BILL MOYERS: So if we now have representative government in name only, and are governed instead by corporations and their lobbyists, what’s to be done? Tim DeChristopher wrestled with that reality and decided what he would do.

As a result, he spent almost two years in prison. He’s out now, and you can learn the whole story in the new documentary, Bidder 70.

In December 2008, as the Bush administration was coming to an end, this environmental activist, then 27 years old, went to an auction of gas and oil drilling rights on more than 150,000 acres of Utah wilderness, all of it public land. It was a sale DeChristopher believed to be illegal.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: Instead of getting dragged out they said “Hi. Are you here for the auction?”

And I said, “Yes, I am.” And they said, “Are you here to be a bidder?” And I said, “Well, yes, I am”.

AUCTIONEER in BIDDER 70: I have two and a quarter in the back and now to two and a half…

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: I saw right away with that bid card they’d given me, I could really disrupt this process. I had all these visions of my future and all the catastrophic effects of climate change, but if I start to bid on this there’s a decent chance I could go to prison. Could I live with that? And I thought, well, yeah. It’d suck, but I could live with it.

AUCTIONEER in BIDDER 70: Three fifths and four and five...

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: And I finally took that step, and jumped all the way in and started winning parcels. I started winning all the parcels.

AUCTIONEER in BIDDER 70: And five, are you all in? Are you all done? At fifty dollars, sold fifty dollars to Bidder number 70, Bidder 70[…]

REPORTER 1 in BIDDER 70: An environmentalist threw a controversial oil and gas lease auction into turmoil today.

REPORTER 2 in BIDDER 70: Well Tim DeChristopher says he’s willing to go to jail, and it’s possible that’s where he’ll wind up.

REPORTER 3 in BIDDER 70: A college student may face federal criminal charges for disrupting that auction with bogus bids.

BILL MOYERS: The federal government indicted Tim DeChristopher on two felony counts, even though the oil and gas auction had been quickly declared null and void by the new Obama administration and its Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

KEN SALAZAR in BIDDER 70: Because of the need to review these parcels, and because of their proximity to landscapes of national significance, I have directed the Bureau of Land Management not to accept the bids on the 77 parcels.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: To see this land and this view, there’s no way that I could ever regret what I did. To see that the land looks like this, that it’s this beautiful, and to know it’s going to keep looking like this, it’s still going to look this way, and there’s not going to be an oil rig in the way. There’s not going to be a road cut right through the middle of it. That’s really reaffirming, and I think really justifies my actions.

BILL MOYERS: The legal process dragged on. Tim DeChristopher held out for a trial by jury, despite government attempts to make a deal.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: I’ve been offered a couple informal plea bargains. The one formal one was for as little as thirty days in jail. My lawyers said they do really want you to serve some time to set an example that discourages other people from doing this and I said that’s exactly why I’m not going to take this deal, because I have the opposite motivation, and it’s really rubbed me the wrong way about any kind of solution that doesn’t involve a jury.

BILL MOYERS: The jury was instructed by the judge to rule only on the strict letter of the law and not to make any moral judgments. They found Tim DeChristopher guilty and he was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Outside the courtroom, activists from Peaceful Uprising, the grassroots environmental group DeChristopher co-founded, protested the verdict. Twenty-six were arrested.

Now Tim DeChristopher is free and contemplating both his own future and that of the climate change movement in the name of which he said he picked up that bidder card with the number 70.

Welcome Tim.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Thanks for having me.

BILL MOYERS: You are free. Five years have passed, two of them in prison. Was it worth that much of your time?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah, absolutely. I mean I think more so than I anticipated. You know, when I went into this, I was pretty focused on the direct impacts of my actions, keeping that oil in the ground under those parcels and stopping this particular auction. And that was mostly effective. That goal was met. And I think the impacts on myself and on the climate movement over the past few years and on the community of people that has grown up around that action, the group Peaceful Uprising that I helped start I think those impacts turned out to be much more important than just keeping that oil in the ground.

BILL MOYERS: So when did you know for sure that you were going to be convicted?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: During the jury selection of the trial. That was what really did it. There was a moment during the jury selection we had this huge jury pool because it was a high profile case. And there was a moment where the prosecution and the judge found out that most of that jury pool had gotten a pamphlet before they came in on the first day from the Fully Informed Jurors Association. And it was a pamphlet that didn't say anything about my case, but it talked about jury's rights. It talked about why we have juries. And it, you know, quoted the founders of the country on juries being the conscience of the community. And the prosecution flipped out over this. It was the only time I saw the prosecutor completely lose his cool during the whole process. And we went into the judge's chambers and the prosecutor was screaming and saying, "We should have a mistrial here." And wanted to just throw the whole thing out.

BILL MOYERS: Because of this pamphlet that were—

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Right. Right. I mean, the prosecutor was almost spitting when he was reading from this and saying, "This notion of voting your conscience it’s out in space." And he was terrified. He was, he was really scared of what was on that pamphlet. And then rather than get rid of the whole jury pool, the judge called the jurors in one at a time to his chambers. And I was—

BILL MOYERS: Each one individually?


BILL MOYERS: Privately?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. And my legal team and I were on one side of the table. The prosecution was on the other side. The judge was at the head of the table and there was one juror at a time at the other end. And the judge would say, "You understand it's not your job to decide what's right or wrong here. Your job is to listen to what I say the law says, and you have to enforce it, even if you think it's morally wrong. Can you do that? Can you follow my instructions, even if you think they're morally wrong?"

And unless they said yes, they weren't on the jury. And I was sitting in the seat closest to the juror. And I watched one person after another say, “Yes, your Honor, I'll do whatever you tell me to do, even if I think it's morally wrong." And they meant it. And that's when I knew that I was going to be convicted.

BILL MOYERS: Because they were going to decide if the law had been broken, not if it was a good law?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. Yeah. And the judge would define for them what the boundaries of that law was. And, you know, so basically it was if he committed this action, then he's guilty and you have to convict him.

BILL MOYERS: Had you thought about whether it's the duty of a jury to decide that an act is morally right or wrong, or to decide in fact if in the law has been broken?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Not before I started the legal process. You know, leading up to my trial I was reading up about jury rights and jury nullification and the history of juries. And why the founding fathers thought it was so important to have jury trials.

Because, you know, they saw this system where if the government was passing law that were out of line with the conscience of most of our society, people would refuse to follow that law. Take their case before a jury of their peers, who would decide whether or not that law was you know, in accordance with their shared values and the conscience of our community.

BILL MOYERS: You talked a good bit about that in your in the statement you made at your sentencing hearing. You quoted the Founding Fathers. So I did a little research before I came here and came across John Adams.

Quote, "It is not only the juror's right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." But that was over 200 years ago.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: And that's been part of the evolution of our legal system over the past 200 years, as we've evolved from a people who set up a government afraid of the power of government, afraid of the concentration of power and wanting to keep power in the hands of people. And now we have a government that wants to concentrate as much power as they can and is afraid of the people.

You know, that's been the huge shift that we've had over that over the course of those centuries. And we've seen an extreme minimization of the role of the jury and a restriction on the right to a jury. You know, we have hardly any jury trials anymore. Hardly any of the people that I was locked up with in prison had gone through jury trials, because they're pressured into plea bargains. And it's just taken for granted by everyone in our legal system that defense attorneys, judges, prosecutors, that defendants will be punished if they exercise their right to a jury trial.

You know, the first thing a public defender will tell one of their defendants is, "You know, if you try to take this to trial, you'll get 30 years. You'll get 40. You know, you need to make a plea bargain so you just get ten or 15." And that's, you know, considered a good deal. And if you're punished for exercising a right, then it's not a right. So essentially the right to a jury trial no longer exists.

BILL MOYERS: So you're saying that the jury that convicted you and sent you to prison failed to act as "The conscience of the community"?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Well, and there was a tremendous amount of pressure on them to do that. You know, I mean, these are people who have no experience who have, you know, probably never been on jury duty before because it's a rare thing. Even though we're locking up unprecedented numbers of people, we have very few jury trials. So they don't have that kind of experience.

And they come into this huge courthouse, go through two different metal detectors and security screenings, come into this, you know, majestic courtroom, with the judge sitting up above them, speaking to them in this very patriarchal kind of way. And with all this authority behind them and saying, "It's not your job to do what's right or wrong." And people believed that. And, you know, watching that happen, it, I'd say it was the first time I really understood how some of the great atrocities in history could happen, where you'd have an entire population that, you know, plays out the plans of a tyrannical dictator, how things like genocide could happen when people are willing to let go of their own moral agency and say, "Well, it's not my job to decide what's right or wrong."

BILL MOYERS: But in a country as large and diverse as this, how can we know that 12 people, much less one person, represent the conscience of the community.


BILL MOYERS: A big community, a lot of different opinions, beliefs, moral values, religious convictions.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: And you're certainly not going to get the same kind of answer every time. And that's why, you know, civil disobedience is always a risky thing. It does always involve that risk of taking your case before a jury of 12 random people. And it should. You know, to break an existing law, you should have to feel that strongly about it.

You should have to be that confident that this law's out of line with the values of our community. And be that willing to make that sacrifice. You know, I don't think it should be an easy or convenient thing. There should be that kind of risk involved in civil disobedience. But by the same token, those citizens, those 12 citizens on the jury, should be empowered and fully informed to make whatever kind of ruling they see is appropriate.

