Domestic Violence: Victims or Liars?

By Christina Ramsay

Did the media explicitly or implicitly encourage scepticism for Amber Heard, following her accusation of domestic violence against Johnny Depp?

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In May 2016, Amber Heard filed for divorce against well known “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor Johnny Depp. A few days later, Heard alleged that she had suffered repeated physical and verbal abuse from Depp throughout the course of their relationship.

In Australia, one in six women and one in 20 men have experienced at least one incidence of violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15 (ABC Fact Check 2016). Given these statistics, you would hope Heard’s allegations would be taken seriously. You would hope Heard would be flooded by messages of support from women around the world. You would expect that the media would also show their support for Heard.

However, this was not the case. Instead many labelled Heard as a lying gold digger, seeking to increase her fame and fortune by public shaming beloved actor Johnny Depp. In an article for Mamamia in early June, Katy Hall succinctly summarised the disheartening message sent to Heard by thousands of people across the world: “Your word isn’t true, your proof isn’t enough, we’d rather not know about it, we don’t believe you.”

In this article, I wish to reveal the significance of the media in informing public opinion on this issue, and on the topic of domestic violence more broadly. To assess this impact, I will examine articles from around the world published in the months following the announcement of Depp and Heard’s divorce.

The first article was published in early August by WHO Australia, entitled, “Johnny Depp “Stressed About Amber Heard Divorce”. Interestingly, the title of this article focuses on Depp rather than Heard. In hundreds of articles, Heard is often portrayed as the active agent, almost invariably framing her in a negative light.

For example:

“Amber Heard Resumes Public Battle with Johnny Depp Over Divorce Settlement” (Vanity Fair – August 2016)

“Amber Heard denies she’s blackmailing Johnny Depp” (CNN – May 2016)

“Amber Heard wants a bigger divorce payout from Johnny Depp – as she’s donating it to charity” (OK! – August 2016)

In the WHO article, there is a notable imbalance between quoted material that supports Depp and quotes that favour Heard. An “insider” is quoted repeatedly throughout the article, saying Depp is “stressed about all the Amber drama” and “spending time with his kids is his focus.”

These quotes are an appeal to emotion, creating sympathy for Depp and portraying him as a caring father. However, the quotes come from an anonymous and thus somewhat unreliable source, therefore are unlikely to change the opinion of those who support Heard. Instead, I believe this article is likely intended for an audience predisposed to favouring Depp.

However, author Dave Quinn quotes another important source:

 “In a response to Heard’s claim, Depp’s divorce attorney, Laura Wasser, said in court documents that “Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”

This is a more reputable source, and thus could implicitly incite scepticism for Heard’s allegations. Obviously, Wasser has motive to support her client, however, for readers that are undecided on the issue, this source could create doubt.

Moreover, an important distinction arises between the quoting of Depp’s sources and quoting Heard. Whilst Quinn uses the neutral verb “says” or “said” to cite sources in favour of Depp, he writes, “the actress claimed the actor was abusive to her throughout the “entirety” of their relationship.”

As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, “claimed” means to “state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.” Therefore this distinct difference in word choice suggests to an audience that Depp’s sources are reliable, whereas there could be doubt surrounding what Heard has “claimed”.

Additionally, Quinn reports that Depp recently held a memorial for his deceased mother, perhaps to again appeal to the reader’s emotional response and motivate sympathy for him.

On the other hand, Quinn reports that Heard was spotted with “tech guru Elon Musk”, sparking “rumours of possible relationship”. This purposeful contrast between the activities of Heard and Depp could be used as flag-waving exercise for readers who are against Heard readers. However, it would not likely convince neutral readers that she is in the wrong or lying about the allegations.

Another article from French newspaper, Le Figaro, took a different approach to reporting the divorce in the article, “Amber Heard-Johnny Depp : les dessous d’un divorce houleux”, (Amber Heard- Johnny Depp: behind the heated divorce) published on August 19th 2016.

Despite being a hard-news style publication, the tone of the article is quickly established as gossip when author Lena Lutad writes, “La sulfreuse Amber Heard n’a décidément pas fini de faire parler d’elle” (The scandalous Amber Heard has not yet finished getting herself talked about).

By describing the actress as “scandalous”, Lutad implies that she is the one causing public outrage, rather than the situation itself. Thus the implication is that Heard’s intention is to be the subject of discussion, and that her actions are encouraging scrutiny of her personal life.

