Well, that’s not exactly what he said he did, but according to this story in the Deseret News, Tim DeChristopher decided to take his environmental activism to the next level by lying  his head off.

Actually, the story is pretty sympathetic to the guy.  It notes that he was tired after a long day of media attention after being “thrust into the public spotlight” after going to an auction for oil and gas prospecting leases on federally owned BLM lands.  Things didn’t slow down on Saturday either.  Poor guy.

What exactly did Tim DeChristopher think would happen if he went in to a highly anticipated and controversial auction and lie all day long about his bids on parcels of land?  

Can’t your normal law abiding citizen simply walk into an auction and fraudulently bid up the prices on several parcels of land and even place winning bids on 13 different parcels of land with no intention of every paying out on those bids? The U.S. Attorney’s office will evaluate whether charges will be filed after the FBI turns in their final report investigating the events of last Friday and Tim DeChristopher’s actions that day.

The thing that is the most disappointing in the article is that it is so sympathetic to a guy who decided that rampant lying was the best way to have his voice heard.  

If you think this is too harsh, Tim DeChristopher freely admits that he was purposely running up bids and winning bids with no intention or ability to make good on the bids.  Or in other words, lying.

This is completely unacceptable.  Resorting to tactics that are immoral and possibly illegal to support your cause merely undermines the cause.  While Tim DeChristopher’s political affiliation is not stated, it is common enough for environmental activists to be part of the Democratic Party.  The number one political enemy of the Democratic Party in the early 1970’s was Richard M. Nixon who was among other things, a liar in the pursuit of his political ends.  One of the chief accusations against President Bush is that he lied us into a war for oil.

Adopting similar underhanded and immoral tactics to fight for your cause is wrong, no matter how moral or idealistic you may be.   The justification of merely wanting to do more and cross the line is insufficient and flimsy at best.

Fortunately, he is only one voice, right?  Wrong.  According to the article:

DeChristopher said he felt refreshed to see and hear the response he had received from other activists and the general public supporting his cause. Through e-mail, DeChristopher said people shared their support and that his action had inspired them to take action of their own.

What I did was significant, but it won’t change the world,” DeChristopher said. “But if I can inspire others with this, then it has the potential to make a significant impact.”

Inspiring people to do bad things in support of their cause smacks of extremeism that leads to other justifications of law breaking and bad decision making.

Let’s hope that people are not that inspired to follow DeChristopher’s example.  Shame on the Deseret News for painting such a sympathetic and admiring picture of a man who chose to let his moral compass be skewed.

Comments Welcome

UPDATE:  More Stories today in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.  The DN article has a quote from someone calling Tim’s actions “‘in the best tradition of civil disobedience, he did this without causing any physical or material harm,'”.  Riiiight.  Whatever happened to petition drives, peaceful sit ins where trespassing was the problem, or marches, or other things where honesty was still part of the deal?  

If we all agree lying is OK if the cause is just, pretty soon we won’t be able to trust anyone.