Earth Liberation Front Terrorist Gets 22 Years in Prison for Anti-Biotech Arson

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The Associated Press reports the good news that justice has been done 10 years after Earth Liberation Front radicals set fire to a Michigan State University crop biotech laboratory:

A radical activist who helped set a $1 million fire to protest research on genetically modified crops was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22 years in prison _ even more than the prosecution recommended.

Marie Mason decided to "elevate her grievances beyond the norms of civilized society" through fire and destruction, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said. The case _ which was prosecuted as domestic terrorism _ was "about an abandonment of the marketplace of ideas," he added.

What frankenfood horror was Mason trying to prevent?

At MSU, Mason and [her then-husband] Ambrose targeted a campus office that held records on research related to moth-resistant potatoes for poor parts of Africa. Computers, file cabinets and desks were doused with a flammable liquid. Vapors contributed to an explosion, and the fire got out of control.

Whole story here.

Addendum: Obviously one can't be sure that the potatoes under development at MSU would have made it out of the lab, but they sure would have been useful in West Africa right now where swarms of moth caterpillars are ravaging food crops:

The black, hairy caterpillars are about three centimeters long and are spreading quickly as adult moths can fly great distances at night.,,

The areas affected are some of Liberia's richest agricultural zones where much of the nation's cassava, plantains, bananas, and potatoes are grown.

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  1. Yo, fuck Marie Mason.

  2. Bitch. But she always swallowed.

  3. Environmental shock troops on their Kristallnacht against biotech.

  4. Assuming he’s guilty,* it’s a just sentence.

    IOW, HIP, HIP, HOORAY!!!

    * With our justice system, that caveat is always required.

  5. My sexism creeps in, automatically thinking of asshole arsonists as male.

  6. I hope she cried in misery.

  7. Goddamn Africans! They’ll eat their moth-ridden potatoes and fucking like it. Racist scientists trying to curb their authentic soulful third-world starvation…

  8. I hope that Ambrose is already, or will soon be, doing a similar amount of time.

  9. There’s a bit of irony here. The eco-terrorists were caught by a guy looking to recycle some cardboard. Classic.

    “The investigation was cold until spring 2007, when a man looking for scrap cardboard found gas masks, an M-80 explosive, maps and anti-government writings in a suburban Detroit trash bin.”

  10. These people are exactly like the nutjobs that firebomb abortion clinics. Seriously.

    No, wait, they are actually worse, because they are elevating the genetic integrity of plantlife to sacred status.

    By contrast, the abortion-clinic bombers are at least focusing on human life at some level. Which at least has some kind of functional working definition that isn’t in itself absurd, and has traditionally been the subject of moral reasoning.

    Not that I have any sympathy for abortion clinic bombers, but at least their moral argument is in the same ballpark that the rest of us are playing in.

  11. She’s an asshole, but 22 years for destroying property seems excessive.

  12. Marie Mason needs to be locked up for a long time. The fact that she will be, doesn’t make me happy. Here’s hoping the entire enviro-terrorist movement withers away.

  13. “They’ll eat their moth-ridden potatoes and fucking like it.”

    Moths are a great source of protine (per the UN’s FAO):

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/32443/title/Insects_(the_original_white_meat)

  14. “I hope that Ambrose is already, or will soon be, doing a similar amount of time.”

    Yes and I swallow too.

  15. Racist scientists trying to curb their authentic soulful third-world starvation…

    Cultural imperialism’d!!

    Probably sexist, too, because I betcha was the womyn’s job to sort through the moth-infested crops. They just want to put a lot of womyn out of work!

  16. Bet she was self-righteous. Right up ’til the sentencing. Now she might be singing a different tune.

    They should feed her a steady diet of those moth imperiled potatoes for the duration of her sentence.

  17. [A] man … found gas masks, an M-80 explosive, maps and anti-government writings in a suburban Detroit trash bin.

    That sounds exactly like the opening scene from an episode of Law & Order. Just before Jerry Orbach says something like, “And they say hippies don’t clean up after themselves.”