BILL MOYERS: Do you see any irony in the sentence you received, up to two years in prison, compared to what happened to BP when that oil spill killed 11 workers, injured 17 and wreaked havoc with the environment along the Gulf Coast. Yet no one from the company went to jail. They paid a big fine, but no one went to jail.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah, I mean, there's certainly irony there, but I also think that the law is the tool of those in power. And you know, it's corporations like BP that are in power right now. I mean Glenn Greenwald wrote a great book called “With Liberty and Justice for Some” about how we have a two-tiered justice system in this country.

We don't really have a rule of law, we have two justice systems. And the division is not necessarily strictly between rich people and poor people. The division is between those that promote the concentration of power in the hands of the elite versus those that threaten to distribute that power or take away some of that power. And I think part of the mistake that a lot of people make is thinking that the law or words like legal are synonymous with moral or just. And that's not the case, I mean most of our great examples of morality throughout history are people who broke the law.

BILL MOYERS: That remind me of a scene from the film. Take a look.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: There’s been a lot of historical influences from civil disobedience that have influenced me, and you know, most of them were preaching non-violence and this idea of non-violence not meaning being soft. Kind of a strong peaceful resistance, and that power that comes through love.

JOHN SCHUCHARDT in BIDDER 70: It doesn’t start so much as with a movement of thinking as a movement of the heart. The young people who saw segregated lunch counters in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960, those four students ignited a movement that ultimately involved hundreds and thousands of people, because that movement of the heart, touched the hearts of others.

DAVID HARRIS in BIDDER 70: The initial preface of that revolution has to be a simple one.

The civil rights movement kind of introduced the whole notion of the possibility of making social change happen.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: I think that’s part of what my generation lacks, is that we haven’t had these tangible examples of what it looks like when people take power and are committed to changing the system.

JOHN SCHUCHART in BIDDER 70: Dr. King said if I can get five percent, I can change the situation. I only need five percent. It’s never a matter of the majority. It’s always a matter of conscience, and conscience only operates through an individual.

BILL MOYERS: I was impressed with the statement you made in your hearing, your sentencing hearing. You said, "I say this," what you just talked about, the conscience of the community and why you were doing what you were doing. "I say this not because I want your mercy, but because I want you to join me." Is there evidence that people are signing up in sufficient numbers for similar acts of civil disobedience to reach some kind of critical mass?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. I think the numbers that it takes for civil disobedience, if people are actually committed to it, are not overwhelming majority numbers. I mean, you know, for years there have been all these polls that say, you know, only half of Americans are, you know, believe climate change is happening or, you know, only a third of them actually understand what climate change really is. Those sort of polls happen all the time.

And, you know, they're generally presented in a kind of discouraging way. And I look at that and I say, "Well, that's plenty. You know, that's more than enough." That you know, a third of Americans who might understand this issue. That's 100 million people. That's more than enough to create change in this country if those people are willing to actually act like they believe it. If you know these are the people that understand that our children's future is on the line right now.

If they're willing to act like that, then we can create the change that we need to.

BILL MOYERS: Did you see that cover of The Nation magazine recently? "It's Not Warming, It's Dying," referring to the earth. Do you agree with that, that it's more than global warming? It's actually an existential threat to the planet?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Not really. I mean, I think it's an existential threat to our industrial civilization. It's a threat to the kind of planet that we have evolved on, the kind of planet that we've always lived on. But I think both the planet and human beings are resilient. And I think there will be some kind of survival. The thing that scares me is what we will have to do in order to survive.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Whether we'll turn against each other. You know, I mean, I don't think seven billion people can survive in a climate constricted world. And it's that process of contraction where things can get really ugly. And, you know, I don't think it's even to the direct impacts of it that is the scariest. I think the scariest is, you know, who's making the decisions during that time of chaos. And what kind of drastic measures are we going to be willing to resort to. And again, that's where, you know, a lot of our historic atrocities happen. You know, if we look at places like Darfur, it's not the direct impacts of the water crisis and the water shortage that they that, you know, is why Darfur is such a humanitarian crisis. It's because of what people were willing to do in the face of that crisis and the way that they turned against each other. That's where things got really ugly.

And I think those are those are the challenges that we now face as a climate movement as it's in all likelihood too late for any amount of emissions reductions to stop runaway climate change which means that we are on this path of rapid change. We know we're going down this path of unprecedented change. And so it's really important who is calling the shots during that time. The collapse of industrial civilization with an ignorant, apathetic citizenry that's afraid of their own government and feels like they have to accept what corporations want to do, that's really scary. That really ugly. And that's, I think, the big challenge that we face now.

BILL MOYERS: You were quoted somewhere saying, quote, "The climate justice movement is not looking for Walmart to be a friendlier corporate master. They want to overthrow Walmart." Can you help us understand what this means?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: We don't want Walmart to be a greener, corporate citizen. We want Walmart to be subservient to human interests. We don't think corporations should be masters of men. And you know, that's really, that's the difference between the climate justice movement and the environmental movement, in my opinion.

Or the big green side of the environmental movement. That we're not looking for a cleaner, greener version of the world that we have now. We're looking for a genuinely healthy and just world.

BILL MOYERS: I mean, people are driving hybrids and they are urging businesses to go green. And they're trying to save energy here and there. But yet, there's a recent poll that shows people do not think about the environment in the terms they did the day after Earth Day back in 1971. They're not as concerned about it.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. And, you know, I think one of the weaknesses of the environmental movement and parts of the climate movement is that it's always encouraged people to think as consumers, to think about what they can do in their consumer purchases to drive in a hybrid of, you know, buy the right light bulbs and that sort of thing.

And I think that's understandable because we have so many reminders of our role as a consumer. You know, we see, like, 3,000 advertisements a day that all remind us you're a consumer. That's who you are. And we don't have nearly as many reminders that we're also citizens of what was once the greatest democracy in the world.

We're also human beings and community members who can connect with one another and inspire one another. And these are also ways that we can be powerful. You know and these are also the ways that we need to engage. And I think I think there's more of that now. I think in the past few years, especially for the younger generation, there's been more of the reminders that we are citizens. That we can shape our society. And there's been this resurgence of people power which I think will have big reverberations.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70: The way the environmental movement has been for the past thirty years, it’s like a football game. And there are some players on the field that are fighting it out, but most of the people in the stadium are up in the stands. Most of them just paid their money at the door, and now they’re just yelling and screaming, and it’s not working. Our team is getting slaughtered. The refs have been paid off, and the other side is playing with dirty tricks. And so it’s no longer acceptable for us to stay in the stands. It’s time to rush the field, and it’s time to stop the game

ASHLEY ANDERSON in BIDDER 70: When you’re occupying the Department of the Interior saying, “You’re perpetuating climate change, destroying lives around the world. We’re not going to take that anymore, and we’re going to risk arrest.”

CORI REDSTONE in BIDDER 70: Much of what prepared me to be arrested in D.C. was the background and training I received through Peaceful Uprising, and I was ready. I was ready to get arrested.

JOAN GREGORY in BIDDER 70: In all my fifty-eight years I have never taken that bold a stand. Tim has helped me to find my own strengths.

BILL MOYERS: I have a hunch that most people listening to us now, watching us now agree that our government has been captured by big money, big business, corporate America. But they don't know how, what to do about it. And unlike you, many of them married, have children, have obligations, own homes. Two years in prison would totally disrupt their life and their commitments to others, their obligation to others. What do you say to those people?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Well, not everyone has to do what I did. Not everyone can, not everyone should. I think we need a diverse movement. You know, if we look at social movement history, the ones that have been most successful and most powerful are the ones that have used a variety of tactics and a variety of strategies.

And I think, you know, not everyone has to go to prison. But I think everyone has to feel empowered to take strong actions. And, you know, no one can say, "This is the kind of action that we need right now "because nobody knows. Nobody has the answers. You know, nobody has ever stopped a climate crisis before.

You know, so nobody can say, "This is what's definitely going to work." And, you know, that's what's limited us in the past in the movement, is when we've had one element that said, "You know, listen, we know how change happens in Washington. We know how to do things. You know, this is what's politically feasible and you have to do it our way." You know, up until 2009 with the Waxman-Markey Bill, that really held back the movement.

BILL MOYERS: And that bill did what?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: That was the cap and trade bill that, you know, was a big corporate handout bill written in collusion between the biggest green groups and some of our biggest corporate polluters, like Shell and DuPont.

BILL MOYERS: You say it was a dividing line in the story?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. Yeah. I think that that bill was really the turning point for the climate movement because up until that point, the groups with so much money and access in Washington, you know, held everybody unchecked basically. Their rhetoric about, "This is what's politically feasible," that held sway with so many other folks in the movement who said, "Okay, well, I guess we'll do it your way even though this bill doesn't really make sense and doesn't seem to do anything worthwhile. We'll do it your way.”

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: But they failed even to pass that bill. It turns out they didn't even know what was politically feasible. And so then, you know, the rest of the movement afterwards said, "Well, we tried it your way and it didn't work. And now rather than start from what's politically feasible, we're going to start from what we know is necessary.

"And rather than working from, you know, what corporations tell us they'll accept, we're going to work for what we actually want, something that's actually in line with our vision for society." And so there's been this huge resurgence of the climate justice side of the movement and the real grassroots side of the climate movement over the past few years. And that's both moved past the mainstream of the big green groups and also swayed some of those big green groups.

