Saturday, January 16, 2016
Using direct action, a group of climate activists stopped an oil train in Washington in Sept. and got arrested. They hoped to use the "necessity" defense in their trial, asserting their illegal action was the only way to stop a greater harm from occurring. The judge, who has discretion, decided not to allow the defense then changed his mind, causing quite a kerfluffel. Unfortunately, two days into the trial he declared the defense had failed to prove the necessity of the actions and the protesters were found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing. The judge and jury sympathized with the cause of saving the planet but the Law is Real. The classic example of necessity is an inmate finding it necessary to escape a burning jail cell. Any judge allowing the necessity defense is in effect saying we are inmates with no legal effective legal channels and the planet is on fire. He would be admitting the system of government is corrupt and/or totally useless, that Constitutional democracy and jurisprudence channeling power to the people and creating legal recourse is a sham. And what judge is going to admit that? There is a temporal question of "immanence" as well, that the wheels of justice turn quick enough to prevent the harm ( the burning) in time. Ah yes, Time. This week oil prices continued their plunge, dragging stock markets along with it. Coal giant Arch declared bankruptcy and sluffed off billions in debt. Capitalism being what is, there will be a barbaric, bloody frenzy of mergers and acquisitions as the big swallow the small. Obama threw a little fuel on the fire by putting a moratorium on coal leasing on public lands. Expect more Bundy occupations. Meanwhile I have been reaching out to various climate groups urging we strike big while the iron is hot, proposing a unified action of mass civil disobedience this summer; "filling the jails". All the big groups are proposing escalation, but unity goes against a certain anarchist strain which is prevalent in the movement and so far no one has gotten back to me to even argue it.