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Eco-Sabateur Sentenced
May 24, 2007 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Sentencing has begun in the largest eco-terrorism sting to date. Is a recent string of arsons in Portland related?
posted by valentinepig (237 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This is my friend Suzie, one of the accused. She faces 5 - 13 years as a lookout. The debate over the harshness of the penalty rages.
posted by valentinepig at 10:01 AM on May 24, 2007


These ones really do hate us for our freedom.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:03 AM on May 24, 2007


I don't know, I'd have more sympathy for them if they did something useful or had a message aside from WE WILL BLOW SUVS UP MUTHAFUCKA.

"ecoterrorism" sounds like a loaded phrase, but reading the Portland arson story it's pretty freaking close to random acts of terror meant to scare people away from using certain cars.

Do they actually think they're doing more to change minds? It sure seems these kind of tactics will simply turn their opponents stronger and weaken the good cause.
posted by mathowie at 10:03 AM on May 24, 2007


I have to pretty much agree that these guys are terrorists by almost any definition. And 5-13 years for two counts of arson doesn't sound unreasonable even if you discount the terrorism.

Just because they also like puppies and butterflies doesn't make them the good guys.
posted by DU at 10:07 AM on May 24, 2007


They should have burned up some poor people instead of some SUVs. Their sentences probably would have been lighter.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:28 AM on May 24, 2007


Friend of mine dated Jonathan Paul. He was a crappy person to be in a relationship with, IIRC.
posted by everichon at 10:28 AM on May 24, 2007


And 5-13 years for two counts of arson doesn't sound unreasonable even if you discount the terrorism.

Seems sorta harsh for me, but then again I've lived outside of America so long I've forgotten how to hate.
posted by three blind mice at 10:30 AM on May 24, 2007


What they did should get them some time, but it sure as hell != terror with its current connotations (blowing people up, beheading people, etc, etc.).
posted by everichon at 10:30 AM on May 24, 2007


free
posted by parmanparman at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2007


The debate over the harshness of the penalty rages.

Does it? Your link says that Suzie pleaded guilty to two incidents of arson. If she were being sentenced to life, or being let off with probation, I could envision a "raging debate"; but 5–13 years sounds about right to me.

Your first link says that Stanislas Meyerhoff drew "the second harshest term ever delivered to an eco-saboteur in Oregon" — but that was 13 years, for a campaign of serial arsons that apparently qualified him for life imprisonment. Note that the government didn't ask for life imprisonment; and in fact, the sentence was 3 years shorter than what the prosecutors did ask for.

Maybe you could explain the "raging debate," and what it contends. I'm not seeing it.
posted by cribcage at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2007


From the CNN link:

"Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what the motive," FBI Director Robert Mueller said.

That is the purest gibberish. "Terrorism" is entirely defined by motive. If I torch your car because you owe me money, is that terrorism? If I torch your car to scare others away from buying that model of car, is that terrorism? If I torch your car because I hate your government's policies in Israel, is that terrorism?

According to Mueller, they are either all terrorism or all not terrorism, because motive is not relevant. Since they're the same act, they must all be either terrorism or not.

So, when do we get the definitive Robert Mueller list of Terrorist Acts? I'm guessing never.

I side with the so-called terrorists here. Mathowie: ever read The Monkey Wrench Gang? If not, I recommend it.
posted by rusty at 10:34 AM on May 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


What I find interesting is the repeated choice of the word eco-sabateur, despite the fact that they were charged with acts of terrorism. Here is an instance where the term eco-terrorism would actually be appropriate, and yet the press seems to be shying away from it.

I wonder why.
posted by quin at 10:36 AM on May 24, 2007


Not condoning the actions of these people, but whenever I read about an abortion clinic bombing, it's usually carried out by pro life activists, not terrorists.
posted by Sailormom at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


TREE MUMIA
posted by fandango_matt at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've lived outside of America so long I've forgotten how to hate.

And yet you haven't forgotten how to be a dick. Puzzling.
posted by found missing at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ann Aiken, the judge that handed down the sentence yesterday is far from a neo-con. She is a fairly middle-of-the-road Democrat, as far as I know.

fwiw.
posted by Danf at 10:49 AM on May 24, 2007


I side with the so-called terrorists here.

Because FBI Director Mueller isn't articulate? Um, okay.

...whenever I read about an abortion clinic bombing, it's usually carried out by pro life activists, not terrorists.

First of all: "Oh, for Christ's sake."

Second, read CNN's lede (second link, above):
The Justice Department on Friday announced a 65-count indictment against 11 environmental activists accused of ecoterrorism attacks in five states.
The other common nouns used include "suspects," "group(s)," "members," and "people."
posted by cribcage at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm going to point out the problem with the way the word "terrorism" is used.

Note that these people, who destroyed property but did not actually threaten anyone's life, are defined as terrorists.

Note that Eric Rudolph, who actually killed people in persuit of his political goals is not described by any of the major media as a terrorist.

Note that when a group of (presumably) Christian loons attempted to bomb an abortion clinic last week the attempted bombing was not defined by the media as terrorism.

My point is that words have power, and that there appears to be a systematic attempt to paint any violence from the left as terrorism, while there is simultaniously a systematic effort to avoid describing violence from the right as terrorism.

Tell me again, how does it happen that the media is "liberal"?
posted by sotonohito at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2007


I was in the courtroom last week when Judge Ann Aiken ruled that individually they all may or may not receive terrorism enhancement to their sentances. You can find more information on that here, and a link to the official statement from the judge on the matter here. I was also in the courtroom Tuesday and yesterday when she sentanced Stan to 13 years and determined that three of his crimes were acts of terrorism. This will surely mean maximum security for someone who at this point we don't need that much security from as he has completely turned his back on the cause. This of course is regardless of how one feels about him turning his back on the cause or how one feels about punishment he should receive.

For those who want some of the backstory... His crimes brought a mandatory minimum sentance of over 200 years and a maximum of over 1,000 years. His plea deal with the government was for 16 years (I believe...). During the sentancing and due to the terrorism enhancement, the judge was at a position where she was required to give him 30 years to life. The government however requested (per the plea deal) that it be lowered to 16 years - 20-something years. At this time the judge decided that due to his cooperation, she would grant him even less time (13 years with three more after in probation) than what the government wanted. In my opinion she was fair but harsh. I was hoping he'd get less time or placed at a less secure prison, but I still think the judge was fair. I do not think terrorism enhancement applied in this case but I can understand why the government and the judge would think so. In one instance they attempted to burn down a glorified single-wide trailer housing a Eugene Police Department satalite office near the U of O campus which was determined to be an act of terrorism against the local government. In other cases, the communiques delivered after the fact made limited and in my opinion flippant mention of the BLM or pending state legislation. This was read by the government and the judge that all parties (regardless of who authored or had a say in what was in the communique) undertook the act as a means to address the government rather than simply private parties, corporations, or individuals.

Kevin Tubbs is being sentanced today, and every day until June 5th another defendant will be sentanced. Depending on the parts they played some will be labeled terrorists and some will not. The Register Guard will be covering the story as they have been. Here is today's story on Stan's sentancing.

The Civil Liberties Defense Center, while turning their backs on those who decided to cooperate with the government, are collecting a good degree of documentation. Check out this page for collected information on the "green scare." Including (scroll down...) information on each defendant. For those of you who want to really get knee deep into this, the 160-page government sentancing memo lays out their arguements regarding what each defendant supposedly did and the government's explanation for why.

EugeneWeekly did a series of background stories too, if you're interested. Here they are: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 (cannot find link...)
posted by pwb503 at 10:57 AM on May 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


sotonohito, do you actually have any support for your statements? I don't see CNN calling these people terrorists, just quotes, and I do see a CNN article (here) that has a quote calling Rudolph a terrorist. What your saying is conventional wisdom, but I'm dubious as to it's reality.
posted by Snyder at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2007


Seems a little unfair to undercut a great internet argument with facts.
posted by found missing at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


rusty, I think he's referring to this definition of terrorism:

"…activities that involve violent… or life-threatening acts… that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and… appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and… (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States… [or]… (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States…"

Anything that fits that description, regardless of motivation (as long as there is a political/idealogical/religious motivation) is regarded, legally, as terrorism.
posted by p3on at 11:06 AM on May 24, 2007


Terrorism or not (I say maybe), these folks need to hire a public relations firm. "Animal Liberation Front" and "Earth Liberation Front" sound so, um, 1965.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2007


cribcage: I inadvertently mashed together two completely separate points. Sorry about that.

No, first: Mueller is an idiot. Second, I fully support the burning of SUV dealerships, strip malls, lumber company property, ski developments, and such, provided great pains are taken to prevent any human injury. I am not at my most articulate today either. :-)
posted by rusty at 11:39 AM on May 24, 2007


cribcage: I inadvertently mashed together two completely separate points. Sorry about that.

No, first: Mueller is an idiot. Second, I fully support the burning of SUV dealerships, strip malls, lumber company property, ski developments, and such, provided great pains are taken to prevent any human injury. I am not at my most articulate today either. :-)
posted by rusty at 1:39 PM on May 24 [+]
[!]


So, in other words, you like making other people's decisions for them?
posted by ozomatli at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2007



Note that Eric Rudolph, who actually killed people in persuit of his political goals is not described by any of the major media as a terrorist.


Google News hits for "Eric Rudolph" terrorist: 2,080
Google News hits for "Stanislas Meyerhoff" terrorist: 38

But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of that ax you're grinding.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:50 AM on May 24, 2007


Ok, then: I fully support burning any gallery that sells Thomas Kinkade paintings, and also egging any bookstore that sells James Patterson novels. I find them very, very distasteful.

Or: Rusty, come ON.
posted by everichon at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2007


ozomatli: Only if they've proven they're helpless to make the right decisions on their own.
posted by rusty at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2007


everichon: Right on! That's the spirit.
posted by rusty at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2007


Anyone that supports what these people did is an idiot for several reasons:

1) Under the law what they did was clearly illegal both in terms of the underlying charge and the terrorism charge, which fits exactly according to the statute's definition of terrorism (which basically defines terrorism as the antonym of democracy if you read it - another strike against these dipsticks);

2) Arson is very dangerous and cannot be controlled. You inherently put property and lives in danger well beyond that which was targeted, not the least of which is the fire crew that must battle the blaze at risk to their lives;

3) By burning things, especially things that are not meant to burn - like SUVs and buildings - you actually hurt the environment, moron, not to mention that replacing such items (which can and does happen) is another detrimental use of resources against the environmental stance you're supposedly taking; and

4) By taking such actions, you detract from the underlying premise of your beliefs as the general public turns against the cause in light of your stupid and harmful actions - and here, what you need is the general public backing your anti-SUV stance.
posted by Muddler at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


::sets off to burn down rusty's house::
posted by found missing at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2007


... Stop it, stop it right now. Stop pretending Islamicists - or environmentalists or animal rights activists (which are, ridiculously, federal law enforcement and non-governmental terrorism-watchers' next most obsessive concern) - are the only imminent terrorist threats to our nation. We now know that students at Liberty University were ready to napalm protesters at Jerry Falwell's funeral. One of the suspects is a soldier at Fort Benning. [UPDATE: Falwell gave the kid a scholarship.]

If the media does not start connecting some dots, they will have abdicated their citizenzship duties. How many times has the nation potentially come within a hair's breadth of suffering a right-wing terrorist attack this spring? As of today, three, or possibly six times - at least that we know about. ...

posted by amberglow at 12:03 PM on May 24, 2007


Does anyone have any proof whatsoever that any of their "eco-saboteur" actions actually helped the environment or raised positive awareness in any significant way?
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:03 PM on May 24, 2007


Illegal does not equal Terrorism by any stretch of the imagination. Targeted destruction of things does not equal inciting terror. Arson is not terror. An organization that wants SUVs and McMansions not to be built and then burns them are criminals, plain and simple.
posted by amberglow at 12:05 PM on May 24, 2007


I love it! MeFi turns pro-SUV at last. I guess we know which side our bread is buttered on now, eh?

Seriously, I do reiterate my recommendation above of "The Monkey Wrench Gang" for anyone that would like to understand the mindset of these people a little better. You may well still be against them, but it's a heck of a good read anyway.

