12 October, 2006

criminalizing Ghandi - AETA

Kurt Nimmo:

. . . Imagine Mahatma Gandhi arrested for engaging in satyagraha—the philosophy and action of nonviolent resistance—and disappeared to a torture dungeon. Under AETA, coupled with Bush’s detainee bill, all of this will not only be possible, it is more than likely a done deal, considering the long and sordid track record of the state.

In 1930, Gandhi initiated the Salt March to Dandi in opposition to the British salt tax. The British did not arrest Gandhi because he did not incite others to follow him. However, under the AETA, Gandhi would be considered a terrorist because his activity resulted in a "loss of profits" for the British Raj.
AETA? Nimmo explains:

In the not too distant past, when activists blocked driveways or staged sit-downs in federal offices, they were routinely arrested and charged with misdemeanors. Soon, however, as a result of H.R. 4239, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, they may be considered terrorists.
Any questions as to where this trend is headed? That if succesful this will be limited only to animal rights activists? Not that it would be ok if it were. The Senate passed its version last week unanimously, with language written by California democrat Diane Feinstein (supposedly in response to civil liberties concerns). The house has yet to act on the legislation; their current version is even worse than the Senate's.
Will Potter explains that:

It’s clear that Feinstein’s revisions were a direct response to civil liberties concerns. That’s a good thing. But let’s take a closer look at the “fixes” in this legislation, and the problems that still remain.

For reference, you can download pdf files of S.3880 and H.R.4239.


The Senate bill spells out that activists must damage “real property.” S.3880 says the law targets anyone who

intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by animal enterprise, or any real or personal property of a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise.

Compare the same clause to the existing House version, which targets anyone who “intentionally damages, or causes the loss of any property…”

At best, this is a baby step in the right direction. It shows that lawmakers have heard civil liberties concerns that the overly broad language in the bill could sweep in basic First Amendment activity that threatens corporate profits. This language is a bit more specific, bringing the law more in line with its alleged intent: targeting illegal, underground actions in the name of animal rights.

The Senate bill rewrites the “civil disobedience clause” in the penalties section of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

The previous Senate version, and the current House version, spell out:
(1) for an offense involving exclusively a non-violent physical obstruction of an animal enterprise or a business having a connection to, or relationship with, an animal enterprise, that may result in loss of profits but does not result in bodily injury or death or property damage or loss–
(A) not more than $10,000 and the length of imprisonment shall be not more than 6 months, or both, for the first offense; and
(B) not more than $25,000 and the length of imprisonment shall be not more than 18 months, or both, for a subsequent offense; [emphasis added]
The revised Senate version entirely cuts out this penalty section, including all references to “non-violent physical obstruction,” undoubtedly a response to public outrage that a “terrorism” bill could target non-violent civil disobedience.

Instead, the revised penalties section goes straight into the second penalty item, which says punishment shall be:
(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment not more than 1 year, or both, if the offense does not instill in another the reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death and–
(A) the offense results in no economic damage or bodily injury; or
(B) the offense results in economic damage that does not exceed $10,000;
Cutting the civil disobedience clause was a very minor improvement. But ultimately it is meaningless because other language in the penalties section can achieve the same result. The law still spells out penalties for actions that don’t “instill in another the reasonable fear of serious bodily injury” and “results in no economic damage.” No reasonable person would consider activity like that to be “terrorism.”
The house "legislation expands the types of activism wrapped up in the bill to include anything 'interfering with' business." It includes a

. . . clause, 'loss of profits,' [which] would sweep in not only property crimes, but other activity like undercover investigations and whistleblowing. It would also include campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience, like blocking entrances to a laboratory where controversial animal testing takes place.

Those aren’t acts of terrorism. They are effective activism. Businesses exist to make money, and if activists want to change a business practice, they must make that practice unprofitable. That principle guided the lunch-counter civil disobedience of civil rights activists and the divestment campaigns of anti-apartheid groups. Those tactics all hurt profits. And those tactics, if directed at an animal enterprise, would all be considered “terrorism” under this bill.

The penalties in this version for "'non-violent physical obstruction,' also known as civil-disobedience, could earn an activist 18 months in prison, plus fines . . ."

Remember, we’re looking at a terrorism bill here, that industry groups say is needed to combat “violent” animal rights “extremists,” and we’re still only dealing with non-violent crimes that don’t even “instill” a “reasonable fear.”

The penalties go up from there, predictably . . . What’s most important to note is not the specific amount of years in prison, but the fact that the penalties revolve around money. They operate in terms of corporate property and profits. That’s what this bill is about. It’s not about stopping “violence,” because violence hasn’t taken place. It’s about classifying “non-violent physical obstruction,” crimes that do not “instill in another the reasonable fear of serious bodily injury,” and property crimes as “terrorism,” in order to demonize and silence dissent.
Potter writes yesterday: "Get ready for it. Come November 13, industry groups, corporations and the politicians that represent them will likely throw everything they’ve got into pushing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act through the House."

Just as the opening shots of the assault on habeas corpus were embedded in the 1996 "Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act" (the precursor to the Patriot Act signed by Clinton), rights & liberties are readily restricted with stealth language in bills 'combating terror' that have nothing to do with terrorism.

Stop AETA has info on current efforts to oppose this legislation.


Anonymous Nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez said...

Fuck these fear-filled sadist freaks. I pay no attention to their "laws" that seek to bolster their rule and strike down opposition. I do what my heart dictates. Period.

9:07 PM  

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