Rod Coronado Charged with Illegal Speech

Eco-activist Rod Coronado was indicted by a federal grand jury and arrested February 23 on charges of “teaching and demonstrating the making of a destructive device.” He is been accused of explaining, at a public speaking engagement in response to a question, how to build a destructive device, with the alleged intent on his part to impart such technology to those who would use it rashly. The root of this expectation is Rod’s activist history. He has consistently taken the path most likely to result in the survival of the greatest number of people, animals, and ecosystems.

The charges are frivolous. Not only is there no clear intention of contributing to direct action by allegedly being open with such information, but anyone who wants to build a destructive object can easily Google the knowledge, and wouldn’t be foolish enough to raise their hand and ask someone at an obviously surveilled event.

Rod was a Sea Shepherd guy for a while, and then he got busted in the 90s for actions against animal facilities, and did about five years. Because he was an unrepentant advocate for all-out resistance to animal/ecological abuse, everything he did was taken as a serious threat. When he recently put his body on the line against a state-sponsored mountain lion hunt (see last issue), the system came down harshly, hoping he’ll do a couple years just for that.

The latest charge of answering an audience question is part of Operation Backfire, a woodsy sounding Federal program to arrest and prosecute any activity possible that was undertaken to protect animals or for ecological reasons. This is the same operation targeting alleged ELF arsonists in Oregon and producing the conspiracy charges in Auburn, Calif.

This case is a landmark in the prosecution not only of illegal actions but the activism that inspired and explained these actions. Combined with the Auburn case, in which the defendants are accused only of discussing actions that never occurred, there is a new climate where even thinking about property damage to preserve living creatures is dangerous. While the system gives lip service to ideas that were once radical such as racial equality and feminism, this society is still very threatened by biocentrism, the idea that humans are part of a web of life and are not the whole point of everything, and will do anything to protect those who make billions from abusing animals and nature.

Additionally, many analysts see the entire crackdown against ecological activists as the inevitable progression of a police state, as mere property damage is considered the equivalent of foreign guerrilla attacks that kill scores or thousands. The limits on speech and freedom originally applied to Muslims will eventually be applied to everyone vulnerable or controversial.