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Tree hugging terrorists?

If you have ever given any money to an organization such as Greenpeace or the Sierra Club, or even just signed one of its petitions on campus, you might soon be considered a terrorist.

A bill that has been introduced in Texas in February and later in New York (other states have already expressed interest in implementing the bill), could do this by classifying any protests staged by groups deemed to be “animal rights or ecological terrorist organizations” an act of terrorism.

If this bill becomes a law and is added to the upcoming Patriot Act II (The Patriot Act Strikes Back?) as currently proposed, it would not only affect such organizations in Texas or New York, but throughout the United States.

The bill states “Animal rights or ecological terrorist organization” means two or more persons “organized for the purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals or an activity involving natural resources.”

To make this even more interesting, the bill defines “Political motivation” as “an intent to influence a governmental entity or the public to take a specific political action.” Could it be more vague?

Also, anybody who gives money, or even signs a petition in support of any causes promoted by such organizations, would be considered to have aided a “terrorist” organization and could also be held accountable.

This means that a guy walking up to you on campus waving a sign saying “help the fluffy bunnies be happy” would be considered a terrorist.

Or somebody buying a calendar from Greenpeace because they like the pictures in it would be considered helping terrorism.

This bill, and you can quote me on this, is the most absurd thing I have heard in quite some time.

I can only hope that the bill will not pass. Regardless, it is a prime example of how ridiculous and plainly wrong actions that are supposedly “protecting freedom” and “making America great” are, instead, slowly chiseling away the basic freedoms of this country.

I am not condoning acts such as randomly freeing chickens from farms. Such acts harm rather than further the agenda of such organizations. Nevertheless, the classification of any organization with a green agenda as “terrorists” is simply ridiculous and an impingement of freedom of expression and the constitutional right to assembly.

Remember that thing called Constitution? I thought that is what this country is based on, so why are we passing laws that contradict it?

The bill would also make peaceful protests and meetings for such groups illegal.

What makes this so troubling is that people could be held accountable for things they haven’t even done yet, based on the mere premise that they could do something in the future.

What is next? Should we outlaw chess clubs as they teach strategic thinking and might be used to train a militia to overthrow our government? Or how about tracking what people are reading at public libraries? Oh wait, that is already happening.

Tracking members of such organizations would of course be also part of the master plan of making people more free to express themselves. Each member would be tracked for at least three years and all their information, including street address, phone number and other personal data be held on record.

After all we know that only people that know they are being watched can really feel free, right?

Of course actions have to taken against terrorists that could harm the public, but the rights of the public have to be protected in order for a democracy to function. Limiting what views are allowed to be expressed does not protect our freedom; It limits our liberty more than any terrorist threat ever could.

Sebastian Meyer is a Junior and The Oracle Opinion Editor