South Dakota “Eco-terrorism” Law Shot Down as Unnecessary

by Will Potter on January 30, 2009

in Terrorism Legislation

South Dakota rejected eco-terrorism lawGood news from South Dakota: a state House committee shot down an “animal rights terrorism” bill proposed by the university.

The bill was nearly identical to new, sweeping “animal enterprise terrorism” legislation in California. Similar laws have been pushed around the country by right-wing groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (you might remember the Tennessee lawmaker who said “eco-terrorists” are “left-wing eco-greenies”). It’s part of a coordinated campaign to label animal rights and environmental activists as “terrorists” by distorting existing laws and pushing for new ones.

What I found especially interesting about this is that “the State Affairs Committee voted 11-2 to kill HB1078 after committee members said current law already makes it a crime to hurt or harass someone.”

At first blush, that just seems like a no-brainer. But that’s also a very conservative rational. It should be a reminder that folks who are probably unsympathetic to animal or environmental issues (ie: solidly-McCain South Dakota lawmakers) can still reject “eco-terrorism” rhetoric if framed the right way. You don’t have to be vegan, against animal research, or pro direct action to reject a law that duplicates existing laws and singles out one class of people for political purposes.

To be clear, this is a small victory, and there’s a long way to go in not only rejecting new legislation, but repealing existing legislation like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. But, as I learned firsthand a few months ago: If your house is flooding, the first thing to do is turn off the water.

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