for us is that it really matters who is in charge during that intense period of change. It means that things are going to be desperate.”

Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, By Chris Hedges, Truthdig Columnist and Winner of the Pulitzer Prize -- Get Your Autographed Copy Today Also Available! Truthdig Exclusive DVD of Chris Hedges' Wages of Rebellion Lecture The World As It Is: 
Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress: A collection of Truthdig Columns, by Chris Hedges -- Get Your Autographed Copy Today

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By TAO Walker, June 20, 2011 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

What if that singular lack of “moral legitimacy” (noted in Chris Hedges’ last
paragraph above), which is so universally characteristic of ‘dominance’
paradigm-derived institutional set-ups (like the U.S. judicial system, for just
one among myriad examples)), is merely one among many similarly debilitating
symptoms of an actual disease process ‘at-work’ in Mother Earth’s Living
Arrangement?  What if the really devastating deficit here/now is, rather, that of
The Living Virtue of Organic Functional Integrity among the “individual”-ized
masses of the virtual (and Virtue-“deficient”) sub-species homo domesticus?

As otherwise decent and well-intentioned (and even brave) as he appears here
to be, Tim DeChristopher still suffers from an all-too-typical ‘case’ of the
sickeningly “self”-serving I/ME/MY/MINE syndrome.  It is ‘written’ all-over the
quotes from him that Chris Hedges includes in this article.

Putting their “individual” Human birthday-suits at-risk of such “legal” sanctions
as CONfinement, and worse, is in-a-certain-way the epitome of “self”-ishness,
in the members of a species whose Organic Function (as a vital component in
Her immune system) requires them to BE in the Organic Form of (and to act
altogether as) Whole Healthy Living Human Communities.  Better all-around to
just get-over their “self,” and come TOGETHER as Natural Persons ORGANized
in The Tiyoshpaye Way….the ONLY Way to fulfill our given ‘place’ in HER
scheme-of-(The Ten Thousand)Things.

This IS, like-it-or-not, The Tao of Humanity.


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By TDoff, June 20, 2011 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Tim DeChristopher precisely states the problems facing our corrupted nation, the corruption of which resulted in our present polluted plutocracy. However, the problems of avarice and amorality within the corporations and other powers-that-be, and ignorance and apathy among ‘We, the People’, do not seem readily solvable.

Until, and unless, the complete collapse toward which we seem destined occurs, and the poor are forced to eat the rich to survive, thus ridding the world of it’s major source of corruption, amorality, and greed.

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By clearwaters, June 20, 2011 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

Physical incarceration, in this country, has become an inevitable consequence for
any conscientious being in pursuit of an honest life.The truth will set us free,
spiritually, but will otherwise land your ass in prison.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, June 20, 2011 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

The plutocracy has declared war on you, and will kill you, without any concern, that you have recourse against their actions. They will also kill, your children, and your grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

This year marks the 50th anniversary, of the spraying of Vietnam with Agent Orange, since that time nearly 4 million Vietnamese have died of its effects. This is a war crime, which should be prosecuted under the Geneva convention.  Soon, the 4th generation will be born, suffering from the effects of this Herbacide.

Agent Orange, is also used in this country under another name, it is pervasive, in the water supply in this country, and is commony found in the blood of pregnant women. It is also sold on TV in handy spay bottles that you can use to kill Dandelions.

Yet the cancer causing effects, and the mutagenic effects of this Herbacide are well known. Many of our Vietnam Vets died, as a result of exposure. Now this herbacide is spayed, on playgrounds and baseball Diamonds, exposing millions of American children.

The plutocracy doesn’t care about you, it only cares that it makes money, and since it owns the government, they can kill and maim with impunity, than includes your children and grandchildren.

So when someone stands up to them, he is a hero..Those that go against him are daming themselves.

Better to spend a lifetime in prison than an eternity in hell.

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By DEProf06, June 20, 2011 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

@surfnow: I had a similar experience.  A 19-yr-old was going to trial for a tiny amount of pot.  I told the judge that prosecuting young people for simple possession was an even bigger waste of my tax money than the “War On Terror”.  I haven’t been called for jury duty since.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, June 20, 2011 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges

There is an organization that has used your thought process. Civil Disobedience. To be used inside the political process. To delegitimize it.

They are called New Progressive Alliance.

You would be stellar in being a candidate for president

Check them out.

That goes for others who are tired of being lied to and manipulated by the one money -two wing corporate corrupted, pro-war party system. Which is masquerading as our pseudo-democracy.

Check them out.

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katsteevns's avatar

By katsteevns, June 20, 2011 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

“We shouldn’t be looking for the big corporations running the show to become a little greener and cleaner. We should be overthrowing those corporations running our government.” - Tim DeChristopher

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By surfnow, June 20, 2011 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

I was selected to be on a jury that was a drug case. I told the prosecutor and the judge that there was no way that I would find the guy on trial guilty since I believed the War on drugs was a travesty- and that all drugs needed to be decriminalized. I said that I couldn’t care less what the evidence was. The judge looked at me like I was out of my mind- I was disqualified.

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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, June 20, 2011 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

“The bribery that is intrinsic to the American political system has hollowed out every institution created to defend citizens against corporations, from the myth of the “freely elected member of Congress” to any form of agency enforcement of law — particularly regarding the environment.”

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By John Puma, June 20, 2011 at 5:15 am Link to this comment

“When our Founding Fathers created the jury system they called it the best
defense against legislative tyranny,”

And where is the defense against judicial tyranny?

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