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Should Radical Environmentalists Be Punished Like Terrorists?

Eric McDavid, a member of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) convicted in March of planning to bomb a dam and forest service building in Northern California, has been sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison. His actions have been called "conspiracy in an eco-terror case."

The US Attorney said of the sentence:

Today's severe punishment of nearly 20 years in federal prison should serve as a cautionary tale to those who would conspire to commit life-threatening acts in the name of their extremist views.

McDavid's family pleaded for a light sentence saying saying that their son was peaceful and caring. Another ELF member who was also charged, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and testified against McDavid in exchange for a lesser sentence.

An FBI agent testified about items found in the ELF house including bottles of bleach and chemicals, and anarchist literature, some by the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. ELF is thought to have been behind the torching of the Seattle Street of Dreams homes earlier this year.

Do radical environmental groups like ELF really have altruistic agendas? Do they need to resort to sometimes violent acts in order to raise awareness and accomplish their mission? Does the cloak of eco-do-gooding mask a terrorist organization no different than any other? Should we punish them like terrorists even though they're trying to save the planet?


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