Sure, what they did is illegal -- they got caught and Caesar will take his due here. I'm just glad someone's trying to do something to shake people up in this fat complacent country. It's ours, it's being raped and bled dry with our complicity, and we are suffering and will continue to suffer for letting them do it.
posted by rusty at 12:10 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


And mass arson of personal property with the intent coerce people is not terrorism how?
posted by Snyder at 12:11 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Errr....I don't see what's hateful about putting arsonists in prison. But I guess I don't have that aura of self-righteousness common to all converts whether religious or nationalistic.
posted by DU at 12:12 PM on May 24, 2007


Not willing to engage in violent coerecive acts != pro-SUV, but I think that's a bit too complex for you, conidering you think it's ok (for you and people you agree with) to destroy things you don't like.
posted by Snyder at 12:13 PM on May 24, 2007


Reminds me of a 1991 Canadian movie called Clearcut, starring Graham Green...
posted by KokuRyu at 12:16 PM on May 24, 2007


2) Arson is very dangerous and cannot be controlled.

Worth repeating. Very true.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:18 PM on May 24, 2007


Yeah, Monkeywrench Gang is a fun read, and I don't like SUVs, or McMansions, or any of that shit. But if I say, I'ma burn down your SUV lot based on this, this, and this principle overriding legal niceties, what's to stop some Xtian wingnut burning down my local stripmall's Robert Mapplethorpe outlet store, because his prints recruit for teh gay?

Laws are horribly flawed, but I like them better than being at the mercy of random peoples' opinions, even if sometimes I agree with the opinion-holders.
posted by everichon at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Arson is not terror.

Now you sound like Director Mueller. Of course arson can be terrorism, depending on its motive; and these incidents of "environmental activism" seem pretty clear-cut cases of terrorism, to me.

MeFi turns pro-SUV at last.

There are a lot of things I'm not "pro-", but that doesn't mean I support arson. Is that really such a fine-threaded distinction?
posted by cribcage at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2007


The targets included the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse facilities, U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, meat processing companies, lumber companies, a high-tension power line and a Colorado ski facility.

I can understand the meat processing companies and the ski facility, but the wild horse facilities and the ranger stations? Wild horses aren't even native to North America, they're just a bunch of feral pets with little meaningful ecological impact. Sounds like there were a few deluded refugees from the ALF in there. As far as the ranger station goes, WTF? The forest service is hardly the enemy of the environment.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:20 PM on May 24, 2007


The forest service is hardly the enemy of the environment.

When you're an extremist, everyone is your enemy except your friends. Just another thing granola thugs and George Bush have in common.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:22 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


His crimes brought a mandatory minimum sentence of over 200 years and a maximum of over 1,000 years.

WTF? This is why America has the largest prison population in the world - 57 billion dollars a year is spent locking up some people in order to assuage the fears of other people apparently afraid to live in the freedom they claim to cherish so much.

Even the Soviet Union didn't lock up its own people like this.
posted by three blind mice at 12:25 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


amberglow : Illegal does not equal Terrorism by any stretch of the imagination. Targeted destruction of things does not equal inciting terror. Arson is not terror. An organization that wants SUVs and McMansions not to be built and then burns them are criminals, plain and simple.

I agree with you in spirit, but not in practice here. Arson is not terrorism, but it can be used that way. If the person committing the crime was a firebug who just liked to see stuff on fire, then no, it's not terrorism. If the person was burning things in an effort to send a message, then that falls under the heading of coercion and starts looking a lot more like a terrorist act.

Either way, it's a criminal case and should be treated as such. This is why we are bridling at the term, we have watched 'terrorism' treated as a military problem for the past five years. We now associate that word with failed combat tactics. Regardless of the term used to describe it, it's a job for the police.
posted by quin at 12:29 PM on May 24, 2007


Neither does the US. He was sentenced to 13 years.

And I'm pretty sure having their buildings and automobiles set on fire isn't "the freedom [anyone] claim[s] to cherish so much." So I'm not sure what you're talking about, there.
posted by cribcage at 12:30 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by amberglow Arson is not terror. An organization that wants SUVs and McMansions not to be built and then burns them are criminals

Okay, so if you destroy property as part of and to promote your ideology, you're a criminal, but not a terrorist. Therefore, Osama bin Laden is a criminal, but not a terrorist.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:36 PM on May 24, 2007


everichon: My problem, and I suspect the problem of these terrorists, is that most of our laws appear to be indistinguishable from "random peoples' opinions." Or, I guess, if not random people at least "certain wealthy peoples' opinions."

Or, to put it another way: "Michael Fortier, an accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing [168 dead, 800 injured --rusty], was released last year after less than 10 years in prison." And not pound-you-in-the-ass Federal SuperTerrorist prison either, mind you.

What makes you think wingnuts aren't already (figuratively!) burning down your local stripmall's Mapplethorpe store?

And before this gets totally out of hand, as I've clearly run into a swarming nest of law-abiding centrists the likes of which I never would have suspected the blue to harbor, I'm not advocating arson, especially. I'm merely vehemently failing to condemn what these individuals did, and attempting to prompt some of you to look a little deeper into the why behind it. Like, for example, "why would they target the Forest Service?" Seems odd doesn't it? Why don't you find out why they might have done such a thing.

Or, you could just go with Bookhouse's pat dismissal of them as "thugs." It's a free country, after all. Right?
posted by rusty at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2007


I'm not advocating arson, especially.

Um...yes, you are. In fact, you said, "I fully support the burning of [lots of stuff]."

Also, you seem to be quick on assuming that folks in this thread don't already know plenty about these people and their motivations, and on labeling anybody who doesn't support advocate "vehemently fail to condemn" arson as a bunch of "swarming centrists." Which seems odd, for somebody who doesn't like pat dismissals.
posted by cribcage at 12:46 PM on May 24, 2007


If I could correct myself before someone else does it for me, Michael Fortier was indeed in Federal SuperMax prison. I didn't find the reference until after posting. My apologies.

cribcage: You've never argued with an Internet Tough Guy before? C'mon. I'll buy the salt if you'll take a grain.
posted by rusty at 12:49 PM on May 24, 2007


You've never argued with an Internet Tough Guy before?

No, I spend most of my time at K5.
posted by cribcage at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2007


The line "So, in other words, you like making other people's decisions for them?" sticks in my craw a bit here; it's completely uninsightful. You might as well ask the same question of a legislator or a cop. The only difference is that the legislator and the cop claim to have the support of the society- both they and the ecoterrorists are acting in the pursuit of what they see as right.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:06 PM on May 24, 2007


>She faces 5 - 13 years as a lookout.

She's an arsonist. Arson is a huge danger to firefighters (death, lung damage, etc) even if youre "just" the lookout for "just" torching SUVs. I think its far too lenient. This should be a cautionary tale over extreme idealism and being a fucking idiot.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:19 PM on May 24, 2007


The line "So, in other words, you like making other people's decisions for them?" sticks in my craw a bit here; it's completely uninsightful. You might as well ask the same question of a legislator or a cop. The only difference is that the legislator and the cop claim to have the support of the society- both they and the ecoterrorists are acting in the pursuit of what they see as right.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:06 PM on May 24 [+]
[!]



You should ask you legislature about that, as well as your local police. You see they are accountable (whether you want to believe it or not) and the eccoterrorists are not. Jesus, haven't you gotten old enough yet to realize anarchy and vigilantism are counterproductive and just plain fuck all stupid?
posted by ozomatli at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


You see they are accountable (whether you want to believe it or not) and the eccoterrorists are not.

And somehow I'm the naive one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:53 PM on May 24, 2007


I'm also highly entertained by the use of "You're too old to disagree with me."
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:54 PM on May 24, 2007


Tell me, how am I naive?
posted by ozomatli at 1:54 PM on May 24, 2007


If burning up a bunch of SUVs at a dealership when no people are in danger isn't terrorism, then blowing up an abortion clinic when no people are in danger isn't terrorism, either. Sure, destroying property and not killing people is a weak sort of terrorism, but destroying property on a large scale as an extreme political statement is terrorism.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:04 PM on May 24, 2007


Tell me, how am I naive

That is the lamest sex talk I've ever heard.
posted by found missing at 2:05 PM on May 24, 2007


i was going to post something filled with vitriol hate, but i got so mad i started crying...firstly because i have known and loved people like this, secondly because they have accomplished nothing, and thirdly because they are too blinded by passion to give up like the rest of America.

Sometimes i wish humans had never evolved...stupid fucking thumbs...
posted by schyler523 at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2007


TungstenChef Hardly a fair comparison, Rudolph has been known since 1996, while the people in question here have only been known since 2005.

If you want to google fight, try:

"anti-abortion terrorism" - 937 hits
"eco-terrorism" - 553,000 hits

If we filter for CNN.com we dicover:

"anti-abortion terrorism" - ZERO hits
"eco-terrorism" - 77 hits

I think my point stands and is hardly left-wing propaganda. Furthermore, Rudolph is a somewhat unique case due to the fact that he didn't exclusively target women's health care providers. When you examine stories about violence directed against abortion providers you will almost never find the label "terrorism" applied to the act.

Take the bomb they found right here in Texas a couple weeks ago. If you haven't heard about it I'm not surprised, it never really made the national news. Look at the Reuters writeup of the arraignment of the suspect. Note please that Evans will not face terrorism upgrades to his sentence, that the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" do not appear, etc.

You, TungstenChef, are simply and objectively wrong. Actions taken by right wing loons are simply not treated as terrorism, while actions by left wing loons are. If you wish to continue to disagree, show me examples of American right wingers labeled as terrorists in the mainstream media.
posted by sotonohito at 2:12 PM on May 24, 2007


See, EB, I would say neither were terrorism if due diligence had been done to minimise any risk of injury.
Maybe it's growing up during the height of the IRA bombing campaigns and the seeing and taking part in acts of sabotage during the Miner's Strike that makes the two quite distinct in my mind, but calling arson and criminal damage terrorism seems to me to be an unfortunate extension of the latter loaded term. I know nine tenths of bugger-all about US law though.
posted by Abiezer at 2:13 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by sotonohito You, TungstenChef, are simply and objectively wrong. Actions taken by right wing loons are simply not treated as terrorism, while actions by left wing loons are. If you wish to continue to disagree, show me examples of American right wingers labeled as terrorists in the mainstream media.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Robert_Rudolph

You, sotonohito, are simply and objectively wrong.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:25 PM on May 24, 2007


I'm merely vehemently failing to condemn what these individuals did, and attempting to prompt some of you to look a little deeper into the why behind it. Like, for example, "why would they target the Forest Service?" Seems odd doesn't it? Why don't you find out why they might have done such a thing.

Perhaps there's a perfectly coherent back-story to why they set fire to 35 cars, but an explanation doesn't cut it as an excuse.

Sure, what they did is illegal -- they got caught and Caesar will take his due here. I'm just glad someone's trying to do something to shake people up in this fat complacent country.

See, this is the ammunition that keeps the right wing's guns firing. You are endorsing arson and terrorism. Please stop it.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 2:27 PM on May 24, 2007


I'd heard of McVeigh, but not Rudolph, but (having read the Wiki entry on the latter) are they not being called terrorists because they quite unequivocally set out to take life?
I still see no moral equivalence, regardless of the letter of the law. And if US law is framed to equate these different classes of acts, it's wrong.
posted by Abiezer at 2:35 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


If the next season of 24 involves Jack Bauer desperately trying to stop a ring of hippies from starting a fire in a dealership parking lot, I may actually start watching the show.
posted by furiousthought at 2:48 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actions taken by right wing loons are simply not treated as terrorism, while actions by left wing loons are.

Since you're obviously not going to back down from your disproven premise, let's accept it for a moment. Are you arguing that these incidents of arson aren't terrorism?

Otherwise I'm not sure what your point is. Are you just trying to throw a partisan bomb? "Sure, our side did X, but your side did Z!" If so, why the defensive attitude? I hardly think that prosecuting admitted arsonists, irrespective of their motives, constitutes an attack on the left wing.
posted by cribcage at 2:52 PM on May 24, 2007


posted by cribcage why the defensive attitude?

Because destroying property and killing people in the name of saving the environment is much more noble a cause than destroying property and killing people in the name of saving unborn babies. Don't you see? Without the environment, where will all the babies live?!
posted by fandango_matt at 3:09 PM on May 24, 2007


Arson is not terrorism, but it can be used that way. If the person committing the crime was a firebug who just liked to see stuff on fire, then no, it's not terrorism. If the person was burning things in an effort to send a message, then that falls under the heading of coercion and starts looking a lot more like a terrorist act.

