Environmentalism

Underground Eco-Vandal Arrested

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The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting the capture of an Environmental Liberation Front member charged with causing $1.1 million of damage to Michigan State University buildings and facilities in 1999:

[Marie Jeanette] Mason is accused of going…on Dec. 31, 1999, to Agriculture Hall on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing. The indictment says [the group] intended to destroy federally funded plant genetic research being conducted by university employees.

They are accused of getting into the area where the research was stored and setting it on fire. Mason is accused of spray painting "No Genetically Modified Organisms" on building walls just before the fire.

The fire caused $1.1 million damage.

"It was an assault on a core value of free and open inquiry at a research university," MSU President Lou Anna Simon told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday. "Once you chill the academic climate from doing this kind of work, the cost to society is enormous."…

Mason and the others also are accused of setting fire to commercial logging equipment in Michigan the next day, causing $18,000 in damage while spray painting "ELF" and "Log in Hell." She and the others are charged with arson and conspiracy to commit arson.

More here. This story reminds me of older tales of '60s and '70s radicals popping up years later. And that this sort of stupid, specifically luddite behavior has generally disappeared from the scene. In 2006, reason reported on one bizarre reason why that might be.

NEXT: The Other Prostitution Scandal

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  1. When these people began to get nabbed by the cops, the far left began labeling it as being the “Green Scare”-akin to the “Red Scare” of the 1950s.

    The connections are obvious!

  2. Marie Jeanette Mason should feel good about this turn of events. In prison your carbon footprint is significantly reduced. Gaia will reward her later.

  3. I’m not sure why, but that reminded me of this Onion article.

  4. The ALF and ELF thugs are really quite despicable. Much like the anti-abortion fanatics who threaten doctors, it makes the lives of those they target fraught with fear, all the time. It’s really horrible.

  5. “It was an assault on a core value of free and open inquiry at a research university,” MSU President Lou Anna Simon told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday. “Once you chill the academic climate from doing this kind of work, the cost to society is enormous.”…

    Why is everything bad that happens to or at a university an all-out assault on academic inquiry?

    It’s not clear that the motivation behind this act was to undermine the principle of research generally so much as it was a criticism of a particular line of research.

    Though clearly, a strongly-worded letter would have been preferable to millions in property damage.

  6. And that this sort of stupid, specifically luddite behavior has generally disappeared from the scene

    Didn’t some ELF-types burn down a couple million dollars in model homes in swanky development on the West Caost just last week?

  7. “It’s not clear that the motivation behind this act was to undermine the principle of research generally so much as it was a criticism of a particular line of research.”

    If you can’t engage in a particular line of research without the fear of some lunatic coming and burning down your lab, I would say that your academic freedom has been infringed upon. The point of this act was not only to destroy the research but to send a message to every other scientist that life would be a hell of a lot easier if you chose something different to work on.

  8. Hugh Akston,

    I’m not disagreeing with you, but it does have a chilling effect.

    On campus I know a medical researcher who runs animal studies. It’s a not a monkey slaughter mill, but they are medical experiments and people object to them. The building is unmarked, he tells virtually no one what he actually does for a living, they have elaborate security, and can not, by policy, employ undergraduate students all for fear of these nutballs and the violence a portion of them seem to adore.

    He says all this severely impacts not only the quality of researchers he can attract, but a higher than average number of his graduate assistant don’t go on to work in the field than comparable programs on campus.

    It may not be an all-out assault, but they do impede medical research and for that they can burn in a hell of Episiarch’s devising.

  9. Well played, Nick.

    Denouncing these crimes for what they are, without giving in to terrrorism-creep.

  10. Sugerfree,

    If you were really a talented researcher, why would you go into animal research or GM research and put up with this bullshit when you could go into any number of other areas, make just as much money and not have to worry about anything like this? Unless you were really bull headed you wouldn’t. This is right out of the Nazi playbook. Before the Nazis took power, they delt with political opponents by having gangs of brownshirts show up and burn their house or shop down and beat the hell out of them. Took all of the fun out of standing up to the Nazis. This is the same principle.

  11. Easy solution; place armed security around these labs. If one of these ELF/ALF lunatics comes up on you, introduce them to the business end of a .45 !

  12. John and Rigoberto,

    They were actually fairly clever on campus, from the outside the lab just looks like a poorly designed parking structure.

    One of the things they were working on is the soon to be released insulin inhaler. They were trying to keep little kids from being stuck with a needle four times a day. Those selfish bastard medical researchers!

  13. It’s not clear that the motivation behind this act was to undermine the principle of research generally so much as it was a criticism of a particular line of research.

    I really don’t think you can have violent “criticism” of the any line of research without chilling research generally.

  14. and for that they can burn in a hell of Episiarch’s devising

    It would probably be similar to the one Spitzer is inhabiting as we speak.

    Thank you, Satan!

  15. You are welcome, my most impious child.

  16. Denouncing these crimes for what they are, without giving in to terrrorism-creep.

    joe, terrorism is exactly what these crimes are. The larger intent, besides shutting down the immediate facility, is to intimidate others into abandoning (or not starting) research because of the fear they’ll be targeted. That’s pretty much a textbook example of terrorism.

    PETA, btw, contributes money for the legal defense of ALF terrorists. One more reason to hope Ingrid Newkirk gets eaten by wild boars.

  17. I can think of a few reasons why this activity has decreased over the last several years.

    First, the terror attacks of 2001 and the wars overseas made people realize there are more important things to deal with than genetically modified food. Even terrorists need a bankroll to operate and donors probably shrank up. I can’t imagine ELF fundraisers do very well these days.