    BONK BONK

  18. She’s an asshole, but 22 years for destroying property seems excessive.

    22 years for vandalism is excessive. 22 years for a serial arsonist, not so much.

  19. 1) usually the opening scene of Law & Order is the discovery of the victim, not evidence
    2) Jerry Orbach is dead.

  20. 1) Usually isn’t always
    2) Jerry Orbach lives forever on TNT

  21. Arson is always treated much more harshly than mere destruction of property, because fire is so dangerous.

  22. gas masks, an M-80 explosive, maps and anti-government writings

    That sounds exactly like my bedroom in high school.

  23. Now go get those Animal Liberation Front terrorists.

  24. correction, it always starts with the victim. Why else would they send the homicide detectives?

  25. “A radical activist who helped set a $1 million fire to protest research on genetically modified crops was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22 years in prison _ even more than the prosecution recommended.”

    She didn’t start a fire to ‘protest’ anything. She committed arson to DESTROY the research. An act like this shouldn’t get the dignity of being akin to protest, which is what the judge stated as well.

    And arson isn’t just the destruction of property, people get hurt and die in fires. Firefighters put their lives at risk, and the lives of other people are put at risk if there were to be a concurrent fire.

  26. “[A] man … found gas masks, an M-80 explosive, maps and anti-government writings in a suburban Detroit trash bin.”

    It looks like someone..

    [puts on sunglasses]

    should have burned after reading.

    YEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

  27. She’s an asshole, but 22 years for destroying property seems excessive.

    Not to some.

    Fuck arsonists. I will listen to no excuses, fuck them all.

  28. 22 years seems excessive to me, but not grossly so.

    Arson of buildings – not just structures, but buildings people could potentially be in – is enormously dangerous. You don’t know who could be in there, and the fire department is going to go in there to check once they arrive.

    Maybe 15 years would be better, but burning down a building is about as serious as a crime can get without hurting someone.

  29. “correction, it always starts with the victim. Why else would they send the homicide detectives?”

    I’ll bet you spend hours a day just cleaning your ass.

  30. “An act like this shouldn’t get the dignity of being akin to protest, which is what the judge stated as well.”

    Relax. It was written by a journalist.

  31. Good job. I needed some good news.

    Now if we could please, Please, PLEASE put the whole planet wise to the murderous legacy of the Mother of all Environmentalists, Rachel Carson.

    My son’s grade school is named after that cupid stunt. Of course, this was good for one delicious moment, when my son asked the inevitable question, “Dad, who is Rachel Carson?” I don’t think that “She was a lunatic who has the blood of millions on her hands” was the answer he quite anticipated. 🙂

  32. “I hope that Ambrose is already, or will soon be, doing a similar amount of time.”

    Frank Ambrose cooperated with the FBI, going undercover to record 178 conversations with the ELF tree huggers, and got nine years. That’s some payback to your ex-wife.

    Hey Marie, I hope you really enjoy the unspoiled natural surroundings of your new home at the Greybar Hotel for the next 22 years! Oh, and don’t drop the soap!

    Sweeeeet!

  33. A terrorist arsonist should get FAR, FAR more than 22 years. I’d prefer that it be a capital crime, but at least life with out parole.

    I really don’t understand the soft on crime libertarians here. And the sentiment that it was only a property crime is more in line with The Nation than libertarians.

  34. 22 years seems excessive? You might want to consult the janitorial staff and firefighters whose lives were put at risk. And the scientists who may have seen their life’s work literally go up in smoke. To me, it seems a bit on the light side.

  35. Not that I have any sympathy for abortion clinic bombers, but at least their moral argument is in the same ballpark that the rest of us are playing in.

    I am not in the same moral galaxy as ELF.

    Plant DNA?!?!

    Fuck them.

  36. You just gotta love how the AP calls this bitch a radical activist instead of a terrorist. Reminds me of the “militants” in Gaza and the “insurgents” in Iraq.

  37. Relax, she’ll be paroled in 10, and running an educational foundation shortly thereafter.

  38. A crime against property, even expensive scientific stuff, isn’t worth a 22 year prison sentence. A person who burns down a residence is worse. Do they get 22 years?

