Saturday, May 26, 2007

Animal rights activist gets 12 years for arsons - Los Angeles Times

Animal rights activist gets 12 years for arsons - Los Angeles Times: "EUGENE, ORE. — A federal judge Thursday sentenced Animal Liberation Front arsonist Kevin Tubbs to prison for more than 12 years, rejecting arguments that he was a minor player just trying to save animals and protect the Earth.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken declared that four of the nine fires Tubbs was involved in — at a forest ranger station, a police substation, a dealership selling SUVs and a tree farm — were acts of terrorism intended to influence the conduct of the government or retaliate for government acts. "

Reading the article, it sounds like Tubbs is a dumbass that got in way over his head. Nonetheless, I agree with the judge's ruling.

Let's talk a little about terrorism. I think the term is used way too often. Recently, a Vatican spokesman accused a comedian of terrorism for making fun of the Pope. [here] That's just stupid, but there really is a disagreement on what the word means. Congress in Title 22 United States Code says: "the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents" [here] The US DoD definition is: the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological. [here] The best attempt I've seen to define terrorism is this Christian Science Monitor article.

Briefly, all terrorist acts are also criminal acts and include a premeditated theatrical element meant to cause fear in a population or a society.

The public perception that you need to be a Muslim to be a terrorist is bigoted and unhelpful.

Activist groups in the United States seem to be increasingly willing to employ violence to achieve their aims. All of these violent acts are crimes, but more seriously, some groups are willing to commit acts of terrorism. When you talk about a terrorist act, the victims are the public at large.

I am baffled when any organizations is able to maintain political legitimacy and support terrorism (explicitly or implicitly). Let's take the phrase "political wing of a terrorist organization." I believe you can take "political wing" out of the phrase without significantly changing its meaning. You either condone terrorism as a means of achieving a goal or you don't. If you condone terrorism then you don't get to play politics. It's like saying you're a vegetarian that eats meat. You can't be a political organization that uses violence. Violence is what criminal organizations use.

Within the US there are two (often intertwined) groups that dance back and forth across the terrorism line; the animal rights and environmental extremists. (I believe our abortion clinic bombers, while intending to cause fear, are still in the "lone nut" category.) I don't understand how they get away with it. I cannot wrap my mind around the "sure, they lit fire to a car dealership, but they were trying to save the environment so it's okay" logical back flip.

For a nice and easy example, it would seem to me that once an organization like PETA got linked to violence their money and support would quickly dry up.

But I'm wrong. It is absolutely possible to victimize a population and have that same population support you.

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