    Second, the authorities stopped treating this stuff like a pseudo-crime of political protest and started treating it for what it is: Terrorism. Prosecutions and active tracking by the current adminstration have gone through the roof. Gone are the days of Clinton era idle watching of the bad guys at work.

    Third, the nutball left has been hard hit over the last several years by real world events. It is hard to justify their nonsense of socialized society and Malthusian environmental disasters when real disasters are taking place all around you. People just aren’t listening anymore. The horrors of what happens when these folks get what they want have been well established. No one cares about their groups.

  18. That’s pretty much a textbook example of terrorism.

    No, not really.

    Terrorist hurt people. They even kill them. Fairly frequently. Then they brag about it.
    What terrorists don’t do is go out of their way to make sure people don’t get hurt.

    Ditto the Nazis.

  19. “Terrorist hurt people. They even kill them. Fairly frequently. Then they brag about it.
    What terrorists don’t do is go out of their way to make sure people don’t get hurt.”

    True, these guys are not suicide bombers blowing themselves up in school yards. But T is right in that the point of this is not to burn down all of the research. The point is to terrorize researchers with the fear of having their labs burned down into not pursuing certain kinds of research. That is terrorism. Terrorism is the use of fear and intimidation for political ends. Just because these guys have enough scrubles to so far not target the people in the labs, doesn’t let them off the hook for being terrorists. There are gradations of evil. These guys are just aren’t quite as low as some terrorists but they are terrorists nonetheless.

  20. Didn’t some ELF-types burn down a couple million dollars in model homes in swanky development on the West Caost just last week?

    Yep. I’m sure they are proud of themselves. Eco-fanatics are no different than fundie religious fanatics. So sure of their own infallibility and pumped up with righteousness they manage to convince themselves that despicable acts are actually moral. I’d like to see the arsonist bitch do some serious time (~10 years).

  21. John,

    If the threat created by loss of property is…further loss of property, that’s somewhat different from threating people with harm.

    When the mob burns down your store if you don’t pay, your legs are next. When ELF burns down a lab, the threat is that another lab is next.

    Intimidation would be an accurate term. Threatening would be accurate. But I don’t think we need to be assenting to the constant expansion of the phrase “terrorism” to include “all bad stuff,” especially when we see what the terror-card is being used to justify.

  22. Terrorist hurt people.

    Actually, terrorists terrorize people.

    The hurting is incidental.

  23. No, not really.

    Terrorist hurt people. They even kill them. Fairly frequently. Then they brag about it.
    What terrorists don’t do is go out of their way to make sure people don’t get hurt.

    And burning a cross in the front yard of the interracial couple is what? I’ll continue to equate that sort of behavior with terrorism. Feel free to look up the definition and see if commiting arson in an attempt to change peoples behavior fits.

  24. Well played, Nick.

    Denouncing these crimes for what they are, without giving in to terrrorism-creep.

    While reading the title of the article the first thing that popped in my head was Little Green Footballs linking to Reason whining about how they used “vandal” instead of “terrorist.”

  25. J sub D,

    The Klan kills people. There were thousands of murders committed by the Klan. ELF? No, not so much, really?

    Why are people so determined to ignore the fact that being threatened by a killer is different from being threatened by a vandal?

    The hurting is incidental. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Sure it is, Fluffy. It’s all a remarkable coincidence.

  26. What terrorists don’t do is go out of their way to make sure people don’t get hurt.

    One thing burning down buildings shows is that you are not going out of your way to make sure people don’t get hurt. Any time you burn down a building, you create a significant risk that someone will get hurt.

  27. “Breaking: the United States Navy launched air strikes against an al Qaeda camp today. Approximately 13,000 tons of ordiance was dropped from F/A-18s on the camp, where al Qaeda leaders trained recruits to carry out attacks like those of September 11.”

    vs.

    “Breaking: the United States Navy launched air strikes against an Earth Liberation Front camp today. Approximately 13,000 tons of ordiance was dropped from F/A-18s on the camp, where ELFleaders trained recruits to carry out attacks like those of March 10, 2008.”

    You know you’d fellas, and you know why.

  28. Ah, who would do such a thing?!

  29. RC Dean,

    Then why hasn’t anyone been hurt in any of these arsons?

    It’s incredibly irresponsible what they’re doing – arson is dangerous, no matter how carefully you think you’ve swept the area – but that isn’t the same thing as trying to hurt people.

    You make a great, big deal out of the fact that the IDF, allegedly, doesn’t try to kill civilians when it pancakes an apartment building where a Hezbollah figure lives, knowing full well that civilians will be killed, but you’re going to pretend that carrying out attacks with a much, much higher level of caution about hurting people is the same thing as bombing a market full of people?

    Absurd.

  30. The hurting is incidental. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Sure it is, Fluffy. It’s all a remarkable coincidence.

    Sorry you didn’t get my Hannibal Lechter joke. I tried to add a fake “Hannibal Lechter voice” tag, but the page ate it for some reason.

    To play my joke out all the way:

    First principles, Clarise. Marcus Aurelius. Ask yourself of each thing, what does it do? What is its nature?

    Terrorists employ violence to terrorize people for political ends. That’s what they do.

    If you can achieve your end with a level of violence that only destroys property, or only threatens to hurt people but doesn’t actually accomplish it, you are still a terrorist.