Coercion is not terror either--in that case our entire government and body of laws would be terrorist. They're not but they're very very coercive. Police are coercive too, and they're not terrorists either.

Burning things to send a message has a long and storied history here--see all the flag-burning cases, for instance. Burning property is arson and criminal but not terrorist. Burning property because you have ideals or beliefs is not terrorist either.

Cross Burnings=intended to scare black people away and make them fear for their lives=terrorist.
Abortion clinic and Gay bar bombings when there are people inside=intended to terrorize and hurt people as well as to stop things=terrorist
SUV burning after careful planning so as not to hurt people=intended to stop SUV production and purchase=not terrorist.

It's the targeting of people that makes something terrorist, i think.
posted by amberglow at 3:12 PM on May 24, 2007


Terror is an emotion. Terrorism is intended to inflame that emotion and to make people feel terror, no matter what the government defines it as.
posted by amberglow at 3:13 PM on May 24, 2007


Is splashing red paint on fur terrorism? Is breaking the windows of a closed and shuttered Starbucks or McDonald's terrorism? Is having a sit-in terrorist? Is picketing and obstructing entrances and preventing business during a strike terrorist? Is all protest terrorism now?
posted by amberglow at 3:15 PM on May 24, 2007


Destroying property in itself is not at all terrorism. Burning a draft card was not terrorist, nor was burning a bra.
posted by amberglow at 3:17 PM on May 24, 2007


posted by amberglow SUV burning after careful planning so as not to hurt people=intended to stop SUV production and purchase=not terrorist.

Okay, if we follow this line of reasoning, if Mohammed Atta & Co. flew empty planes into an empty World Trade Center and no one was killed, would you consider that an act of terrorism?
posted by fandango_matt at 3:18 PM on May 24, 2007


And someone lighting someone elses car on fire in no way can inflame an emotion, huh? Or does it only inflame an emotion when the government or right-wingers do it? Why should I feel safe when someone assures me that it was done without intent to harm and for my own good? What makes me believe that they won't further escalate when they don't get what they want? Their own assurances? That won't go far. I have no reason to believe that they won't escalate, same as a cross-burning.
posted by Snyder at 3:21 PM on May 24, 2007


Okay, if we follow this line of reasoning, if Mohammed Atta & Co. flew empty planes into an empty World Trade Center and no one was killed, would you consider that an act of terrorism?

Nope, i wouldn't. They would have specifically had to plan not to do it when people were there, thus showing that causing terror wasn't the goal. The goal would have been destruction of a very visible symbol of US Commerce--not even one of the top 100 symbols of that might, by the way, but easy to hit.

They planned it to be both destruction of property and of life, and purposely hijacked planes during a busy flight time, and when they knew the buildings would be filling, if not full. There's also a ton of people on the streets at that time, given that it was during and at the end of rush hour.
posted by amberglow at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2007


Is all protest terrorism now?

Yes. That's what we're saying. All protest is terrorism now. Because repeatedly blowing up people's car = picketing. You've discovered our secret.
posted by Snyder at 3:23 PM on May 24, 2007


You can still be afraid without fearing for your life. Having your car torched is a pretty terrifying prospect, especially since you have no way of knowing if the arsonist really did check to see if there was anybody inside.

But the most relevant definition of terrorism is surely the one that p3on mentions upthread, and SUV burning can easily fit that.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:26 PM on May 24, 2007


Snyder, if they're not in the car (or if it's a lot and it's not business hours) at the time, and don't even see it happening, but come upon it afterward, with manifesto attached and responsibility taken, it's clearly not intended to terrorize. That doesn't terrify people at all--it just makes them angry, or shocked or dismayed or sad or broke.

Cross-burnings happen when people are in the house, and will see it burning.

All terror happens when people are around to be most impacted by it. Otherwise it's not terrifying.
posted by amberglow at 3:26 PM on May 24, 2007


Okay, so if suicidal pilots flew empty planes into an empty World Trade Center, and no one was terrified, you would not consider that terrorism. Got it.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:29 PM on May 24, 2007


I'm with Amberglow. This is simply arson. The whole terrorism angle is just a way for the DA to look tough on the Boogie-man du jour and tack on a few extra years to a sentence.

When your kid comes home crying cause a bully stole his lunch money, I hope you remember to report the terrorist to the proper authorities.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:29 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


"…activities that involve violent… or life-threatening acts… that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and… appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and… (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States… [or]… (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States…"


Not life-threatening. Not government-directed. Not intended to intimidate or coerce civilians--they carefully targeted businesses.
Not mass-destruction nor assassination nor kidnapping.

Businesses don't equal governments. Businesses don't equal civilians, unless they specifically do it and plant it for when people are present. That's why these environmentalists are not terrorists but simply criminals.
posted by amberglow at 3:29 PM on May 24, 2007


So, if no one is at the abortion clinic when it is bombed, it's not terrorism, it's civil disobediance, right?
posted by Snyder at 3:30 PM on May 24, 2007


fandango, if the method involves murder or threat of murder, you've got proper terrorism. Otherwise, no, you just have pansy-ass scaredy-pants "terrorism," which needs to be wrapped in appropriate scare quotes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2007


The terrorism definition is not a series of 'and' statements, amberglow, they are 'or' statements. Oh, and not intented to intimidate? That's a bunch of bullshit, right there. A string of mostly anonymous car arsons. Oh yeah, nothing intimidating there.
posted by Snyder at 3:33 PM on May 24, 2007


The government wants everyone to think that all protest against power is terrorism. That all anti-corporate acts are terrorism too. That Grannies for Peace and a guy riding a bike that sprays speech are terrorists too.

They're not.

The environmentalists are not terrorists either. Let them molotov an occupied SUV on a highway or in front of a mall and i'll admit they're terrorists. Not until they target people are they terrorists.
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2007


So, if no one is at the abortion clinic when it is bombed, it's not terrorism, it's civil disobediance, right?

It's not terrorism--it's a crime. If the people are the same ones that have murdered actual doctors and staff that work at that clinic or others, it's still not terrorism. Property destruction alone at a time when no one is there to see it or be directly hurt by it is not terrorism--especiall corporate or private property.
posted by amberglow at 3:36 PM on May 24, 2007


What you're saying is someone has to be physically hurt, or been intentionally placed in danger of being physically hurt for it to be terrorism? What happens when these people fuck up and inadvertantly kill someone? Do they become terrorists then?
posted by Snyder at 3:38 PM on May 24, 2007


Oh, and not intented to intimidate? That's a bunch of bullshit, right there. A string of mostly anonymous car arsons. Oh yeah, nothing intimidating there.

No--they're not just anonymous car arsons. They didn't go from neighborhood to neighborhood. They didn't target people's cars, but unsold cars in lots where people weren't.

They weren't trying to initimidate a population--they were specifically targeting the owners of the lots. They weren't trying to get people not to buy SUVs, and never even picketed or directly spoke to civilian populations. There are better ways to influence people and their buying habits. They knew that.
posted by amberglow at 3:39 PM on May 24, 2007


posted by amberglow Not life-threatening.

You're forgetting about the lives of the firefighters and police who respond, not to mention anyone unfortunate enough to be hurt or killed in the crossfire.

Not intended to intimidate or coerce civilians--they carefully targeted businesses.

So what? If the intent of destroying property is to prevent people from using or purchasing it, then the intent is to intimidate and coerce.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:40 PM on May 24, 2007


Businesses don't equal civilians

Businesses absolutely are civilians! What else are they? Soldiers? Businesses are run by human beings too. MetaFilter is a business.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:41 PM on May 24, 2007


They weren't even trying to target all car-lot owners or workers. They specifically targeted individual lots and owners, and of not-finished housing projects. Not a population.

You guys confuse corporations and businesses with people--it's a mistake they'd like you to make.
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on May 24, 2007


Related post.
posted by homunculus at 3:42 PM on May 24, 2007


The ones written about in the last link are private vehicles, one had "ELF" spraypainted on it, but no other identifiers or manifestos. I think if I was one of the victims in chain of arsons like that, I would likely be pretty scared or intimidated.
posted by Snyder at 3:43 PM on May 24, 2007


My brother, the 'terrorist'
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on May 24, 2007


You're forgetting about the lives of the firefighters and police who respond, not to mention anyone unfortunate enough to be hurt or killed in the crossfire.

So all fires are terrorism then because responders could get hurt? Not. All arson? Not.

The difference was shown at one of the abortion clinic bombings (i think it was then or at Atlanta olympics?)--they set a bomb off, and had another bomb ready specifically targeting responders. That's how you do terrorism and cause terror.
posted by amberglow at 3:44 PM on May 24, 2007


Having a business owner wake up to find someone had torched his lot is not terrorism.
posted by amberglow at 3:44 PM on May 24, 2007


So what? If the intent of destroying property is to prevent people from using or purchasing it, then the intent is to intimidate and coerce.

So what? If the intent is to intimidate and coerce, that still doesn't make it terrorism, at least not in the "tack on fifteen-to-twenty and send 'em to Guantanamo" definition of the term. Otherwise loan sharks, the mob, the RIAA and most credit collectors would be terrorists as well.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:46 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


from homunculus' link and directly relevant: ... And nearly 10 years ago, he burned down a horse slaughterhouse in Redmond, Ore. It is for this final act that the U.S. government considers him among the ranks of Osama bin Laden, Eric Rudolph and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef.
"This is a classic case of terrorism," the federal prosecutor said earnestly to the judge during a hearing last week in my brother's case. ...

Congressional hearings in 1995 and 2001 make the original intent of the laws clearer. When House members and senators described acts of terrorism, every example (Pan Am Flight 103, Oklahoma City, the first World Trade Center bombing, the Tokyo subway attack) involved the killing of, or the intent to kill, human beings.

But recently the government has moved away from the idea of terrorist-as-murderer.
The case involving my brother represents the first time that terrorism enhancements have been sought when all the evidence shows that the defendants took affirmative steps to make sure no one would be endangered.
...

posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on May 24, 2007


Otherwise loan sharks, the mob, the RIAA and most credit collectors would be terrorists as well.

Yup, and all police forces and courts and governments and laws, and all religious figures who preach certain behaviors, and all school teachers, and all managers at all businesses ...
posted by amberglow at 3:48 PM on May 24, 2007


Otherwise loan sharks, the mob, the RIAA and most credit collectors would be terrorists as well.

And here is where you expect someone to disagree with you? :)
posted by quin at 3:49 PM on May 24, 2007


amberglow, I'm usually right there with you on almost everything you say. On this one, you're completely out to lunch. If one follows your logic, over ninety percent of the death and destruction in Northern Ireland, Israel, and the Middle East does not fit your definition of terrorism.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:49 PM on May 24, 2007


A lot of the abortion clinic bombings are set up so that there's no people there. But, frankly, I still think that's terrorism—though, again, a weak variety of it.

But, hey, I can see amberglow's argument. It's not unreasonable. And if he's prepared to say that abortion clinic bombers who make sure they don't hurt any people aren't terrorists, then I'll go along with that. Or, at least I'll agree that he's consistent.

I don't know, though. What about if there were racists burning down muslim-owned businesses? That and the abortion thing are both intended to scare people. So is some forms of eco-sabotage—particularly, I think, the SUV thing. I can see that terrorism might be strictly defined as terrorizing a population by violent injury and death as a means of influence government policy. But if we restrict terrorism to that definition, we are left with something weak like only "arson" to describe the things I mention above.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:50 PM on May 24, 2007


The Falwell funeral bombers were terrorists, even tho they weren't called that nor charged with terrorism. The Phelps assholes protesting the funeral weren't. The bombers wanted to kill the Phelps assholes, not destroy property.
posted by amberglow at 3:52 PM on May 24, 2007


How about this from the American Heritage Dictionary:

ter·ror·ism (těr'ə-rĭz'əm)
n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.


Hmmm... They used force and violence, against property, with the intention of intimidating for ideological or political reasons.

Thus, by the dictionary, what they did was terrorism.

Unless you think the Bush administration put the dictionary authors up to this.
posted by MythMaker at 3:52 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ok, they're not targeting 'everyone.' Small comfort. What assurance do I have that they soon won't? That they won't move on to more violent and aggressive attacks? Their word? They're blowing up cars! They've already moved beyond the benefit of the doubt, they've left the realm of civil discourse. Arson is a violent and threatening tactic, its not like these people were using some non-violent way to disable the vehicles, like sugar in the gas tank.

