>Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 16:16:02 -0700
>From: Bob Martel <sheds@humboldt1.com>
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>To: Headwaters Forest Coordinating Committee <HFCC@lists.sanmateo.org>
>Subject: Times Standard Editorial re Terrorism
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>A Times Standard Editorial: 6/11/98
>Vandals, maybe, but not terrorists
>While we have the highest regard and admiration for Rep. Frank
>Riggs, we believe his annoyance with Earth First demonstrators
>may be overriding his usual good judgment. Riggs this week
>appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee to call for
>prosecution of Earth First as a terrorist organization under the
>Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute. He
>alleged that this and other environmental groups that engage in
>civil disobedience are in fact conspiring to commit acts of criminal
>We certainly hold no brief for Earth Firsters. they are mostly
>immature, self-infatuated nuisances, more interested in venting
>their spleen than making any contribution to serious debate on
>complex issues. This community, and the environmental
>movement, would be much better off without their presence.
>But that said, to equate their stupid, childish antics with actual
>conspiracy to commit murder is a ridiculous overreaction. It is, in
>fact, the same sort of hyperbole that Earth Firsters themselves
>indulge in with their nonsensical demands to "jail Charles
>Hurwitz." We are sorry to see our congressman emulate them.
>Exaggeration of this sort trivializes the real thing. If blocking a
>road is terrorism or sitting in a tree is an act of violence, then what
>is bombing a building or gunning down a police officer?
>As any conservative legal theorist will affirm, it is not sound
>practice to wrench interpretation of a law to cover cases not
>intended by the statute's framers. The racketeering act was passed
>for a specific and very serious purpose - to offer society a defense
>against murderous professional gangsters engaged in clandestine
>criminal operations. It was never intended as a device to suppress
>political protest, however obnoxious.
>This is not to say that actual acts of violence or vandalism should
>not be prosecuted - they certainly should be and usually are. But
>prosecuting tree spikers or vandals who damage logging equipment
>is a very different matter from trying to outlaw an organization
>because some of its supporters may have engaged in illegal
>activities. Neither Riggs nor any responsible lawmaker, we
>believe, would suggest criminalize wise-use and property rights
>organizations, or right-to-life groups, because some unbalanced
>fanatics have committed murder and arson in support of these
>Legislating from anger results in bad laws, and Riggs has good
>reason to be angry. Last October his Eureka office was invaded by
>demonstrators, some wearing ski masks, who dumped a tree stump
>and bags of sawdust there. His two staffers were frightened by the
>Compounding this injury was the subsequent publicity that
>resulted from police use of pepper spray on demonstrators who
>chained themselves in the office. Although Riggs was not present
>and was in no way responsible for the police action, he refused to
>duck the issue and defended the officers on the floor of Congress.
>He thus became, quite unfairly, associated in the public mind with
>the pepper spray controversy.
>While this may not have led directly to his decision not to run for
>reelection, it was almost certainly a contributing factor. Earth First
>members believe their antics helped drive Riggs from office, and
>his disgust with the organization and its tactics is surely
>Frank Riggs has served this district with honor and diligence. We would
>hope he would
>spend his last few months in office with dignity, not marring his
>admirable record with
>political posturing and displays of spite. He's much to good a man for
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644

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