    After all, if you hijack a plane using the threat of a fake bomb, and take the passengers to Uganda and hold them there for a few days and then let the passengers and plane go, no one has been “hurt” in the sense of actually suffering a physical injury. Would you argue that therefore the action was not terrorism? Come on.

  31. One of the things they were working on is the soon to be released insulin inhaler. They were trying to keep little kids from being stuck with a needle four times a day. Those selfish bastard medical researchers!

    Smart little, insulin dependent kids (or those with smart parents) use a pump. Better control, and they only get stuck one in two or three days…

    Not that this impinges on the coolness of insulin inhalers.

  32. joe, I never talked about the Klan, or killing people. Just someone burning a cross on somebody’s lawn. Is that terrorism or not? You make the call.

  33. Okay, what was the major field of study for Marie Jeanette Mason in college? I am guessing something in Liberal Arts.

  34. Fluffy,

    Hundreds of people have been killed in hijackings. Planes have been blown up, bodies dumped on tarmacs, Jews and non-Jews separated in terminals so that the former could be killed. It is this history that makes hijacking a mortal threat.

    No one has been killed in these ELF attacks. Quite the opposite, they have made sure no one would be killed.

    J sub D,

    You don’t have to talk about the Klan. The person burning the cross, and the person who owns that front lawn, both know about the history of cross burnings and lynchings. When a cross is burned on a front lawn, it is a deliberate reference to that history of murder. That’s why they choose that symbol.

  35. You don’t have to talk about the Klan. The person burning the cross, and the person who owns that front lawn, both know about the history of cross burnings and lynchings. When a cross is burned on a front lawn, it is a deliberate reference to that history of murder. That’s why they choose that symbol.

    And college professors all know about this ELF fellow traveller.

  36. Is burning an empty abortion clinic terrorism?

  37. How about an unoccupied mosque?

  38. NAACP offices when nobody is present?

  39. The ROTC building at 3:00 am?

  40. Hundreds of people have been killed in hijackings. Planes have been blown up, bodies dumped on tarmacs, Jews and non-Jews separated in terminals so that the former could be killed. It is this history that makes hijacking a mortal threat.

    Joe, there is a difference between drawing a fine distinction in your definition, and sticking with a bad argument for no reason.

    For an example of the difference, let me point out that by the terms of the distinction you have drawn above, the very first plane hijacking wasn’t terroristic, because since there was no history of people dying in hijackings the people on the plane should have thought themselves perfectly safe and shouldn’t have been frightened at all.

  41. @joe

    Hundreds of people have been killed in hijackings. Planes have been blown up, bodies dumped on tarmacs, Jews and non-Jews separated in terminals so that the former could be killed. It is this history that makes hijacking a mortal threat.

    No one has been killed in these ELF attacks. Quite the opposite, they have made sure no one would be killed.

    Sigh.

    They made an effort to keep people from being killed, and so far succeeded.[1] That’s good. We can all agree that there are distinction between various gradations of bad. Fine.

    But when I sit down and try to work up a definition of terrorism, it always includes a few elements:
    * the use of violence
    * to scare people
    * in order to effect a change of policy.

    There is plenty of room to quibble over the details: state versus non-state actors, what types of violence get to be “war” (and presumable is OK) and what sorts are branded terrorism, and so on.

    But that’s my definition.

    Under that definition these eco-vandals get to be terrorists. Relatively small scale, and quite modestly evil, to be sure, but still terrorists.[2]

    Oh, and they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

    [1] This is akin to a military trying to keep down the “collateral damage”. A good idea, on the whole, but don’t expect much credit for it.

    [2] Perhaps we need some new words. You know, like meh-terrorist, terrorist, and phat-terrorist.

  42. J sub D,

    Fellow Traveller is what you call someone who isn’t actually part of the grouop you’re trying to smear by association, correct? Forgive me, I’m just not up on my fuzzy language.

    Is burning an empty abortion clinic terrorism?
    J sub D | March 13, 2008, 12:19pm | #

    How about an unoccupied mosque?
    J sub D | March 13, 2008, 12:20pm | #

    NAACP offices when nobody is present?
    J sub D | March 13, 2008, 12:21pm | #

    The ROTC building at 3:00 am?

    I wouldn’t count any of those as terrorism in and of themselves, although if you add some Nazi or Klan graffitti, that could change.

    Fluffy

    Joe, there is a difference between drawing a fine distinction in your definition, and sticking with a bad argument for no reason. I wouldn’t know, since my argument is, apparently, so bad that you can’t refute it, just wag your finger at me for daring to make it.

    For an example of the difference, let me point out that by the terms of the distinction you have drawn above, the very first plane hijacking wasn’t terroristic, because since there was no history of people dying in hijackings the people on the plane should have thought themselves perfectly safe and shouldn’t have been frightened at all. The very first plane hijacking involved sticking a gun in someone’s back, so no, that doesn’t work. There’s an obvious threat there.

    This isn’t hard. Threatening to kill somebody vs. not threatening to kill somebody. A very easy, very obvious distinction that one must work very hard not to get.

  43. TrappedEast,

    * the use of violence

    That’s where your definition doesn’t apply. Vandalism – the destruction of property – isn’t in and of itself violence, unless it harms someone, or sends of message of intent to harm someone.

    Otherwise, tagging a building would be an act of violence.

  44. Ah, I get it. The Anarchists and them Duke boys ‘aint terrorists because they only attack property and not people.

    Next thing the Leftists will be trying to tell me is that restricting campaign contributions is an exercise in freedom.

