This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Judge Dee Benson was right in determining that Tim DeChristopher is dangerous. He was right in delivering a stiff sentence in a federal prison to try and silence him if what the judge fears is an evolving democracy. And we can all thank him for showing us how terrifying civil resistance is to the power structures of the United States of America, when a citizen, especially a student, steps forward in an act of courage when justice is being denied.
But Judge Benson was dead wrong when he reprimanded DeChristopher for speaking out after his conviction in March. He stated during the sentencing hearing that DeChristopher might not have faced prosecution, let alone prison, if it were not for that "continuing trail of statements."
DeChristopher spoke on the steps of the federal courthouse after being convicted on two felony charges after being denied the right to tell his story in court about how public lands fell prey to industry cozy with the BLM and why a fossil fuels future endangers all of us. This "continuing trail of statements" is called freedom of speech, Your Honor, not "anarchy." We are all shamed by this sentence. The criminal is not DeChristopher but our justice system.
Terry Tempest Williams