May 24, 2007

Yes, Political Arson Is A Form Of Terrorism

I have sympathy for family members of people discovered to be domestic terrorists. After all, in many cases, they have no idea what their relatives were doing. The family of John Walker Lindh didn't urge him to go to Pakistan and get training from Osama bin Laden, after all. My sympathy ends when they assert that people who conduct violent acts for political purposes don't amount to terrorists, however.

Today's Los Angeles Times opinion piece from Caroline Paul is an example. Her brother, Jonathan Paul, awaits sentencing for arson in connection with the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, and a terrorism component of his conviction could multiply his sentence. Caroline angrily denounces the application of terrorism in his case:

MY BROTHER IS considered one of the biggest domestic terrorists in the country. You probably haven't heard of him, and I think that's odd. After all, he's dangerous. He's trying to overthrow our country. He "doesn't like our freedoms," or so President Bush has said of terrorists in general, so I suppose that applies to my brother too.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He likes the History Channel. He's a Trekkie. He cried (in secret) at the corny 1980s movie "Turtle Diary." He's good at fixing things. And, most important, he has devoted his life to stopping animals' suffering. To this end, he has broken the law. He crept into animal laboratories to free dogs. He dismantled corrals to release wild mustangs. He impersonated a fur buyer to film the treatment of minks. He put himself between whales and whalers despite warnings that his boat would be impounded and that he would be jailed. And nearly 10 years ago, he burned down a horse slaughterhouse in Redmond, Ore. It is for this final act that the U.S. government considers him among the ranks of Osama bin Laden, Eric Rudolph and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. ...

Don't let me give you the impression that I think arson is something to be taken lightly. I do not. The irony is rich in this case: I was a San Francisco firefighter for 13 years. I was angry and dismayed that my brother chose arson as a route to stop animal suffering. But "a classic case of terrorism"?

First, let's make something clear. Her brother Jonathan did not use arson to "stop animal suffering". He used arson to intimidate people into acquiescing to his political views. The ELF and ALF, and their political ally PETA, have not convinced enough people through the democratic process to adopt their radical agendas. Frustrated, they have committed arsons throughout the country, burning cars and facilities like this horse slaughterhouse in order to impose their will on society as a whole.

That's what makes this particular arson more damaging than just a fire. It undermines the entire basis for democratic government and the rule of law. It attacks more than just the slaughterhouse. If Jonathan Paul has his way, the only law will be that handed down by the interest group with the greatest proclivity for violence -- and that would completely undermine any form of rational self-government.

The anti-terrorism statutes exist precisely for this reason. Jonathan Paul and others of his ilk are a cancer on rational society. We cannot allow the Pauls of this world to simply burn down legal businesses simply because they offend his political sensibilities, nor can we allow violence in political action go unpunished or even unrecognized. When Paul set fire to the slaughterhouse because he could not get it shut down through democratic means, he became a terrorist -- and should pay the price.

Addendum: Intellectual honesty forces me to ask, however, what difference exists between this and the hate-crimes legislation that I opposed two weeks ago. Is there a difference? Are both forms of terrorism?


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» When a Crime Crosses the Line and Becomes Terrorism from J's Cafe Nette
The Captain has a post about domestic terrorists. He does his intro and then posts this angry letter by the sister of the one charged with terrorism: MY BROTHER IS considered one of the biggest domestic terrorists in the country. You probably haven... [Read More]

» A Classic Case Of Terrorism from Ed
Ed Morrissey spots an op-ed in the L.A. Times today written by a woman named Caroline Paul:Her brother, Jonathan Paul, awaits sentencing for arson in connection with the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, and a terrorism component of... [Read More]

Comments (35)

Posted by CMcD | May 24, 2007 7:52 AM

I wonder if Ms. Paul would feel like the "terrorist" tag was overreaching if someone other than her brother burned down an abortion clinic.

Posted by negentropy | May 24, 2007 8:23 AM

He cried during Turtle Diary. Aw jeez, we should let him go post-haste. My heart is all a-flutter. If he's guilty of anything, it's too much love!