  45. I wouldn’t count any of those as terrorism in and of themselves, although if you add some Nazi or Klan graffitti, that could change.

    One of the ways they know ELF is behind these arsons is because they left behind ELF grafitti.

    I guess you changed your mind then?

    Also, Arson may not create a risk to the normal inhabitants of the building if you do it at a time when you know the inhabitants aren’t there, but arson always creates some risk to the firefighters.

    Why do you hate firefighters, joe?

  46. Abdul,

    One of the ways they know ELF is behind these arsons is because they left behind ELF grafitti.

    I guess you changed your mind then?

    No, because – for perhaps the thousandth time now – ELF doesn’t kill people, so its graffitti is not a threat, the way Klan and Nazi graffitti is.

    Because – c’mon, Abdul, fill in the blank – the Klan and the Nazis have a long history of __________________ing people.

    Why do you hate firefighters, joe? I don’t have any personal experience with this Abdul – is this the sort of thing one writes when one has very strong emotions but no logic to back it up?

  47. Actually, we have tried to kill several janitors but the bastards got out in time, the germ-killing monsters. All life is sacred!

    (except human)

  48. Actually, we have tried to kill several janitors

    Lie.

  49. Threatening to kill somebody vs. not threatening to kill somebody.

    But that’s not what terrorism is, Joe.

    Terrorism is the use of violence to frighten people for political ends.

    Your argument only works if arson isn’t violence or isn’t threatening. That’s typical leftist bullshit that would go out the window in a second if I set your house on fire this afternoon and left behind political slogans.

    The ELF arsonists are comparatively minor terrorists in the grand scheme of things, but they are terrorists.

    They’re also vigilantes, in the sense that one justification for their actions is that the activities they seek to destroy “should” be illegal, and they’re just stepping in where the evil corporate state fails to. Are they Charles Bronson in the Death Wish movies? Of course not.

    You’re just struggling to avoid the use of the word “terrorist” because you think that word should be reserved for the most harmful or dangerous terrorists, and it shouldn’t. The word should be applied to whoever fits the definition. If this complicates life for the people who are too simple-minded to figure out who the “really bad” terrorists are and who the “not so bad” terrorists are, too bad. Welcome the world of adjectives, folks.

    The very first plane hijacking involved sticking a gun in someone’s back, so no, that doesn’t work. There’s an obvious threat there.

    Sorry, joe, but above you argued that people shouldn’t be terrorized by arson because the lack of deaths in arsons by ELF to date means that the arsons aren’t an obvious threat. This absurd statistical approach to the question would REQUIRE that until someone actually is shot or blown up in a hijacking, there’s no such thing as an “obvious threat”. That’s the fault of your argument, sir, not mine.

  50. Because – c’mon, Abdul, fill in the blank – the Klan and the Nazis have a long history of Bak_ing people cupcakes?

    That’s about as logical as someone who thinks eco-nuts burning down a building is “going out of your way to keep people from getting hurt?”

  51. Holy shit joe, go buy a sense of humor in an alley somewhere. That was a joke. The “germ-killing monsters” bit should have tipped you off.

    To repeat: I was not implying that they actually tried to kill anyone, I was making a joke.

  52. We also hate firefighters. And apple pie.

  53. Episiarch,

    I enjoyed and understood your joke.

    Can you add guns to the next one? Just came from the latest gun thread, but my joke writing is a bit off today.

  54. Because – c’mon, Abdul, fill in the blank – the Klan and the Nazis have a long history of __________________ing people.

    Again, this would mean that the first day the Klan showed up at somebody’s house, no one should have been terrorized.

    It would mean that on the night of Kristallnacht nobody should have been afraid. After all, Kristallnacht overwhelmingly “only” involved the destruction of property, so nobody should have been worried about it.

    Seriously, what’s a little silly here is the fact that if the ELF attacks weren’t terroristic, there would be no reason to undertake them. The attacks are obviously designed to frighten people and convince them to not research in certain areas. If the attacks are too minor to actually accomplish that end, why engage in them? The fact that ELF has chosen this particular set of tactics itself argues in favor of the premise that the ELF actors believe these attacks will be frightening enough to cause change.

  55. Fluffy,

    First, there’s no need to swear just because this argument is going poorly for you.

    Your argument only works if arson isn’t violence or isn’t threatening. Correct, if the property damage isn’t threatening, it isn’t violence.

    if I set your house on fire this afternoon and left behind political slogans. That would be terrorism, because burning an occupied dwelling is indeed a explicit threat. Compare this to burning the model homes last week, which had never been occupied, or burning cars on a sales lot at night.

    The ELF arsonists are comparatively minor terrorists in the grand scheme of things, but they are terrorists.Repetition doesn’t make an assertion true.

    They’re also vigilantes Yes, I agree.

    You’re just struggling to avoid the use of the word “terrorist” because… My motives have nothing to with the validity of my argument – you know, the one you can’t refute – but since you asked, my motivation for agreeing with Nick that the word “terrorism” would be misapplied in this case is right there, in my very first post. With the stakes this high, it’s best to be very precise in the use of the term “terrorism.”

    Sorry, joe, but above you argued that people shouldn’t be terrorized by arson because the lack of deaths in arsons by ELF to date means that the arsons aren’t an obvious threat. This absurd statistical approach to the question would REQUIRE that until someone actually is shot or blown up in a hijacking, there’s no such thing as an “obvious threat”. That’s the fault of your argument, sir, not mine. The only thing you should be sorry about is your lack of reasoning skills.