  39. And unrepentant and pal to whomever is running for president?

  40. I gotta side with the moth caterpillars on this one.

  41. So, this self-absorbed little twat wants people in Africa to starve?

    Toss her in jail, I’m sure the Aryan Brotherhood’s ladies auxiliary has a place for her.

    -jcr

  42. 22 years for destroying property seems excessive.

    It’s not just property destruction. It’s also an attempt to coerce other people into abandoning their livelihood, and let still other people suffer from hunger that could be prevented.

    -jcr

  43. A person who burns down a residence is worse.

    She has admitted to burning residences. This is one of a long string of arsons.

    http://freemarie.org/

  44. Douglas Gray | February 6, 2009, 5:58pm | #
    A crime against property, even expensive scientific stuff, isn’t worth a 22 year prison sentence. A person who burns down a residence is worse. Do they get 22 years?

    The MSU fire was only one of thirteen she confessed to. She also burned houses under construction and some boats. And she celebrated her crimes and called upon others to follow her example. She is evil and violent. 22 years doesn’t seem out of proportion to me.

  45. What’s more important is the innocent plants and animals that would suffer if these frankenpotatoes ever got out into the biosphere. Nevermind talk of “kill switch” genes to stop them from spreading, that’s all scientist gobbledygook! Nevermind talk of “horizontal genetic transfer” that never happened in nature either!

    The people in Africa were going to die anyway. If they all would just put down their rifles and go to work in organic farms, and use human-powered machines to do all their labor, then they’d live in a free and happy socialist paradise!

    If they do that I will move there, as soon as I burn through my daddy’s trust fund.

  46. [A] man … found gas masks, an M-80 explosive, maps and anti-government writings in a suburban Detroit trash bin.

    Typical environmentalist hypocrisy. Throwing recyclable paper in the trash.

    While I think the sentence is appropriate, I’m a bit leery of calling this type of thing “terrorism”. Was the arsonist capable of, and intending to, frighten significant sections of the population into pushing for anti-biotech legislation, for instance?

    And terrorizing one person or a small group of people is not terrorism. A mafioso who picks off members of a competing family one by one is not practicing terrorism.

  47. It’s not just property destruction. It’s also an attempt to coerce other people into abandoning their livelihood, and let still other people suffer from hunger that could be prevented.

    I suppose you support hate crime laws then. Particularly bad motives for committing the crime should not affect how it is punished.

  48. Was the arsonist capable of, and intending to, frighten significant sections of the population into pushing for anti-biotech legislation, for instance?

    She certainly intended to frighten genetics researchers into abandoning research on genetic engineering.

    And I don’t agree that terrorizing one small segment of the population isn’t terrorism.

    Just because blacks only consititute 2% of the population in some county doesn’t mean that the KKK burning a cross on a black persons lawn doesn’t count as terrorism in that place.

    It would be totally illogical to say it only counts as terrorism in paces where blacks are in the majority.

    Heck, if the KKK went into downtown Detroit and burned a cross, I would grudgingly admire their courage and count it an act of protest.

  49. “A person who burns down a residence is worse.

    She has admitted to burning residences. This is one of a long string of arsons.”

    Stupid bitch should have her neck stretched then.

  50. I suppose you support hate crime laws then. Particularly bad motives for committing the crime should not affect how it is punished.

    The problem with hate crimes is the focus exclusively on emotional motivation. It shoudl be more narrowly focused on violence intended to acheive a political or social goal.

    I.e. Just because someone is prejudiced against gays, doesn’t mean that getting into a fight with and beating up a gay guy is intended to terrorize the gay community.
    That shouldn’t be more severely punished.

    On the other hand, if a gang of straight guys gets in a pickup truck, drives down to a gay bar and starts smashing up the place, that’s a premeditated attempt to intimidate the gay community. Which should be more severely punished.

  51. Heck, if the KKK went into downtown Detroit and burned a cross, I would grudgingly admire their courage and count it an act of protest.