Posted by ralph127 | May 24, 2007 8:28 AM

Decapitation in Islamic Theology
Groups such as Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi's Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unity and Jihad) and Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Hasan bin Mahmud's Ansar al-Sunna (Defenders of [Prophetic] Tradition)[10] justify the decapitation of prisoners with Qur'anic scripture. Sura (chapter) 47 contains the ayah (verse): "When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly."[11] The Qur'anic Arabic terms are generally straightforward: kafaru means "those who blaspheme/are irreligious," although Darb ar-riqab is less clear. Darb can mean "striking or hitting" while ar-riqab translates to "necks, slaves, persons." With little variation, scholars have translated the verse as, "When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks."[12]

For centuries, leading Islamic scholars have interpreted this verse literally. The famous Iranian historian and Qur'an commentator Muhammad b. Jarir at-Tabari (d. 923 C.E.) wrote that "striking at the necks" is simply God's sanction of ferocious opposition to non-Muslims.[13] Mahmud b. Umar az-Zamakhshari (d. 1143 C.E.), in a major commentary studied for centuries by Sunni religious scholars, suggested that any prescription to "strike at the necks" commands to avoid striking elsewhere so as to confirm death and not simply wound.[14]

Many recent interpretations remain consistent with those of a millennium ago. In his Saudi-distributed translation of the Qur'an, ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali (d. 1953) wrote that the injunction to "smite at their necks," should be taken both literally and figuratively. "You cannot wage war with kid gloves," Yusuf ‘Ali argued.[15] Muhammad Muhammad Khatib, in a modern Sunni commentary bearing the imprimatur of Al-Azhar university in Cairo, says that while traditionalist Muslims tend to see this passage as only applying to the Prophet's time, Shi‘ites "think it is a universal precept."[16] Ironically, then in this view, Zarqawi has adopted the exegesis of his religious nemeses. Perhaps the most influential modern recapitulation of this passage was provided by the influential Pakistani scholar and leading Islamist thinker S. Abul A' la Mawdudi (d. 1979), who argued that the sura provided the first Qur'anic prescriptions on the laws of war. Mawdudi argued

Under no circumstances should the Muslim lose sight of this aim and start taking the enemy soldiers as captives. Captives should be taken after the enemy has been completely crushed.[17]

Beheading in the Name of Islam
Timothy R. Furnish Middle East Quarterly Spring 2005

Read it all if you have a strong stomach.

This is what makes terror done in the name of Islam more damaging than just discrete acts of terror. It undermines the entire basis for democratic government and the rule of law. It attacks more than just our transportation nodes. If Islam has his its way, the only law will be that handed down by the interest group with the greatest proclivity for violence -- and that would completely undermine any form of rational self-government.

In the 1400 years since Mohammedans swept for the desert with fire and sword has there ever been an Islamic polity with any form of rational self-government? When has a Muslim minority not attempted to undermine the rational self-government in a polity with a majority of unbelievers? Have the Muslim citizens of America, Israel or India produced a John Paul II or a Martian Luther King championing the God given Rights of ALL men?

One irrational Islamic polity has nukes and one will soon have them. What do you think we as a people should do to prevent good Muslims from reducing an American city to radioactive rubble? Does anyone believe this grand immigration compromise is brutally furious enough to do what must be done to provide for the common defense?

What city do you think good Muslims will nuke first?

Posted by Rose | May 24, 2007 8:34 AM

Hae Crimes = Domestic Terrorism?

Is Imus calling someone "Nappy-headed hos" = "burning down a slaughterhouse" = "Flying an American flag over your Hummer business, and irritating the neighbors with its "flapping in the breeze" for the purposes of rank commercialism" = "not waiting on people at your station in a restaurant" = alerting the crew about bizarre behavior of fellow passengers who "just so happen to be muslims" - wanting your borders closed and not wanting to endlessly supply funds to "entitlement programs" for law breakers from other nations, etc etc etc???

We know that all this has NOTHING to do with burning down churches or telling folks to remove their nativity scenes from their own front yards. Those things aren't "Hate Crimes". [wink wink]

Posted by JackOkie | May 24, 2007 8:37 AM

Responding to your addendum:

So-called "hate" crimes are not terrorism. As I understand it, a "hate" crime is a thought crime directed at a protected group, generally without a political objective. Terrorism, on the other hand, is the violent disruption of civil society for political objectives.

Posted by Jeanette | May 24, 2007 8:45 AM

It sounds like terrorism to me even though he was trying to put horse slaughterhouses out of business.

I can't figure out slaughtering horses but I can figure out arson for political purposes is terrorism.