    I’ll write it again, see if you can keep up: if someone puts a gun in your back, or says they’re going to blow up the plane you’re on, that’s a threat to your life. Terrorism, as you rightly note, involves putting people in fear of their lives, deliberately, for the purpose of coercing their behavior.

    Ergo, putting a gun in someone’s back crosses the threshold I mentioned, that of threatening someone’s life. Writing “I’m going to kill you” threatens someone’s life. Writing graffitti that recalls previous murders – KKK, a swastika – can threaten someone’s life.

    Writing graffitti from a group that hasn’t killed anyone, and goes out of their way not to hurt people when they carry out their actions, does not. It threatens their property.

    This is a very easy, clear distinction. You are working way to hard not to get it.

  56. Fluffy,

    Thank you, I keep forgetting to add the Brown Shirts ot that set: Anarchists, those Duke boys and the Brown Shirts.

  57. Episiarch,

    It’s tough to tell, when two people make exactly the same point, that one of them is joking.

    In case you haven’t noticed, there are people who actually are, in all seriousness, saying that burning empty buildings and cars is an attempt to kill people.

  58. Fluffy,

    Are you really this historically ignorant? The Klan adopted their uniforms and night-riding tactics for the specific purpose of putting black people in fear of their lives. The Nazis’ brownshirts had killed hundreds of people in the streets before Kristallnacht.

    How does a person not know these things?

    Seriously, what’s a little silly here is the fact that if the ELF attacks weren’t terroristic, there would be no reason to undertake them. To cause serious economic damage, to provide a disincentive to engage in such practices. Don’t you remember the burning of the ski lodge in Colorado? It was a multi-million dollar building. Why do you think they target Hummers in dealers’ lots? Why do you think they target developers’ model homes?

  59. I wouldn’t count any of those as terrorism in and of themselves, although if you add some Nazi or Klan graffitti, that could change.

    Gotcha. I consider that moronic thinking, but I understand what you’re saying.

  60. When an (inevitable?) tragedy occurs, and someone is killed in an ELF arson, despite ELF’s attempts to ensure the building is unoccupied, will that then transform ELF’s actions into terrorism? If not, why not?

  61. Why do you think they target Hummers in dealers’ lots? Why do you think they target developers’ model homes?

    Why do they spike trees? ‘Cause shrapnel from chainsaws never hurts loggers. In fact, it kinda tickles.

  62. J sub D,

    Moronic? Consider two scenarios:

    You come home, and find your window broken and a baseball inside. Are you scared?

    You pick up the baseball, and someone has written “Die Nigger KKK” on it.

    Is it moronic to think the latter is more of a threat?

  63. Salvius | March 13, 2008, 2:02pm | #

    When an (inevitable?) tragedy occurs, and someone is killed in an ELF arson, despite ELF’s attempts to ensure the building is unoccupied, will that then transform ELF’s actions into terrorism? If not, why not?

    No, the killing has to be a deliberate part of the strategy, to put people in fear. If an anti-war march causes someone to have a heart attack, does that make anti-war marches terrorism?

    What the ELFers is doing is wrong on many levels, and irresponsibly dangerous. Something is going to go wrong, and somebody is going to get killed. But if killing somebody makes the perpetrators go “Oh, no!” then they’re not terrorists.

  64. Terrorism, as you rightly note, involves putting people in fear of their lives,

    I don’t think it’s necessary for people to be in fear for their lives.

    I think that, for example, if I formed a new non-Klan racist group, with no history, that announced that it would never hurt any black people deliberately, but would “merely” burn down the houses of any blacks who moved into the area, that would be terrorism. Even if we always made sure that no one was home at the time.

    The black people would “only” have to be afraid of taking a property loss, but that fear would still be the result of my having terrorized them.

    deliberately, for the purpose of coercing their behavior.

    Ergo, putting a gun in someone’s back crosses the threshold I mentioned, that of threatening someone’s life.

    And so does setting fire to a building that they occupy for part of the day.

    Writing graffitti from a group that hasn’t killed anyone, and goes out of their way not to hurt people when they carry out their actions, does not. It threatens their property.

    Only if you think it’s impossible for anyone to ever get hurt in an arson. Or if you think that a group that is willing to commit arson will never advance to the point of hurting a person.

    OR if you think that people shouldn’t feel threatened by persons who are willing to go outside the law to destroy the property of other people to make a point.

    This is a very easy, clear distinction. You are working way to hard not to get it.

    The Klan adopted their uniforms and night-riding tactics for the specific purpose of putting black people in fear of their lives. The Nazis’ brownshirts had killed hundreds of people in the streets before Kristallnacht.

    Joe, you’re the one arguing that:

    a) actions by groups that haven’t killed anyone yet aren’t threatening

    and

    b) attacks against property aren’t threatening.

    That would mean that ALL actions by groups that haven’t killed anyone yet aren’t threatening, and ALL attacks against mere property aren’t threatening. Unless other factors can be considered, or unless we can consider the feelings of the targets of those attacks in our analysis.

  65. Why do they spike trees?

    Why do they mark the trees they spike, and notify the logging companies, and put out press releases?

    To interfere with their economic actions.

  66. That would mean that ALL actions by groups that haven’t killed anyone yet aren’t threatening, and ALL attacks against mere property aren’t threatening.

    Prior to Sunday, 15th September, 1963, negro church bombings and arson weren’t terrorism either.

    Yes joe, moronic is the right word.