Having a business owner wake up to find someone had torched his lot is not terrorism.

Your projecting your opinion on everyone else. I think that if I went to my business and saw a very specific amount of my stock had been violently destroyed for obvious political purposes, I'd be scared, and wondering if they'll come back. I don't think I'm somehow on the fringe for psychological reactions on this, and I highly doubt that possible reaction didn't cross these people's minds.

...that still doesn't make it terrorism, at least not in the "tack on fifteen-to-twenty and send 'em to Guantanamo" definition of the term.

Well, good thing that hasen't happened to any of these people yet, so obviously you can't be overly concerned with this, then.

Yup, and all police forces and courts and governments and laws, and all religious figures who preach certain behaviors, and all school teachers, and all managers at all businesses

If you can't see a difference between anonymous, unaccountable individuals destroying property in their own little Star Chamber equilivant, and a government and it's agents governing with the consent of the governed, let alone people like teachers and managers (yeah, I'm genuinely physically afraid of them,) then I seriously doubt your rational for your theory of 'no physical harm=criminal, physical harm=terrorist.'
posted by Snyder at 4:00 PM on May 24, 2007


Is splashing red paint on fur terrorism?

Yes. You're confused — you keep folding physical injury into the term "terrorism," which it doesn't require. You'd have to be either disingenuous or incredibly naive to deny that when ActivistX blows up an SUV, his intent is to instill fear in everybody who lives on that block that their SUV could be next.

If the intent is to intimidate and coerce, that still doesn't make it terrorism...

It does, in this case. Terrorism is defined as "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."

Otherwise loan sharks, the mob, the RIAA and most credit collectors would be terrorists as well.

No. See above.
posted by cribcage at 4:01 PM on May 24, 2007


And no, I don't think the Falwell bombers were terrorists. Wanting to kill someone for the sole puepose of killing them is not terrorism.
posted by Snyder at 4:02 PM on May 24, 2007


American Heritage is wrong and our govt is too.

Can we define terrorism?

Wiki:...
* On March 17, 2005, a UN panel described terrorism as any act "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act."[6]

* The General Assembly resolution 49/60, adopted on December 9, 1994, contains a provision describing terrorism:
Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them. ...


None of these eco acts were intended to cause bodily harm nor to intimidate a population nor to provoke terror in people. Destruction of property alone is not terrorism, no matter what our government says--otherwise our government would be the biggest terrorists on the planet, after our invasion and bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on May 24, 2007


When we blow up bridges in some other country, is that terrorism? It cuts off escape routes. It scares people. It sends a strong message too. It's very coercive. It targets the population of a entire region. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:04 PM on May 24, 2007


amberglow writes "They weren't trying to initimidate a population--they were specifically targeting the owners of the lots. They weren't trying to get people not to buy SUVs, and never even picketed or directly spoke to civilian populations. There are better ways to influence people and their buying habits. They knew that."

Apparently not. Or, maybe I missed something. Is it working? Seems to me the eco-vigilantes become easy targets when right-wingers need a scapegoat. I haven't been able to ascertain an immediate, tangible improvement, nor a long-term one.

I can fully understand and appreciate civil disobedience, but when you break the social contract so severely that it involves destroying others' property, you've crossed a line and will tend to put people off your cause. Sure, passion is important, but it's not the most important thing, and if it's not tempered by wisdom, then it's a "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
posted by krinklyfig at 4:05 PM on May 24, 2007


To stop people buying SUVs, all they'd have to do is plant one bomb on a suburban mom's SUV and time it to go off right after she picks up the kids after school--that would be terrorism, and it would be intended to coerce the population away from SUVs.
posted by amberglow at 4:07 PM on May 24, 2007


Amberglow, your second definition is pretty consistent with the American Heritage definition.

These criminal acts *were* calculated to provoke a state of terror in (at the very least) particular persons, for political purposes.
posted by found missing at 4:07 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


American Heritage is wrong and our govt is too.

I guess the rest of us are too, for having similar definitons. So says amberglow, knower of the true definitions of words!

Just because it dosen't fit your personel defintion of what terrorism is, and just because there can sometimes be debate on some certain actions as to whether or not it constitutes terrorism, dosen't mean that your definition is the absolutley correct one, just because you say so.
posted by Snyder at 4:10 PM on May 24, 2007


And found missing has a good, point, the two are very similar. I I don't see a disagreement between the two, either.
posted by Snyder at 4:12 PM on May 24, 2007



I can fully understand and appreciate civil disobedience, but when you break the social contract so severely that it involves destroying others' property, you've crossed a line and will tend to put people off your cause.


That's exactly the point. They're criminals, but not terrorists, and we have ample existing laws to cover their punishment. They chose specific actions that put people off their cause and don't coerce or intend to. They destroyed property not as a message to civilians at all, but at sellers and producers. They would have explicitly targeted drivers if they wanted to coerce or change behavior. They would have done actions that directly impacted civilians and they would have done actions that weren't targeted explicitly at middlemen or corporations.
posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on May 24, 2007


Oh, right. Because sellers and producers are not people.
posted by found missing at 4:14 PM on May 24, 2007


Even blowing up a section of highway or parking cars right in the middle of highways during rushhour with signs or something directly impacting people would have made it terrorism maybe. They purposely chose certain actions that were removed from people.
posted by amberglow at 4:15 PM on May 24, 2007


Businesses don't equal civilians

Yes they do, according to the Equal Protection Clause.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:16 PM on May 24, 2007


Well, for what it's worth, maybe the language just hasn't caught up with our paranoid pigeonholing yet. That causes a real problem when the language is purposefully used by lawmakers to look all tough on terror (or hate crime or war on drugs or war on this or war on that) by playing with decades of people's lives. The basic distinction that a lot of people here are trying to communicate is:

(1) Terrorism defined as "Trying to influence political events by intentionally murdering civilian populations."

VERSUS

(2) Terrorism defined as "Trying to influence political events through destruction of property that may or may not unintentionally cause death."

That is to say, some of us are arguing that there is a moral distinction between the two because of intent and, in this case, because of reality-based outcomes as well. It is similar to the moral distinction there is between murder and negligent manslaughter. Since no one actually died due to their actions, the colloquial first definition of terrorism is all the more misplaced. The law is using an emotionally loaded term to ignore the moral distinction between two acts. Yes, arson is bad, but we already have a good law for arson. We don't need to tack on a bad law, too.

I'm of the train of thought that not nearly enough resources are being used to catch real murderers and rapists and that in cases where reform makes sense, the US prison system is too punitive, too cookie-cutter and totally ignores reform. A lot of these ELF and ALF folks fucked up bad, but I also wouldn't mind them as neighbors. I think the utility of our tax dollars here could be used very easily to reform (and a lot of others in the War on Drugs, War on Youth, etc...) individuals in these cases as opposed to sending them to an 8th Amendment skirting prison system that fosters and relies on prisoner-on-prisoner abuse to fill in the gaps of cruel and unusual punishment.

Of course, someone with a strong "judging" personality type will read all of this as gibberish. I don't believe that "making an example" of individuals with redeemable intentions serves the value of justice and I don't believe that zero-tolerance increases fairness. Circumstances and intents do matter and they can be considered without falling in with the devil that is too lenient, as opposed to the devil that punishes without restraint.
posted by Skwirl at 4:18 PM on May 24, 2007


These criminal acts *were* calculated to provoke a state of terror in (at the very least) particular persons, for political purposes.

No, they weren't. It just as easily could have been the lot's competition, or teenagers pulling pranks, or anyone at all for any reason. Terror wasn't the state they calculated to provoke, nor was it the state they did provoke. People didn't stop selling cars, nor did they stop buying them--in any way. Companies didn't stop making them either, nor delivering them to local lots for sale. Real terror would have caused any or all of those people and companies to change their behavior or force the government to protect them--they haven't.
posted by amberglow at 4:18 PM on May 24, 2007


I'm failing to understand how "destroying property not as a message to civilians" is not the same thing as trying to coerce or change the behavior of civilians--civilians who own businesses and buy products.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:19 PM on May 24, 2007


American Heritage is wrong...

You can't really argue with a guy who insists that he's right and the dictionary is wrong. That's kind of a show-stopper.

To stop people buying SUVs, all they'd have to do is plant one bomb on a suburban mom's SUV...

That wouldn't stop people from buying SUVs. People are forgetful and resilient. It probably would dissuade some people from buying SUVs — but then, so would blowing up an empty Hummer in somebody's driveway. The only difference is whether personal injury is caused, intentionally. And you think that factor distinguishes "terrorism" from "not terrorism," but the dictionary disagrees.

parking cars right in the middle of highways during rushhour with signs or something directly impacting people would have made it terrorism maybe.

Hang on a minute. Causing traffic that slows your commute is terrorism, but destroying your car so that you can't commute isn't?
posted by cribcage at 4:20 PM on May 24, 2007


You just made the argument that it was bad terrorism.
posted by found missing at 4:21 PM on May 24, 2007


(By "you", I meant amberglow, of course)
posted by found missing at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2007


They weren't trying to get people not to buy SUVs

I have to wonder what on earth their point was then.

But I do understand where you're coming from. You really don't think businesses and corporations are civilians

You guys confuse corporations and businesses with people--it's a mistake they'd like you to make.

They are people. Not just in the legal sense, but in the sense that a business is just a bunch of people: employees, managers, shareholders, contractors, and so on. Evidently those people are part of some kind of enemy class which you despise so thoroughly that you won't even grant them the basic attributes of human beings. When those stakeholders in the business wake up to find their SUVs burned, they're going to be afraid. They'll be afraid for their security, for their jobs, for their neighbourhood, and for any number of entirely human pursuits which are threatened by idiots setting fire to things. Do you really, really think that violence against "the corporations" somehow doesn't affect real people?
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:23 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


You, TungstenChef, are simply and objectively wrong. Actions taken by right wing loons are simply not treated as terrorism, while actions by left wing loons are. If you wish to continue to disagree, show me examples of American right wingers labeled as terrorists in the mainstream media.

Nice, you're backpedaling on what you said and putting words in my mouth at the same time. I was responding to your very specific claim that Eric Rudolph "is not described by any of the major media as a terrorist." A trivial Google News search shows that many major media outlets describe him as exactly that.

As fandango_matt pointed out, the Oklahoma City bombing disproves what you're saying, along with Eric Rudolph and these Arizona militia members.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:24 PM on May 24, 2007


You can't really argue with a guy who insists that he's right and the dictionary is wrong.

Agreed. But I do so love the way the discussion of what is and isn't terrorism has moved so far into the realm of absurd theoretical models that I fully expect amberglow to declare there's no such thing as terrorism.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:24 PM on May 24, 2007


I fully expect amberglow to declare there's no such thing as terrorism.

He just did: People didn't stop selling cars... Companies didn't stop making them... Real terror would have caused any or all of those people and companies to change their behavior...

He's arguing that if terrorism doesn't accomplish its political goal, then it's not terrorism. Except that historically, terrorism almost never accomplishes its political goal — so that definition would render the word virtually useless. Ergo, terrorism does not exist. Neat trick.
posted by cribcage at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm failing to understand how "destroying property not as a message to civilians" is not the same thing as trying to coerce or change the behavior of civilians--civilians who own businesses and buy products.
Then people who throw bricks thru closed Starbucks are terrorists too? Picketers who prevent people from entering McDonalds? ... If that's what terrorism is, then every single corporation who removes their ads from a controversial tv or radio show are terrorists as well. Is that really the standard? All harm corporate profits, and coerce people. TV and radio shows get canceled and a lot of people are harmed by corporate actions all the time. They're targeted too. Was "Stop Dr. Laura" terrorism? Whose? Was Imus leaving the air terrorism? Whose? Is Proctor and Gamble pulling out of a soap because of a gay plotline terrorism too? Where is the line? All involve people hurt and profits lost and property destroyed to send a message.

How are corporate actions that have the same intent and effect not terrorism?
posted by amberglow at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2007


The fandango_matts and cribcages of the world ought to get it into their thick, thick heads that there are not two kinds of things in the world, terrorism, and bunny rabbits. It is possible for there to be bad things in the world that aren't "terrorism" and don't require a national security apparatus to go after them with greatest urgency etc etc.

