Alleged "Eco-Terrorists" Nabbed

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According to the Christian Science Monitor, the six "eco-terrorists" caught by the FBI are thought to belong to the Earth Liberation Front/Animal Liberation Front. To get some idea of what ELF/ALF has been up to, take a look at the Southern Poverty Law Center's interesting selection of ELF/ALF attacks up to 2002.

Besides blowing up labs and burning SUVs, ELF/ALF actiivities are provoking politicians to propose legislation that abridges freedom of speech and gives the police more power to stifle dissent. For example, ACLU lawyer Larry Frankel, testifying before the legislature in Pennsylvania in June 2005, noted that a proposed anti-eco-terrorism bill "violates the First Amendment because it authorizes greater penalties for defendants with certain disfavored political views."

Frankel illustrated how this would work:

People who protest outside of an animal research facility and block the entrance to that facility may be considered eco-terrorists. On the other hand, people who protest outside of a weapons-manufacturing plant and block the entrance to that facility will not be subject to enhanced penalties even though they are engaged in essentially similar activities.

Frankel added:

Even if this bill were deemed to be consistent with the First Amendment, we cannot understand why Pennsylvania would want to characterize as terrorists individuals who engage in conduct that only amounts to summary offenses or misdemeanors. Classifying people who trespass or engage in disorderly conduct as terrorists is unwarranted. Imposing harsh sanctions on people who commit civil disobedience is a ploy that was used against civil rights protestors. It is a coercive tactic that one would not expect in a society that not only considers itself free but also holds itself out as a model for other societies.

We don't need to have special eco-terrorism statutes. We already have plenty of laws against vandalism and arson. Now go catch the bastards before they blow up another lab!

NEXT: A Protectionist Christmas

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  1. “JUNE 12, 2001
    Tucson, Ariz.
    Four under-construction luxury homes were set afire and “CSP,” for Coalition to Save the Preserves, was found spray-painted at the site. “

    It was never proven that this was the work of eco-terrorists. More likely this was the work of a sick individual acting alone. Dateline NBC had a good expose on these acts.

  2. I predicted that the war on terror would result in mission creep, that fairly mundane protestors would be caught up in it.

    Some people said I was being paranoid.

    How paranoid am I now?

  3. I’m still on the lookout for the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

  4. Hey, Finkelstein, you any relation?

    Kidding.

    There is a huge difference between vandalizing/destroying a few isolated pieces of property in several decades on the one hand, and taking lives, limbs and homes by the hundreds of thousands, st which our military forces seem to be the most skilled.

  5. Some people said I was being paranoid.

    How paranoid am I now?

    Just because you were right doesn’t mean you’re not paranoid. 🙂

  6. Trespassing upon private property is unlawful in all States, as is, in many States and localities, intentionally obstructing the entrance to private premises. These offenses may be prosecuted criminally under state law, and may also be the basis for state civil damages. They do not, however, give rise to a federal cause of action simply because their objective is to prevent the performance of abortions, any more than they do so (as we have held) when their objective is to stifle free speech.

  7. So this bill “violates the First Amendment because it authorizes greater penalties for defendants with certain disfavored political views.” Don’t we already have at least one such law, one that singles out anti-abortion protestors? Not advocating, just saying.

  8. Antonin & PapayaSF:

    I’m pro-abortion, but I’m against enhanced penalties for anti-abortion protestors. The Supreme Court apparently agrees. However, if they trespass or touch someone, then throw the book at them.

  9. I am surprised that you would treat something as broad as abortion with a simple pro- or anti-, my scientist friend. Gestation in humans is about 9 months and a lot of things happen over the course of that interval, biologically speaking.

  10. Ron: you’re pro-abortion or pro-right-to-choose? 🙂

    thoreau: to follow up on Brian Courts’ comment, and in the immortal words of Major Frank Burns “I wouldn’t be paranoid if everyone weren’t out to get me.”

