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If a tree falls - Essay Example

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If a tree falls: A story of the Earth Liberation Front is a documentary that focuses on the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a radical environmental movement which is regarded by the FBI as a domestic terrorist threat. This documentary gives a tale of Daniel McGowan, a member of…
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If a Tree falls If a tree falls: A story of the Earth Liberation Front is a documentary that focuses on the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a radical environmental movement which is regarded by the FBI as a domestic terrorist threat. This documentary gives a tale of Daniel McGowan, a member of the ELF who has been imprisoned due to arsons directed at timber companies at Oregon during his years of radical environmentalism. According to the federal government, these activities by McGowan were a form of ‘terrorism’, hence he deserves harsher penalties. Therefore, the producer of the documentary, Marshall Curry, has used McGowan’s plight to explain about activism, terrorism and environmentalism. From his portrayal of McGowan, the producer seems sympathetic of the plight of this radical activist and the ELF as a whole, albeit from a neutral perspective.
The producer has used McGowan’s case to represent plight of the ELF and has also examined the origin of radical environmentalism and has highlighted the destruction that was brought by the Earth Liberation Front in the 1990’s. He has also discussed the issue of terrorism as explained by the government, and in the process he has presented a character, McGowan who does not meet the criteria of being a terrorist in the post 9/11 era. The documentary aims to establish whether crimes directed towards property, and no person is injured constitute terrorism. Through the documentary, we learn that the ELF, which is a conglomeration of radical environmental organizations/groups, opted for civil disobedience and annihilation of environmental abuse symbols when it was unable to accomplish its objectives (Miller & Vandone 67). Therefore the producer of the documentary seeks to establish whether these heinous acts, in the name of radical environmentalism, were terrorist acts. As the documentary progresses, we feel that Curry is sympathetic about the manner in which radical environmentalists are regarded as terrorists. He gives one example in Oregon when protesters were dispersed by police by tear gas canisters. From this, the audience pities these radical environmentalists who were manhandled by police officers. Therefore, it would seem that the producer used this scenario to depict his sympathy towards radical environmentalists like McGowan.
The producer has used McGowan effectively to post the questions that he had in mind. Through McGowan, we sympathize with a former member of the ELF who has been sentenced to life imprisonment due to charges of ‘terrorism’’. McGowan had already left the ELF when he was arrested during the December of 2005 (Rosebraugh 2011). He is sentenced to seven years imprisonment at the Marion penitentiary. The sentence also included a ‘’terrorist enhancement’’ provision that gives the judge freedom to be harsher in judgment in case the crime fits into the’’ terrorism’’ concept. The documentary has weighed both sides of the issue by examining crimes done by McGowan and also determining whether his actions qualify to be regarded as terrorist events. The documentary seems to be sympathetic to McGowan, albeit in a cautious manner.
Even though the documentary is in the form of a personal story, it can be regarded as a comprehensive work concerning the ELF. Curry has used McGowan to act as a representative sample of the plight of the ELF. By focusing on him entirely, the producer has ensured that the viewer has gathered enough information that would enable them to sympathize with the plight of ELF members in the wake of the terrorism tag by the federal government. The way the documentary has told about McGowan gives noteworthy information on activities of the ELF. We are told how McGowan worked briefly for a PR company after school and then moving to Oregon where he started getting actively involved in environmental issues. The documentary explains about his radical activities, for example, burning of a timber plant in his early years at Oregon. Therefore, the documentary by Curry lambastes the terrorism norm that the federal government upholds towards radical environmentalists like McGowan.
Works Cited
Frederic P Miller, Agnes F Vandome, John McBrewster. Earth Liberation Front. New York:
Alphascript Publishing, 2011. Print
Llc, Books. Earth Liberation Front: Green Anarchism, Earth Liberation Front, Timeline of
Animal Liberation Front Actions, 2005-present. New York: General books Llc, 2009.
Rosebraugh, Craig. Burning rage of a dying planet: speaking for the Earth Liberation Front.
California: Lantern Books, 2011. Read More
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