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Jailed environmental activist Rebecca Rubin sentenced to read Malcolm Gladwell

As part of her sentence for conspiracy and arson, imprisoned B.C. environmental activist Rebecca Rubin has been given some reading homework.

U.S. District Court judge Ann Aiken ordered Rubin to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, along with Nature’s Trust by University of Oregon environmental law professor Mary C. Wood. According to the CBC, Aiken suggested Gladwell’s book could teach Rubin “non-violent means to protesting systems she perceives as unjust.”

In late 2012, after seven years of living as a fugitive in Canada, Rubin turned herself in to the FBI for participating in 20 fires set by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. She was sentenced to five years in prison, 200 hours of community service, and ordered to pay nearly $14 million in restitution.

  • R.W.K.T.

    Why Don’t They Just Make Her Read From MY Book. Heaven Knows I Need The Royalties From Sales. Modern Canadian Poetry… AnyOne?

  • Vegetarian Taliban

    Gladwell is a neocon shill. It’s better to learn nonviolence from Gandhi and/or Martin Luther King.

  • Deaver Brown

    Gandhi and MLK would be good. Mandela too. But Gladwell has the most insightful comments of our time. Like Peter Drucker, he is apolitical.

    He was a staff writer for the New Yorker, a left oriented periodical. Gladwell’s thoughts in the Tipping Point and Outlier are intellectually challenging and worthy of Ross, Dorothy Parker, and Thurber in the old days glory days of The New Yorker.

  • Dee

    I’ve read one Malcolm Gladwell essay. He was either severely brainwashed or shilling for big pharma — whole thing was about how menstruating was bad for women as evidenced by the doctors who work for a company who created embedded birth control that stops menstrual flow altogether. That was a pathetic display of “journalism.” Can’t say I was eager to read more of his pap.

  • Michael Black

    Nelson Mandela would not be a good choice, people forget that the ANC moved away from non-violence and that Nelson Mandela was in prison for bombing.

    This shows how little people have read about nonviolence.

    I was given “David & Goliath” for Christmas. It would be better served as an essay rather than a book. The examples are interesting, but the reading of those examples is more important than the basic point he’s trying to make, indeed he often embeds examples within examples. The essay would be more about the point, rather than the book and its examples.

    And since I just finished the chapter on the civil rights movement, it’s a horrible book for saying much about the topic. The civil rights movement, well the non-violence aspect, was built on the foundation of WWII pacifists who went to prison. James Farmer and Bayard Rustin were two black men who went to prison instead of war, but as soon as Jim Peck got to prison, he started a campaign to desegregate the dining hall. Other important pacifists did time too. When they got out, they turned towards civil rights. Malcolm Gladwell’s version has the nonviolence as a tactic and a very deliberate calculating application of it, which I sure don’t get from all that I’ve read of the movement.
    The power of the civil rights movement does come from people deciding they will be treated differently, and overcoming the fear they lived with. It’s about challenging unjust laws directly, but in the willingness to break those laws, gained their own power.


  • Vegetarian Taliban

    That’s actually backwards. The ANC did embrace violence but when Mandela got into power he turned away from it and towards nonviolence.

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