  67. To interfere with their economic actions.

    Joe, if I moved down to Brazil, and announced that I would burn down the crops of any peasant farmer who moved into an area I personally thought should be undeveloped, would my threat be terroristic?

    If I started burning down Hillary’s campaign offices, but only when no one was in them, and left behind notes saying Hillary should drop out of the race, would my threat be terroristic?

    If I started burning down churches, and left behind copies of Reason magazine, would my actions be terroristic?

    I think you underestimate, or deny, the possibility that crimes against property can be terroristic because the victims of the ELF are big, mean developers or ski lodge owners, or nasty pharmaceutical or biotech companies, and their property just isn’t that big a deal to you.

  68. Fluffy,

    Burning down people’s homes inherently a threat, as I wrote before.

    An explicitly racist group carrying out graffitti attacks will always refer back to the Klan, and will always thereby imply a threat to life and limb. There’s just no getting around that.

    And so does setting fire to a building that they occupy for part of the day. I disagree with your naked assertion. I occupy a certain Dunkin Donuts for part of the day. I wouldn’t feel personally threatened if it burned down one day. As opposed to a home, which does have an intimate personal connection with someone.

    Only if you think it’s impossible for anyone to ever get hurt in an arson. Or if you think that a group that is willing to commit arson will never advance to the point of hurting a person. I’ve yet to encounter a terrorist group that left any ambiguity whatsoever about their willingness, their desire, to kill people. The fact that we can even argue about whether, someday, ELFers might kill somebody is pretty strong evidence they’re not terrorists. Lots of people can “imagine” lots of things. There are those who think gay rights groups are scary. That doesn’t make them terrorists.

    Joe, you’re the one arguing that:

    a) actions by groups that haven’t killed anyone yet aren’t threatening

    and

    b) attacks against property aren’t threatening.

    Not quite. I’m arguing that those things are not necessarily threatening to people’s life and limb. They can be, as I’ve said before, depending on the history and circumstances.

    Unless other factors can be considered, Yes, precisely.

    …or unless we can consider the feelings of the targets of those attacks in our analysis. That some can feel threatened by these actions does not make the desire to instill terror part of ELF’s strategy.

    If ELFers actually wanted to make people think they might kill them, don’t you think they would try to kill somebody? As a matter of fact, they put out statements proclaiming their opposition to killing people. Those are not the actions of people attempting to put others in fear for their lives.

  69. Prior to Sunday, 15th September, 1963, negro church bombings and arson weren’t terrorism either.

    Yes, J sub, moronic is the right word for what you just wrote.

    Because Lord knows, attacks on black institutionas by the Klan and bombings had certainly never killed anyone before 1963. Good Lord, have you never heard of the anarchists, and the bombings they carried out? Have you never heard of the Klan?

    How does a person as historically ignorant as you convince himself he’s in a position to insult others’ intelligence?

  70. Fluffy,

    Joe, if I moved down to Brazil, and announced that I would burn down the crops of any peasant farmer who moved into an area I personally thought should be undeveloped, would my threat be terroristic? There is a long history of landowners employing violence in Brazil to keep squatters from using their land, so yes, it would be terroristic for you to make such threats, as they would certainly be taken as threats to life and limb.

    If I started burning down Hillary’s campaign offices, but only when no one was in them, and left behind notes saying Hillary should drop out of the race, would my threat be terroristic? Maybe. It would depend on the circumstances. Most people would probably assume that you’d be likely to target people.

    Now, my turn. If I were to put a bomb on a plane and blow it out of the sky, would that be terroristic? If I were to send someone in a bomb vest to blow up a pizza joint full of people, would that be terroristic? Isn’t it strange how the acts of actual terrorists don’t leave any room for ambiguity at all? No, actually, because that’s the point. If people don’t know if you are willing to hurt them, you are not practicing terrorism.

    I think you underestimate blah blah blah I think it makes you feel good to tell yourself that. I think you can’t hold up your end of the argument on its merits, so you’re speculating about my motives.

  71. Why do they mark the trees they spike, and notify the logging companies, and put out press releases?

    Guess they missed that one, joe.

    In 1987, California mill worker George Alexander was seriously injured when the bandsaw he was operating was shattered by a tree spike.

    Recklessly tossing about death traps isn’t terrorism, though. Not without a threat.

    But ELF routinely leaves threatening messages (e.g. “Go Log in Hell”).

  72. I guess they did. You might have noticed, they started leaving big, prominent messages and signs after that. You know, sort of like how Hezbollah marks their bombs? Oh, wait…

    Recklessly tossing about death traps isn’t terrorism, though. If they were spiking trees and NOT leaving messages warning people away from them, that would be terrorism.

  73. 1987?

    There have been hundreds of tree-spiking episodes since then, and yet you have to back two decades to find an injury.

    Why do you think that is? I don’t have to go back to 1987 to find someone killed by Hezbollah.

  74. Anarchists, those Duke boys, the Brownshirts, tree spikers . . .

    This is goign to be a long list.

  75. joe’s definition of terrorism-

    I know it when I see it. This isn’t it. That’s intellectually dishonest and thus it is no longer worth discussing it with him.

  76. If people don’t know if you are willing to hurt them, you are not practicing terrorism.

    Because no one has ever been terrified because of uncertainty…

    Joe, I understand your point, I think. You believe that threatening the destruction of someone’s property is not “terrorism”, that that label requires threatening the destruction of someone’s person. I’m arguing that those things are not necessarily threatening to people’s life and limb. But you seem to think that the opposing point of view here is that threats to property are inherently threatening to persons, and you are (rightly) skeptical.