Posted by brainy435 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 24, 2007 9:01 AM

Captain, damn it, now I have to question my anti-hate-crime stance. I've always seen hate crimes as thought crimes, as in the act itself was illegal, so the thought process behind it shouldn't matter. However in this case, arson is already illegal, but the act was meant to have implications beyond damaging the facilities as you noted. So the thought behind the already illegal act makes it terrorism.

My only thought is that even if hate crimes have racism or whatever-ism behind them, they don't elevate the crime to something more than it is, while acts of terrorism do... but how do you judge that kind of thing?

Posted by Geistmaus | May 24, 2007 9:05 AM

JackOkie gets a par 2. If you'll excuse my coming French again (or should I start calling it Belgian for courtesy?)

"Nigger" is to a hate crime what "Sitting at the front of the bus" is to terrorism. At least when framed in such a manner. Rosa Parks willfully and thoughtfully violated the standing law in her time in the most public manner possible for the sole purpose of street theater. It was a crime. It was a political statement. Therefore it is terrorism.

Now, you can make a differing argument when talking about foreign nations to be sure. But when talking about citizens of this country... Arson is arson and Political thought and speech fall squarely under the first of corrections to the toilet paper we call the Constitution.

Posted by Kent | May 24, 2007 9:16 AM

"Rosa Parks willfully and thoughtfully violated the standing law in her time in the most public manner possible for the sole purpose of street theater. It was a crime. It was a political statement. Therefore it is terrorism."

Perhaps you didn't mean this to be taken seriously.

You mean she terrified someone? 'Cuz I think that ought to fit into the definition of "terrorism" somewhere.

Did she kill people or break things? 'Cuz I think that also ought to fit into the definition of "terrorism" somewhere.

Was she trying to pull down the government, or shame it into reform? 'Cuz I think there's a meaningful distinction between the two.

Posted by SWLiP | May 24, 2007 9:36 AM

You ask an excellent question regarding hate crimes, Ed. The primary justification for hate crime legislation is that a crime directed at a member of a particular group has the effect of intimidating all members of that group. So, for example, if a transsexual is brutally murdered, it has the effect of intimidating other transsexuals, etc.

I've always been aggressively ambivalent about this subject, because I see the argument on both sides. But I agree that intellectual honesty requires an examination of analogous acts that fall under the definition of "terrorism."

Posted by Geistmaus | May 24, 2007 9:39 AM

"You mean she terrified someone?"

Fear is in the mind of the victim. Which, when regarding thought crimes, is every single person that didn't break the law that took any umbrage at all. Everybody, with every action, terrifies someone. That's the problem with thought crimes and it's a patently silly question on your part. Put your hyperbole away and think.

"'Cuz I think that also ought to fit into the definition of "terrorism" somewhere."

Also breaking the law for the express purpose of political action. Again, think.

"'Cuz I think there's a meaningful distinction between the two."

If I grant you this distinction, then this story obviously wasn't terrorism. Unless you're seriously going to tell me that a fire in a single meat-packing plant doth the US Government make. Again, think.

Posted by horse | May 24, 2007 9:48 AM

What he did was no different than burning a cross in someone's yard. Both are intimidation through a violent act, and both are very anti-democratic actions that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Whether either act could be classified as "terroristic" is a bit gray, requiring deeper knowledge of the perpetrator's intent, but they are likely at least rather close.

Passive protests (legal marching, sit-ins, ads, speeches, etc...) are not violent and most unlikely terroristic.

Posted by hunter | May 24, 2007 9:49 AM

I see no link between crimes committed with racism as an aggravating factor and terrorism.
The little terrorist being pathetically defended by his brother was using political theater and arson to intimadte people politically.
The red neck creeps who killed Mr. Byrd in E. Texas were upset over a drug deal and just felt like killing someone. By the way, those killers are being put to death. The little terrorist in Oregon is only going to serve some prison time and have weak minded fools like his brother defend him. No one is defending those killers in E. Texas.

Posted by Robert Modean | May 24, 2007 9:51 AM

(i)Intellectual honesty forces me to ask, however, what difference exists between this and the hate-crimes legislation that I opposed two weeks ago. Is there a difference? Are both forms of terrorism?(/i)

In short, no. Both are not forms of terrorism. A "hate crime" is a crime that is somehow more terrible because it target's a protected segment of society. The problem with the concept of "hate crime" is that it violates the principle of everyone being equal before the law, by their nature hate crimes legislation views that some segments of society are "special" and crimes against them are more heinous because of the "special" status of these groups. The problem with "hate crimes" legislation is that it creates an inherent inequity when it comes to the application of law and the punishment of crime, by valuing the protected classes above the rest of society. The enactment of "hate crimes" legislation has a deleterious effect on society in its application when what is obviously a "hate crime" (See the Christian-Newsom murder) is treated as anything but because the perpetrators are in the protected class and the victims are not.