BILL MOYERS: Well I think you know that the president of the Sierra Club Michael Brune got himself arrested recently in a protest outside the White House over the Keystone pipeline.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: The change in the Sierra Club has been a tremendous shift over the past few years. You know, when we look at the challenge that we have right now of creating that drastic shift from where we are right now where, you know, we have one party that doesn't believe in climate change and one party that provides empty rhetoric and no action, that's a dramatic shift that we need to get to actual appropriate response to the climate crisis. You know, to get us to that point it's going to take really confrontational actions.

I don't look at the political spectrum as this straight line between left and right. And I think it's more like a really steep pyramid. And I found that a lot of people on the bottom have far more in common with each other regardless of whether they're on the left and the right than they do with anybody at the top of that pyramid.

BILL MOYERS: Let me double back to something you said a moment ago I let slip by because it scares people to hear you and anybody else talk this way. You said we have to overthrow the corporations. What do you mean when you say overthrow corporate power?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: I mean get corporations into an economical rather than a political role. You know, corporations do have a role to play in our economy, but they don't have a role to play in our government that…

BILL MOYERS: They have a stake in policy.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: But they, corporations don't have a conscience. And so they're not appropriate for being part of our political system.

And when I say overthrow I mean ending corporate personhood, I mean kicking them out of our government. And that will take a constitutional amendment to get that to happen. And I think that'll be a dramatic shift. And I think it'll it's a huge battle. They're not going to easily give that up.

BILL MOYERS: So you're not talking about using force to overthrow anybody?


BILL MOYERS: But you are calling for a radical overhaul of how our society functions?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah, yeah. But I think that's an overhaul to bring us in alignment with our values, you know, which is why I think that this is a challenge that we can actually rise up to. I don't think it's an impossible challenge because it's not primarily about changing people's values.

I think most people regardless of where they are politically, if you get them in an honest moment to really talk about what they value they're not going to talk about that they value their SUV or they value, you know, the extra few thousand square footage on their home.

They're going to talk about human relationships. Almost everyone is going to be talking about their friends and their family and their communities as the things that they truly value. And you know, when we're talking about that radical shift it's about aligning our world with those values, not so much about changing them which is why I think this is possible.

BILL MOYERS: So now that you're a free man, are you a danger to society? There are people who say you are.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: I, you know, I'm a danger to a certain part of society. I'm--

BILL MOYERS: Which part?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: I'm a danger to the, to that part of the power structure that wants to concentrate power in the hands of the few. You know, I don't think I'm a danger to the rest of society.

BILL MOYERS: Don't you think the power structure in every age, in every time, in every place always sees civil disobedience as a threat?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. I mean, civil disobedience is always a criticism of the existing power structure. And it's always been that way. That's the role of civil disobedience. That's the role of dissent.

BILL MOYERS: What's next for you?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: In the fall I'll be going to Harvard Divinity School to study to become a Unitarian minister.

BILL MOYERS: Not law school with your concern about juries and the founding fathers and civil disobedience.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: No, because I think a lot of what we're facing is really spiritual struggles. I mean, you know, as I was saying I think we have enough people onboard, but not enough people who really have faith in their own power to make a difference. And that to me is an internal struggle, something that's more on a spiritual level. And…

BILL MOYERS: Take me a little further.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: --and the point, well, the--

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean a spiritual?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: You know, the point where I full decided it's something that I've been considering for a while, but the point that I fully decided that I was going to become a minister or go to divinity school was the same point that I mentioned earlier was when I knew that I was going to be convicted. That point when I watched one juror after another say yes, I'll do whatever you tell me to do even if I think it's morally wrong that to me was a huge turning point. Because I saw two things in that situation where the was telling people they had to let go of their own moral authority. I saw how willing people were to let go of their moral authority. But at the same time I saw the vulnerability of the prosecutor.

And you know, he was a US attorney, he was the United States attorney, he represents the United States of America, he's got the whole power of the United States government behind him and he was terrified. He felt vulnerable to the notion of citizens using their conscience in exercising their civic duties.

BILL MOYERS: In fairness to him I read his statement. He said, he said respect for the law is the bedrock of the civilized society.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah, but the bedrock of the rule of law is the conscience of the community and the values of our citizenry. And I think that that's where he missed it, you know. Because at the same time he said the rule of law's the bedrock of our society, not acts of civil disobedience. He failed to understand that acts of civil disobedience are what have shaped the rule of law in this country and how it's been acts of civil disobedience that have made the rule of law line up with the values of our people.

BILL MOYERS: So what are the spiritual needs you think you would like to attempt to address?

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Well, I think part of it is the empowerment that comes through connecting with the community. And I think that's part of why churches and religious institutions have played such an important role in so many social movements throughout our history because there's so much alienation, especially right now in our society and so much that encourages people to view themselves as an isolated individual.

And as an isolated individual people are weak and they look at the problems that we face, and even if they understand these issues they look at it and say, "You know, I'm just one person. What can I do against these corporations or this government? They're so big and so powerful." And that's true. And you know, honestly as an, an isolated individual can't make a difference in any of these issues. But people are not isolated individuals, they're connected to something much bigger than themselves.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER in BIDDER 70:They tried to convince me that I was like a little finger out there on my own that could easily be broken. And all of you out here were the reminder for all of us that I wasn’t just a finger all alone in there, but that I was connected to a hand with many fingers that could unite as one fist, and that that fist could not be broken by the power that they have in there. That fist is not a symbol of violence. That fist is a symbol that we will not be misled into thinking we are alone. We will not be lied to and told we are weak. We will not be divided and we will not back down. That fist is a symbol that we are connected and that we are powerful. It’s a symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world, and we are building the self-empowering movement to make it happen.

BILL MOYERS: Tim DeChristopher, I've truly enjoyed this conversation and I wish you well.


Why Tim DeChristopher Went to Prison for His Protest

In December 2008, during the closing weeks of the Bush White House, 27-year-old environmental activist Tim DeChristopher went to protest the auction of gas and oil drilling rights to more than 150,000 acres of publicly-owned Utah wilderness. But instead of yelling slogans or waving a sign, DeChristopher disrupted the proceedings by starting to bid. Given an auction paddle designating him “Bidder 70”, DeChristopher won a dozen land leases worth nearly two million dollars. He was arrested for criminal fraud, found guilty, and sentenced to two years in federal prison — even though the new Obama Administration had since declared the oil and gas auction null and void.

DeChristopher — who was released less than a month ago — joins Bill to talk about the necessity of civil disobedience in the fight for justice, how his jury was ordered to place the strict letter of the law over moral conscience, and the future of the environmental movement. Bidder 70, a new documentary chronicling DeChristopher’s legal battle and activism, opened May 17. DeChristopher is co-founder of the grassroots environmental group Peaceful Uprising.

“When I went into this, I was pretty focused on the direct impacts of my actions, keeping that oil under those parcels and stopping this particular auction,” DeChristopher tells Bill. “I think those impacts turned out to be much more important than just keeping that oil in the ground.”

Producer: Jessica Wang. Editor: Sikay Tang. Associate Producer: Reniqua Allen.
Photographer: Dale Robbins.

  • submit to reddit
  • Anonymous

    Tim DeChristopher is a courageous hero, its a National Disgrace how we let these major corporations rape our National Parks and Bureau Of Land Management land for chump change. Forever staining some of the most beautiful nature in our nation, with zero benefit for the masses that this land was set aside for. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld were and are true evil whores, that only live for that greater buck. There should be national protests to curtail these evil sins, but like usual these auctions are never publicized, with minor footnotes at the back of the newspaper after the evil deed is done. This country will collapse for its relentless greed. In many cases its trully embarassing to being recognized as a american (environmental or not). We are far off base in what the original fore fathers strived for. Tim DeChristopher is a courageous hero in a very corrupt evil system, with minimal or almost nonexistent justice.

  • Chris

    I agree with you, JSC1227 the avarice of the people in power is way out there. We need to change things.

  • Jeff Walsh

    I saw Bidder 70 not too long ago at an early screening in Cleveland. I was blown away by Tim’s intelligence and staggering sense of moral authority and commitment to social justice generally and climate justice specifically. I’m a semi-retired 62 year old white male and find his actions both humbling and inspiring. I’m not surprised by his decision to attend divinity school.

  • Judy

    Hooray for Tim DeChristopher. If we had more like him standing up for what’s moral this could once again be a country to be proud of. I am NOT at this time. I am angered at and ashamed of what this country has become.

  • Mel

    I found this interview to be extremely thought provoking on so many levels. I’m the mother of four small children, and the environment is always something important, but not always at the front of my mind. I felt that this segment reminded me about the community I live in and even more importantly brought up the idea of actually living within a value system. I feel like so many of us would like to think that we live with a certain set of morals, and think that we let that guide our decisions, but how easily are they set aside? I don’t think I would agree to allow my morals and to be set apart from my deliberation (on a jury), but do I know? I really appreciated this conversation and wonder, what does the average person do next?

  • davidp

    At wider level, no wonder the common folk in the M.E. and other countries, are frustrated and angry at these huge corporations taking what is their fundamental resources and very little, very little given in return to their societies. So what is given back is only put into the corrupt pockets of their leaders.

  • Nadine Lumley Real

    For a protest to be effective, you have to stop traffic. You
    have to stop traffic.

    Naomi Wolf talks about the barriers to authentic protest and
    what it takes for a real protest to succeed:

    OK. So what kind of mass protest? The kind of mass protest
    that always works is illegal just about everywhere in the United States today.
    Why is that?

    What keeps you from getting a permit in the United
    States? Stepping a foot into the street.

