No, it’s not Bill Ayers, more’s the pity, but almost as good. Marie Mason caused over $4 million in arson damage in a series of fires on behalf of the terrorist group Earth Liberation Front, protesting everything from genetically-enhanced crops to mink ranching. She may not like her 22-year sentence, but at least she’s alive:
A radical activist who helped set a $1 million fire to protest research on genetically modified crops was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22 years in prison _ even more than the prosecution recommended.
Marie Mason decided to “elevate her grievances beyond the norms of civilized society” through fire and destruction, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said. The case _ which was prosecuted as domestic terrorism _ was “about an abandonment of the marketplace of ideas,” he added. …
The investigation was cold until spring 2007, when a man looking for scrap cardboard found gas masks, an M-80 explosive, maps and anti-government writings in a suburban Detroit trash bin.
They belonged to Ambrose, who apparently was trying to shed remnants of his past. The FBI searched his home, and he became an informant, blowing the whistle on himself and Mason and going undercover to record 178 conversations with other activists.
At MSU, Mason and Ambrose targeted a campus office that held records on research related to moth-resistant potatoes for poor parts of Africa. Computers, file cabinets and desks were doused with a flammable liquid. Vapors contributed to an explosion, and the fire got out of control.
The explosion burned Mason’s hair and prevented her from finishing the message, “No GMO,” on a wall, a reference to genetically modified organisms.
Her defense team professed shock at the sentence, calling it far out of proportion to other sentences for the same crimes. Well, that’s the point. For far too long, courts have coddled domestic terrorists of certain political strains. Where some have rightly thrown the book at anti-tax militias and those who commit violence at abortion clinics, leftist terrorists who commit arsons and bombings for their causes have gotten treated as misdirected darlings.
No longer, or at least not in Maloney’s court. The judge got this exactly right. Political terrorism undermines democracy at its roots. Instead of pursuing change through debate and organization, Mason attempted to frighten people into surrendering to the will of a tiny, fringe movement. She professed remorse at her hearing, but on her site refers to her prosecution as a part of a “Green Scare”, in which the government conspires against innocent vegan environmentalists. Mason has no real remorse over her actions.
Update: Jazz Shaw has an interesting point: does this equate hate crimes prosecution? Read the whole thing.