Contrast that with the actions of terrorists, even domestic terrorists, targets society as a whole. They may claim to be targeting a segment of society, but their actions impact society as a whole. The burning down of a car dealership that sells SUV's may be claimed to target only the "polluters" or manufacturers of such machines, but the effect is to hurt everyone who shops there, manufactures the product, works in service and support, even those who have businesses nearby that are unrelated. That is terrorism. A blunt object used on the skull of society by someone claiming that they were just trying to swat a mosquito.

Posted by cirby | May 24, 2007 9:54 AM

Everybody, with every action, terrifies someone.

Only if you define "terrify" down to the point that it becomes completely meaningless.

No, putting up a flyer at the local coffee shop demanding that they use Fair Trade Coffee doesn't terrify much of anyone. Burning down that same shop because they didn't use FT coffee? Kinda terrifying for the people involved.

There's also a strong "intent" part of the equation. If you take a stand that annoys someone, that's one thing. But if you burn down a million dollar facility in order to scare people into doing what you want? Terrorism.

Posted by Lehosh | May 24, 2007 10:00 AM

RE: Addendum

Perhaps the word "terrorism" is as false a distinction as "hate crime". Both are "crimes" of intention: what did the criminal intend by his actions? The only thing separating rap artist from a "hate criminal" is the alleged intention to hate. Similarly, the only thing separating an arsonist and a terrorist in this story is the alleged political motivation.

Posted by Geistmaus | May 24, 2007 10:03 AM

"but the effect is to hurt everyone who shops there, manufactures the product, works in service and support, even those who have businesses nearby that are unrelated."

You simply cannot be serious. Let's run that out a bit shall we? Person A has a heated argument with Person B and does some impromptu dental reconstruction on Mr. B.

Now, under your scheme, the victims of this violence are:

1. Mr. B
2. Mr. B's neighbors for their fear at the increased violence in society.
3. Mr B.'s employer for lost productivity.
4. Mr B's spouse for the neighbor fear and reduction in libido.
5. Mr B's children, as now B is in a foul mood, and generally cross with them.
6. Mr B's children's teachers who now have fear and concern about the welfare of Mr B
7. The state which now has to fund mental screening for the children due the teacher's concern.
8. And finally every single taxpayer in America due the excess burden of the mental screening and inevitable follow-ups and prescriptions that Mr B will now have to pay for.
9. Which brings us back to Mr. B who now is victimized again by the realisation that his children are whack-jobs because he was assaulted and now the state is breathing up his backside for any excuse to take his kids.

This is, ironically, a common chain of events you will see daily in America.

I see your point. I just don't see how one can credibly claim that the victim was anyone other than who was directly the victim. That's ok though, under your scheme, I've been victimized by sheer terror at the lack of critical thinking in America. I'll expect you to turn yourself in to the nearest Precinct House as a hardened terrorist for inflicting your drivel on the intertubes.

See what I did there?

Posted by brainy435 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 24, 2007 10:03 AM

Just when I start questioning my stance against hate crimes, they rise to the challenge and display thier evilness.,2933,275096,00.html

What a coincidence.

Posted by Geistmaus | May 24, 2007 10:13 AM

"Only if you define "terrify" down to the point that it becomes completely meaningless."

I don't disagree at all. But you'll have to take that up with the victims. It's victim's justice and it's they who define it. (Or sell it to the judge if need be.)

And that's not necessarily the only problem. In this case, as in the vast majority of traditional 'hate crimes' it is the State who decides what it is and isn't. Frankly, the State should not have the capacity to bring charges unless the victim -- as in the one directly harmed -- is unable to. See: homicide.

And that ignores that the State is deciding on your behalf, or anyone elses, that you were terrified and quaking in your boots.

(Which is an ironic thing when you consider that 'terrorism' is supposed to affect voting choices, yet states make little to no effort to ensure that those that can't vote don't. Which, I assume, would be 'terrorism' -- if only your political betters weren't immune from the laws you aren't.)

Posted by mojo | May 24, 2007 10:18 AM

Well, boo-frickin'-hoo.

