It was December 2008, back when the American left was smiling itself to sleep every night that Barack Obama had been elected and would be able to fix most of America's problems in his first term, when environmental extremist Tim DeChristopher infiltrated an auction for oil-drilling land. He won 13 bids and drove up the prices on others. I remember reading an alternative weekly at the time that implied DeChristopher believed he would get a pardon from the new president.
Well, he got a felony conviction instead. Unfortunately, he only received a two year sentence and is now free, despite the untold amount of damages he inflicted.
Every left wing loon has praised DeChristopher for his so-called civil disobedience, which has come to mean a willingness to commit crimes because one thinks their personal value judgments makes them above the law and traditional moral values.
For what it's worth, President Obama can not be understood as a far-left extremist because people like Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein show how out there they can be. She saw fit to get arrested on purpose to draw attention to herself, hoping the public would assume she is being arrested merely for her political views and not trying to storm into a building where the president is located or aiding "human shields" who hold themselves hostage to block work crews. And that was just in the past month.
I'm written before how the American left likes to fantasize that they are in a good versus evil struggle like the civil rights movement was, and will justify engaging in civil disobedience not over racist laws but anything they disagree with, even if it involves violence against innocent people. They don't just see getting arrested as a means to an end, they revel in it. It reminds me of what Bryan Caplan said that the protagonist of Crime and Punishment was a Leninist because of, among other things, his:
Eager, poetic embrace of the implication that mass murder is conceivably morally justified; indeed, morally required.
The big problem with this rush to break any law that stands in the way is that sometimes these people have a warped view of reality and the greater evil they think they are fighting turns out not to exist, leaving them to commit crimes in a way that does not actually benefit the greater good. Steven Pinker hit upon this idea as well:
...there are ideologies, such as those of militant religions, nationalism, Nazism, and Communism, that justify vast outlays of violence by a Utopian cost-benefit analysis: if your belief system holds out the hope of a world that will be infinitely good forever, how much violence are you entitled to perpetrate in pursuit of this infinitely perfect world?
Well, as much as much as you want, and you're always ahead of the game. The benefits always outweigh the costs. Moreover, imagine that there are people who hear about your scheme for a perfect world and just don't get with the program. They might oppose you in bringing heaven to earth. How evil are they? They're the only things standing in the way of an infinitely good Earth. Well, you do the math.
When people believe their political positions allow them to transcend the morals of following the law, no matter what level of severity that takes, they are committing a major act of hubris. They don't think the rules apply to them anymore because they know something everyone else doesn't. Sadly, there is nothing stopping fools from reaching these conclusions and acting on them.