    I would admire their charred, dismembered, mutilated corpses.

  52. and count it as an act of suicide.

  53. How about if a guy robs a string of convenience stores, terrorizing convenience store employees both at the places they rob and other stores in the area. Is that terrorism?

    If not, I don’t get how it’s more laudable to commit a crime in the pursuit of money than in the pursuit of political goals. Punish the crime, not the motive. That will take care of itself.

  54. Heck, if the KKK went into downtown Detroit and burned a cross, I would grudgingly admire their courage and count it an act of protest.

    do you admire the 9/11 hijackers?

  55. res?i?dence? ?[rez-i-duhns] Show IPA Pronunciation
    -noun
    1. the place, esp. the house, in which a person lives or resides; dwelling place; home: Their residence is in New York City.
    2. a structure serving as a dwelling or home, esp. one of large proportion and superior quality: They have a summer residence in Connecticut.

    Nope. Didn’t burn down any residences. Unfinished, unoccupied homes.

    If “terrorism” has now expanded to include acts that neither harm persons, nor are intended to harm persons, then we need to invent a new word for what “terrorism” used to mean.

  56. Oh, and another reason why arson is a particularly serious crime, worse than other forms of vandalism or property destruction, is because spray paint and smashed windows can’t spread.

  57. The flip side of treating your opinion of her cause – anti-GMO – as an aggravating factor would be to say that it should be considered a mitigating factor if an identical arsonist targeted an environmental group.

    I can agree with the concept of treating political violence as especially dangerous and worthy of sanction, but it has to be considered in a content-neutral manner.

  58. I suppose you support hate crime laws then.

    Nope. I support laws against threatening people. A threat, coupled with a clear and present danger (like it’s being made by an arsonist) deprives the person threatened of their peace of mind.

    -jcr

  59. “I suppose you support hate crime laws then. Particularly bad motives for committing the crime should not affect how it is punished.”

    Bullshit. The bitch used violence to try and affect a particular political or social outcome. That is the textbook definition of terrorism, and she should be punished accordingly. It is by sheer luck that her serial arson did not kill someone.

  60. The problem with charging an arsonist who torches an empty building the same as one who torches a full one is that it removes the incentives from a potential arsonist to make sure the building is empty.

  61. “The problem with charging an arsonist who torches an empty building the same as one who torches a full one is that it removes the incentives from a potential arsonist to make sure the building is empty.”

    Both have committed arson and should therefore be charged the same. However, if the building is full of people then you also charge the person with attempted murder or murder if a person is killed. Even if a person torches an empty building (did the arson take the time to check for occupants)there is still a possibility the fire could spread to occupied buildings or firefighters could be injured or killed fighting the fire.

  62. Come on, baby, light my fire!

  63. This was an incredibly senseless and stupid act. Fortunately, ignorance is not an excuse.

    Improving the gene pool, one idiot at a time.

    Charlie

  64. If “terrorism” has now expanded to include acts that neither harm persons, nor are intended to harm persons, then we need to invent a new word for what “terrorism” used to mean.

    Done and done.

  65. I hope she’s made to farm then fed those same potatoes in prison, with (organic, free-range, Fair Trade) Nutraloaf as variation.

  66. I support rendition to a starving are of Africa for further punishment as they see fit, after every day of her 22 years is served.

  67. If “terrorism” has now expanded to include acts that neither harm persons, nor are intended to harm persons, then we need to invent a new word for what “terrorism” used to mean.

    In this specific case, if this were the only arson she had committed I would consider the sentence excessive. But for a serial arsonist a 15-25 year sentence is in the ballpark.

    But I would say that you’re the one changing the definition of terrorism, joe. Before the 9/11 attacks made the word “terrorism” the most explosive word in the American political lexicon, no one would have batted an eyelash at describing people who engaged in acts of spectacular property destruction to make a political statement as “terrorists”. The firebombing of abortion clinics referenced above is a good example. Before 9/11 it would have been uncontroversial to call such persons terrorists.