  11. Ron Bailey:

    “I’m pro-abortion, but blah blah blah”

    Honest to fucking god, I’ve never understood why anyone would say they’re “pro-abortion” The only reason I can think of is that they’re staunchly pro-life and just want to cause as much hate against the abortion rights nuts as possible. I mean it’s one thing to say “I’m against the government regulation of what is admittedly a very touchy subject and unpleasant deed.” and a totally different thing to say “I’m pro-abortion.”

    I mean, I understand the arguments for keeping abortion legal, but you don’t need to act like you’re all about it. That really makes me sick.

  12. I am pro-abortion, even retro-actively. If it were up to me, either parent would be allowed to terminate a pregnancy until the point of self sufficiency. Or at least until the brat gets a job and starts making a financial contribution the household.

  13. well, you can’t make an omlette without scrambling some zygotes.

  14. Honest to fucking god, I’ve never understood why anyone would say they’re “pro-abortion”

    Because you’re actually expressing what you think rather than hiding it behind a euphemism. To quote Penn Jillette: “Everyone is pro-choice AND pro-life, it’s for or against abortion you’re arguing about.”

  15. What Akira and Penn said.

  16. “I want to get an abortion, but my boyfriend and I are having trouble conceiving.”
    –Sarah Silverman

  17. Honest to fucking god, I’ve never understood why anyone would say they’re “pro-abortion”
    Because you’re actually expressing what you think rather than hiding it behind a euphemism. To quote Penn Jillette: “Everyone is pro-choice AND pro-life, it’s for or against abortion you’re arguing about.”
    Comment by: Akira MacKenzie at December 12, 2005 04:47 PM

    And I’ll add that many of the self-righteous blowhards who call themselves “pro-choice” are anti-choice on so many other issues. I don’t see why the pro-abortionists (which I am one) should have exclusive claim to the word “choice.”

    When was the last time you heard a politician say, “I’m personally opposed to private gun ownership, but I’ll support the right of a woman to choose whether or not to own a firearm for self protection?”

  18. So to recap:

    Eco-terrorists (or whatever you want to call ’em) arrested–yay!

    Special legislation for “eco-terrorists”–boo! (and not necessary)

    Abortion–goddamnit, why the fuck does everything have to be about abortion???

  19. How about saying “pro-abortion rights?” That’s how I describe myself. “Pro-choice” is euphemistic and “pro-abortion” can be interpreted as indicating a gung-ho attitude about the procedure. “Pro-abortion rights” is more precise. Unless, in fact, one actually is in favor of abortion for its own sake.

  20. Personally I like to say I’m pro-legal-abortion, but I think we all know (and knew) what Ron meant.

  21. >but I think we all know (and knew) what Ron meant.

    Well, yes. I knew.

  22. vabs,

    That part of my comment was primarily applicable to those who actually complained about Ron’s word usage, which I recognize does not include you.

  23. Yes. Um, thanks and I’ll try to work on my reflexive defensive behaviors…

  24. “I am pro-abortion, even retro-actively …”

    Bring back the patria potestas.

    I am quite serious.

  25. ACLU lawyer Larry Frankel, testifying before the legislature in Pennsylvania in June 2005, noted that a proposed anti-eco-terrorism bill “violates the First Amendment because it authorizes greater penalties for defendants with certain disfavored political views.”

    Which seems to me to be exactly like hate-crime laws. In fact, Frankel himself makes this point in his testimony relating to the “Philadelphia 4”:

    That case arose out of a demonstration at a gay neighborhood festival last fall. Several individuals who were protesting at that event and expressing their deeply-held views on homosexuality were charged with a variety of offenses including violating Pennsylvania’s ethnic intimidation law. That law, like the one proposed here, is a sentencing enhancement statute. The case became a national story and was considered by many people, including some supporters of gay rights, to be a clear misuse of the hate crimes law. Eventually a Court of Common Pleas dismissed the charges. However, many people, including those of us at the ACLU, still wonder why the hate crime charges were ever lodged against defendants who were engaged in a political demonstration.

