Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The definition of 'is'

When Bill Clinton invoked that rabbit trail during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the nation rightly rejected it as so much legalese BS. Today, I read something that was equally full of it.

In 1997, a follower of the Church of ALF (the Animal Liberation Front) decided his god wanted him to burn down a meat-processing plant in Redmond, Ore. Not to mention 20 other arsons in five Western states.

Ten years later, the government is urging a U.S. District Court judge to include terrorism charges against the confessed perpetrators. The attorney for one of them, Jonathan Paul, is trying to convince a judge that it was just arson, not terrorism. No harm, no foul.

Based only on the information in that Mail-Tribune story, I wouldn't be surprised if Judge Ann Aiken denies the government's motion to increase the seriousness of the charges. Paul's attorney argues his client has not met terrorism statute's definition of actions "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation, or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct."

But that's a failure of the terrorism statute. My dictionary defines "terrorism" as:
The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
If this isn't the use of force intended to intimidate society for ideological reasons, I don't know what is.

The airplanes that smashed into the twin towers weren't aimed at government institutions, but no one would deny they were piloted by terrorists. Jonathan Paul and his ALF cohorts shouldn't get off any easier.

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  • At 5/10/2007 7:09 AM, Blogger American Spectator said…

    ALF activists go far and above the normal modes of protest. They are criminals and should be treated as terrorists. Sometimes the means do not justify the ends.

  • At 5/12/2007 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, but why does the guy who blew up a Cuban airliner get off?


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