If one follows your logic, over ninety percent of the death and destruction in Northern Ireland, Israel, and the Middle East does not fit your definition of terrorism.

Refer to the guy posting upthread who had actual experience in Northern Ireland, genius.
posted by furiousthought at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2007


look, some of my examples aren't good, but it seems there's no definition at all if some are exempted even tho their actions affect the same people and are intended to coerce. That can't be the standard.

I'd like to hear about how the corp examples above don't fall right into your definitions of terrorism.
posted by amberglow at 4:30 PM on May 24, 2007


None of your examples fit the American Heritage definition very well.
posted by found missing at 4:32 PM on May 24, 2007


If that's what terrorism is, then every single corporation who removes their ads from a controversial tv or radio show are terrorists as well. Is that really the standard? All harm corporate profits, and coerce people. TV and radio shows get canceled and a lot of people are harmed by corporate actions all the time. They're targeted too. Was "Stop Dr. Laura" terrorism? Whose? Was Imus leaving the air terrorism? Whose? Is Proctor and Gamble pulling out of a soap because of a gay plotline terrorism too?

None of these involve violence or life-threatening acts.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:33 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by furiousthought The fandango_matts and cribcages of the world ought to get it into their thick, thick heads that there are not two kinds of things in the world, terrorism, and bunny rabbits.

I never said there were, you idiot.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:36 PM on May 24, 2007


He's arguing that if terrorism doesn't accomplish its political goal, then it's not terrorism. Except that historically, terrorism almost never accomplishes its political goal — so that definition would render the word virtually useless. Ergo, terrorism does not exist. Neat trick.
That's not so. Terrorism has been extraordinarily successful throughout history and still is. Ask our Boston Tea Party people. Ask those who assasinated rulers in every era. Ask those who used terrorism to topple governments and cause chaos. Ask the 9/11 folks. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:37 PM on May 24, 2007


It is possible for there to be bad things in the world that aren't "terrorism" and don't require a national security apparatus to go after them with greatest urgency etc etc.

It is also possible for there to be bad things in the world that are terrorism and don't require a national security apparatus to go after them with the greatest urgency.

And, it is possible that one opinion from someone who has actual experience in N. Ireland is one opinion.
posted by found missing at 4:39 PM on May 24, 2007


Ask our Boston Tea Party people.

Fer chrissake, at least be consistent. That wasn't terrorism by your definition.
posted by found missing at 4:41 PM on May 24, 2007


Well, amberglow, I'm sympathetic to your position. There's no evidence that they ever intended to kill anyone.

However, they destroyed huge amounts of property. While they may not have agreed with what the owners of that property were doing, the damage they did was huge.

If they're going to do political acts of violence, then they have to face the consequences of those acts.

If they wanted to change things, they needed to work within the system. Hell, run for office! Protest. Chain yourself to trees.

But at the point you start blowing things up and committing arson, then you've really very strongly crossed the line. It's basically a small (and highly ineffective) act of revolution.

And once you start that, then you have to face the consequences of your actions.

The did acts of violence for political ends for the purpose of intimidating people.
posted by MythMaker at 4:47 PM on May 24, 2007



None of these involve violence or life-threatening acts.

But you guys have focused on the people hurt by the eco guys, and that they count as civilians too, just like the random people walking by the WTC. If the standard is simply violence or life-threatening acts, and some message, AND that people get hurt even if not bodily and even if insurance covers it, then all crimes are terrorism--all robberies, all murder, all arson, all insurance crimes, all etc.

There's a conflict between things that are violent or life-threatening, and things that send messages, and things that are crimes, versus things that are terrorism.
If only one of those attributes makes it terror only sometimes and 2 make it terror sometimes but not other times, and 3 do the same, etc, and if the criminals intend only some messages but not others depending on who's deciding after the fact, and some behavior changes but not others or as you guys say, no behavior changes at all but people are simply impacted nonetheless financially. ...

It has to be the intent and direct impact on people that makes it terror, and not simply some indirect impact because of ownership or rental but not occupation. All property is not a terror target, but you guys seem to think it is because there are people who own it or run it even if they're not there at the time specifically because of the criminal's planning so. These people purposely didn't target the owners or any people directly. They could not have intended terror.
posted by amberglow at 4:50 PM on May 24, 2007


Ask our Boston Tea Party people.

Fer chrissake, at least be consistent. That wasn't terrorism by your definition.


But it is by your definitions, no?
posted by amberglow at 4:52 PM on May 24, 2007


Ask our Boston Tea Party people.

So blowing up SUVs and burning down ski resorts isn't terrorism, but tossing a bunch of tea into Boston Harbor is.

EB complimented your consistency. I'm not sure what thread he's reading.
posted by cribcage at 4:53 PM on May 24, 2007


firstly because i have known and loved people like this, secondly because they have accomplished nothing, and thirdly because they are too blinded by passion to give up like the rest of America.

They had already given up when they started torching shit; they just gave up in a different way...
posted by the other side at 4:53 PM on May 24, 2007


The Boston Tea Party exactly fits your definitions of terrorism. Those tea owners and shipowners were hurt by it, a message was sent, and it was violent and property-destroying.

Was it?
posted by amberglow at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2007


I think, yes.
posted by found missing at 4:56 PM on May 24, 2007


There's a conflict between things that are violent or life-threatening, and things that send messages, and things that are crimes, versus things that are terrorism.

What you're missing is that what makes it terrorist is that it is done for political ends.

If I kill someone because I'm robbing them, it's murder.

If I kill someone to inimidate the civilian populace because I think that it will make my political aims happen, it's terrorism.

If I blow up an SUV because I hate the guy who owns it, it's not terrorism.

If I do the same thing to intimidate the populace and fill them with terror, because I believe that it will help my political aims, it's terrorism.

It's the intent to cause fear for political ends added to the criminal act that makes it terrorism.
posted by MythMaker at 4:59 PM on May 24, 2007


ok.
when is it terrorism and when not?

Are all violent and or property-destroying acts, that are intended to send a message, that directly and/or indirectly impact people terror?

A mugger who preys only on those visibly wealthier than him on only one street, causing that street's businesses to suffer and/or fail, and people to be afraid and avoid that street. Is that terrorism?
posted by amberglow at 5:01 PM on May 24, 2007


This is just one more group who feels they can impose their morality on the public. Lump their asses in with abortion bombers, the Phelps idiots, and any other person who feels so strongly about how YOU live YOUR life that they're willing to take extreme measures. They deserve whatever they get, and in my opinion, they're getting off easy.
posted by jbelshaw at 5:01 PM on May 24, 2007


The mugger is not doing it for a political end.
posted by MythMaker at 5:09 PM on May 24, 2007


It's the intent to cause fear for political ends added to the criminal act that makes it terrorism.
So the Howard Beach gang of kids who savagely beat that guy because they didn't want blacks in their neighborhood are terrorists or no? The white guys in texas who dragged that black guy behind his truck for miles and miles till he was dead? All those were intended for blacks to be afraid as a group and were crimes.

I don't see how "cause fear for political ends" covers ELF, etc, when it wasn't fear the criminals wanted to impose, and as shown by car lot owners' actions, it wasn't caused. But in most racial crimes, terror is directly caused and intended--but they're not classified or prosecuted as terrorists.
posted by amberglow at 5:10 PM on May 24, 2007


The mugger is not doing it for a political end.
But it is political to only attack wealthy people, and it sends a message that is political as well--class is always political. It's like only attacking blacks and only attacking gays, etc. It's a specific population being acted upon solely because of who they are and what they have and what they show on the street. It's intended to cause that population harm. ...
posted by amberglow at 5:14 PM on May 24, 2007


And i seriously don't see how flag-burning is not terrorism either. I honestly don't see the line that's been drawn.
posted by amberglow at 5:16 PM on May 24, 2007


The Boston Tea Party exactly fits your definitions of terrorism.

But not yours — and you brought it up, to support your comment that, "Terrorism has been extraordinarily successful throughout history and still is."

Seriously, I'd be happy to agree to disagree if I could figure out what you're arguing. One minute you're rejecting a definition, the next you're using it to bolster your argument. Blowing up an SUV isn't terrorism, but causing a traffic jam is. And if the government doesn't change its policy, then terrorism that was, isn't. I'm dizzy.

What evidence or logic supports your claim that the murder of James Byrd was intended to instill fear in others, but the ELF's arson isn't?
posted by cribcage at 5:16 PM on May 24, 2007


Are all violent and or property-destroying acts, that are intended to send a message, that directly and/or indirectly impact people terror?

Here's the US government's definition again. There may be other definitions, but I don't see how they're relevant.

"…activities that involve violent… or life-threatening acts… that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and… appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and… (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States… [or]… (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States…"

So firstly, the "violent and or property-destroying acts" must be criminal acts. Secondly, the act needs only "intimidate or coerce a civilian population". Perhaps the stumbling block between you, amberglow, and the rest of this thread is the interpretation of "population". I think it implies more than one person, and perhaps even a non-specific group of people. If the intimidation acts upon just one person, it's just a crime, but if the effect is to intimidate or coerce the population at large, then the threat is more general. This is the essence of this definition of terrorism: that the intimidation is aimed at a wide group of people - in this case, SUV owners - rather than individuals or specific small groups.

So the Howard Beach gang of kids who savagely beat that guy because they didn't want blacks in their neighborhood are terrorists or no?

Yes, this could very easily count as terrorism, except the intent might be harder to establish. Did they have political goals that went beyond beating up that specific guy? If they were members of the Klan, then almost certainly yes. But if they were just racist hoodlums, possibly not.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:19 PM on May 24, 2007


And flag burning is neither violent not life-threatening nor a criminal act (yet :) ).
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:28 PM on May 24, 2007


appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction,
This is where it falls apart for me--every single person on earth is covered by that, and shouldn't be. The ELF people weren't doing (i) and certainly weren't doing (ii) or (iii). You can't just include everyone on earth as (i) when it's as indirect as to be specifically scheduled when no people are there, and specifically designed not to harm people or even be witnessed by people Targeting vehicles that are unowned and unoccupied is not intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population--targeting owned and/or occupied vehicles would be. Targeting unfinished and unoccupied houses is not intended to intimidate a civilian population either. The SUV actions weren't aimed at all existing SUV owners at all. The house things weren't aimed at all existing homeowners. They purposely and intentionally weren't.
posted by amberglow at 5:28 PM on May 24, 2007


Amberglow - you act like the dealership doesn't own the car. Of course the cars are owned.

And if the intention is not to coerce the population into changing their actions re: SUVs, then what in the world was their intention?
posted by MythMaker at 5:33 PM on May 24, 2007


Why do you say every single person on earth falls under this definition? At the very least, not every single person on earth is engaged in violent or life-threatening acts.

And, er, well... those SUVs were owned! They were owned by Romania Chevrolet, or whoever.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:33 PM on May 24, 2007


That--and the highly and questionable application and prosecution make it all nonsense. (on rightwing terrorists never called that or charged with terrorism)
posted by amberglow at 5:34 PM on May 24, 2007


cribcage wrote "Are you arguing that these incidents of arson aren't terrorism?"

Nope. Unlike amberglow I'll concede that these guys were terrorists. They used force in an attempt to promote their political ideology, and that's terrorism. Low grade terrorism, but terrorism nevertheless. Amberglow and I agree on a lot, but I disagree with him here. He and I have argued terminology before.

I'm not arguing that the label shouldn't be applied, I'm arguing that it is unevenly and inappropriately applied with a deliberate goal of excluding right wing terrorists.

My case is weak WRT Rudolph specifically, I'll admit that, but even there note:

"eric rudolph" =1540 hits
"eric rudolph" + terrorist = 750 hits

That's filtered for just cnn.com. That means that about half the stories in which Rudolph was mentioned didn't contain the word terrorist. The story hasn't existed long enough to do a similar comparison with "Stanislas Meyerhoff". Google only indexes one CNN story containing that string.

Searches for "James Kopp" [1] reveal a similar pattern: less than half the stories on CNN including his name also include the word terrorist. Moreover, some of the stories with the word terrorist use it in a non-Kopp related context (ie: "Two elusive murder suspects -- suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and James Kopp, recently charged with the murder of an abortion provider -- were added Monday to the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list." note that Kopp is rather explicitly not labeled as a terrorist).

I don't claim the media never labels right wing terrorists as such, though I can see how you might think that was my claim based on my first post. I do claim that there is a tendency to avoid labeling right wing terrorists as such, and to use the term terrorist with much greater frequency when discussing anyone the right wing dislikes.