Toss his ass in the slam, and cut the cheap waterworks.

Posted by unclesmrgol | May 24, 2007 10:29 AM

Terrorism laws address motive rather than action and consequence, just like hate crimes laws. As the government prosecutors said themselves, "Although the government was not a direct victim, it was nonetheless a federal crime of terrorism because of the offenders' motivation"

Another case which is currently in the news is the event at a high school where three white students hung nooses from a tree to threaten and intimidate black students who had chosen to eat in the choice shade under the tree. If the Feds have their way, this is a hate crime (a felony) due to motivation. I would class it as intimidation or "making threats" because of the action and result, rather than dwelling on motivation. [In any case, I think the students hanging the nooses deserve a more serious punishment than three days' suspension, but certainly not conviction of a felony act.]

Posted by brooklyn | May 24, 2007 11:44 AM

well stated...

where does the irrational mindset come from?

and why does it seem to be so overtly produced by those on the left?

Posted by PersonFromPorlock | May 24, 2007 12:32 PM

Well, if 'terrorism' is where the money is, we can look forward to more and more government agencies discovering they're supressing 'terrorists'. Perfectly predictable as of 9/12.

Posted by KendraWilder | May 24, 2007 1:07 PM

Posted by: Geistmaus at May 24, 2007 9:05 AM

""Nigger" is to a hate crime what "Sitting at the front of the bus" is to terrorism. At least when framed in such a manner. Rosa Parks willfully and thoughtfully violated the standing law in her time in the most public manner possible for the sole purpose of street theater. It was a crime. It was a political statement. Therefore it is terrorism."

It's really becoming a pet peeve of mine watching the way people apply "moral Equivalence" in the most flagrantly inaccurate ways.

According to the 2006 Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, here are the definitions of "terrorism" and "activism":

ter·ror·ism (tĕrə-rĭz′əm)
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.

ac·tiv·ism (ăktə-vĭz′əm)
The use of direct, often confrontational action, such as a demonstration or strike, in opposition to or support of a cause.

What Jonathan Paul did was an act of terrorism.

What Rosa Parks did was to exhibit a form of political protest which is known as activism.

The two aren't even closely similar in execution. JP was using terrorism as a technique for intimidating the intended targets, hopefully to cause great fear and concern to induce them to stop the practices to which Jonathan Paul objection.

Rosa Parks, OTOH, essentially violated a Do Not Trespass order established by an arbitrary and prejudiced society, in order to spawn positive changes in society's rules.

I haven't any patience with people who attempt to downplay truly bad and ugly behavior by comparing it in some distorted way to some other out-of-the-mainstream behavior in order to, in some twisted way, try to justify that bad behavior.

Posted by Dusty | May 24, 2007 1:20 PM

Of course there are differences between hate crimes and terrorism but there are similarities. There are few things in this context where there will be some overlapping characteristics. That doesn't mean we should treat them the same or that we are hypocritical if we don't.

Terrorist doesn't mean Islamofascists that blowup X number of people to cow the rest into submission. It more a genus than a species. The fact that pitbulls have been front page news since 9/11 doesn't mean a chihuahua isn't a canine.

And when I read the "classic case of terrorism" I took that to indicate the marks the genus -- manner, method, and purpose of his actions, etc -- not how good or lethal he was at it. With his sister's approach and using her examples, no he isn't an OBL or Yusef, few are but that's on account of the inherent nature of leaders and followers. But, by the same token, Jonathon Paul is a much more accomplished and successful terrorist than than Richard Reid, The NJ 6(?), the Toronto 12(?) and Jose Padilla, who we also call, um, classical cases of terrorists (never mind the classical case terrorists that blow themselves up in the kitchen trying to make the bomb they want to place elsewhere which I wish were much more prevalent species.)

As for your exit question, I haven't fully fledged my opinions on the matter, but right now, I am against them a few reasons. One is that it creates too much of an overlap of free speech and criminal conduct which I do not trust society to manage well and, to tell the truth, I see the news media not reporting on the actual crime perpetrated as a kind of proof that it can't be managed well.

Besides, it seems to me motivation has always been used as evidence in proving a criminal conduct and not a crime itself. Adding motivation to the crimes list, I think, will just open a Pandoras Box.

Posted by Robert Modean | May 24, 2007 3:57 PM

Geistmaus: "See what I did there?"