    Now why do you have to stop traffic? Because for a protest to do anything, it has
    to disrupt business as usual. I don’t
    mean violence. (Whoever’s tape-recording
    this to take it back to, you know, Quantico or whatever, I don’t mean violence.
    I mean dissent.)

    Martin Luther King, who wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
    because he marched without a permit, said sometimes it is important for the
    tension to rise up for people to see all is not well. And that you do that by stopping traffic. That’s how citizens indicate, you know,
    business as usual is not acceptable.

    It’s an exercise in stifling debate and blurring the line
    between legitimate protest and terrorism. They want people to be afraid of those who
    speak out against government policies. Then
    they can throw dissidents into all of those jails they want to build.

  • Sadie

    Has that judge who directed the jury members, individually, to vote for something morally wrong, been removed from the Bench? Even with the influence of Bush and co, opening and using the illegally based Guantanamo before this, the judge should have had more integrity and legal ethics than be drawn into such downright anti- society practises. A broken system, makes for a broken country – take note leaders!

  • Anonymous

    What the plea on frontline from a few years back, still available. Its a hopeless corrupt system. Because of a over supply of lawyers , we have 50000 plus new laws on the books every year, to keep these blood sucker lawyers busy. If you are charged for any crime, even if there is zero evidence, 98% especially at the federal level, take a plea and never see a jury. Their arguement is we know you didnt do it, but if you take the courts money and take it to trial and lose you will do 20 years, dont take it to trial and take the plea we will give you five years even though we know you didnt do it. The fact that you are indicted your dead. There are poor criminals doing life for three strikes over a stolen pizza. If you steal hundreds of millions on wall street or in washington you have total immunity. Its a two tier system that brutally victimizes the poor and disenfranchised.

  • Socialmedic

    Uh, well, it was good until the religion part: the church is responsible for the concentration of wealth that has taken place over the last 30 years. Religion has been employed by every politician that has made this happen over the last three decades. That is why Atheism is on the rise. The Church has made Americans into non-thinking drones willing to do anything corporations ask them to.

  • RebeccaJones

    DeChristopher’s story of the jurors reminds me of the Milgram experiments. I wonder if any of those jurors who voted against their consciences are now suffering the way the Milgram subjects did.

  • ger

    Is going to H.Divinity S. necessary? You’ve already got it right.

  • Nurse Ratchett

    This is not protest, it is fraud, and he deserved to go to jail for it.

  • Vlad

    Yes, “Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld were and are true evil whores…” but so is Obama, Holder, Githner, Ruben etc. The government has become a whore house controlled by the corporations and their lobbyists.

  • Anonymous

    They have all taken greed, nepotism and incompetence to new moral lows

  • Perspephone

    He is a hero. He possess the courage of his convictions. We owe him our thanks and support.

  • Anonymous

    I’m guessing you don’t know much about Unitarian Universalism?? This is the ministry DeChristopher is embracing, the church which has promoted gay marriage, supported immigration reform, stood up for the homeless and the environment. Its the church in which questions are more common than answers.

  • docvkr

    May I suggest to Mr. DeChristopher a book by Thom Hartmann titled ‘Unequal Protection’ – the rise of corporate dominance and the theft of human rights. According to Mr. Hartmann’s well researched book, (page 105) –

    1. There was no Supreme Court decision to the effect that corporations are equal to natural persons and not artificial persons.

    2. There were no opinions issued to that effect, and therefore no dissenting opinions on this immensely important constitutional issue.

    It is worth pondering, if it can be challenged after more than a century later!

  • Shiny

    Many state court judges climbed the judicial ladder by first being prosecuting attorneys. Many have are predisposed to side with the arguments of the state and are anything but fair. As Morgan Freeman said in the Shawshank Redemption, ‘These walls are kind of funny. First you hate ’em’, then you get used
    to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That’s
    institutionalized. They send you here for life, that’s exactly what they
    take. The part that counts, anyways’

  • Tom

    Sad but true. People who simply contest their charges and assert their legal rights are punished by the system for not taking a plea and the inconvenience to the prosecutor.

  • Dana Whaley

    I’m a firm believer civil disobedience. I admire DeChristopher for willing to go to jail for his actions. He did, in fact, break the law and he knew his conviction was a possibility. However, he quotes John Adams talking about jurors acting on conscience–this is fine, but DeChristopher (and, I’m sorry to say Bill Moyers) overlooked the history of nullification and jury nullification in our country. There is a fine line between what Adams said and nullification. We need to recall that nullification and secession tore this country apart in the 1800s and Adams would never have sanctioned it.

  • Charles Andrews

    DeChristopher is a self appointed prophet of doom who see the dismantling of American socirty as the only route to planetary salvation. Perhaps his new advocation, divinity school, blinds him to to truths that the earth has passed through far more severe climate changes and has always renewed itself.

    He arogantly suggest that the planet can’t support seven million people as currently working. What is to happen by 2050 when the population is predicted to top fourteen million. Does he propose genocide as the solution. He never deals with the impact of expanding population. He talks about subjugating corporate America to his will, an abandonment of natural resources. He never deals with how we meet the needs of the next person added to the population.

    Should we return to the America and world of the eightenth century? But alas, the needs of the many couldn’t be met at a basic level. That is when the evils of Darfur will appear. He proposes a true doomsday scenario.

  • citygal7

    How can there actually be an educational program that teaches these types of topics? And at Harvard? If
    Tim gets into scripture it will stifle his thinking. I was into religion for 20 yrs and I became afraid to think “outside the divine teachings.” I’ve gradually come out of that tight-gripped and unrealistic way of thinking.He’d be better off studying how the gov’t is gradually changing the laws of the land: although he may still pick up something very important during his studies. There was one thing I know I picked up in the divine teachings I took part in which propels me onward. It’s not even an important quote. The rest of it is unrealistic.

  • Anonymous

    It is both protest and fraud, and he both deserved to go to jail for it and deserves great respect for his sacrifice.

  • Anonymous

    It is “one of” the churches in which questions are more common than answers.

  • Angel

    Yes, an appropriate name for you. Who are you to decide what is protest and what is fraud?

  • Anonymous

    “What is to happen by 2050 when the population is predicted to top fourteen million. Does he propose genocide as the solution.” Genocide won’t be necessary — there will be mass starvation and severe water shortage by then, so that will eliminate millions.

  • Gramma Blanche

    Tim DeChristopher knows that we are to be stewards of the earth. To protect God’s creation, so that we may continue to thrive with the gifts God has provided. The earth has never faced 400 ppm of carbon since a period of time before man, when our oceans were 60 feet higher. Our greed and our drive to consume is destroying our habitat. The earth will continue without humans, but humans cannot live on an earth that we foul.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed, but as this IS the church whose ministery he plans to enter, I only referenced it (as a response to “the church has made Americans into nonthinking drones.”)

  • Anonymous

    Nothing in Unitarian-Universalism requires rigid adherence to Judeo-Christian teachings, and UUs specifically call out a wide variety of sources:

    Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;

    Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;

    Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;

    Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;

    Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;

    Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

  • mr1001nights

    The earth yes, but humans and countless other species won’t make it. If it were any other animal reproducing/polluting like we do, we’d call it the worst pest ever. Either we stop or it’s game over in about 100 years.

  • rpauli

    Um… that’s Billion with a B.

  • citygal7

    There is difficulty trying to follow a train of thought here. It seems to go off on a tangent. I hope Tim doesn’t come out of that program speaking in this fashion. No offense here, I know anyone can speak however they wish. Tim makes a lot of sense now and I hope he isn’t swayed by religion. If he, when he completes his program, makes attempts at using religion as a large part of his reasoning for continuing his protesting, then he will cause more upheaval in the future. I know he is young and isn’t fully able to “see around corners” so to speak. I only hope his intentions are genuine.

  • open minded libertarian

    If you believe that the country is being run by corporate interests, why do we have so many defenders of the political left? If that thesis is correct (and it was suggested if not directly stated by Mr. DeChristopher) then we MUST have rigorous skepticism of all government actors and actions. The reason we all know Lord Acton’s statement that, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is that we have all seen it. Anyone, of either political preference who thinks that “their party” is immune to the universal principle is not intellectually honest and has not looked at history. There are CERTAINLY things that government should do a must do, but it’s power and especially breadth MUST be strictly limited or it will always become a power unto itself and leave the people behind. :As your guest stated, everyone cannot nor should not expect to do the same things in favor of their preferred actions, but EVERYONE, and especially journalists MUST open their eyes to the fact that government is not, and cannot be THE answer. It should be a part of the answer, but can only be that, when it is confined and constantly monitored without thoughts or preferences relative to policital party by both common citizens and journalists. People who firmly believe in their cause like Mr. DeChristopher can learn how to make compromises for pragmatic improvement when necessary, but people who close their eyes to the “sins” of a party just become elements in hiding the problems not solving them. They become enablers. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” (Louis Brandeis, US Supreme Court) but it doesn’t work if we just disenfect part of the house.

  • Anonymous

    Sigh. This is a list of where UUs draw their inspiration. It isn’t a paragraph intended to convey a single though. Having listed to any number of UU ministers I promise they are fully able to use their religious faith as a background around which to drape their social justice efforts without “causing upheaval”.

    Folks tend to see “religion” and think “fundamentalist Christian”. That isn’t what Unitarian Universalism is about. Our faith focuses on the deeds you do, not the creed you may believe.

  • MikeD

    Coincidentally, I am re-reading the Letter from Birmingham Jail to mark its 50th anniversary this April, and I am struck by how congruent deChristopher’s ideas are with Dr. King’s.

