Daniel McGowan Refuses to Cooporate, Enters Guilty Plea

In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture jamming, Direct action, Economic Justice, Environment, Freedom of Speech, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Netroots, Progressive Politics, US Politics on November 9, 2006 at 11:28 pm

Whew. This has been a long battle and Daniel today pled guilty in order to protect others involved. His comment to the Judge read, in part:

This plea agreement is very important to me, because it allows me to accept full responsibility for my actions and at the same time remain true to my strongly held beliefs.  I hope that you will see that my actions were not those of terrorist but of a concerned young person who was deeply troubled by the destruction of Oregon’s beautiful old-growth forests and the dangers of genetically modified trees...

To read more about Daniel’s story, goto www.SupportDaniel.org. Also check out Green Scare and what is a formidable resource: GreenIsTheNewRed. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports the basics as such:

Four people intend to plead guilty to causing $20 million in damages from firebombings around the Northwest, according to lawyers in the case… The Oregon indictments covered arsons from 1996 to 2001 that were claimed by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Colorado.

  1. Reminds me of Plato’s Crito, where Crito – a close friend of Socrates – offers to help Socrates flee Athens to escape his pending death sentence. Socrates refuses, arguing that fleeing Athens would be breaking an implicit contract with the state, made with his very decision to continue living there, under its protection.

    Similarly, the decision to engage in acts damaging, say, suv dealerships, is a far cry from moving to Paris and ex-patriating, which Daniel McGowan could have done.

    This is not to condemn his actions. I believe SUVs should be destroyed (or… see cartoon above). I have my doubts as to the effectiveness of blowing things up to make a point (A bomb is like a one-night stand, that’s all I’ll say. Grill me on it later), but I ultimately agree with the point, and I can’t say I’m not cheering a little bit when such a thing happens.

    However, it is even more impressive to me that this man made a statement like the one quoted above. Pleading guilty, which, if he did actually do the acts he’s been accused of, is an honest plea, goes a long way towards getting his views into the field of discussion. And it puts on our heads (the heads of the jury, and all other citizens) the responsibility to consider the validity of this man’s beliefs before punishing him. By sacrificing himself, he makes this trial a forum on public policy and way of life, rather than a simple criminal trial. I suppose that is what he hoped would happen all along, in the event that he was caught and tried. I suppose the best thing we can do for him now is publicize the message, and urge the press to take an interest in the trial. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Its the good old dilemna: if you want to change the law, you have to face the consequences of disobeying it. Then, its up to your countrymen not to let your example go to waste.

    From Crito:

    Socrates: In leaving the prison against the will of the Athenians, do I wrong any? or rather do I not wrong those whom I ought least to wrong? Do I not desert the principles which were acknowledged by us to be just? What do you say?

    Crito: I cannot tell, Socrates, for I do not know.

    Soc. Then consider the matter in this way: Imagine that I am about to play truant (you may call the proceeding by any name which you like), and the laws and the government come and interrogate me: “Tell us, Socrates,” they say; “what are you about? are you going by an act of yours to overturn us — the laws and the whole State, as far as in you lies? Do you imagine that a State can subsist and not be overthrown, in which the decisions of law have no power, but are set aside and overthrown by individuals?” What will be our answer, Crito, to these and the like words? Anyone, and especially a clever rhetorician, will have a good deal to urge about the evil of setting aside the law which requires a sentence to be carried out; and we might reply, “Yes; but the State has injured us and given an unjust sentence.” Suppose I say that?

    Cr. Very good, Socrates.

    Soc. Then the laws will say: “Consider, Socrates, if this is true, that in your present attempt you are going to do us wrong. For, after having brought you into the world, and nurtured and educated you, and given you and every other citizen a share in every good that we had to give, we further proclaim and give the right to every Athenian, that if he does not like us when he has come of age and has seen the ways of the city, and made our acquaintance, he may go where he pleases and take his goods with him; and none of us laws will forbid him or interfere with him. Any of you who does not like us and the city, and who wants to go to a colony or to any other city, may go where he likes, and take his goods with him. But he who has experience of the manner in which we order justice and administer the State, and still remains, has entered into an implied contract that he will do as we command him. And he who disobeys us is, as we maintain, thrice wrong: first, because in disobeying us he is disobeying his parents; secondly, because we are the authors of his education; thirdly, because he has made an agreement with us that he will duly obey our commands; and he neither obeys them nor convinces us that our commands are wrong; and we do not rudely impose them, but give him the alternative of obeying or convincing us; that is what we offer and he does neither. These are the sort of accusations to which, as we were saying, you, Socrates, will be exposed if you accomplish your intentions; you, above all other Athenians.” Suppose I ask, why is this? they will justly retort upon me that I above all other men have acknowledged the agreement. “There is clear proof,” they will say, “Socrates, that we and the city were not displeasing to you. Of all Athenians you have been the most constant resident in the city, which, as you never leave, you may be supposed to love. For you never went out of the city either to see the games, except once when you went to the Isthmus, or to any other place unless when you were on military service; nor did you travel as other men do. Nor had you any curiosity to know other States or their laws: your affections did not go beyond us and our State; we were your especial favorites, and you acquiesced in our government of you; and this is the State in which you begat your children, which is a proof of your satisfaction. Moreover, you might, if you had liked, have fixed the penalty at banishment in the course of the trial — the State which refuses to let you go now would have let you go then. But you pretended that you preferred death to exile, and that you were not grieved at death. And now you have forgotten these fine sentiments, and pay no respect to us, the laws, of whom you are the destroyer; and are doing what only a miserable slave would do, running away and turning your back upon the compacts and agreements which you made as a citizen. And first of all answer this very question: Are we right in saying that you agreed to be governed according to us in deed, and not in word only? Is that true or not?” How shall we answer that, Crito? Must we not agree?

    Cr. There is no help, Socrates.

  2. p.s. Daniel’s actions involved lumberyards, not SUV dealerships. The SUV thing came most naturally when I wanted to illustrate my point.

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