Um, compare apples and pineapples? Seriously, you're comparing firebombing an SUV dealership with a fist fight? Ah, the joys of moral relativism and the intellectual vacuity of those who practice it. Let me make this easier for you to understand:

Terrorism is an act of violence against SOCIETY with the intent being to intimidate people into doing what the terrorist wants. What you describe is a physical confrontation between two people that arose out of a heated disagreement. If you're intellectually incapable of seeing the difference between what I am talking about and what you describe in your fantasy scenario then you're not only unserious and unworthy of continuing this discussion, you've got some fundamental problems and I'd recommend you to avail yourself of some "mental screening" when you get the chance.

Posted by Robert Modean | May 24, 2007 4:54 PM

Geistmaus, given your relative innability to grasp the obvious it occurs to me that a slightly different version of your own scenario would be appropriate here. I call it

"The tale of five men, Mr A, Mr B, Mr E, Mr H, and Mr I"

Mr A is a refugee from Angola and is a black African, Mr B is an illegal immigrant originally from Bosnia and is a Bosniak, Mr H is a naturalized citizen originally from Honduras and is Hispanic, Mr E is originally from England and is a resident alien working in the United States, and Mr I's parents immigrated from India but he was born in the United States and is a natural born citizen.

Mr I own's an SUV dealership. Mr A works in the maintenance department, Mr E is a salesman there, Mr H is a a small business owner who leases several vehicles from the dealership and has just purchased a brand new Range Rover for his wife. Mr B has is a Bosniak Muslim and has been attending the local Mosque which preaches a radical Wahhabist version of Islam. While the other attendees are non-violent Mr B is involved in a violent proto-terrorist group. Wanting to make a statement without killing anyone, Mr B comes up with the idea of attacking a symbol of American society and so he firebombs the SUV dealership.

The fire destroys dozens of SUVs, the main showroom and attached service center.

Mr I is out millions of dollars in inventory and the financial hardship may force him to close his business.
Mr A has now lost his job in the service department. He will have to take a lower paying minimum wage job until he can find other work as a mechanic.
Mr E is an accomplished salesman, so he'll find work elsewhere but he's now genuinely afraid of working in SUV and Luxury dealerships so he's begun looking for other sales work that's less "volatile".
Mr H not only lost the vehicle he just purchased but also two of the ones he'd leased that were in for service at the time. He will now be out hundreds of dollars a day until he replaces those vehicles and he'll have to wait for the insurance settlement to come in before he can replace the new Range Rover.

But that's not all:

Mr W owned a small restaurant across the street. He's not only seen a drop-off in business since the SUV dealership was firebombed, but regular customers are telling him that they're afraid to come downtown because of the attack.

Mr R owned an aftermarket accessories and detailing shop down the street from the SUV dealership. While not officially affiliated with them he did get a lot of referral business. Not only has he seen a drop off in business since the attack but he's hired a security company to help keep his shop safe.

The Attendee's at Mr B's Mosque find themselves under surveillance from DHS now, because Mr B was sloppy and got caught on the traffic camera running from the scene of the attack. While Mr B and a few other members of his group are detained, the rest of the members of the Mosque now have to deal with fallout from what one of their radical members has done.

This was a TERRORIST ATTACK (motivated by the desire to make a "statement" by attacking a "symbol" of America) and the impact was felt by everyone in that area and beyond. Contrast that with your "mano-a-mano" scenario and maybe you'll get the idea.

Posted by Geistmaus | May 24, 2007 5:56 PM


"What Jonathan Paul did was an act of terrorism."

What Mr. Paul did was a crime. But he'll tell you it was a form of political protest which is known is activism.

"What Rosa Parks did was to exhibit a form of political protest which is known as activism."

What Mrs. Parks did was a crime; which she also freely admits.

The totality of difference between the two cases is that you agree with Mrs. Parks and disagree with Mr. Paul.

No worries, Mr Modean not only made but compounded the same mistake by saying:

"Terrorism is an act of violence against SOCIETY with the intent being to intimidate people into doing what the terrorist wants."

Thus putting forth the concept that the meat-packing plant in Mr. Paul's case was a public good owned by "SOCIETY". Nor is he alone is this kind of confusion.

Posted by Geistmaus | May 24, 2007 6:12 PM

Robert Modean: We'll go with you story then.

Mr I and Mr H are direct victims of a criminal act; on that we agree. After that things go wide quickly:

Misters A and E are out nothing more than a job, and as damaging as that can be to one's life, the mere loss of employment for any reason is not criminal. Unless the employee's discharge was unlawful under various Labour Board issues. That said, both can go after Mr B in civil court on this matter.