Look at William Krar and Jose Padilla. Padilla, certainly not a liberal but a Muslim and so therefore also dispised by the right, still hasn't been charged, has spent virtually every minute since June 9 2002 in solitary confinement, was the subject of several breathless press conferences by John Ashcroft (who, if I recall correctly actually cut short a trip abroad to have a press conference about Padilla), etc.

Then look at Krar, who appears to have actually had weapons and possibly even the intent to use them. Yup, he's often referred to as a terrorist, but you'll notice that he got a speedy trial, was not charged with terrorism, and was never the subject of *any* press conferences by Mr. Ashcroft.

My point is that there is a pattern: if a terrorist person or group is disliked by the right wing they are more frequently called terrorists, while a terrorist person or group who actually is right wing tends not to be called terrorist as often.

[1] A Christian terrorist who assassinated a doctor.
posted by sotonohito at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2007


Amberglow - you act like the dealership doesn't own the car. Of course the cars are owned.
But if the intent is to coerce the population, attacking someone who supplies that population is removed from the population you want to coerce. Or was it shown that those owners were the targeted population they intended to coerce? I don't think so. I don't think you can make the lot owners the target and not the target at the same time. They weren't the target, and the target wasn't targeted. If they were the target, they were only indirectly targeted and not at all coerced.
posted by amberglow at 5:40 PM on May 24, 2007


The SUV actions weren't aimed at all existing SUV owners at all.

Again, on what basis do you assert that? I think they were. I think it's obvious and foreseeable that if ELF kids blow up one SUV, the owner will think twice about buying another — and so will his neighbors. I think the ELF kids are stupid but not stupid, and they know this. They intend this.

And you understand this principle, because you identified it in cross-burnings and you ascribed it to the men who murdered James Byrd. So on what basis do you deny it in the ELF arsons?
posted by cribcage at 5:41 PM on May 24, 2007


Again, on what basis do you assert that? I think they were. I think it's obvious and foreseeable that if ELF kids blow up one SUV, the owner will think twice about buying another — and so will his neighbors.
But the actions that they're being prosecuted for aren't individual civilian-owned SUVs. ...Prosecutors described Meyerhoff, who pleaded guilty to arson and conspiracy charges last July, as a leading member of a dangerous collective of eco-saboteurs known as "The Family." Members caused $40 million in damage to corporate and government facilities that they accused of harming the natural world for profit. ...

Their targets weren't all SUV owners. Corporate and govt facilities accused of harming the natural world for profit is not the same as indivdual SUV owners by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by amberglow at 5:46 PM on May 24, 2007


Come on amberglow, give it up. You said yourself right there that if the cars were owned then it would be intimidation. Look:

Targeting vehicles that are unowned and unoccupied is not intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population--targeting owned and/or occupied vehicles would be.

I'm off now. I hope you have this all sorted out by morning :)
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:47 PM on May 24, 2007


No individuals or civilians or civilian populations are named at all. These specific business and govt places were targeted, not individuals or classes of individuals. You can't ascribe the intent you do from the actions they took, nor from the charges filed.
posted by amberglow at 5:47 PM on May 24, 2007


You don't think car dealers are non-combatants and/or civilians? That by the fact that they sell cars that they somehow don't count?

Their property was destroyed, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And they, and other people with SUVs were frightened.

If you owned an SUV, and you heard that someone's going around blowing them up, you don't think that might frighten you?

And as a result of that fear that you might want to distance yourself from SUVs.

If this has happened, then those SUV owners have been coerced, and terrorized.

If a Palestinian blows up a market in Israel, and kills a lot of Israelis, somehow that isn't terrorism, because they're Israeli, and somehow it doesn't count if they get frightened by this? I'm really having trouble with your reasoning here...
posted by MythMaker at 5:49 PM on May 24, 2007


And they, and other people with SUVs were frightened.

So how do I fund this terrorism?
posted by iamck at 5:58 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


But the actions that they're being prosecuted for aren't individual civilian-owned SUVs...

You didn't read the third article, which is almost entirely about acts of arson against individual civilian-owned trucks and SUVs. You're also playing a semantic game of three-card monte to dodge my point, but I'll accommodate you and adjust my language:
I think it's obvious and foreseeable that if ELF kids blow up one SUV [dealership], the owner will think twice about [re-opening] — and so will his [competitors]. I think the ELF kids are stupid but not stupid, and they know this. They intend this.
Are you now contending that somebody who owns one SUV can be a victim of terrorism, but that somebody who owns 200 of them cannot?
posted by cribcage at 6:00 PM on May 24, 2007




***AMBERGLOW ALERT***

LOGIC, DEDUCTIVE REASONING, AND THE DEFINITION OF TERRORISM HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED FROM THIS THREAD. PLEASE ALERT YOUR LOCAL MERRIAM-WEBSTER IF YOU SEE THEM.

***AMBERGLOW ALERT***
posted by fandango_matt at 6:22 PM on May 24, 2007


I noticed someone asked about the raging debate. My thoughts are that if the debate does not rage then we are all losers.

pwb503 - excellent job. Thank you for being there. I wish I could be.

I tried to not present how I felt about this in the original post, but now, since it'll be buried under over 160 comments, I'll say that defining these folks as terrorists is a tragedy for freedom of expression. Although, not surprising. For comparison, this woman injured others in an act of revenge, these kids did something more along the lines of this group and got 3 years. Planning counts.

Under today's sentencing guidelines, the Boston Tea Party would be considered terrorism. King George would be proud.

My reasoning for bringing this up was that it has been largely ignored in the MSM of late. I am not a supporter of the ALF or ELF, but as my friends go to the pokey for political activism, I wonder what the real difference between us and them is.
posted by valentinepig at 6:24 PM on May 24, 2007


The court seems to have sorted that out for you.
posted by found missing at 6:29 PM on May 24, 2007


The court seems to have sorted that out for you.

And it turns out that the only legitimate way to address grievances and make a difference is to ask politely and go away quietly when the answer is no.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:37 PM on May 24, 2007


And it turns out that the only legitimate way to address grievances and make a difference is to ask politely and go away quietly when the answer is no.


Its not the only way, of course. You could go around firebombing things and putting people's lives in danger to "address grievances and make a difference". You do have the right to do that.

The Courts also have the right to throw you in prison for a decade for doing just that.

If its truly important enough, you'll do what you need to do no matter the consequences.
posted by Avenger at 6:41 PM on May 24, 2007


The other part of this is that, as far as I'm concerned, if I were to decide to be politically active by being violent in some way—which includes blowing things up and setting fire to stuff—I'd expect to go to jail if I were caught. That's the punishment that has to exist for doing that kind of thing. Otherwise, of course, people would do it all the time. Being violent is extreme. If you believe in your cause enough to be violent about it, then I can respect that. I've defended abortion bombers because, taking them at their word, they think that mass murder is going on as a matter of both business and public policy. If I thought that mass murder was going on like they think it is, I'd be bombing places, too. But if I were caught, I wouldn't say, hey, I'm doing the right thing so I shouldn't go to jail. There is expressing a political opinion and there is being violent as a political statement. We don't allow the latter in a civil society because we don't allow violence as a means to settle problems in a civil society. Excepting war, of course, which many people think shouldn't be the exception, either.

Of course the objection to an uneven application of the label "terrorist" in both the media and in the law is true: I don't doubt that both are more willing to see left-wingers as "terrorists" than right-wingers. So I'm not, for one, arguing against that point.

But I think the idea that burning down buildings or blowing up stuff to make a political statement—if no one is hurt—is somehow more similar to the simple commission of arson or whatnot than it is to terrorism is absurd. Blowing things up scares people. Burning things up scares people. As someone asked earlier, if doing this didn't have an impact on the public pysche, then why did these folks do this? It's mild compared to actually hurting people, yes. But it's a long, long ways from publishing a pamphlet.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:43 PM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


posted by valentinepig as my friends go to the pokey for political activism, I wonder what the real difference between us and them is.

Boohoo. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:44 PM on May 24, 2007


Calling someone a terrorist is a value judgement.

Maybe so. Society makes value judgments. You might say that society is about making value judgments. Yes, maybe the term "terrorist" does "express an absolute rejection of a person and their aims" — and that's appropriate, given their actions. Yes, maybe we do risk alienating people who are sympathetic to their cause — but those people can grow up. If you're incapable of simultaneously understanding that (1) oil companies do some fucked-up things, and (2) it's not OK to blow up tanker trucks...well, then maybe this society isn't for you.

as my friends go to the pokey for political activism, I wonder what the real difference between us and them is.

I can't speak for you — but in my case, the difference is that I don't run around setting fires.

And it turns out that the only legitimate way to address grievances and make a difference is to ask politely and go away quietly when the answer is no.

Yes. Because that's exactly what Gandhi did.
posted by cribcage at 7:02 PM on May 24, 2007


The court seems to have sorted that out for you.

And it turns out that the only legitimate way to address grievances and make a difference is to ask politely and go away quietly when the answer is no.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:37 PM on May 24 [+]
[!]



Better watch that strawman, I sure hope that someone who doesn't like it doesn't set it on fire.
posted by ozomatli at 7:03 PM on May 24, 2007


Ethereal Bligh Well said.

The Boston Tea Party was terrorism, small scale terrorism to be sure, but terrorism none the less. On a scale of 1 to 10, if the events of September 11 count as a 7 [1] then the Tea Party is probably a 2 and the SUV arson is somewhere around a 3.

I do think it would be worthwhile to distinguish between property destruction terrorism and murder terrorism. But even there I don't think we can simply argue "property destruction terrorism not so bad, murder terrorism worse." Take Nat Turner, he was a terrorist but I really can't condemn the man. In fact, when I think about him I mostly regret that he didn't get a chance to kill more of the "Fine Southern Gentlemen" than he did.

[1] I'd argue that it'd take at least a nuke in downtown [insert large city here] to count as a 10.
posted by sotonohito at 7:10 PM on May 24, 2007


as my friends go to the pokey for political activism, I wonder what the real difference between us and them is.

Boohoo. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.


That's a particularly nasty bit of trolling, even for this place.
posted by homunculus at 8:01 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'll say that defining these folks as terrorists is a tragedy for freedom of expression.

I'll agree with you, but I'll add that massive arson under its banner is also a tragedy for freedom of expression.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:11 PM on May 24, 2007


Yes. Because that's exactly what Gandhi did.

And the British pulled out because of Gandhi and not because of the armed insurgency. Pull the other one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:12 PM on May 24, 2007


Sorry, still not buying the terrorism label with the logic presented.

Look, to anyone who thinks this was an act of terrorism based on the dictionary definition, please explain how the following is not terrorism:
A group of poor kids ride their bikes down to the rich neighborhood and key a bunch of expensive cars.
Or how about...
A group of bullies go around stealing kids' lunch money, and threaten to beat up anyone who tattles on them.
Are those acts of terrorism as well? Why are these ruffians allowed to walk the streets, then? Where is the hard, cold hand of the law when you need some jackasses smited?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:27 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd put those at .001 and .0001, respectively, on sotonohito's terrorism scale.
posted by event at 8:46 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Sabateur" is not a word.
posted by lumensimus at 9:05 PM on May 24, 2007


From the Nature article linked above:

But ‘terrorist’ is a word so debased and loaded by political use that, if it has any meaning at all, it is counterproductive. There is no such objective thing as a terrorist. A criminal is a person who has been convicted of a crime. We can examine a person’s records and make an unemotional determination of whether or not they are a criminal. But a terrorist is, in practice, a person who fights for a cause we do not believe in using methods that we do not approve of. Calling someone a terrorist is a value judgement.

[Bolding mine]
posted by schyler523 at 9:07 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by homunculus That's a particularly nasty bit of trolling, even for this place.

Hardly. I have no sympathy for a gang of punks who labeled themselves "environmentalists" and embarked on a sociopathic spree of arson and vandalism, calling it "political activism" and "freedom of expression." Since they ran and hid, they apparently have enough intelligence to understand the difference between right and wrong but they lack the courage to accept the consequences of their so-called revolutionary acts. They're not political activists, they're cowards and criminals who clearly need to be removed from society before lives are lost as a result of their idiotic, sociopathic, and dangerous behavior which alienates and defames real environmentalists. Good riddance.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:17 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not an English word, that is. I mean, it's definitely more of a word than, say, "+7&1*," which is more of a word than a pile of freshly raked leaves...but in both English and French the term is saboteur.