    Dr. King writes of his disappointment with “white moderates” sitting on the fence; deChristopher talks of the jurors refusing to take a moral stand, “I’ll do whatever you tell me to do.”

    Dr. King quotes St. Thomas Aquinas on the difference between just and unjust laws, “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” When the prosecutor argues that laws are the bedrock of society, deChristopher
    responds that the bedrock of all laws is conscience. In fact, civil disobedience was what got many of the just laws on the books in the first place.

    There are uncanny parallels throughout the interview on the principles and tactics of non-violence. Tim deChristopher is a worthy lieutenant of a noble legacy.

  • Veronica Rose

    Earth has NEVER been through this kind of transformation with Great Apes and Hominds living on it. THAT is the concern: Will we adapt to the changes we wrought in an unprecedented amount of time? Previous raising the earth’s temp by a degree took at least 1000 years. Now it has happened TWICE in TWO HUNDRED YEARS. So even in the ice ages, where humans did survive by carving out refuges (and where many humans who did not find refuges in time DIED), they had time and clues that they had to hunker down. Adapt or die. The open question is, which will we? Especially given the exponentially accelerated timeline in which we have to work and the complications of corrupt power structures in our nation-states.

    IMO, it IS a doomsday scenario, unless we get serious NOW about BOTH mitigation and adaptation. It started in 2009 and it is getting exponentially more intense each year. For example, just watch the variations in the Polar Jet Stream – the biggest driver of ocean currents and weather in the Northern Hemisphere – over the last three years, and you’ll see why so many of us are extremely concerned. Especially those of us who are scientists.

  • Veronica Rose

    P.S. There will be no need for genocide. The severe weather will kill many of us by 2050. In fact, I suspect it will back the Black Death look like a walk in the park.

  • Kath Angier

    Thank you. The Native Americans didn’t get the same ‘justice’, but it’s a start. Nia:wen.

  • Veronica Rose

    I agree with with much of what you’ve said. The problem, however, is you’re referring to mainstream churches and, more recently, extreme branches of Christian fundamentalism. Unitarian Universalism is neither.

  • Veronica Rose

    I’m glad you’ve been able to loosen the stranglehold certain denominations place on “Literal Scripture.” UU does not approach scripture from this perspective in the first place. As for TdC’s understanding of power and justice, it seems to me he’s already well versed in these issues.

  • Veronica Rose

    Bill Moyers, your interview with Tim DeChristopher ranks among your best. Your emphasis on “Jusice” as key to Climate Justice in your questions was excellent. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Having spent some time in the trenches as a 60s activist I at one time harbored the hope that America might one day return to its roots and become once again the Land of The Brave and The Home of The Free. And no, I didn’t screw up the slogan, I fixed it. How, I’ve often wondered, does one get to be free without first being brave? Anyhow, as time passed and attempt after attempt at reform failed I began to give up hope. And what little hope I still held was pretty much destroyed by a combination of the Economic Meltdown on Wall Street and the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case. Long past Running On Empty after years of discouragement I have hungrily sought out folks whose courage and commitment supply some basis for optimism. Bill Moyers has always been at the head of that list and tonight while watching his as always excellent show I was able to add another. Simply put Tim DeChristopher’s courage and commitment coupled with his clear headed thinking and refusal to fall into the trap of simplistic solutions to complex problems make me wish I were in my 20s again! Hope, it would seem, is not dead after all!

  • Frank Fitz

    Chris was unbelievable and well thought out! This interview was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen. It’s refreshing to hear new points of views that are so different. Thank you Bill Moyers for taking on journalism in a way that matters and sticking with it. You are much needed in times like these when there’s nothing in mainstream media but a sliver of truth. I hold you in high regards and respect, Thank You!

  • Anonymous

    Let me echo what Frank Fitz says. I am by no means an environemental activivist. I recently bought an SUV as a matter of fact. I am just astonished at what I just saw.

    Those martinets who sent him to prison will be very, very sorry. when the interview concluded I said to myself: “That is a very dangerous man.”

  • Johnny Glenn

    I understand Mr. DeChristopher’s motives but the judge in the case was absolutely correct. I am against abortion but would have declared Eric Rudolph guilty of murder for the bombing of the abortion clinic in Alabama.

  • Arizona Eagletarian

    Tim DeChristopher rocks! WE are the leaders we’ve been waiting for. And Tim is one of us!

  • KenZimmerman

    I have great respect for Bill Moyers. He’s of my generation. But this interview is all wrong. Yes, prosecutors want convictions, so a prosecutor will protest anything, and I mean anything s/he believes
    impedes that. But equally defense attorneys want acquittals and will protest anything s/he believes impedes that. It’s called a trial, and that’s the way it’s worked at least since the turn of the century (20th). It’s brutal and is intended to be so. As to the judge’s instructions to the jurors they are not unusual at all. For example in states with capital punishment laws a juror must be willing to enforce that penalty even if
    personally s/he is opposed to capital punishment. Otherwise that juror must be eliminated from the jury. John Adams was an attorney and would
    never have countenanced a jury attempting to nullify a legislatively enacted law. This would nullify the entire basis of the USA — all laws apply equally to all citizens. As to protestors they have been common in US history — from anti-tax to abolition, from women’s suffrage to prohibition, from populists to environmentalists. But each has had to pay for
    violations of the law. As should Mr. DeChristopher. He’s really not any different from the protestors who preceded him, and those who will follow him. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols KNEW they were right and were willing to kill and die based on this knowledge. McVeigh was tried, convicted, and executed for murder, even with some jurors known to agree with his political beliefs. If Mr. DeChristopher really wants to make a change
    I suggest he follow the example of Ralph Nader — lobby legislators and corporations. His successes are impressive, even if sometimes wrong-headed or even in error. And Nader never violated a (major) law or spent time in prison.

  • Jinhae Han

    I have never felt so inspired. Finally, a voice of reason; a breath of fresh air in this movement for a future of reason, sanity. I applaud his astounding courage. He injects me with fresh sense of hope. I feel 100% less lonely, now that i know he walks the same planet of ours. Thanks!

  • Jinhae Han

    It’s true we have to work withint the system, even when the system itself is corrupt and defunct. But you are an old geezer looking from within. Sometimes we need to step back and take in the entire view. Change is a must. And DeChristopher, with his amazing courage, has injected this stale air with a new hope for a change.

  • jeroboambramblejam

    Ken Zimmerman’s defense here of the status quo reminds me of Mr. DeChristopher’s description of his rabidly angry prosecutor “spitting” mad about the littering of his perfect world by leaflets reminding potential jurors of their responsibility to nullify unjust laws. Ken’s claim that his precious adversarial legal system is “brutal and is intended to be so” is what Mr. DeChristopher is trying to civilize.

    Tim DeChristopher’s is the conscience that John Adams referred to in “It is not only [the juror’s] right but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”


  • Richard C Green

    I have watched this interview twice now, and am beginning to watch it again. This man is so unique
    and right on…I walk away wondering, as I do after
    so many of Bill’s programs: WHAT CAN I DO?, I am
    still that little finger, in a process that we have to

    join fists together, to stop this madness, get the

    corporations out of Washington DC, and make illegal
    forever the notion of Lobbying. I must thank Bill Moyers once again for such inspirational guests.
    Richard Green • Eden Prairie MN

  • Anonymous

    Sure. I’m one of your 16 likes ;). I think in your haste to distinguish DeChristopher from “the Christian Right”, you mistakenly used the definite article (“THE church in which questions are more common than answers”). UU certainly isn’t the only tradition to honor open mindedness and reject literalism or dogmatism. Thanks for clarifying.

  • mark777day

    This guy is a rock star. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Tom Petty, Peter Townsend hold nothing up to this guy. John Hyatt sings in a song referring to Peter Townsend girls would wet themselves as a Rock Star smashes his guitar. This guy is beyond that. I have the most respect for this guy. Rock Stars are nothing compared to this guy, especially the wimpy modern joke stars.

  • KenZimmerman

    Comments like yours and actions like Mr. DeChristopher’s are precisely why democracies of the current era are based on laws that apply equally to each and every citizen. Otherwise democracy is impossible and eventually the strongest of the many competing interests will control virtually everything. No matter the intentions of the ones who take control democracy will be dead. I’m not willing to give up democracy or even take the chance of losing democracy for Mr. DeChristopher or any other citizen. Seems you are??

  • Mandy Sue

    Jury nullification is a beautiful thing. Too bad it didn’t happen here, but all’s well… What a great spokesperson. He should be a lawyer, if his felony hasn’t taken away all his citizen rights!

  • Mandy Sue

    He doesn’t need to be a lawyer LOL He should keep on doing what he’s doing.

  • Mandy Sue

    I’m for professional juries because Americans aren’t the brightest bulbs in the package.

  • Roberto Abril

    We might be seeing a model of heroism in this nation, what do you think?

  • Joe Amico

    Wow! What world do you live in?? If you live in a world where laws are applied equally let me know where that is so I could move my family there!!

  • Joe Amico

    I happened on Moyers interview and was almost brought to tears! Who is this young man? I am glad to see that someone is willing to stand up to corporatism let me know where I can sign up!

  • Ric Curtis

    Rejuvenating to feel Tim DeChristopher’s clarity in articulating
    fundamental American value toward we-the-people being empowered within a
    properly functioning country. Optimism may endure if only a
    re-balancing of our governing powers (toward the many away from the few)
    were re-kindled from the fired spirits of America’s founders, and
    thereby channeled through today’s Americans action. Thank you Tim. Keep
    the conversation vigorous, impassioned, and informative.

