Why aren't people who bomb or plan to bomb abortion clinics considered terrorists?
June 14, 2006 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Why aren't people who bomb or plan to bomb abortion clinics considered terrorists?

I don't understand. It seems to have all the makings of terrorism. Shouldn't they be considered terrorists?
posted by onepapertiger to Law & Government (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
By whom? I do consider them terrorists.
posted by Miko at 6:44 AM on June 14, 2006


We just did this one. Here's the related dios-bashing MeTa.
posted by BackwardsCity at 6:48 AM on June 14, 2006


I haven't noticed an aversion to calling clinic bombers "terrorists".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:50 AM on June 14, 2006


Googling "abortion terrorist" reveals that they are, in fact, considered terrorists by some.

I would guess that the fact that I can't seem to verify an abortion clinic bombing since 9/11 has something to do with this as well.
posted by hooves at 6:54 AM on June 14, 2006


They are.
posted by OmieWise at 6:55 AM on June 14, 2006


...if there is such an aversion, though, I'd suggest that it applies to all domestic US terrorists. I think Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of domestic terrorists.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:56 AM on June 14, 2006


It'd be interesting to study news articles from years past to see if this is a similar trend. I think that terrorism has been redefined in recent years to imply a threat from outside. Not outside the place it occurs, mind you, but outside of the US borders. I'm sure that Iraqis attacking American soldiers with roadside bombs have been referred to as "terrorists" at some point, but the preferred terminology is "insurgents" in that case. I wonder if the IRA would be referred to as terrorists in 2006.
posted by mikeh at 6:59 AM on June 14, 2006


I agree with Bligh that Americans wouldn't call McVeigh or the UnaBomber terrorists (even though that's precisely what they are). Part of the reason, in my mind, is that the word has been co-opted, yes. If 9/11 hadn't happened, as an example, I think that calling McVeigh a terrorist would have been just fine.

But to answer the question, I think to use the word "terrorist", people have to be extremely passionate about their hatred of these people, and since abortions are still 50/50 in this country, using such a strong word to describe behavior that people secretly condone doesn't work in the mainstream media.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:00 AM on June 14, 2006


I consider anyone who commits arson or bombings or threats of harm or whathaveyou because of personal feelings or political ideology to be a terrorist.

So yes, they qualify. Wholeheartedly.
posted by agregoli at 7:03 AM on June 14, 2006


Googling "abortion terrorist" reveals that they are, in fact, considered terrorists by some.

Searching Google News for "abortion clinic bomb" (unquoted) returns 189 results. Searching for "abortion clinic bomb terror*" (unquoted) returns 3 results, and in those the word terrorism isn't refering to the bombing.

On the other hand, all the results seemed to refer to a single recent bombing attempt. The bomber was not charged with terrorism-- perhaps the particulars of this case did not qualify it to be tried under the new anti-terrorism laws?
posted by justkevin at 7:10 AM on June 14, 2006


I agree with Bligh that Americans wouldn't call McVeigh or the UnaBomber terrorists

They used to be called terrorists, now they are invariably qualified as "domestic terrorists."
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:19 AM on June 14, 2006


They used to be called terrorists, now they are invariably qualified as "domestic terrorists."

Or "home grown terrorists". Or some other variation of the term.
posted by antifuse at 7:23 AM on June 14, 2006


Because they are espousing Republican values - murder of adults is okay if you disagree with them politically, but life in the womb is to be protected at all costs.
posted by caddis at 7:26 AM on June 14, 2006


I have been told that the FBI has used many of the new "terrorist" laws that were created post 9/11 to clamp down on some of those paramilitary anti-government groups, which spawned people like McVeigh.
posted by Atreides at 7:27 AM on June 14, 2006


Conveniently, CNN keeps old articles up. Here is one from 1998 about a deadly abortion clinic bombing, which doesn't mention "terror" or "terrorism" once. It links to several other stories about previous bombing that also don't use the terms. (It turns out that Eric Rudolph was the bomber in this case.)

OTOH, Oklahoma City was considered "terrorist" from day one. The Time magazine from a week after the bombing that had McVeigh on the cover had a headline of The Face of Terror.
posted by smackfu at 7:32 AM on June 14, 2006


i work in the insurance field, where we were just calculating rates for terrorism. oklahoma city and other domestic bombings are considered vandalism for insurance purposes.
posted by lester at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2006


"The fatal bombing in Atlanta was a terrorist attack aimed at thousands of innocent persons gathered at the Olympic Park," said Louis Freeh, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). "Within the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Program, there is no higher priority than the capture of Eric Robert Rudolph."

From a DOJ Press Release on charging Rudolph. You'll notice that the charges are about using explosives, not about terrorism. (And I know the Atlanta bombing was not of an abortion clinic, but it's clear that the FBI considered Rudolph a terrorist.)
posted by OmieWise at 7:43 AM on June 14, 2006


oklahoma city and other domestic bombings are considered vandalism for insurance purposes.

