Girls just wanna make bombs

How's this for empowerment? Women are making big advances in ... eco-terrorism.

Published October 5, 2006 11:50PM (EDT)

Perhaps in faraway lands institutionalized chauvinism keeps women from pursuing their chosen high-caliber professions, but here in America, terrorism seems to be an equal opportunity employer. In fact, for women in the ranks of the eco-terrorist organization Earth Liberation Front, the glass ceiling seems to have been blown sky high.

After the Seattle Times reported that two women had pleaded guilty to the 2001 firebombing of the University of Washington's horticulture center, I couldn't help noting how many eco-terrorists -- or at least people indicted as such -- are women. And not any kind of women, but just the kind our culture rarely associates with violence, radicalism or even voting.

In general these ladies fit squarely into the demographic that pollsters tend to wring their hands over -- how can we get these women to stop watching "Sex and the City" and get to the polls? They are young, college educated and white -- they're not supposed to be riled up enough to cause a ruckus.

According to the Seattle Times, self-declared arsonist Lacey Phillabaum, 31, was a champion high school debater who majored in art history at the University of Oregon. Her co-conspirator Jennifer Kolar, 33, received her master's degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Briana Waters, a third woman charged in the attack who has pleaded innocent and awaits a trial in May 2007, is a 30-year-old mother and violin teacher living in Berkeley, Calif.

But there's more! Earlier this year CBS reported on the FBI's foiling a plot to blow up cell towers and power plants by arresting three suspects, among them 20-year-old Lauren Weiner of Philadelphia. Chelsea Gerlach, 29, was arraigned last Wednesday in a federal court in Eugene for eight counts of arson associated with fires at a Vail, Colo., ski resort in 1998. She had already pleaded guilty to 18 counts of eco-sabotage in July and awaits sentencing.

Out of the 18 named as connected to what federal investigators have characterized as a massive conspiracy of numerous acts of eco-terrorism in the West and Northwest, nine are women.

Unfortunately, there's no positive spin on this bit of bogus liberation. Sometimes freedom means the freedom to act like a complete idiot and think you're saving the world. The firebombing that caused an estimated $7 million in damage at the University of Washington (like so many other ELF actions) was not only dangerous and destructive but inane. It not only destroyed genetically engineered poplar trees but a wetlands research project as well as several endangered plants.

Can you spell eco-stupidity?

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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