  • KenZimmerman

    Joe, true, nothing’s perfect. But I’d rather work to achieve democracy than the alternative you offer. I’ve lived in lots of places in the world where there’s no work to make democracy possible. Equality before the law is where we should always be headed, even if that goal eludes us. It’s much, much superior to the other alternatives.

  • Ric Curtis

    What role the jury if the judge is to measure the totality of the law? The jury of your peers will, in the main, uphold the rule of law as it deems it fit to uphold. Therein lay the value of the guaranty of trial by jury. The jury of your peers may see singular particulars that deem it not fit to uphold in this case. The founders respected the difficulty of one-size-fits-all rule of law and put into place proper balances. Democracies are not lost by measured exceptions to their own rules. They are lost to impossibly out of balance power concentrations over time.

  • KenZimmerman

    Ric, when John Adams defended the British soldiers who shot Americas in the event called the “Boston Massacre” he argued based on the law, knowing that the jury might tend to convict the soldiers in spite of the law and evidence, considering the unpopularity of Britain and the shootings at the time. He argued that the jury had a duty to follow the law, no matter their personal feelings about Britain, the soldiers, and the event. From what we know the jury followed Adams’ lead despite some personal feelings in the opposite direction. If you want to violate the law, you have that opportunity but in a democracy expect to be asked to pay a price for that act. Why is there a need for exceptions to that expectation?

  • Ric Curtis

    I am sorry to repeat but, “They are lost to impossibly out of balance power concentrations over time.” How long did John Adams version of the law carry the day? Might there been a need for exceptions to that expectation?

  • David B. Mitchell

    Dear Mister Moyers,

    I enjoy watching your show. I found your discussion with Tim DeChristopher very interesting. I agree that it’s wrong for the Obama administration to prosecute
    him for disrupting an auction which the Obama administration itself declared invalid. I don’t think DeChristopher deserved to spend two years in prison. Likewise, I can believe that some criminal defendants, maybe lots of them, are browbeaten
    into plea bargaining instead of seeking a jury trial, even when they have a good case. I think that’s wrong as well.

    However, I disagree with DeChristopher’s “moral choice” argument. DeChristopher seems to feel that jurors, as the “conscience of the community,” should be able to ignore laws they don’t like and render verdicts solely based on their own moral views. The last time I checked, different people have different ideas about what is or isn’t moral, and sometimes those ideas may be diametrically opposed.
    (Remember, some people in this country used to defend slavery while others condemned it.) So, whose morality are we talking about? How is “verdict by morality” any different from “verdict by whims”? If jurors have the right to ignore the law on “moral” grounds when they render their verdicts, then how does the law have any meaning?

    Mind you, I don’t think a law is inherently right simply because it’s the law. I don’t think an authority figure is inherently right simply because he or she is an authority figure. I agree that mindless obedience to law and authority makes atrocities like the Holocaust possible. Likewise, I believe that people should be able to openly criticize laws, policies, and authority figures, through speech, press, assembly, and protest.

    However, I don’t accept that laws and authority figures are always wrong, thus nobody is ever obligated to respect them. Furthermore, I believe that if jurors can ignore laws they don’t like and deliver verdicts based solely on their personal “morality,” then it cheapens the entire concept of a
    court system. Yes, anyone who is accused of a crime, including civil disobedience, should be able to receive a trial that is as fair and truthful as
    humanly possible. What I don’t see is how “verdict by morality” is any fairer or any more truthful than “verdict by law.”

    Look at the trial of Emmett Till’s murderers. A couple of white guys killed a black teenager for allegedly flirting with the wife of one of the men. The murderers apparently saw their actions as “moral,” or at least justifiable. An all-white jury acquitted them in spite of the evidence. The two murderers later confessed to their crime and sold their story to a reporter, but were never punished. The “conscience of the community” failed—because the jurors felt that it was “moral” for a couple of white men to murder a black teenager for being too familiar with a white woman. Let’s hear it for “moral choice” triumphing over the letter of the law.

    In fairness, DeChristopher’s protest was non-violent; well, some people do non-violent things which they apparently think are “moral,” but others might reasonably disagree. I’ve read about people who thought they could legally avoid paying income
    tax and who cited bizarre interpretations of the Constitution in their defense. I’ve read about a woman who took out a mortgage to buy a house and spouted some legal fiction that she could simply nullify the mortgage (i.e., not pay it) and still keep her house. Should jurors be able to exonerate such people on “moral” grounds? What if DeChristopher’s jurors decided that placing false bids is immoral under any circumstances, and he deserved to be convicted on moral grounds?

    There’s also the matter of the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) brochure you mentioned, i.e., “Your Jury Rights: True or False?” According to the
    brochure, when an Englishman named William Penn was charged with preaching an illegal religion, the jurors acquitted Penn, and “England’s highest court acknowledged their right to reject both law and fact, and to find a verdict according to conscience. . . .” I emailed FIJA about this “right to reject fact.” They responded: “The jury has the power to vote for an acquittal even if the facts indicate guilt. Of course the jury can reject the prosecution’s version of the “facts”. They can disbelieve the prosecution witnesses and experts, and the police, for instance.
    But even if the defendant admits to breaking the law, the jury can vote to acquit.” Does this mean that jurors can legally render verdicts regardless of the evidence, no matter how compelling? I’m no lawyer, but I find that hard to believe. My father, who used to be a civil lawyer, looked at the brochure and described it as “hogwash.” It’s one thing if there’s reason to believe that evidence is fabricated or inaccurate, but FIJA seems to claim that
    jurors don’t have to play by any rules except their own. If we as a nation agree to that, we might as well dispense with the formalities and have everybody make their own individual laws and enforcement procedures—and not have to respect anyone else’s. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to work.

    In addition, you quote John Adams, one of the founding fathers. Nice and good, but the founding fathers weren’t gods; they were perfectly capable of being fallible, self-contradictory, and blatantly hypocritical. You yourself, Mister Moyers, pointed out that many of the founding fathers owned slaves, even while they made moving speeches about freedom and liberty; did that make slavery okay? Also, as I understand it, the totality of United States law and legal procedure is not supposed to be based solely and entirely on the views of any one founding father (including John Adams), or even all of them put together. Besides, they probably changed their minds as often as anyone else, so which views would you use, anyway?

    Finally, DeChristopher admitted to making false bids; if that’s illegal, then—guess what—he’s guilty of violating the law. Anyone who thinks people ought to be able to get away with making bogus bids at auctions has the right to say that to their elected officials and to try to start a movement to change the law. Law is made and modified in the legislature, or by ballot initiative; it’s interpreted and applied in the courtroom. Frankly, I think anyone who says that jurors don’t have to pay attention to law or evidence—as DeChristopher and FIJA seem to be
    saying—has a questionable grip on common sense, not to mention reality. I certainly don’t agree with everything “the establishment” does, but neither do
    I agree that anything goes in the name of challenging it.


    David B. Mitchell

  • David Allen

    that why we have juries nitwit

  • Bob Figueria

    It doesn’t take a mental giant to know whats wrong is wrong and anyone killing anyone else, no matter what color they, are is just wrong by any standard.
    To use that case as leverage against people making desicions based on moral standards is not applicable in the Tim DeChristopher case and to do so is simply wrong.
    It leads me to question the motivation of anyone whos so long winded to support that opinion, to be that of defending those who made the decision to imprision Tim DeChristopher in the first place.

  • KenZimmerman

    I’ll try to say it again, another way. We enact laws in a democracy, through a democratic process to protect all citizens, whether in the majority or minority. Civil disobedience has been a part of democracy as well. But civil disobedience comes with a price when those who practice it violate the law. Anti-nuclear and anti-logging protesters who violate the law of trespass on private property are arrested, and rightly so. But they are willing to pay this price. Dr. King was willing to pay the price for violating laws that called for segregation. All citizens are treated the same. I am not willing to give Mr. DeChristopher a free pass, any more than the nuclear and logging protesters or Dr. King. If he wants to change the oil and gas auction laws or the laws about fraud in bidding then he needs to work on that. If he is not willing to pay the price for violating the laws in place today and doesn’t want to work on changing them then he needs to accept the price of his violation of these laws, as other civil protesters have before him.

  • KenZimmerman

    The call of every tyrant in history has been the same,
    “I’m taking charge to make your life better.” Letting this happen is worse than any
    out-of-balance power aggregations. Americans put equality under the law first because it was literally the only site where all Americans could have a reasonable chance of equality. And over the years that under the law
    equality has pushed back racial, religious, ethnic, gender, etc. discrimination. Certainly not a perfect system but as Winston Churchill quipped “better than any other we
    have.” If Mr. DeChristopher engages in civil disobedience that involves violating the law he needs to be ready to accept that he may be punished for such actions, as have protesters in the past. I don’t understand why that’s a controversial conclusion.

  • Ric Curtis


    “If Mr. DeChristopher engages in civil disobedience that involves
    violating the law he needs to be ready to accept that he may be punished
    for such actions…”

    If fact that is what Tim DeChristopher did, and he was ready to accept the consequences, and he has been punished. Perhaps you may review this ‘controversy’ again, from the video forward, to determine just exactly what is is being discussed here.

    Thank you Tim. Keep the conversation vigorous, impassioned, and informative.

  • Ric Curtis

    How refreshing to bring into the discussion – questioning the mental capacity, the moral standards, and the motivations of the contributor. What was the issue?