The article uses subtitles in an attempt to build a rational case against Heard and encourage scepticism in readers.

“Amber Heard tient à son image” (Amber Heard holds onto her image)

“Soupçons, mensonges et visage dissimulé” (Suspicions, lies and a hidden face)

“Montage particulièrement grossier” (Particularly clumsy montage)

The article evaluates a series of “facts”, such as Heard’s donation of the divorce settlement to charity as “la preuve” (the proof) that she is attempting to save her public image because her career is on the rocks.

Given no external sources are supplied as supporting justification for these claims, this evaluation is an informal fallacy as there is insufficient evidence to prove that Heard’s sole motivation for donating her settlement was to save her reputation.

However, Lutad appeals to the authority of TMZ, a celebrity news website, to raise suspicion about the timing of Heard’s allegations.

“TMZ s’étonne aussi du timing: Amber Heard est partie en guerre 48 heures après le décès de la mere de Johnny Depp.”

(TMZ was also shocked by the timing: Amber Heard started a war 48 hours after the death of Johnny Depp’s mother.)

The phrase “started a war” is highly evocative, suggesting that Heard has been aggressive in the divorce battle. It is particularly ironic that Lutad alludes to violent behaviour by Heard given the allegations of domestic violence.

Nevertheless, this appeal to authority assumes an audience who will be sympathetic towards Depp and are willing to believe the reports of a gossip website. Like the WHO article, Lutad uses the death of Depp’s mother to stir sympathy in the reader and portray Depp as the victim.

Ultimately, the piece is highly evaluative, explicitly stating that Heard had, “sa stratégie de dénigrement” (a strategy of denigration) which promotes a negative view of Heard and encourages sympathy for Depp. Similarly, Lutad explicitly raises doubts about Heard’s story and the authenticity of images surfaced in the media that show Heard’s bruised face. However, little to no justification is given to support Lutad’s claims. This lack of serious attempt to persuade the reader that Heard is lying, suggests that Lutad believes the audience will already be sceptical of the allegations and pre-disposed to favour Depp.

Finally, I will look at an article from Morning News USA published on October 13th 2016, entitled, “Johnny Depp Ex-Wife Amber Heard Confirmed Gold digger: ‘Justice League’ Movie Suffers?”.

Heard’s key descriptor in this article is not actress, but “Johnny Depp’s ex-wife”, suggesting that readers will best know the actress for her romantic relationship rather than her career. This could indicate the publication is writing for an audience who have an indifferent or unfavourable attitude towards Heard, believing her to be talentless or un-noteworthy.

The article immediately takes its position as an evaluative news piece from the title, labelling Heard as a “gold digger”. Whilst there is no Oxford definition for this term, the top definition as stated by Urban Dictionary is, “Someone who seeks romantic involvement with a wealthy individual with the goal of obtaining wealth from the relationship.”

Given Depp paid $7 million dollars to Heard in the divorce settlement, it could be argued that Heard fits this definition. However, this sum was donated to charities of Heard’s choice, rather than kept for the actresses’ personal use; thus, a case could be made to refute claims that she is a “gold digger”.

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The photo used in this article is also telling; whilst the article is reporting the release of new photos for Heard’s upcoming movie “Justice League”, the publication chooses a hyper-sexualised photo of Heard lying seductively on a couch. Rather than portraying Heard as a victim of abuse, or even as an actress in her new film, this image implicitly suggests that Heard continues to live a life of opulence given she is casually lounging, dressed in expensive clothing and jewellery.

Throughout the article, author Pritha Paul uses evaluative language in describing Heard’s actions such as, “demanded” and “played the victim”. This language encourages a reader to take a negative view of Heard’s actions and implicitly suggests that Heard’s claims were false. Emphasis is also placed largely on Heard as the active agent throughout most of the article, perhaps implying to a reader that Depp is the victim of her actions.

Interestingly, Depp becomes the active agent when he is doing a good deed.

“An amicable settlement was finally reached when Depp agreed to pay the aforementioned money in instalments to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union.”

This imbalance between Heard as the active agent acting upon Depp implicitly encourages a reader to view Depp more favourably than Heard.

Ultimately, this tabloid style article takes an explicitly negative view of Heard

“Some people are of the opinion that the actress is talentless and the only way she managed to bag a role in such a big production was by creating media frenzy around her earlier this year when she accused Johnny Depp of domestic abuse.”