    But I think what you’re missing here is that that isn’t (necessarily) the opposing point of view – some people simply have a broader definition of “terrorism” than you do, one which includes threats to property, and that this is not a disagreement of fact, or of logic, but simply of opinion. Neither point of view can be said to be “right” or “wrong”.

    Why are people so determined to ignore the fact that being threatened by a killer is different from being threatened by a vandal?
    I certainly agree, being threatened by a killer is different from being threatened by a vandal – but why are you so determined to ignore the fact that being threatened by a vandal is still being threatened.

  77. J sub D has officially given up.

    I’ve been laying my principles and arguments on the table for hours, and you can’t argue against them.

    pwned.

  78. Salvius,

    First of all, there are a great many people arguing against me who ARE arguing that “threat to life and limb” is the proper standard, though you are not.

    As for where you draw the line, taggers are not terrorists, so I can’t agree that threatening vandalism is terrorism. And given the stakes here – given what we’ve all seen the government and certain elements of our society willing to do when the objects of their ire are somehow linked to terrorism – I have a real problem with seeing that definition expanded to where it has never been before.

  79. Burning down people’s homes inherently a threat, as I wrote before.

    How? Why?

    Burning a home with no one in it is no more threatening to human life than burning a business with no one in it. In both cases, someone will only get physically hurt if I make a mistake.

    Again, you’re making this arbitrary distinction because destroying some people’s property is terrorism, but destroying other people’s property isn’t.

    An explicitly racist group carrying out graffitti attacks will always refer back to the Klan, and will always thereby imply a threat to life and limb. There’s just no getting around that.

    There is a long history of landowners employing violence in Brazil to keep squatters from using their land, so yes, it would be terroristic for you to make such threats, as they would certainly be taken as threats to life and limb.

    Here are the two logic flaws in that:

    1. If you can claim that even if the Fluffy Liberation Army explicitly promises to only destroy property, my actions are terroristic because of the history of other radical groups, why can’t I ignore the promises of the ELF based on the history of other radical groups? Because of the cause espoused?

    2. By the terms of your argument, if by some chance I was able to convince people that I truly did not want to cause anyone to be physically hurt, it would in fact not be terrorism to destroy the property of any black family that moved into my town. Don’t you realize how perverse that is? You’re basically saying that it wouldn’t be my acts of destruction that would make me a terrorist, it would be my credibility or lack thereof that would make me a terrorist.

    I think that if I threatened to destroy the property of any black person that moved into my town, but not kill or injure anyone, and that threat made black people who believed me not move into my town, I would be a terrorist. I wouldn’t be terrorizing just the ones who feared for their lives. I would be terrorizing the ones who only feared for their property too. Whether it’s a house, a business, a car, a used bag of baseballs, whatever.

    I know you don’t like me to characterize your motive in the discussion, but I still think that you are designing your definition of terrorism to not include people who aims you have sympathy for. And there’s no need to do that. Because I would say that not only is it possible for there to be “really bad” terrorists [like Osama] and “kinda bad terrorists who aren’t that big a deal” [like the ELF] it’s also possible for there to be “good” terrorists.

    You dig your heels in on the word because you think it carries a moral content that it doesn’t carry for me. If you and I got in the DeLorean and went back to 1850’s South Carolina and started burning down slave auction markets, cotton warehouses, the offices of hunters of escaped slaves, etc., leaving behind pro-abolition messages, we would absolutely, positively be terrorists, even if we never killed anyone. We’d also be the good guys.

  80. Hey, Fluffy, I’ve got this crazy idea: how about, when you ask me a question, you let ME answering, instead of projecting onto me what the liberal in your head tells you?

    Huh? That would be novel.

    How? Why?

    Burning a home with no one in it is no more threatening to human life than burning a business with no one in it. In both cases, someone will only get physically hurt if I make a mistake.

    Perhaps, but there is a personal connection between a person and his home which makes any damage to it a personal attack. You know, “Home is where the heart is?” They don’t say “Work is where the heart is.” Think of why Suzette Kelo’s case was so much more gut-wrenching that E.D. cases that involve taking the same value property in the form of a parking lot.

    If you can claim that even if the Fluffy Liberation Army explicitly promises to only destroy property, my actions are terroristic because of the history of other radical groups, why can’t I ignore the promises of the ELF based on the history of other radical groups? Because of the cause espoused? Not the cause itself, but the history of those who have espoused that cause. This is why Latin Kings graffitti is considered threatening, and Boy Scouts graffitti wouldn’t be. It’s not about the causes themselves, in terms of the taggers’ political program. Terrorism is a tactic that one can utilize in support of any cause.

    By the terms of your argument, if by some chance I was able to convince people that I truly did not want to cause anyone to be physically hurt, it would in fact not be terrorism to destroy the property of any black family that moved into my town.

    The object of terror is terror. In the absence of putting people in fear that they may be harmed – if you were to, somehow, convince your victims that there was no way you would harm them – then it isn’t terrorism. Terrorists go out of their way to convince people that they WOULD harm them.

    The reason your example is so perverse is because there is NO WAY to ever convince people that an anti-black cross burner wouldn’t harm them. The connection between acts of violence and murder, and racism, is so ingrained (and rightfully so) that one can NEVER rule out violence and murder when we’re discussing the subject.