  • KenZimmerman

    Ric, correct me if I misinterpret the interview but it seems Mr. DeChristopher characterizes the actions of the prosecutor and judge as at least questionable and certainly distasteful. I’ve been involved in many trials and they seem to be neither to me. If he discussed just his passion for what’s wrong and willingness to suffer legal sanctions to change them I’d have no quarrel with him. But he seems to contend the judge and prosecutor behaved wrongly in their prosecution of him. And he seems to want to be treated as an exception to the law. What’s worse many of the commenters agree with this position. Once we begin carving out exceptions to the laws there really is no end to it. There is too much of this already for political and money interests, which I have also strongly argued against. Mr.DeChristopher shouldn’t be excepted either.

  • Anne Mayhood

    I am so proud of this young man also! Seriously, what can we do to help you Tim? I will check out Peaceful Uprising to see if they have some suggestions. The world needs more people like Tim DeChristopher.

  • Robert Hodge

    While you make some salient points in your dissertation, the overall concept of Jury Nullification would seem to apply when there appears to be injustice within the LAW itself. This would bear out the case for a Nullification situation. A “case by case” basis, where the jury is FULLY INFORMED (which in many cases they are not!) If the jury isn’t supposed to consider all aspects of both the case AND the law, what’s the point of even having a jury in the first place? Just to ‘rubber stamp’ the official dictates? One of the reasons one would endure the tribulations of a Jury, in my opinion, would be to judge the LAW as well as the offense. Again, if the jury was just there to lend some form of ‘legitimacy’ to the case – window dressing – if you will.. then there is not point in even HAVING a jury at all.

  • Ric Curtis

    Ken, in my view you have properly interpreted Mr. DeChristopher’s characterization of the actions of the prosecutor and judge as at least questionable and certainly distasteful, for what that is worth.

    My sense also is that you and I are circling around very fine-line distinctions regarding ‘The DeChristopher Story’. My attempt is to discuss very broadly the systems of attitude, governance, and justice in today’s America. ‘The DeChristopher Story’ serves as a proper catalyst for such discussion. I begin with a sensitivity for the lost liberties in the general population and even more so the ever-growing sense of helplessness permeating much of American society.

    The American version of governance was, is and continues to be, without peer, the best yet to be implemented. Reasoned and impassioned support continues to be necessary. And for that, I thank you Ken.

    However, I fear the truth of: “Democracies are not lost by measured exceptions to their own rules. They are lost to impossibly out of balance power concentrations over time.” Minor anecdotal examples: Wall Street and the Bankers (add CEOs and large corporates) continue to party on in the aftermath of the largest financial debacle in history – no jail time, no chagrin for that matter. Political parties no longer concern themselves with governance but only with winning – Marketing the brand not seeking proper answers for American.

    My answer is to rekindle the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Further, in the American spirit of early America, to create a new economic system upon selected strong pillars of progressives joined with conservatives, capitalism joined with socialism, common sense joined with advanced engineering.

    No small task. No it hasn’t been done since the Founding Father sat together. However, the time is ripe for serious intellectual, social, societal non-violent revolution. The true magic of the experiment known as the USA is that non-violent revolution is a genuine possibility.

    That’s it for now.

  • Sawyer Heavensgate

    Mr. Moyer, This may not be something you are willing to pass on to Tim, but I have a message for him. If he is going to seminary because he wants to serve the creators of the planet (who are NOT religious or spiritual or dead or human or human equivalent space aliens, and I know that gets a big chuckle from most) then seminary will, if he is thirsty for truth simply show him how NOT to serve those creator beings agenda for the planet. Now, he may have to learn that by doing what he is led to do and that of course is fine, but in the process he will be challenged to show what he really wants, like said, to serve the creator Beings agenda or a human agenda. One can not have two masters to serve, Each of us must and especially at this time decide between those Creator Beings and the human kingdom. The other thing he may want to study is the recent research that suggests that the Sun (Sol) is by in large the biggest or even the sol contributing agent to global warming, which is being regulated by those Creator Beings because it’s time to recycle the civilization because of how far afield most humans have gone from actually recognizing the reality of their existence and the purpose to our existence in the first place. If he want to know the source of this communication, then I suggest he project his asking as far away from the planet as he can imagine and then open his mind to see (not hear) the response by following the threads presented him. And of course this works for anyone if it’s a sincere desire. There is a small window open for this kind of heart felt desire to know the truth (reality).

  • KenZimmerman

    Ric, a quote back at you. “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.” (Lincoln, 1st inaugural address). And yet Lincoln lead a bloody war against Southern secessionists when they proposed dismembering the country. So obviously Lincoln believed keeping the country whole was more important than a revolution over states’ rights. I agree. You and others talk of revolution as if you know what it is and what it will bring. You do not. Mr. DeChristopher does not. As for the grievances you list they’ve been with us since the nation was set up. They improve and then get worse, back and forth. But so far there has been slow progress in making democracy work. Don’t be so impatient! We just need to keep working on making it better one discussion, one law, one election, one war at a time.

  • Ric Curtis

    I apologize for my impatient as I do try to keep it in check. And also for my naivete toward knowing what revolution is or what it will bring. I certainly do emphasize non-violence in that thinking. I am learning every day and this discussion board and our exchange have been good in this effort. Thanks.

  • Sandy Olson

    and that is why I am not for professional juries. Professionals are not necessarily the brightest bulbs but rather merely have knowledge in a very narrow spectrum. This is not what I want in a jury. Nice try though.

  • Sandy Olson

    Is Tim DeChristopher right? That is up for debate about what the rule of law inherently means. Was Tim DeChristopher railroaded? No doubt about that. Was the judge out of line? Definitely. He overstepped his authority and intimidated the jury. He should have been removed. DeChristopher needed a better lawyer.

  • Montaigne Lover

    Go visit the place in Utah he put in bids for, and see if you think it’s “moral” to tear up such a place for short term profit and energy needs. Then, read some Thoreau :)

  • Montaigne Lover

    Also, our system, political and economical, is largely broken and people are going to start taking matters into their own hands. Let us HOPE that most of those people act like this gentleman; let us hope many of those people have some morality and philosophy in them :) The alternatives are not nearly as appealing I suspect

  • Anonymous

    Years ago I got a ticket for going 70 in a 55 zone. One year later the limit in that zone was raised to 65. I already plead not guilty because the 2 lane northbound lane was empty. I was found guilty and fined. Could I go back and ask to have my fine returned? Of course not. The point is this. As much as I admire what Tim’s goal was, he committed fraud. People could have driven hundreds of miles to go to that auction. He didn’t care. He took a chance. He did something that was legally wrong. Why he turned down a plea and 30 days is beyond me. He voided the auction. He did what he wanted to do by breaking the law. And the jury had every right to convict him. Was two years too much? Yes. But he bet and lost….his fault…not the governments. I like Mr Moyers. I like what Mr DeChristopher was trying to do. But the fact that the government declared the auction void, doesn’t void the actions taken which were against the law at the time. Just like me and the traffic ticket. Tough luck.
    Seminary? I suggest he read a book first…”The Closing of the Western Mind” by Freeman.

  • Anonymous

    He’s going to be a Unitarian Universalist Minister — big difference between UUs and just about every other religion out there. UUs have a very long history of working for social justice.

  • Anonymous

    the last few minutes of the interview more than address your point.

  • Leinanij

    I worked for a judge for 5 years and am appalled at what the judge in Mr. DeChristopher’s case did. Of course the jurors should vote their conscience. That is their job. If the prosecutor didn’t prove to them beyond a reasonable doubt his case, they should vote to acquit. Collectively, 12 people and 12 different minds are the best justice system in the world. It is a sad day in America when that system is hijacked by those manipulating the outcome to thwart justice.

  • Ric Curtis

    I sincerely doubt the person in the robe was a moron but otherwise Anthony you are 100% on.

  • Anthony Noel

    Well, you’re probably right. Then again, uniforms can have powerful effects on otherwise intelligent people.

  • Silverbear Heart

    Michigan Misconduct Michigan is facing many allegations of judicial misconduct within the court and legal system. Judges are not always on the up and up.

  • Ric Curtis

    OK. I’ll bite. Which group was it that is always on the up and up. Even the angels have their rogues. Few ‘in robes’ are morons however; I’ll stick to my original posting.

  • Katy

    I find it inspiring to hear about this man’s sacrifice and commitment, and excited about his future as a minister. We need more radical folks like this in the church – radical in the right way. I see many have commented concerned that he will come out of seminary with his head addled with religious fundamentalism. Not only does this show their ignorance of the diversity present in many American Christian denominations, it also shows their close-minded beliefs that unless you are thinking with science, then you are wrong. Science helps us understand this world and the damage we are doing to it, and can also show us rich beauty present in this world and out of it – but the type of decision and commitment Tim shows is deeper than just a rational, scientific decision. Call it spiritual, religious, emotional, moral, what have you, but I admire that he sees the need for a deeper source of motivation and solidarity than just pure rational thinking. He’s articulated himself well enough and shown himself to be thoughtful and intelligent enough that you should give him the credit he deserves for doing what he knows is right for him. I am also sure he is fully aware of the violence the church has historically perpetuated and continues to perpetuate, yet he knows that it has also been a source for good. I have high hopes for him and the people he works with and inspires in the future. I hope he continues to build real people power and hope in this time of rising global inequality and disaster.

  • maple

    The United States was born out of an act of civil disobedience.

  • LindaInJersey

    I think so.