That being said, it can't be all that good for the environment to burn all of that plastic and rubber and such. And I agree that terrorism is a fairly useless, politically loaded concept. Burning other people's stuff is already illegal, as is blowing people up, as is violent coercion. Unless someone can demonstrate a fundamentally terroristic act not already covered by existing statutes, I can't support bonuses (as it were) to sentences for "terrorists."
posted by lumensimus at 9:21 PM on May 24, 2007


I am not a supporter of the ALF or ELF, but as my friends go to the pokey for political activism, I wonder what the real difference between us and them is.

You're kidding, right? There's been a long debate on what you would call "political activism" and many (including me) would call "terrorism". I don’t know about you, but the difference between these people and me is that I don’t advocate burning things to the ground because the (insert cause here) isn’t going my way. These are dangerous people. They deserve to go to prison…and there I think the punishment fits the crime.
posted by zardoz at 10:53 PM on May 24, 2007


I'm just glad someone's trying to do something to shake people up in this fat complacent country. It's ours, it's being raped and bled dry with our complicity, and we are suffering and will continue to suffer for letting them do it.

So, if you frequently road trip with your Prius or hipster VW or Honda Civic, and you happen to consume more gasoline per annum than the meathead Hummer owner down the block, ELF should vandalize your ride instead. Aren't you worse for the earth?
posted by kid ichorous at 11:00 PM on May 24, 2007


fandango_matt: whatever. You just told valentinepig that you don't care that people he cares about are going to jail for their beliefs. That's really cold.

And mind you, I think arsonists should go to jail, but without the contrived "terrorism enhancement" doubling or tripling their sentences. They destroyed property but deliberately avoided harming people. The punishments are just bullshit.
posted by homunculus at 12:06 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


And mind you, I think arsonists should go to jail, but without the contrived "terrorism enhancement" doubling or tripling their sentences. They destroyed property but deliberately avoided harming people. The punishments are just bullshit.

I have a really hard time believing that the people here making statements like this would say the same thing about some folks who bombed an abortion center in the middle of the night.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:09 AM on May 25, 2007


Meanwhile, we bomb civilians from the skies, but we're heroes. What tripe.
posted by homunculus at 12:10 AM on May 25, 2007


I have a really hard time believing that the people here making statements like this would say the same thing about some folks who bombed an abortion center in the middle of the night.

If it was in the middle of the night, I would say the same thing. The presence of and threat to people's lives is the most important factor, IMO.

But if you don't believe me, that's you perogative.
posted by homunculus at 12:16 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical, but I'll take your word for it being that you've said so explicitly.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:28 AM on May 25, 2007


EB - again, I would still maintain that distinction, and I would hope that even those I violently disagree with would maintain some respect for life.
I was involved in a campaign of direct action against violent racists in the UK who conducted campaigns of intimidation against immigrant homes and businesses. It didn't cross our minds or the police's to call them terrorists. Even David Copeland was charged with straight murder for his bombing of a gay bar and is not usually referred to as a terrorist to my recall, despite fitting the frame much more clearly.
So, anyway, I don't think the kind of campaign this group carried out is a good thing or effective and they should have certainly been prepared to face the legal consequences, but if indeed they did make efforts to avoid loss of life, I would want that recognised. In some part, surely we would want to keep that distinction in the mind of the kind of people who take these actions. Otherwise, to exaggerate somewhat, aren't you encouraging a "hung for a sheep as a lamb" approach, quite apart form the rest.
posted by Abiezer at 12:29 AM on May 25, 2007


And on the arson thing, if I recall right, the group of striking miners in Derbyshire in 1984 who burnt (parked up in a yard) buses used to take strikebreakers into work were unfortunately caught and got sentences ranging from 2 to 3 years. This was during one of the most bitter social conflicts of recent decades and indeed many thought the terms given were heavier than would normally be the case.
posted by Abiezer at 12:46 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical, but I'll take your word for it

I appreciate that.
posted by homunculus at 12:57 AM on May 25, 2007



If it was in the middle of the night, I would say the same thing. The presence of and threat to people's lives is the most important factor, IMO.


Me too.
posted by amberglow at 6:11 AM on May 25, 2007


posted by homunculus whatever. You just told valentinepig that you don't care that people he cares about are going to jail for their beliefs. That's really cold.

Actually, I do care, a great deal. I'm relieved and thankful that a bunch of misanthropic and sociopathic pyromaniacs are being removed from society.

They destroyed property but deliberately avoided harming people.

Bullshit. They endangered the lives of the police officers and firemen who responded to the fires they set. They endangered the lives and property of the people living near the businesses they burned. They caused enormous amounts of financial harm to businesses.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:04 AM on May 25, 2007


people he cares about are going to jail for their beliefs.

Nobody's going to jail for their beliefs. They're going to jail for what they did.

I agree with EB. I don't believe for a second that we'd see a significant contingent defending these people if they'd bombed an abortion clinic or a church that performed gay weddings. Like EB, I'll take your word that you wouldn't call it "terrorism" — but neither would you be spinning this O'Reilly-grade rhetoric, calling the crime "political activism" and lamenting that these people were "going to jail for their beliefs."
posted by cribcage at 7:23 AM on May 25, 2007


Probably far too late, but I'm gonna jump back in and make two points that I don't see being made here yet:

First is that their motive was to remove the profit from environmental destruction by corporations. The argument goes that corps harm the earth when they find it profitable to do so, and it's possible that actions like burning down half-built ski lodges and torching SUVs may raise the price of doing those things to the point where it becomes unprofitable to do them, thereby causing corporations to stop doing them.

So they (I think) never cared much about influencing you, or me, or any old random person one way or the other. Whether by scaring us or by "raising our consciousness" about environmental issues. The point was to cost certain companies more money. Hopefully enough money that they'd bail out of the businesses the groups objected to.

This project has clearly proven a failure, in the overall scheme of things. But I don't think the reasoning is inherently flawed. If anything, it's actually a very capitalist approach. And yes, they chose crime as the means to cost businesses money, and they got caught, and now they are being tried etc as criminals, which they certainly (and by their own admission) are.

But I agree with those who can't justify the "terrorist" label here, because their crimes were targeted toward the exact same ends as a boycott campaign -- making some corporate action more expensive than it's worth to the company doing it. In the ELF/ALF's method they seek to cost the company money redoing existing work or replacing goods destroyed, while in a boycott the method is to cost the company money on the consumer end in lost sales. I don't see how that's terrorism. Illegal? Yes. Criminal? Certainly. But I have a higher bar for terror, I guess.

Secondly, all these comments about how those of us who don't condemn these arsonists wouldn't be saying the same about abortion clinic bombers are correct enough. I, at least, will continue to condemn abortion clinic bombers, even if they were to take the same kind of precautions and espouse the same basic motive -- to make abortion more expensive or difficult by costing clinics a lot of money. This is because I have beliefs that say that one group's motivations are right, and the other group's are wrong.

I am not issuing a blanket approval of all arson. I'm saying that whether they failed or not, I agree with the motives of the ELF activists and wish they had succeeded in making the bullshit they were fighting too expensive to continue. I don't apologize for my values, and if you don't share them, well tough. Some things are wrong, and will always be wrong. John Brown was a criminal, Nat Turner was a criminal, the Bostonian tea-chuckers were criminals, Ghandi was a criminal. Nelson Mandela was a criminal. I'm proud to say I agree with their motives as well, and I'm glad they succeeded where they did and wish they had where they didn't.

Not all crime is wrong.
posted by rusty at 9:49 AM on May 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Okay, what if the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was done in the middle of the night, and the persons responsible hadn't killed the 6 people that died. What if there were no casualities?

Would that have been terrorism, then, by your definition?

To me, yes, of course it would. Whether there's destruction of property, or destruction of lives, it's the use of violence to intimidate for political ends that makes it terrorism. KKK lynching, for example, is most certainly terrorism.
posted by MythMaker at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2007


Yes, Myth, but is KKK crossburning terrorism? It's not murder, it's arson, and it violates property rights. I think it's a slightly better parallel to this case, though it doesn't involve anywhere near the levels of property damage.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:25 AM on May 25, 2007


I've come here looking for a definition of terrorism. Do we have one yet?
posted by dead_ at 10:41 AM on May 25, 2007


Ask amberglow. According to him, the dictionary definition is wrong.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:57 AM on May 25, 2007


This is because I have beliefs that say that one group's motivations are right, and the other group's are wrong.

That's a revealing way of putting it.

I find that when I argue about this sort of thing with people, it's almost like we're speaking different languages.

It's not at all that I have difficulty or hesitation in making judgments about various beliefs and thus the actions that result from those beliefs. I think the pro-life folks are wrong when I think other folks are right and I will make the same ultimately differing judgments about their actions that you make.

Even so, I think it's important to look at the various components separately and and resist the natural temptation to divide the world into people that "are right" and people that "are wrong" and then to retroactively judge them as people and judge all their actions on that basis. This is the temptation to separate the world into good guys and bad guys, and I think it's the one single typical human characteristic that ends up driving the majority of the bad stuff the people do to each other.

I guess it all comes down to a sort of empathy. I can easily imagine myself having very different beliefs, still being a good person, and acting on those different beliefs in a well-intentioned way. I can also imagine having the beliefs that I have, or other beliefs, and being a bad person, and acting on whatever beliefs I have in a badly-intentioned way. For me, while I accept that there's a core set of things that a thoughtful and well-intentioned person is almost necessarily going to believe, it's still the case that the majority of beliefs are contingent upon circumstance. It makes no sense to me to divide the world into good guys and bad guys on the basis of beliefs. I can imagine good guy environmental saboteurs and good guy abortion clinic bombers. And, even so, I don't have a problem deciding which beliefs I think are right and which wrong and taking a stand. It's just that in taking that stand, I don't feel the need to demonize the people who take an opposing stand. Nor do I feel the need to made excuses for people who take my positions on things when they do something questionable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:02 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


One step further out - I am libertarian minded in this situation. I believe in the overthrow of the government, should the situation warrant. And I believe that every blue-blooded American should, also. To me, the cowards are the ones who allow the government to think for them. The cowards are the ones who hide behind political dogma and 'could have's. ["They could have hurt someone?" - they did not, it seems they were pretty deliberate in their actions - they did this several times and managed to accomplish exactly what they set out to do - the fact is no one got hurt, they intended to hurt no one and why is that motive not taken into consideration?]

As I heard tell as a young'un, the government is for me, by me and of me. It is not a democracy, as someone asserted earlier (fear the mob mentatlity, the Founders did), it is a republic and representative. I think the judge in this case is bowing to political pressure by labelling these folks as terrorists. That is not representative of me. If you ask me, Founding Thought shoud reign supreme over decisions like this.

Once Pat Robertson is labelled a terrorist, then I'll see the reason. Even then, the politics of free expression include property destruction. Which is exactly what this is.

Funny thing is, they are standing up to receive their judgment. That takes more guts than you'll ever know (that does not seem like cowardice to me). I am not crying for them (as insinuated earlier also). I am waxing philosophical about the loss of 1) our freedom of expression; 2) our freedom to dissent; 3) our ability to reason; and the list goes on. And no, I'm not angry about it either. Seems to me that the ones screwed up into the ceiling over this are the ones who think that these folks are the 19th hijacker.
posted by valentinepig at 11:16 AM on May 25, 2007


hrmmm... people imposing their morality on others by "any means necessary". Sounds great. Terrorism or no, it's still wrong. Period.
posted by jbelshaw at 11:17 AM on May 25, 2007


Ethereal: I don't think I'm demonizing anyone here -- I'm saying I'd be opposed to abortion clinic bombers' actions even if they were effectively the same as these environmentalists' actions. I'm judging their goals, there. I'd be mildly glad they took great pains not to hurt anyone, but I'd still judge their goals to be wrong. I don't think they're all evil people, and I can certainly see the reasoning that leads them to where they stand. I just disagree with it.

I'm also not saying the captured ELF members are great people. I don't know them. And John Brown, for example, was a mess as a human being. Not everything they did was praiseworthy. The SUV burnings in particular, while sort of viscerally satisfying to my atavistic hindbrain, were probably dumb and pointless, from the perspective of their goals. It would have been a lot more effective to target production facilities, but that would likely be impossible to pull off within the confines of their harm-no-people ethos. And let's face it, these are not elite Special Forces types here. The palette of possibility looks to have been pretty limited.

