Tennessee Politician: “Eco-terrorists are, uh, I guess left-wing eco-greenies”

by Will Potter on July 24, 2008

in Terrorism Legislation

“Eco-terrorism” is a buzzword that corporations and the politicians who represent them have been throwing around more and more since 9/11. But like the bigger T-word, it’s a term without much of a definition. “Eco-terrorism” has been used to describe burning SUVs, and other property crimes by the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. It has been used to describe terrorism against the environment. It has been used to describe real estate deals. It has been used to describe attending vegan potlucks, dating the wrong people, and children’s movies.

One might think that definitions of “terrorism” have been expanded to the point of being completely meaningless (and therefore incredibly dangerous).

But if you’re confused about this “Green Scare,” and all the “eco-terrorist” scare-mongering, have no fear. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the eloquent, the passionate, Rep. Frank Niceley defining “eco-terrorism” for the Tennessee General Assembly:

“First let me try to explain eco-terrorism. I’m surprised that you haven’t heard of it. Take one group, the PETA group. According to the FBI they’re the number one domestic terrorist group in America. They are considered eco-terrorists.

Eco-terrorists are, uh, I guess left-wing eco-greenies. They don’t have leader. They’re a leaderless terrorism group. They just kind of spring up sporadically. They do things like, uh, turn research animals out on the interstate, turn farm animals loose from semis in the middle of town. They drive spikes in logs going that go into the saw mill so that it will knock the teeth out of the saw mills. They put sugar in uh, in firefighting equipment in the, in the national forest, and, and just uh, it’s a different type of terrorism. They don’t have Osama bin Laden leadin’ ’em…”

PETA isn’t listed as a “terrorist” organization, and activists don’t release animals on the interstate or the middle of town, but facts don’t mean much in this “War on Terrorism.” Niceley (previously featured here on GNR defending a drunk-driving colleague) was speaking in favor of his bill, HB 3307, the “Tennessee Ecoterrorism Act.” It never made it out of committee, but its language appeared in the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a federal law that I have written extensively about, and testified about before Congress. Similar legislation is also under consideration in California right, as part of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act.

A key difference between this state-level law and the AETA is that it would have created sex-offender style registry within the Tennessee bureau of investigation for “eco-terrorists.” Scary stuff, especially when cops have taken DNA samples of environmental activists. Similar “eco-terrorist” databases were in prior, failed versions of the AETA.

But wait, it gets even better. The bill also defines “person” as meaning “corporation.” And it prohibits “hazardous or injurious devices” including “guns attached to trip wires or other triggering mechanisms.” (Apparently, Niceley would like us to believe that the “eco-terrorists” have been trained by Chuck Norris. However, nothing like this has ever happened).

Total price tag that would have been delivered to Tennessee taxpayers for this gem of a law: $200,000 in recurring costs, $157,800 in one-time costs, and $29,600 in increased incarceration costs.

I remember this bill from a few years ago, and I was so happy to see this clip posted on YouTube recently. [Tom Guleff posted it and added some barnyard noises and graphics. But if you’re doubting that this actually happened, I tracked down the original courtesy of the Tennessee General Assembly archives. The “eco-terrorism” bill is up at about 25:50.]

A few of my favorite Niceley quotes:

  • On news sources:

    “Most of what I’ve heard about the Unabomber has been on the news and on the Rush Limbaugh.”

  • On PETA:

    “They do a lot of things. The most hideous thing they’ve done is stretch piano wire over jumps, so when fox hunters jump their horse over it catches the rider about the neck. They do all kinds, PETA’s done all kinds, they’re the ones the FBI calls the number one domestic terrorist group in America.”

    (To be clear, that has never been done by PETA or any animal activist.)

  • On the growing “eco-terrorist” threat in Tennessee:

    “Luckily we don’t have as many wackos yet. But we’re gaining.”

What’s your favorite line from the video?

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