Whilst this statement implies this is the opinion of an external source, no sources are quoted thus I would argue that instead this evaluative opinion is a reflection of the author’s own views.

In fact, only one source is quoted in the entirety of the article and this source is an anonymous user on a comment thread from an article posted by Celebrity Dirty Laundry. As with Le Figaro article, this piece fails to engage in a persuasive discussion of the facts of the situation or justify the opinions provided with any support.

This highly evaluative stance against Heard is possibly a result of Depp’s huge popularity and success as a Hollywood actor. For this reason, author Paul assumes readers will be in support of Depp and will look less favourably upon Heard’s actions.

Comparatively to this evaluative tabloid approach, many other news outlets favour quotes sourced from psychologists and domestic violence victims. For example, popular news site News.com.au published an article in early June, “Domestic violence experts explain how the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard saga could affect victims”, in which they sourced much of their information from Rachel Kayrooz.

Kayrooz, a victim of domestic violence, founded Shout! Speak Out in 2006, a non-profit organisation for women and child survivors of domestic violence.

Kayrooz said: “The media’s approach to domestic violence can ultimately save a life or destroy it.”

Several other publications take a similar stance on the importance of reporting on incidents of domestic violence in a serious and considered manner:

“The Disturbing Reaction to Amber Heard’s Domestic Violence Allegations Against Johnny Depp: Why It Matters” (E! News – June 2016)

“Amber Heard was courageous to speak out about abuse. We’ve failed her.” (Mamamia – June 2016)

It is evident that the divorce of this high-profile couple has sparked controversy worldwide, and the reactions are extremely varied. Upon beginning this article, I expected to conclude that the approach taken to reporting this issue by hard-news publications, as opposed to tabloid style articles would be vastly different. I expected that tabloid journalism would show their support for Depp, an extremely successful and beloved Hollywood actor. I expected that the hard news publications would present the facts of the situation, and any perceived scepticism for Heard’s story would be implicit.

Yet upon further analysis, it became clear that style was not the differentiating factor.

The article from WHO demonstrated that tabloid news in Australia may have implicitly encouraged scepticism for Heard; however, this scepticism was generated by shifting support to Depp, rather than by explicitly attacking Heard.

On the other hand, the approach taken by both tabloid and hard-news outlets in the USA and France was to explicitly provide evaluative judgements on the situation, often in favour of Depp and accusing Heard of making false allegations.

This significant difference in approach perhaps reflects a difference in worldview between Australia and the rest of the world. As of June 1st, domestic violence killed 31 women in Australia in 2016. In an average day, police across Australia will deal with an average of 657 cases of domestic violence. Due to these alarming statistics, earlier this year the federal government announced a 3-year plan for tackling domestic violence. In our country, it has become impossible to ignore domestic violence.

This is not to suggest that the predominant worldview in France or the USA is to doubt victims of domestic abuse. Many people in these countries, journalists, bloggers, and anonymous commenters alike spoke out in support of Heard.

What I am suggesting is that in Australia, it has become unacceptable to not take domestic violence seriously. In Australia, the dialogue surrounding this issue has shifted to the point where negative commentators are almost completely outlawed.

Eco-terrorism: Radical environmentalism or criminalising dissent?

By Clara Von Dinklage

The issue of eco-terrorism has been a source of mass debate amongst corporations, governments, political and environmental groups, and other civil actors. However it seems that a lot of conflict in discourse surrounding the interaction between environmentalism and terrorism has been because there are numerous inconsistencies about what actually constitutes eco-terrorism. Media coverage on the topic has reflected these discrepancies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines eco-terrorism as the infliction of violence against innocent people or the destruction of property by a group with an environmentally-oriented agenda, and this is the definition that has been regarded as the most ‘official’.

One of the major proponents of such actions is the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), an environmental group who were listed as one of the major domestic terror threats in the United States in 2001 by the FBI.

Not all journalists abide by the FBI’s definition of eco-terrorism, and some reject the term altogether. Because the pieces analysed in this article come from a wide range of media platforms, have varying contexts and talk about eco-terrorism in relation to different events, there are bound to be some irregularities between them. Nevertheless, an analysis of different types of media coverage will enable us to unpack the concept of eco-terrorism and those called eco-terrorists and the different ways in which the term and the individuals are characterised.