  • jeroboambramblejam

    Still wrong. Just because someone is willing to risk fine or incarceration for violating the law doesn’t mean they should have to. The point of civil disobedience is to raise the issue of unjust laws and, hopefully, rescind them.
    You say “… If he wants to change the oil and gas auction laws or the laws about fraud in bidding then he needs to work on that.” Well, he is working on that, and the overwhelming encouragement evidenced here – and the fact that the auction was discontinued – demonstrates the efficacy of his honest work.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    Tim is not a Christian. He is a Unitarian Universalist, which is not a Christian faith. Has not been since the end of the 19th century. Some of us are Christians, but our faith is not.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    You are pretty arrogant in your assumption about what seminary will and will not do. You have no idea of Tim’s spirituality or what he will encounter at seminary. You seem more than a little delusional to think you know what is best and what will happen.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    He paid the price – what part of two years in jail do you not understand? He is simply saying that he should have had to do two years in jail – and he’s right. You don’t like what he did and are using the ‘rule of law’ idea to make your case. It would be more honest of you to simply say that you disagree with Tim’s purpose and practice.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    You also insist on having the last word, even when it is clear that you and others disagree over some fundamental points. I think you are a dishonest discussant….you do not like what Tim did and are dancing around that in every way that you can except honestly.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    Ah, but you do not understand that the apparently simple concept of ‘equality before the law’ may not be so simple. And, it simply may not be the most important principle here, however much you would like to dream that it is.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    Tim wants to be a Unitarian Universalist minister because he believes that much of our social malaise is spiritual – and I agree with him. Trust Tim to know what’s best and right for him and not second-guess that.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    The Unitarian Universalist faith is not a Christian faith and has not been since the end of the 19th century. So, to lump it in with ‘the church’ (meaning the Christian tradition) is a factual error – and wrong in many other ways.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    The Unitarian Universalist faith is not a Christian faith – it has no creed or doctrine. Harvard is not a Christian seminary; it was historically a Unitarian seminary and is currently nondenominational.

  • Cyndi Simpson

    There is no equivalent between your traffic ticket and Tim’s act of civil disobedience. To equate them is very sloppy thinking. As for seminary, you clearly have no understanding of Tim’s non-Christian faith (Unitarian Universalism) and his sense of call to the ministry. It is presumptuous on your part to assume that you do.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure if you’re taking issue with my comment or not, but suffice it to say that yes, many UUs don’t identify as Christian, but some do, and the church does have links with Christian history and has responded to orthodox Christian theology. One could certainly make the argument that when one discusses the spectrum of Christian traditions including UU at one end of the spectrum is wholly appropriate. I, however, didn’t make that argument. I only noted that UU s not “the” (read: “the only”) church or tradition to prioritize questioning over answering, Christian or otherwise. It is clear, though, that part of the context for these discussions, referenced implicitly in the original comment, is that American religion is synonymous with “the Christian Right”- fundamentally literalist, paralytically dogmatic, and hopelessly antimodern. The rush to distinguish DeChristopher from that crowd inadvertently reinforced the stereotype(suggesting, indirectly, that UU is the only exception to dogmatism in the marketplace of American religion),
    and I sought to correct it. It’s always an interesting topic, though, so thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

  • Katy


  • KenZimmerman

    Cyndi, whenever I hear of any civil disobedience I always consider two things first, First, and lesser importance did the acts of disobedience harm others? Second, and more important did the acts harm US democracy and equality before the law? Civil disobedience is not a license to do whatever you want irrespective of the harm done. In this case the acts harmed others by defrauding them of their rights to bid at public auction. In most states this is a low level misdemeanor punishable by a fine and a year or two in jail. So Mr. DeChristopher did his time. His acts did not harm US democracy or equality before the law. But his contention that the judge and prosecutor acted wrongly to press for his conviction and insist that the jury follow the law if put into practice would endanger democracy and equality before the law. So what happens then when the next protester commits civil disobedience to disrupt an oil and gas lease auction to keep a local Native American tribe from bidding? Should that protester be put on trial or not?

  • Anonymous

    Tim Christopher should be an inspiration to all of us who are so unhappy about the extremely right-winged corporate-fascist direction taken by our country. And yet have not been able to find a way to peacefully and productively resist this grim and dark trend. These forces are so determined to take away our civil liberties while selling off The Earth’s health for a buck. They are well financed and for nearly 4 decades have been gaming the system while financially disenfranchising most people through debt, a terrible education system and hopelessness. Let’s all start to find our consciences and hoots bah.

  • Anonymous

    We both broke the law.When you risk breaking the law, the law is obligated to punish you. Sloppy to you..not to me. I am happy he’s a Unitarian and you were correct on that comment.

  • Philip Colgan

    Here is a man with the kind of guts, wisdom and tenacity to possibly become a real leader. Kudos to Tim DeChristopher for doing something this courageous. Civil Disobedience to make a difference in this case really worked; also thanks to President Obama for the continued protection of this land.

  • slimpickins

    Lobbyists are another of the dark entities systematically dismantling America’s Democratic system. Their goal is to privatise America under their control and their rules. ALEC is the Dark Lord of lobbyists (It is designated as a non-profit org.). If, as the psychotic Supreme Court declared corps. are individuals or “a person”, ALEC is an extreme sociopath “who” has no, what-so-ever compassion for the public of this country. It is laser-focused on it’s own monetarily advancement. In real life sociopaths who commit crimes are put in prisons or mental institutions. Not ALEC, they keep writing 1,000’s of bills to congress members of both parties in state and federal governments for them to introduce the bills ALEC writes, and introduce them infinately. With lobbyists and corporations teamed to bring Democracy to it’s knees, the population must start waking up. If you haven’t seen the hour long documentary on Bill Moyers’ about ALEC, please watch it, it’s very disturbing. I had to watch it twice to catch all the dishonesty and half-truths.

  • Jenna Shokri

    Lots of respect for what he did.

  • Deborah Coleman

    I Love your consciousness.

  • Guest

    I thought this article on Tim DeChristopher to be
    very moving. It really made me think about our role as citizens to our nation
    and what we should do to better our country. I never really thought about our
    role as citizens and how we have an impact on our society until taking a class,
    which taught us about cultural resistance, neoliberalism, activism, political
    issues, different forms of protest, etc. In this class we talked about this
    idea of agency, which is the ability for people to impact their world. Tying
    this to Tim, he felt that it was his moral duty to step into the auction,
    knowing it was illegal; in order to do what he believed would save the climate,
    the land, and the oil. Despite his moral actions, he was sent to prison because
    it was against the justice system, which makes me question the rights of the
    jury trail. To me, Tim is a perfect role model for citizens who want to impact
    their society. I agree that to break a law, you should feel strongly about it
    that it is out of line with the values of our community. Like Tim, you should
    be willing to make that sacrifice, willing to act on what you believe because
    what happens now will affect the future. Tim’s actions portrayed civil
    disobedience, which is a part of this idea of agency. According to Tim’s belief
    and ideas, I see that he is against neoliberalism. We talk about neoliberalism
    in class and I agree to what Tim said that the government is trying to
    concentrate their power within the government itself who are the elite and not
    the people, which what it should be. People are the conscience of society. Tim
    stated something that caught my attention when he said that neoliberalism tries
    to make people afraid of the government by forcing them to accept whatever
    corporations want to do when in reality, it is the government, the elite, who
    are afraid of the people and their conscience. That is why the elite try to
    gain political and economic power to gain control of people and to prevent
    people from rallying against them. As citizens we can make change. We have
    “people power” like Tim says. I find it moving how Tim has inspired people to
    take strong actions for society like what he did on the oil climate crisis.

  • Rashan Chanyothi

    I thought this article on Tim DeChristopher to be very moving. It really made me think about our role as citizens to our nation and what we should do to better our country. I never really thought about our role as citizens and how we have an impact on our society until taking a class, which taught us about cultural resistance, neoliberalism, activism, political issues, different forms of protest, etc. In this class we talked about this idea of agency, which is the ability for people to impact their world. Tying this to Tim, he felt that it was his moral duty to step into the auction, knowing it was illegal; in order to do what he believed would save the climate, the land, and the oil. Despite his moral actions, he was sent to prison because it was against the justice system, which makes me question the rights of the jury trail. To me, Tim is a perfect role model for citizens who want to impact their society. I agree that to break a law, you should feel strongly about it that it is out of line with the values of our community. Like Tim, you should be willing to make that sacrifice, willing to act on what you believe because what happens now will affect the future. Tim’s actions portrayed civil disobedience, which is a part of this idea of agency. According to Tim’s belief and ideas, I see that he is against neoliberalism. We talk about neoliberalism in class and I agree to what Tim said that the government is trying to concentrate their power within the government itself who are the elite and not the people, which what it should be. People are the conscience of society. Tim stated something that caught my attention when he said that neoliberalism tries to make people afraid of the government by forcing them to accept whatever corporations want to do when in reality, it is the government, the elite, who are afraid of the people and their conscience. That is why the elite try to gain political and economic power to gain control of people and to prevent people from rallying against them. As citizens we can make change. We have “people power” like Tim says. I find it moving how Tim has inspired people to take strong actions for society like what he did on the oil climate crisis.

  • Anonymous

    What a valuable expenditure of tax dollars preventing an actual person from bidding on public property. The very thought of it! It might have been wasted on PE coaches or even music and art in the public schools. Oh the humanity of it all!

  • barbtries

    Question for Tim Christopher: how many of the would-be jurors told the judge they could not lay aside their own ethics and morals?