    I know you don’t like me to characterize your motive in the discussion, but I still think that you are designing your definition of terrorism to…

    I have a great deal of sympathy for the Republican cause in Ireland, but I have no trouble calling the Provos terrorists. Do you know what that is, Fluffy? Because they killed people.

    If you and I got in the DeLorean and went back to 1850’s South Carolina and started burning down slave auction markets, cotton warehouses, the offices of hunters of escaped slaves, etc., leaving behind pro-abolition messages, we would absolutely, positively be terrorists, even if we never killed anyone. No, we wouldn’t. We’d be vandals. And if we did start killing innocent people, like John Brown did, we’d be terrorists, even if our cause is right.

  81. I don’t have to go back to 1987 to find someone killed by Hezbollah.

    He’s the only one I know of. Hezbollah is a lot more high profile and a lot more active than ELF.

    Hezbollah also exercizes a lot more discipline amongst its members. ELF is essentially a brand name under which any idiot can spike a tree, throw a gas bomb, and leave threatening signs behind. Sooner or later, they’ll get the idiot who–recklessly or intentionally–kills some one. But he won’t be terrorist because his heart’s in the right place.

  82. But he won’t be terrorist because his heart’s in the right place.

    I trust that, if you could refute what I’ve actually written, you would attempt to do so.

  83. No, we wouldn’t. We’d be vandals.

    We’d be vandals if we did it for fun.

    If we did it so that people would say, “Hey, if I keep engaging in economic acts connected to slavery, Crazy Fluffy and One-Eyed Joe might burn my place down. I think I’ll stop doing anything connected to slavery,” we’d be terrorists.

    We’d have engaged in violent and destructive acts to frighten others into acceding to our political desires.

    “Oh, but people were never frightened for their lives. They were only frightened for their property.”

    So what? If they said, “Fluffy, you are a terrorist,” I would say, “Yup, that’s me.”

  84. joe, just out of curiosity, is destroying the equipment or property someone requires to make a living a violent crime in your view?

  85. T,

    Only if you hit him or pointed a gun when you took them. It’s still despicable if you stole them quietly, but not violent.

    Fluffy, T, I draw a great, big, bright, red line between putting hurting people and not hurting people. You can talk about second- third- and fourth-order effects, and it is certainly true that they can be harmful to someone, but I think it wise to keep that bright line in place. Otherwise, we’re either going to either make hurting people less objectionable, or we’re going to habe people sent to Gitmo over mere things.

  86. Isn’t arson considered a violent crime, legally?

  87. You’re all just begging the question by constructing a formal definition for terrorism, which, being a normal word, isn’t formally defined, then claiming that since ELF does/doesn’t fall under your (non-objective) formal definition of terrorism, they obviously are/aren’t terrorists.

  88. joe,

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I consider arson to be a violent crime, and don’t see much difference between terrorizing someone by threaten to beat or kill them and terrorizing them by threatening to burn their business down. I see the bright-line distinction between crimes against property and crimes against persons, but I just don’t agree that it applies to terrorism. If the goal is causing enough fear of the consequences to dissuade people from acting, it doesn’t matter how you cause that fear.

    Of course, I live in a state where I can legally shoot people for crimes against my property, so maybe I’m not the guy to have this discussion with.

  89. You’re all just begging the question by constructing a formal definition for terrorism, which, being a normal word, isn’t formally defined, then claiming that since ELF does/doesn’t fall under your (non-objective) formal definition of terrorism, they obviously are/aren’t terrorists.

    That’s just, like, your opinion, man. 😉

  90. Yes, arson is violent. It causes destruction. Likening arson to graffiti is inapt. While graffiti might destroy a paint job, the cost of paint is a small fraction of the cost of a structure. Arson is more akin to blowing something up (pretty much identical with time lapse).

    The denotation of terrorism includes violence against property. But like “sex offender,” the connotation is much darker. That makes ELF the statutory rapist of terrorism.

    What ELF does is wrong, but to lump them in with Hezbollah and Al Qaida is stupid. Why do that?

  91. The ELF’s acts don’t constitute terrorism because I say they don’t. The reason I say they don’t is because they aren’t intended to harm people (life or limb). In fact, the ELF goes out of it’s way not to harm people. It even advertises that it doesn’t want to harm people. If the ELF someday harms someone the harming still won’t equal an act of terrorism because it won’t have been deliberate.

    The reason this distinction is important is because of GITMO. If there were no GITMO, I don’t know if ELF’s acts would be terrorism or not. Prior to 9/11/2001, I can’t remember what I called ELF’s acts.

    Last night a vandal threw an egg at my parked car while I slept.

    Two years ago, some young men spray-painted graffitti on my building. Later, they killed my dog by poisoning him. I don’t know if I should call them terrorists, vandals, intimidators or threateners.

    I’m never afraid of being harmed by people who burn buildings if they tell me in advance that they don’t want to harm me and will go out of their way not to.

  92. joe wins all threads you puny earthlings

  93. Joe,

    Quit your immoral job and stop posting reactionary cant here or I will burn down your office at night, your car when you’re not in it and any property you own. I will cut your phone and cable connections and burn any mail coming in our out of your home. Please let me know where you’ll be so I don’t harm you. Please have a nice day.

  94. Suggestion: delete all the joe and anti-joe comments on this thread to produce a coherent argument.

  95. For some reason this thread reminds me of 1982 flick ‘Nuovi Barbari, I’, where ‘Templars’ want to kill everyone in the Wasteland via their souped up V8 golf carts. (sadly one of the better Italian sci-fi flicks from that age)

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