But I still think their motivations were right, and I have very little trouble imagining circumstances that would make it really difficult for me to resist doing much the same sort of thing. I probably would resist that urge, because I wouldn't want to risk my comfortable life. And I find that a disappointing fact about myself. So I respect the risks they took for their own, and (in many cases) my beliefs, and I won't condemn them for it.

I really am sort of surprised to find such a deep lack of any similar sympathy with these guys from anyone else here on MeFi. Amidst all the backing and forthing about "is it terrorism" I don't really see anyone even praising their commitment, while condemning in the strongest terms their methods, which would seem like the mildest possible form of approbation and an eminently plausible way for anyone who considers themselves an environmentalist to feel. I'm honestly weirded out to be so alone in this. Do you all really consider property rights to be the absolute highest priority of human society? Is potentially putting a firefighter at risk really a crime so dire that it erases any kind of sympathy you might have had with the motive? I'm sure for many those are both entirely true. But for everyone?
posted by rusty at 11:29 AM on May 25, 2007


Even then, the politics of free expression include property destruction.

Valentine, I like your argument, but I think this vague remark could give some the wrong impression. I take it you are arguing for punishing only the destruction of property, and not the speech that might be incidental to it. In the same way, you'd argue that defacing a church, mosque, synagogue, or other place of religious worship should carry the usual civil and criminal penalties for vandalism, but no special hate crime statutes. Am I right?
posted by kid ichorous at 11:30 AM on May 25, 2007


valentinepig: Hooray! Alone no more. Thank you.
posted by rusty at 11:31 AM on May 25, 2007


the politics of free expression include property destruction.

No, they don't. You describe yourself as a libertarian, but it's the libertarians who famously preach that your right to swing your fist stops at my nose. Your right to expression does not include blowing up my car.

they are standing up to receive their judgment.

Not really. According to CNN, 8 suspects were caught (as contrasted with, for example, "were arrested at the scene" or "surrendered themselves to police") and 3 fled the country. Apparently Meyerhoff helped authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. Without his aid, the other suspects might still be free.

Please correct that info if it's wrong. You seem to know these folks personally, and I don't. If they did, in fact, surrender at the scene of their crimes and accept their punishment, I'd like to know.

the ones who think that these folks are the 19th hijacker.

I don't see anybody claiming equivalence between torching an empty ski resort versus killing 2,997 people. Do you understand that folks might believe both are wrong without believing that they're equivalent?
posted by cribcage at 11:36 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really am sort of surprised to find such a deep lack of any similar sympathy with these guys from anyone else here on MeFi.

I'm with you 100 percent, rusty. It just seems that these kind of sympathies don't fly very far on Mefi, and today I'm just a bit too disillusioned to debate it. But I'm with you.
posted by dead_ at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2007


Tapping fingers waiting for response to 4 points why supporting these folks requires idiocy...seeing none, drives home in small, fuel efficient sedan nobody scared him into buying.
posted by Muddler at 11:52 AM on May 25, 2007


is KKK crossburning terrorism? It's not murder, it's arson, and it violates property rights. I think it's a slightly better parallel to this case, though it doesn't involve anywhere near the levels of property damage.

You know, that's a good question. It certainly creates terror... I'm not sure if it has the same levels of violence.... I don't know. It seems to me there's a gray area involved in all of this. It's certainly a hate crime and ought to be punished. I think the argument could be made that it's terrorism...

At the end of the day, whatever we call it, the question that remains, to me at least, is whether or not it is acceptable behavior in our society to blow up valuable property as a form of political action.

To me, it isn't. If a revolution starts against the government, then you'd expect to see such things, but then it's an act of war, quite frankly.

But in this case, it seems to me to have been a particularly ineffective form of protest that caused a lot of damage, certainly could have killed people, and ought to be punished accordingly.

I hate SUVs. I would love for the environment to be better protected. I just don't think violence is the answer. As I suggested above, perhaps the people who did this could have run for office as opposed to blowing things up. That's the way we change things in this country.

But arson? That's not the way.
posted by MythMaker at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2007


Oh Muddler. I know you've gone home now, but here it is anyway.

1) I agree that their actions were illegal. They agree that their actions were illegal (guilty pleas all around). You're saying that supporting someone breaking the law is always idiotic? Do I seriously have to rebut that? Lawbreaking is certainly one ethical response if you believe the law to be unjust. I do not think agreeing with that requires idiocy.

2) You, driving home in your car, pose a threat to property (other peoples cars, etc) and life (other people in those cars). You could cause an accident at any time. I'm sure you take great pains to prevent the destruction of life and property while you carry out your goals (getting home safely). These "terrorists" did the same -- they just had goals and took risks you disagree with. Nevertheless, idiocy is not required to support someone taking a risk, unless you think your own personal risk tolerance is the only one that is not idiotic. By the same token, most mountain climbers risk their own lives and property, and the lives of anyone who would go out to rescue them if they were in trouble. Is all mountain climbing idiotic?

Secondarily, the idea that arson cannot be controlled is absurd. Humans have been controlling fire for tens or hundreds of thousands of years. I am not aware of any of these actions where events got as direly out of control as you blame the activists for, and their record speaks for itself. No deaths. That, to me, says they did a pretty good job of controlling their arson.

3) Burning things does indeed usually do some harm to the environment. There's a pretty obvious judgement scale here though -- if you could burn one SUV and stop all future inefficient vehicle production, I'd say that'd be a net plus. That's obviously the far end of the scale, but it's the direction they were aiming. Your strawman here is that they personally must take a "we shall never do harm to the environment" or their whole project is idiotic. That would be a childish stance to take, and says more about your stunted concept of good vs harm than it does about anything else. It reminds me of how I used to think that if everyone just took care of their own problems we would have a perfect society. When I was 15. I grew up.

They may indeed have, on balance, done more overall direct harm than good for the environment. Their project (I think) was mostly a failure. You don't have to be an idiot to express support for a failure, though. Is winning the most important thing? That's another thing I believed when I was 15.

4) Their goal was not to convert the public to their cause. It had nothing to do with public support. You're imagining that they're some kind of violent Sierra Club. Far from it. They intended to be a counterbalancing expense to the nearly limitless profit companies were gaining from environmental pillage. As I said above, I think they pretty much failed. But what the public thinks meant fuck-all to them, so it's irrelevant in determining whether supporting them requires idiocy. You might as well say that it's idiotic to be a fan of the Boston Bruins because they're no good at golf.

I hope you're satisfied now. I can't speak for anyone else, but I wasn't responding to your list before because it was facile and dumb, not because it was irrefutable.
posted by rusty at 1:13 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


How is skiing, or a skiiing lodge environmental pillage?
posted by jbelshaw at 1:28 PM on May 25, 2007


In the same way, you'd argue that defacing a church, mosque, synagogue, or other place of religious worship should carry the usual civil and criminal penalties for vandalism, but no special hate crime statutes. Am I right?

No. We'll take that up on a different thread.
posted by valentinepig at 1:33 PM on May 25, 2007


jbelshaw: Have you ever climbed a mountain, and then gone back after they put a ski resort in?
posted by rusty at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2007


I have, it is awesome.

::love to ski::
posted by found missing at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Was John Brown a terrorist?

Bruce "Porta Potty Bomber" Forest got five years for "a series of toilet explosions in 2005 and 2006." (His sentence reflects a plea bargain where he only admitted to blowing up one Porta-Potty.)
posted by kirkaracha at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2007


They intended to be a counterbalancing expense to the nearly limitless profit companies were gaining from environmental pillage.

Except the cars were no doubt insured, so they didn't even really do that, unless their true vendetta was against insurance companies.

Their project (I think) was mostly a failure. You don't have to be an idiot to express support for a failure, though.

Certainly does help though! (WAH-WAH. I'm kidding.)

Their actions had no positive effect, except for their own personal glee at seeing burning SUVs. No part of the environment was at all saved - no company suffered a loss which would help anyone - no minds were swayed - and now some environmentalists who should be out doing good are simply going to rot in prison for a few years because they thought it would be cute, romantic, and heroic to torch things. I'm not overjoyed that they're getting locked up, although I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be, and personally I think those who would elevate their actions to anything above foolishness - MAYBE "noble" foolishness - are doing everyone a disservice with their mindset. Acting like these folks are grand martyrs takes away from real positive action.

Unfortunately, effecting real change requires actual heart, mind, and elbow grease, unlike what it takes to commit fiery, theatrical acts.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:50 PM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]




Oops, wrong window.
posted by homunculus at 6:34 PM on May 25, 2007


John Brown was a criminal, Nat Turner was a criminal, the Bostonian tea-chuckers were criminals, Ghandi was a criminal. Nelson Mandela was a criminal. I'm proud to say I agree with their motives as well, and I'm glad they succeeded where they did and wish they had where they didn't.

Speaking of Nat Turner, this looks interesting.
posted by homunculus at 1:16 AM on May 26, 2007




what rusty said, throughout. : >

Just because we refuse to label them terrorists doesn't mean we approve of their actions. They're criminals and that's crystal-clear. I think if "terrorism" and "terrorist" hadn't become such a means for the repression of our rights (see 2004 GOP convention and many many other instances, including the Patriot Act, etc) and for the scapegoating of all who disagree with this administration, then just maybe we wouldn't be so adamant about it all--we see how these words have been misused, and the extreme punishments meted out when they are used, and it's important that everyone doesn't just buy into the current definition.

Throughout the 70s, we had tons and tons of hijackings, and even hostages and death at the Olympics, and Patty Hearst, and Entebbe, and tons of incidents all over the world, etc--no one threw "terrorist" around the way our own government does, and no one changed our laws to broaden who fell under those words. Even the massive demonstrations against Vietnam didn't result in all the protestors being labeled "terrorists" the way protestors are now. It's not just words, but harsher punishment and removal of rights.
posted by amberglow at 1:28 PM on May 27, 2007


the perfect example, and happening all over the country:

The Alabama Department of Homeland Security has taken down a Web site it operated that included gay rights and anti-war organizations in a list of groups that could include terrorists.
The Web site identified different types of terrorists, and included a list of groups it believed could spawn terrorists. The list also included environmentalists, animal rights advocates and abortion opponents. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:17 AM on May 28, 2007


and from there: ...The site included the groups under a description of what it called "single-issue" terrorists. That group includes people who feel they are trying to create a better world, the Web site said. It said that in some communities, law enforcement officers consider certain single issue groups to be a threat.

"Single-issue extremists often focus on issues that are important to all of us. However, they have no problem crossing the line between legal protest and ... illegal acts, to include even murder, to succeed in their goals," it read. ...


An official state DHS site is saying this, no less. I bet all 50 states do.
posted by amberglow at 7:18 AM on May 28, 2007


also very very related: U.N. expert faults U.S. on human rights in terror laws: ... Scheinin also criticized several U.S. laws, including the 2001 Patriot Act, enacted by Congress after the September 11 attacks on the United States, for expanding the definition of terrorist acts "beyond the bounds of conduct which is truly terrorist," and tightening immigration restrictions based on the expanded definitions. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:37 AM on May 28, 2007


When he announced the creation of a new Department of Homeland Security in 2002, President Bush invoked the fight against "terror" or "terrorists" 19 times in a single speech.
That's more mentions than there have been terrorism charges brought by the department in the last three years, according to an independent analysis of DHS records. ...

posted by amberglow at 10:15 AM on May 28, 2007


Group: Terrorism not focus of Homeland Security

So then what is? Seriously.
posted by amberglow at 10:16 AM on May 28, 2007


about the Alabama DHS "terrorist" list-- ...By the way, did you notice that militia crazies are missing from the list? I wonder why that is, particularly since in April there was a HUGE bust right there in 'Bama outside Trussville, where potential domestic terrorists were arrested with improvised hand grenades and rocket launchers (see my post, Alabama militia raided, feds find truckloads of weapons and ammo):

Simultaneous raids carried out in four Alabama counties Thursday turned up truckloads of explosives and weapons, including 130 grenades, an improvised rocket launcher and 2,500 rounds of ammunition belonging to the small, but mightily armed, Alabama Free Militia...The militia, which called itself the Naval Militia at one point, had enough armament to outfit a small army....

posted by amberglow at 2:09 PM on May 28, 2007








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