Folks in Utah, even liberals, believe in rule of law. For instance, when monkey wrencher Tim DeChristopher bought $1.8 million in oil and gas leases in 2008 to stall a federal drilling auction, he accepted the price of civil disobedience, was convicted and did the time—22 months in a federal prison. He's now studying theology at Harvard.
But the same rule of law doesn't seem to apply to right-wing activists when they are civilly disobedient. For instance, Utah Rep. Mike Noel in 2009 egged on a group of ATVers who invaded the fragile Paria River area to protest federal ownership. Mike, nor anyone else, was ever charged, let alone prosecuted.
Rootin' tootin' Mike
The feds will get another chance to provide justice to right-wing practitioners of civil disobedience. Last weekend, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman organized a parade of 200 camo-clad, gun-wielding yahoos on wheels into the fragile ecosystem of Recapture Canyon. The BLM, he said, had “overreached” in closing the area to protect it and its priceless prehistoric sites.
Wannabe civil disobedience martyr Phil
Lyman found allies in the "militiamen" followers of Nevada slavery advocate Cliven Bundy—who denies the existence of the U.S. government, not to mention its overreaching Emancipation Proclamation.
Apparently the whole thing got a little too edgy for even Wild Phil, who belatedly tried to talk the mob out of tearing up the canyon. An armed militia member explained to the hyperventilating commissioner: "It’s your god-given right to go down and ride through that canyon and to hell with the media."
Federal officers avoided direct confrontations with the armed group, but photographed the event, saying they would "pursue all available redress through the legal system to hold the lawbreakers accountable."
Lyman should be easy for the Federales to track down. The county commission meets at 10:00 a.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at the San Juan County Courthouse, 117 S. Main St., Monticello.
Update: It gets crazier.