Misters W and R have no Right to any particular income, no differently than A or E, and can demand nothing at all really. Unless you're to tell me that they can also find criminal anything that may or may not effect the flow of customers to their store from any source.

And while I find your sympathy for the members of Mr B's mosque laudable I think, perhaps, it is misplaced. Since, according to you, it is a "local Mosque which preaches a radical Wahhabist version of Islam."

In your scenario your concern for the mosque is misplaced as under standard theories of law, with no terrorism required, they would very likely be culpable for inciting the actions of Mr B. and thus be complicit. But you'd rather coddle them and sympathize with these facilitators and enablers of what, to you, is an unbounded swath of victims.

A very strange concept indeed to let those that incited Mr B to action would be let off the hook from the vast swath of victims that fell before the mighty sweep of his hand.

Posted by ck | May 24, 2007 11:38 PM

I don't know if I like the word 'terrorist' being used for something we already have a more specific word for - 'arsonist'

The only reason I can see to change the word is to apply more force to it - which, in my opinion, is not necessary and takes away from the specifics of the situation -

Theoretically we could call horror movie directors 'terrorists' since they cause fright. But the fright caused by movies are acceptable because they do not cause damage to person or property. So, really, when we refer to people as terrorists we are not referring to the act of causing people to be scared, but actually just damage to person or property. If then, we are only referring to damage to person or property, and we already have sufficient terms to deal with that, then why are we including terror in the word when its not even proven that anyone was terrified?

Referring to a person as a terrorist seems to imply not only damage to person and property, but an intentional act designed to inflict a type of terror that will stop people from doing what they would normally do, on a large scale basis (as we already have terms for small scale crimes). It is important, though, to say that people almost assuredly have to be hurt to classify someone as a terrorist. Or, at least, people have to be put into an extreme amount of danger (like burning a house down with people inside - even if they escape unharmed).

To only commit property damage surely should not be called terrorism because it misses the central point of putting people in extreme danger. In fact, it seems to cause only mere inconveniences because the insurance will most likely reimburse the victim.

If we want to call them terrorists (which I don't think we should), I think we should come up with different types of terrorists. This person surely is not in the same league as Al Qaeda.

As far as Captain's argument, any crime could fall into undermining government. I think your argument is flawed for that reason. I didn't see a distinction of how one crime wouldn't undermine the gov't while another would.

Posted by ck | May 24, 2007 11:51 PM

If we are to go by Robert Modean's model of causality, we would most likely have to go back through history and reclassify every murder, every arson, every speeder on a freeway, every power plant that pollutes, every anything that causes people to rethink what they do as a terrorist.

The fact that causality can appropriately show the result of a firebombing as disastrous to a number of people does not account for causality causing the same thing to happen in a number of other instances which you would probably not refer to as terrorism.

We could rationally argue (that is, according to your rationale) that shoplifters put people and businesses out of work, and in turn downgrade a neighborhood's status, which could lead to mass poverty and crime and murder etc.

Would you classify a shoplifter as a terrorist?

Posted by r4d20 | May 25, 2007 12:00 AM

Liberals don't want to call enviro-radical "terrorists".

Righties don't want to call abortion-clinic bombers "terrorists".

It all depends on whose ox is gored.

Posted by jaeger51 | May 25, 2007 12:42 AM

Protest is making a speech, holding a sign, standing or sitting somewhere. Terrorism is hurting someone or destroying their property. Easy enough, I think. Hang the turd, and hang abortion clinic bombers too, as far as I am concerned.

Posted by Cybrludite [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 25, 2007 3:48 AM


Kindly point to someone on the right who doesn't think that someone who bombs an abortion clinic is a terrorist. Folks protesting out side the clinic, not terrorists. Those who bombs clinics? Definately terrorists.

Posted by john lynch | May 27, 2007 12:06 AM

The law can look at motivation for a crime when deciding what punishment to mete out. That's why premeditated murder is punished more severly than a 'crime of passion.'

Are hate crimes laws often used to punish speech rather than crimes? Yes. Anti- terrorism legislation could fall into the same trap.

However, this is a case of a crime (arson) being punished more severely because of the motivation (terrorism). It isn't a punishment of Paul's views, but of what he did. If he hadn't burned down a building he wouldn't be going to jail.