Scott Tibbs
Published in Hoosier Review, 07-12-2002

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"Green" activists make illogical comments at County Council meeting

I attended the July 9th Monroe County Council meeting, and from what happened then, it looks like this is going to be an interesting year.

Councilman David Hamilton (D-1st) observed that there were many people in the audience who were likely to speak in the public comment time on issues not on the Council's agenda, and proposed a motion to move the public comment time to the end of the meeting. For his efforts, Hamilton was bitterly attacked by Michael "Moss" Englert, the former tree-sitter who until recently was listed on Lucille Bertuccio's campaign Web site as her Treasurer. (Bertuccio defeated Hamilton in the May 7th Democratic primary for Hamilton's Council seat.) "Moss" whined that every time Hamilton sees "green" activists at a meeting, he votes in a similar manner.

This attack was completely unfair and unjustified. The County Council had business to attend to by making additional appropriations for various departments. It was perfectly reasonable to move the political speeches of local activists, on either side of the political spectrum, to a later point in the meeting so the Council could quickly finish its work and allow county employees to go home. This was underscored by the fact that the speakers who took the podium during public comment time did not raise issues germane to the work of the County Council.

In any case, to chastise Hamilton for this is silly. Local government is certainly obligated to hear citizen comments on laws, regulations and ordinances before them, but setting aside time in a public meeting for people to rant and rave about whatever subject crosses their fancy is another matter entirely. If someone is passionate about something like rutabaga subsidies in the Sudan, they are certainly entitled to work for their issue, but to expect that an elected body should postpone the people's business to hear activists pontificate about something as relevant to the agenda as Sudanese rutabaga subsidies is unreasonable. As it was, the public had their chance to speak. Hamilton silenced nobody.

After a serious allegation was made regarding a member of the council, local environmental activist Marc Haggerty said that acts of violence are a result of a "failure of democracy". Haggerty said that there are a lot of "idealistic young kids" disillusioned by votes by elected officials that did not reflect what Haggerty alleges the people want, and acting in violent ways because of it.

Haggerty could not possibly be more wrong. In a constitutional republic like ours, elected officials do not always vote to the whims of the people and activists on particular issues do not always get their way. To say the actions of thugs like those in the Earth Liberation Front are caused by the fact that elected officials did not vote the way they "should" is preposterous and dangerous. There is no justification for terrorism. After Osama bin Laden's cronies destroyed the World Trade Center and murdered over 3,000 people, one would think that this would be obvious. The ELF and its sister organization, the Animal Liberation Front, are no different than bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

Worse yet, Haggerty's words include an implied threat that if public officials do not vote the way the violent fringe of the extreme Left thinks they should, that there will be more terrorism. Those at all points of the political spectrum should universally condemn such irresponsible words.

Most people are mature enough to understand this, and will instead work harder in the next election to seat candidates who share their views and expunge those who will not. It was also clear in June that the City Council's decision to give $1,500 to Bloomington's abortion clinic was not popular, given that over 300 people signed petitions against the controversial funding request. But not one single pro-life individual suggested that acts of terrorism against Planned Parenthood would be caused or justified by such a "failure of democracy". Any such suggestion would be opposite the entire purpose of the pro-life movement and anyone saying such things would be shunned and condemned by local pro-lifers.

Given the history of eco-terrorism in Bloomington, it is safe to conclude that eco-terrorists committed the Pedigo Bay arson. This arson was a despicable and cowardly act. The thugs who committed this act were personally targeting Steve Smith, a local developer who recently ran into a firestorm of criticism over tree cutting near Lake Monroe. This time, terrorism nearly turned deadly when a wall barely missed falling on a firefighter trying to put out the blaze. I have said many times that it's only a matter of time before the ELF-ALF axis of evil kills someone. That time almost became a lot sooner than later, and anyone involved in the evil perpetrated there must be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

While local "green" activists have every right to hold and express extremist opinions and unjustifiably attack highly respected public officials, they cannot escape being held accountable for their words in a public forum. One hopes that reason prevails and such rhetoric becomes less common, but unfortunately that is not likely to be the case.