    And yet, not only did the ACLU not take up this case, they still support hate-crime laws even while they admit the potential for abuse is great. In a Reason interview, Nadine Strossen (president of the ACLU) said:

    The potential for abuse is very great. Our policy is that we will not oppose such laws if there is a very tight causal nexus to the evidence of intentional discriminatory selection of a victim and that it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. … What’s distressing is that the Court’s opinion [Wisconsin v. Mitchell], which was unanimous, didn’t go into any of the potential dangers to free speech. It didn’t emphasize the particularly tight nexus in that case between speech and the crime, or the narrow wording of the Wisconsin statute. I think it really opens the door to all kinds of abuses. I strongly suspect that we will be in a position of opposing most applications of most such laws.

    It seems to me (surprise, surprise) that the ACLU wants to give the appearance of indiscrimantly protecting everyone’s civil liberties while reserving the right to discriminate as they see fit. Maybe the ACLU should really take to heart Frankel’s closing words in his testimony:

    In closing, let me reiterate our belief that this bill is unnecessary, is overkill and is probably unconstitutional. Our law enforcement officials have more than enough tools to effectively deal with people who commit acts of violence.

    I don’t see a significant difference between enhanced punishment laws for “eco-terrorists” and “hate crime” offenders. I guess at least the ACLU is half-right.

  26. “Honest to fucking god, I’ve never understood why anyone would say they’re “pro-abortion” The only reason I can think of is that they’re staunchly pro-life and just want to cause as much hate against the abortion rights nuts as possible.”

    Hey, Andy, along those same lines, why don’t the anti-abortion-rights folks call themselves “anti-choice”? Same thing, chief. No, instead, they call themselves “pro-life”, which is a quite transparent attempt to paint anyone who disagrees with their agenda as “anti-life”…which is idiotic. So, when the “pro-life” people go ahead and call themselves “anti-choice”, then we’ll talk.

    Honest to fucking god, I’ve never understood why anyone would say their “pro-life”. The only reason I can think of is that they’re staunchly pro-abortion and just want to cause as much hate against the anti-abortion-rights nuts as possible. =

  27. “I want to get an abortion, but my boyfriend and I are having trouble conceiving.”
    –Sarah Silverman

    Sarah Silverman is wicked funny, Mr. Walker. I also like:

    “A couple nights ago, I was licking jelly off my boyfriend’s penis … and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m turning into my mother!’ ”

    “When I was a child I saw my father naked. But I don’t think it affected me, because I was so very young. And so very drunk.”

  28. To all who misunderstood me, it’s not just semantics. One can be “pro-abortion-rights” (PAR for short?) and still be personally opposed to it. I don’t see why they would call themselves “pro-abortion.”

  29. I don’t see why they would call themselves “pro-abortion.”

    Because it’s more descriptive and honest than “pro-choice.”

  30. ABORTIONS FOR ALL!

  31. Mr Bailey, I applaud you for your consistency (in opposing anti-anti-abortion-protest laws). I had planned to point out your hypocrisy on the subject, but you ruined it for me by not being hypocritical.

    And yes, the terms used to describe the two sides of the issue are imprecise, but that’s unavoidable given the complexities of their respective positions. This is made even more confusing by the fact that not all pro-lifers agree on rape, incest, and health exceptions, and not all pro-choicers agree on partial birth abortion and parental notification laws.

  32. And yes, the terms used to describe the two sides of the issue are imprecise, but that’s unavoidable given the complexities of their respective positions.

    That goes without saying. Which is why “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion,” whatever their faults, are still more descriptive and honest than “pro-choice” and “anti-choice.”

  33. Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

  34. Anonymous Coward,

    So, since I favor the repeal of laws against heroin use, does that make me pro-heroin-use?

  35. Andy:

    “To all who misunderstood me, it’s not just semantics. One can be “pro-abortion-rights” (PAR for short?) and still be personally opposed to it. I don’t see why they would call themselves “pro-abortion.”

    I don’t think anyone misunderstood you, Andy. See the Penn Gilette quote above. Everyone’s pro-choice and pro-life—it’s the “pro-abortion” part that matters. That pretty much sums it up.