Wow is that fucking insulting. Anyone have any idea what the business logic behind that decision was?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:50 AM on June 14, 2006


Insurance doesn't usually cover acts of war which might include terrorism. Post 9/11 a lot of insurers only offer terrorism coverage as a separate rider. As for Rudolph he pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.
posted by caddis at 8:00 AM on June 14, 2006


I may be wrong about Rudolph. A quick Google does not confirm terrorism charges and I don't have time for an in depth search. I do remember much discussion of his "terrorism" at the time of his plea but the actual charges might just be murder and bombing. He did get five consecutive life sentences and resides in a supermax prison though.
posted by caddis at 8:15 AM on June 14, 2006


abortions are still 50/50 in this country

If by 'abortions' you meant 'support for abortion rights', thn not quite. Depending on the pollster and questions asked, surveys show a range of support/opposition that can be as high as about 70% of Americans in favor of some form legal abortion.
posted by Miko at 8:52 AM on June 14, 2006


Your assumption is incorrect. They are considered terrorists by most Americans and are usually referred to as such.

Is this a real AskMe or a political statement of some kind?
posted by LarryC at 9:15 AM on June 14, 2006


I wonder if the IRA would be referred to as terrorists in 2006.

If they were blowing stuff up and killing people they would be. The definition of a terrorist is someone who tries to use violence or the threat of violence to achieve political ends.

I suppose, if we want to split hairs, one could argue that anti-abortion murderers are not terrorists because their actions could be seen as an end in themselves - i.e. to kill doctors and thereby prevent abortions, rather than a means to affect a political change.

Either way they deserve to feel the full force of the state coming at them fast...
posted by prentiz at 9:23 AM on June 14, 2006


It's not a political statement. According to the news, some guy in MD was planning on bombing an abortion clinic, but no one called him a terrorist. Which I found sort of curious.

Also, now I wonder if any articles after 9/11 even called McVeigh a terrorist directly, as in "McVeigh is a terrorist.(as a noun, and not the act of "terror" or the feeling of "terror")
posted by onepapertiger at 9:48 AM on June 14, 2006


"I agree with Bligh that Americans wouldn't call McVeigh or the UnaBomber terrorists"

I don't know one single person that would refrain from calling either one a terrorist. Perhaps it depends on where you are located. Here in CA, there's plenty of political correctness and other name-softening BS.

The Animal Liberation Front? I think they're terrorists. "Function: noun
: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"

Same with the environmental whackos that have been torching SUVs as a 'political statement.'

To me, anyone that's using fear & intimidation to further their socio-political views is a terrorist. That would include abortion clinic bombers, environmental 'activists' that commit arson, and religious whackos that intimidate those that don't believe in their religious cause.
posted by drstein at 11:20 AM on June 14, 2006


Murdering abortion doctors or people who receive medical treatment is not considered a (moral) crime in some circles (NSFW) of the US. In theory, the only terror "invoked" is in the doctor or patient giving or receiving this medical procedure, respectively — so long as you don't give an abortion, undergo abortion treatment, or think about having an abortion, you shouldn't need to feel terrorized. Which is, ironically, a more subtle form of terror.

Ties between anti-abortion terrorist groups and other right-wing hate groups are not accidental. Other right-wing terrorists are often not labeled as such, often swept under the radar of public awareness in the name of focusing hatred upon a vague enemy located somewhere overseas, possibly as propaganda method to ensure some level of public support for the "war" effort.

Given that members of the right of the political spectrum often dominate the legal, moral and political conversation in the country, ipso facto right-wing terrorism is not labeled terrorism by the mainstream media, where terrorism is an editorial term preferably reserved for acts of violence committed by non-Caucasians against (usually white, upper-middle class) Americans. Though long forgotten, even the act of terrorism committed by McVeigh was initially considered the work of "Middle Easterners"!
posted by Mr. Six at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2006


They're not called terrorists, they're called Christian Fundamentalists. Or Christian Right Whack Jobs depending on which radio station you listen to.
posted by Gungho at 11:44 AM on June 14, 2006


I agree with Bligh that Americans wouldn't call McVeigh or the UnaBomber terrorists (even though that's precisely what they are).

I'm a US citizen and that's exactly what I would call (and have called) both. The terms "domestic terrorist" and "domestic terrorism" seem to be coming into vogue these days, or maybe it depends, like so many things, upon where you get your news.

Here's a little media research exercise for you, compare these hit results:

"domestic terrorism" hits on CNN.com (729)
"domestic terrorism" hits on Foxnews.com (79)
"domestic terrorist" hits on CNN.com (299)
"domestic terrorist" hits on Foxnews.com (21)
posted by wheat at 12:36 PM on June 14, 2006


I said that if there's an aversion to referring to people like abortion bombers as "terrorists", then I think it results from a general reluctance to think that there's such a thing as domestic terrorists.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:14 PM on June 14, 2006


Well, the question isn't specific enough. If you are talking about the set of all people who generally think about it enough to give it a label, them I'm sure the majority here are right. They are considered terrorists. On the other hand, if you are talking about media studies ala Chomsky, the answer is completely different.

To me the reason McVeigh was immediately labeled a terrorist is simple, on the assumption that it was perpetrated by an islamic cult, the media already labeled the attack terrorism. They couldn't be seen to retract the label afterward - or, at least, they decided not to. A similar argument may apply to the IRA. The British media described them as terrorists, the US media had little choice but to follow suit.

I think you can see where I'm going. As far as the media is concerned, you have to be in an under-class to be labeled terrorist. Mostly that means you have to be brown, or at least Muslim. I don't think 9/11 changed it, although it may have become more pronounced.
posted by Chuckles at 3:25 PM on June 14, 2006


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