  68. She will be pardoned … then given full tenor in 10 years.

  69. From elf: presented without comment

    http://earth-liberation-front.org/

    A critical evaluation of past ELF actions exposes the obvious: arson is a dangerous and irrational strategy. There are no winners. Torching sport utility vehicles, ski resorts, research labs and McMansions, releases huge amounts of toxic gasses into the atmosphere – creating far more greenhouse gasses than if they were left alone. The end result: everything is rebuilt or replaced by doubling the burden on the environment and taxpayers. An exercise in futility and self-defeat.

    Those who are now serving prison sentences are effectively removed from the battle to save our planet. We are all losers in that regard, even the Feds. If anything can be learned from Operation Backfire, it is the necessity to channel our frustrations and concern for earth’s welfare into positive direct action. Build – don’t destroy. Build consensus and public support. Get an education and build a better world and future.

  70. Abortion clinic bombers
    Environmentalist arsonists
    Islamic suicide bombers
    Nazi killers
    Soviet tyrants
    Maoist butchers
    Castroite despots
    Assorted African & South American dictators

    Their epistemology is all the same: the emotionalism of faith. Faith = (sooner or later) Force.

    Perhaps more importantly, though, is that their ethics is precisely the same (and is that which drove them to their epistemology): the morality of self-immolation, i.e., self-sacrifice.

    It requires a leap of faith, does it not, to believe that suicide is moral? And, as well, to believe that you can cash in on that.

  71. Wow, I would think folks at Reason, of all places, would be critical of the government wrapping up more and more people as “terrorists.” It doesn’t matter how you feel about environmental issues, and it doesn’t matter if you agree with Mason or support anything about her: the real danger here is the government pushing to label people as terrorists in order to push a political agenda. It’s part of a sweeping corporate and government campaign many activists are calling the Green Scare. An introduction to that is available at http://www.GreenIsTheNewRed.com/blog/green-scare

    The folks at H&R have always seemed to be, I dunno, CRITICAL of giving the government sweeping, unchecked powers. This should be no exception.

  72. The reality based community is just a bunch of Luddites.

    Why am I not surprised?

  73. @Will Potter

    “Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants”

    seems to satisfy most criteria according to the usual definition of terrorism.

    You seem to be a member of the green movement and this definately seems to be a case of forgiving those in your camp for crimes that people in the other camp would be labelled a criminal for doing.

    With this mindset, actions are judged by the perception of the ideology of the actor.This has probably been the at the root of most of the greatest evils in human history.

    On greenisthenewred
    I’d say its the new religion (and red took that status for a while certainly outside of the USA).
    I actually was writting a report on the renewables energy sector for the EU a few weeks back and there’s a definatly need for new technologies and innovation. There’s no doubt for me that greentec is not only enevitable but increibly important for economic growth.
    The green movement however encompasses far more than a scientific project. It gives people a motvation for life and a connection with the universe.

    I’d say that this is a nice thing.
    however this is spiritual thought and as such has the potential to be used to motivate people to carry out irrational, luddite and possibly harmful behaviour.

    The ELF seem to be on this track to me

  74. A crime against property, even expensive scientific stuff, isn’t worth a 22 year prison sentence. A person who burns down a residence is worse. Do they get 22 years?

    People don’t realize how dangerous a structure fire can be because we have modern fire mitigation techniques.

    Remeber Rome? Chicago? Atlanta? California every summer?

    A small “protest” fire in a building can burn an entire city down under the proper conditions. We do a damn good job of preventing them than we did, say, 50 years ago, but a raging fire is still a raging fire, and we’re lucky that the lab fire didn’t spread.

    Arson, in most places, is treated as a capital offense along with rape and murder because a fire can fucking kill you…

  75. I would admire their charred, dismembered, mutilated corpses.

    Well, that too.

    That came off a little wrong.
    What I mean is that the KKK burning a cross in a overwhelmingly black ghetto area isn’t terrorism, because it’s not an act capable of inducing any terror in anyone there, and is more likely to get them killed. It’s more like saying “hey we’re here”, and inviting attack.

    I’m just pointing out how cunnivore’s argument that terrorizing a “small group of people” isn’t really terrorism.