    And, again, I don’t see why the anti-abortion-rights folks call themselves “pro-life”. That’s like saying you’re “pro-cute-little-puppydog-and-pretty-flowers”. And yes, it is semantics, because you know damn well that any sane person isn’t truly in favor of abortions just for their own sake. The fact that any retard on the “other side” of this issue would ever confuse it is just absurd.

    Again, calling yourself “pro-abortion” is no more or less absurd than calling yourself “pro-life”.

  36. Stretch, that little routine of describing the ACLU’s skeptical stance towards such laws as support for those laws was some mighty fine gymnastics.

    I agree that it’s wrong, on so many levels, to apply terrorism statutes to vandalism and property crime. Besides the obvious injustice resulting from the overkill, there’s a large threat to society that comes from blurring the line between harming people and not harming people.

    The analogy between the racketeering charges brought against Operation Resuce and the idea of applying them to ELF/ALF doesn’t work. Operation Rescue was a centralized organization that directed the “actions” that got it in trouble. There doesn’t appear to be any such organization behind ELF – it’s just a logo that local kids acting on their own use.

  37. The analogy between the racketeering charges brought against Operation Resuce and the idea of applying them to ELF/ALF doesn’t work. Operation Rescue was a centralized organization that directed the “actions” that got it in trouble. There doesn’t appear to be any such organization behind ELF – it’s just a logo that local kids acting on their own use.

    That, and I really really hate “Operation Rescue,” so I hope the government uses all the power it can muster (and then some) to oppress O.R. and anyone else with their viewpoint.

  38. Ha ha. You don’t have an argument.

  39. joe,

    So the sin of Operation Rescue-affiliated protesters is being affiliated with Operation Rescue, not what they actually do during the protests? If they spontaneously gathered at abortion clinics, with no outside direction, it would have been OK?

    As an occasional abortion clinic protester myself, I can assure you that’s not how it works in real life. There are huge protest-free zones around every abortion clinic which are set by federal law, and woe to even a single individual who tarries within them. In fact, a single individual is all the more vulnerable, since abortion clinic workers are wont to make up fantastic stories about what a lone protester has been doing once they call the police.

  40. I’m with Stretch; it should be legal to hate SUVs and black people and gays and abortion doctors and people who do research on animals and whatever and whoever you want to hate. Murder, vandalism, etc., are already illegal, and these sorts of laws seem to be attempts to punish thought. I suppose some legislators who push these sorts of laws are honestly trying to make such crimes less common, but I suspect most of them are just catering to interest groups in hopes of votes and campaign donations.

  41. For the record, I also think that taking heroin is a bad idea.

    Just wanted to clear that up.

  42. Stretch, that little routine of describing the ACLU’s skeptical stance towards such laws as support for those laws was some mighty fine gymnastics.

    My point was that their skepticism seems to be mostly a method to pick and choose cases based on personal or political preferences. They support hate crime laws when it suits them and turn a blind (if disparaging) eye when it doesn’t. They don’t even attempt to apply their own standards to the eco-terrorism bill (tight causal nexus blah, blah, blah), they just reject the notion outright…because it’s stupid just like hate crime laws.

  43. My point was that [the ACLU’s] skepticism seems to be mostly a method to pick and choose cases based on personal or political preferences. They support hate crime laws when it suits them and turn a blind (if disparaging) eye when it doesn’t.

    I don’t want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty.

    Life, Liberty, and the ACLU
    Reason. October 1994.

  44. crimethink, the sins of individual protestors who attend Operation Resuce events were trespass, assault, intimidatin, yadda yadda yadda, extending in extreme cases to murder.

    The sin of Operation Resuce the organization, and the people who operated it, was to operate a corrupt organization – along with the commission and conspiracy to commit all of the other sins in question. It isn’t one or the other, and holding individuals who took part in illegal acts liable for those acts does not eliminate the responsibility of the organization for which they worked. Or vice versa.

    Stretch, Frankel provided a very clear explanation of the ACLU’s reasoning. If you want to dismiss out of hand the explanation because you JUST KNOW what he was REALLY thinking, I guess that’s up to you.

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