“Prison turned out to be not nearly as bad as I expected… We have a vastly different justice system today than we had a generation ago, with an order of magnitude of more people in prison, and one of the things that people don’t stop and think about, is that one of the consequences of mass incarceration is that our prison are filled with really normal people. Mass incarceration did not happen because of some drastic shift in human nature. It happend because the private prison industry was able to change our laws that allows us to lock up a lot more normal people.”
“My public statements about jury nullification were not the only political statements that Mr. Huber thinks I should be punished for. As the government’s memorandum points out, I have also made public statements about the value of civil disobedience in bringing the rule of law closer to our shared sense of justice. In fact, I have openly and explicitly called for nonviolent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal coal mining in my home state of West Virginia. Mountaintop removal is itself an illegal activity, which has always been in violation of the Clean Water Act, and it is an illegal activity that kills people. A West Virginia state investigation found that Massey Energy had been cited with 62,923 violations of the law in the ten years preceding the disaster that killed 29 people last year. The investigation also revealed that Massey paid for almost none of those violations because the company provided millions of dollars worth of campaign contributions that elected most of the appeals court judges in the state. When I was growing up in West Virginia, my mother was one of many who pursued every legal avenue for making the coal industry follow the law. She commented at hearings, wrote petitions and filed lawsuits, and many have continued to do ever since, to no avail. I actually have great respect for the rule of law, because I see what happens when it doesn’t exist, as is the case with the fossil fuel industry. Those crimes committed by Massey Energy led not only to the deaths of their own workers, but to the deaths of countless local residents, such as Joshua McCormick, who died of kidney cancer at age 22 because he was unlucky enough to live downstream from a coal mine. When a corrupted government is no longer willing to uphold the rule of law, I advocate that citizens step up to that responsibility.”
Tim DeChristopher: “This Is What Hope Looks Like”
askjerves: Everyone should read Tim DeChristopher’s pre-sentencing comments (through that link to Yes! Magazine above). And then everyone who’s outraged should do something. Something with more impact than reblogging or signing an e-petition. Like getting loud or maybe getting arrested. We’re losing to the greedy rich who simply don’t care about the health of most humans, or the well-being of future generations. We’re losing because we’re complacent. One guy goes and does something heroic, and a lot of us clap our hands and nod approvingly and like and reblog, but, so far, very few others are following suit, or doing anything else that might compromise our own comfortable lives.
I interviewed DeChristopher last year, and one thing he said really stuck with me. He said:
You know how Gandhi said you have to “be the change you want to see in the world.” Well the change that most of us wish to see is a carbon tax, but our leaders aren’t doing that for us, so Gandhi’s call is then for us to be the carbon tax. What does that mean—to “be the carbon tax?” To cost the fossil fuel industry money in any way that we can. Getting in their way, slowing them down, shutting them down. Doing whatever we can to be that tax. It forces our leaders to make a choice—to either be more explicit in their war on the young generation, to to get serious about stopping climate change.
So what to do? My friend and mentor Bill wrote this today, about DeChristopher and a mass action planned for DC in late August.
And it’s time for you to take the same kind of responsibility. In a few weeks, those of us at tarsandsaction.org will be gathering in Washington DC for two weeks of civil disobedience against the proposed Keystone Pipeline, that will carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico. Jim Hansen, the NASA climatologist, says that if those tar sands are fully exploited it’s “essentially game over for the climate.” If those words don’t inspire you to act, nothing will — and so far more than a thousand have signed on, meaning this will be the largest civil disobedience action in the history of the country’s climate movement.
This action won’t be as risky as Tim’s. People are signing up to come to DC for three days. On the first they’ll attend nonviolence training, and on the second they’ll sit down in front of the White House. No one knows for sure how the police will react, but the legal experts say jail time will likely be measured in hours, not years. Still, it’s a very real way to say to President Obama (who will make the Keystone decision all by himself) that this is the great moral issue of our time.
Time to get serious.