Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Act of Terrorism in Colorado, Sort of

A homemade explosive device was found and dealt with at a Colorado shopping mall earlier this month. It looks like prosecutors are going to call the crime an act of terrorism. I figure they know what they're doing - but I also think that this may not be the sort of ideologically-motivated terrorism we're used to.

Reviewing the last week or two in the news:
"A man suspected in an attempted bombing at a Denver-area shopping mall was arrested in nearby Boulder on Tuesday.

"Earl Albert Moore, 65, a former convict with an extensive criminal record, was captured at a grocery store six days after authorities found a pipe bomb and two propane tanks while extinguishing a small fire in the food court at the Southwest Plaza mall in Littleton...."
(April 27, 2011, Los Angeles Times)

"...Moore, who is considered dangerous, was released from federal prison April 13 after serving time for his conviction in the May 2005 robbery of a West Virginia bank, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Federal court records show that Moore pleaded guilty to robbing the bank in Crab Orchard, W.Va., of $2,546.

"A judge sentenced Moore to between 15 and 19 years in prison, but a federal appeals court in 2006 ruled his stiff sentence was 'unreasonable' and Moore's sentence was reduced to seven years...."
(April 25, 2011,

"...Federal law enforcement officials have called the planned mall bombing an act of 'domestic terrorism.'..."
(April 25, 2011, Fox 31 (Denver))

"A busy shopping mall near Columbine High School was evacuated on Wednesday after authorities responding to a small fire at the retail complex found two propane tanks and a pipe bomb, officials said.

"Twelve years to the day after two Columbine High School students shot dead a teacher, 12 students and themselves on April 20, 1999, the devices were discovered at Southwest Plaza Mall, about a mile from Columbine...."
(April 21, 2011, Reuters)

Nobody Got Hurt - This Time

I'm sincerely glad that Earl Albert Moore, who apparently planted that bomb, has been caught. I'm also sincerely glad that nobody got hurt or killed. And I hope - very sincerely - that the American judicial system will decide to restrain Mr. Moore for a very, very long time.

Assuming that he actually did plant the bomb - and DNA evidence points that way (CBS News) - I don't think it's particularly safe to let Mr. Moore run around loose.

So, does this prove that:
  1. Retirement-age men are terrorists?
  2. Shopping malls encourage terrorism?
    • And therefore should be banned?
  3. American judges are nitwits?
No, across the board.

On the other hand, all three points are (slightly) true.

#1 Retirement-age men are terrorists?

No, not all men in their mid-60s are plotting to kill people. On the other hand, it doesn't look like all terrorists are poverty-stricken teenagers and twenty-somethings. Osama bin Laden is a case in point.

#2 Shopping malls encourage terrorism?

In a way, the folks who say that New York City was asking for it, having a World Trade Center, have a point. America is a large, prosperous country: one which folks are trying to break into, not the other way around. That makes the high-profile examples of our economy and society prime targets for folks who can't stand the thought of anybody not in lockstep conformity with some impractical set of preferences.

That doesn't mean that I think America is the cause of all the world's ills. I've gone over this sort of thing before:

#3 American judges are nitwits?

Let's remember that it was an American court that sentenced Mr. Moore to "between 15 and 19 years in prison." And some dude in a federal appeals court who made the April 20, 2011, attempted bombing possible.

Not all American judges are nitwits, in my opinion. But some are: again, in my opinion. I think a more charitable explanation might be that many of America's judges honestly, sincerely, believe in an ideology that looks good on paper - but has very little applicability in the real world. And that's another topic.

I do think it's interesting that Mr. Moore had been out of prison for one week, when he apparently tried to kill people at that Colorado Mall. His release date, as given in the news, was April 13 ,2011. The attempted bombing happened on April 20, 2011.

Terrorism and Having a Mean Streak

I haven't run into speculation about why Mr. Moore may have planted that bomb.

It might, maybe, have been because he rejects the capitalistic warmonger policies of the white male authoritarian power structure in Amerika. I doubt that very much: but it is, based on what little I've read, possible.

Maybe Mr. Moore liked it in prison, and wants to go back. Again, it's possible. Likely? I don't know.

Or maybe Mr. Moore simply doesn't like people who didn't rob banks and get sent to prison. From some points of view, it isn't 'fair' that all those folks in the mall were free when he was in prison.

Or maybe Mr. Moore was bored, and wanted something to do that day. That, I think, is quite unlikely.

What to do With Folks Like Mr. Moore

Quite a few folks say that anybody who robs a bank, or kills someone, or commits a serious crime, should be killed. From an emotional point of view, I think I understand that desire. I also think that 'feeling like killing someone' isn't a good reason for killing someone.

I also think that America is a very wealthy country. Folks who can spend what we do on Super Bowl advertising can afford, I think, to restrain the Mr. Moores among us.

Finally, I - do - not - trust - the American judiciary to make life-and-death decisions. When the United States Supreme Court can raise someone from the dead - maybe I'll change my mind.

I've discussed capital punishment (and thinking with one's endocrine system), mostly in another blog:Somewhat-related posts:
In the news:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.