    In a lot of cases the group HAS to be small in order to be terrorized.

    It’s flipping impossible to terrorize an armed majority that hates you.

  76. “In a lot of cases the group HAS to be small in order to be terrorized”

    as a Brit I’d just like to say that that is complete bullshit

    Muslims make up less than 10% of the UK population

    but when a group of young British Muslims bombed london I’d say that was an act of terrorism.

    To say that this is not terrorism just because the perpetrators come from an ethnic minority is ridiculous.

    Worse still if an ethnic minority carries out a terrorist act there’s the likely hood of repercusive acts on other innocent members of the ethnic minority group. Some thugs threw a brick at my mates mum after 911 just cus she’s a Muslim.

  77. Argh. You’re not understanding me.

    I’m not at all referring to the size of the group doing the terrorizing.

    I’m referring ot the size of the group being terrorized .

    Cunnivore made the following comment above:
    And terrorizing one person or a small group of people is not terrorism.

    By which he/she meant that since only a handful of genetics researchers were being targetted that isn’t “really” terrorism.

    My point is that that logic makes no sense – there are lot of tiny minorities who are much more easily terrorized *because* they are small.

  78. Fluffy,

    The firebombing of abortion clinics referenced above is a good example. Before 9/11 it would have been uncontroversial to call such persons terrorists. Abortion clinic bombers (and shooters) have killed dozens of people. Yeah, they were and are commonly described as terrorists as a result.

    Not quite the same thing here.

    Abortion clinic bombers
    Environmentalist arsonists
    Islamic suicide bombers
    Nazi killers
    Soviet tyrants
    Maoist butchers
    Castroite despots
    Assorted African & South American dictators

    Of these eight groups, seven have a body count.

    Veritas | February 7, 2009, 5:07pm | #

    The reality based community is just a bunch of Luddites.

    Why am I not surprised?

    Nevermind that even ELF denounce arsons like this, nevermind the Democratic Party and left blogosphere. Any reason to tar the half the country that doesn’t vote the way you do will work.

  79. I think cunnivore’s point is that there is a distinction between what is most commonly called “terrorism” and what is commonly called “extortion.”

    When a mob boss has two thugs trash somebody’s car to keep the owner from informing on them, or to make him pay them “protection” money, involves the use of force to coerce someone into acceding to your demands, but it’s something different from terrorism.

  80. I’d disagree. A lot of what the mob does (or did back in the day) IS terrorism. Silencing informers, punishment beatings, etc.
    it’s not all about extortion. Sometimes it’s just about enforcing a code of silence in the community. Back when there were large italian speaking slum neighborhoods, I’d totally call it terrorism. When people do this in Columbia or Nicaragua, you’d call them “death squads”.

  81. There is more to fear from capitalism and globalism than from somebody like Marie Mason.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ9vTJLIA8M

  82. Time for radical enviromentalists to face the music and to get longer times in prison no more excuses anymore

  83. They do more damage to environmentalism than any corporation. That is why I hate the ELF.
    What their futile acts of insignificant violence do is make the causes they support unpalatable to normal people, allowing those opposed to environmental reforms to dismiss them as the beliefs of firebomb-tossing terrorists.
    The only way to effect real social change without a literal, bloody revolution (for examples, check out the news from Libya for a recent and ongoing example for what that would cost) is a long, slow mustering of public support. Look at how long the women’s rights and civil rights movements took to change things at all. Heck, most people would agree their struggle is still going on today, more than a century efter either group began a serious campaign for change.
    Whenever the ELF blows up a McMansion, they do no real damage to the entities they are fighting. What they do is set the cause of rational environmentalists appealing for public support back immeasurably. Is it right, or easy to accept, that real change takes so very long? No, but that’s just how the world is. The ELF are throwing the political equivalent of a temper tantrum, screaming “But it isn’t faaaair!” They need to grow up and learn to work the system like grown-ups.

  84. This is the kind of punishment that all these eco-radicals should face no plea bargins Its time to punish these crinimals not make heros from them like TIME magazine ose

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