I’m all for a nice environment in the same way that I don’t want to have a home filled with filth and squalor. But like most any good thing, the virtue of caring for the environment can become a vice when taken too far. Enter, stage left, the eco-terrorist yahoos who burn and destroy all in the name of saving or protecting the Earth. Two of the most active and destructive of such groups are the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front. ELF and ALF are willing to destroy property in the name of animal rights, and it is only a matter of time before their bombings, arson, or attacks result in someone’s death.
In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security named ALF and ELF as terrorist threats, and in 2006 the U.S. Department of Justice charged eleven people with acts of domestic terrorism as part of the DOJ’s Operation Backfire. Ten have since been found guilty, and now the question is whether to declare them terrorists. Doing so would place those convicted in tougher facilities, rather than increasing their sentences.
Defense lawyers argue that the group shouldn’t be classified as terrorists because the fires they set didn’t hurt or kill anyone, and it’s just the evil Bush administration trying to score points in the War on Terror. The prosecution admits that while the group was not convicted of terrorism, they should still merit a terrorist label since each member of the group set at least one fire in response to government policy.
I find it interesting how people are reacting to this case. One of the self-confessed guilty, Daniel McGowan, has his own support website, and describes himself as “an environmental and social justice activist from New York City” on the front page. I’m sure he also helped little old ladies cross the street when he wasn’t busy lighting fires.
Whether the group hoped to kill people in their fires, or whether they carefully made sure the buildings were empty, the fact remains that property rights are important. These people, along with many others in ELF and ALF, are guilty of willfully violating the property rights of others with each act of destruction.
Just because you love a tree, you have no business destroying someone else’s property. There are peaceful ways of getting your point across, and they won’t land your butt in jail.