Let’s take a look at George Monbiot’s 2011 article ‘Eco-terrorism: the non-existent threat we spend millions policing’, published by The Guardian. Monbiot’s central argument that eco-terrorism does not exist in the UK and that the government should not be spending its resources policing it, posits intelligence agencies as misguided entities that are mindlessly chasing non-threatening groups and individuals.

Monbiot does this by using a personal anecdote, stating that he scoured as much literature as he could, yet “couldn’t find a single proven instance of a planned attempt in the UK to harm people in the cause of defending the environment”. He further describes “a shadowy body” that “spends most of its £5 million budget on countering a non-existent threat that officers call eco-terrorism.

Monbiot criticises the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), the “shadowy body” previously mentioned, and its employment of Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer “who was embedded and bedded for seven years among peaceful green activists”. The depiction of environmentally motivated individuals as non-violent undermines NPOIU’s reasoning for monitoring such individuals, and is also contradictory to the FBI definition of eco-terrorists as those who cause destruction and inflict violence. The author also states “Kennedy claims that it has supervised 15 other undercover agents on the same mission. But what is the mission? Sorry, can’t tell you”. The journalist is here indicating that the NPOIU is secretive because it doesn’t have a legitimate agenda, and their plain of trying to blame innocent environmentalists for crimes they have not committed is futile.

On the whole project, Monbiot asserts that “It looks to me like a state-sanctioned private militia, fighting public protest on behalf of corporations”. He shifts blame from those he thinks are falsely labelled eco-terrorists to private corporations who are “using police budgets to try to change the political character of the nation”.

The author argues that the NPOIU’s classification of eco-terrorism is misconstrued, because “people who have attended a protest or a public meeting” are placed on a list of extremists to monitor.

There is no obvious connection between the kind of people in these files and criminality: they’re distinguished only by the fact that they have taken an interest in politics. You might expect that this would mark them out as good citizens. But this policing appears to have nothing to do with the public good.”

The people challenging corporate power are often defamed as destructive anarchists. Yte they are seeking to defend the fabric of our lives from the anarchic destruction of market fundamentalism.

Consider these two quotes. Eco-terrorists are often associated with the green anarchy movement, and are often painted as in extreme opposition to the forces of globalisation and modernity and will do anything to halt such growth, however the author is arguing that these environmentalists have a different mindset, yet because of their environmentally charged aims, they are being targeted nonetheless. Monbiot takes great issue with the idea that anyone who is politically motivated and may perhaps protest certain actions by the state and the private sector is immediately deemed as a threat to society. To take it to the extreme of labelling certain people ‘terrorists’ is against the role of the government, which is to act in the nation’s best interests.

In condemning the persecution of “peaceful citizens who are trying to protect the places and values they cherish from destructive companies”, Monbiot makes an emotive appeal with words like “peaceful”, “protect”, “values” and “cherish” for his audience to understand that environmentalists have society’s best interests in mind, and are not the destructive and reckless individuals that public agencies characterise them as.

In comparison, Judith Sloan criticises certain actions of environmentalists who fail to gain political traction in her 2014 article, ‘Stop giving the eco terrorists free range to bully’. Published in The Australian, the article criticises the “sorts of thinking once reserved for PR companies, advertising agencies, political lobbyists and terrorist groups” that environmental groups employ to achieve their goals. The article only really mentions the PR and advertising campaigns utilised by environmental groups, rendering it difficult for those in opposition to her views to understand how the green movement is employing terrorist tactics.

Sloan describes the the above Greenpeace advertisement against Nestlé’s use of palm oil as a “complete stunt”. She claims that the ad fails to mention that palm oil plantations “are not located in the habitat of the gorillas or that palm oil farming has lifted thousands of Malaysian farmers out of poverty… Misinformation and outright lies are just part of the toolkit used by these groups.” The fact that the advertisement is referring to orang-utans, not gorillas, that reside in Malaysian rainforests aside, Sloan cites outright lies as being conveyed to the public by environmental groups, however doesn’t explain what those lies are. Still, Greenpeace is characterised as untruthful, and not to be trusted.

Of course, the worst part of this example is that Nestlé caved into the extortion, leaving them wide open to even more campaigns by these environmental groups”. Nestlé is characterised as a corporation that has facilitated extortion by the hands of environmentalists because they are “fearful of consumer backlash.”

They will bully and cajole; they will blackmail and extort; they will collect excessive fees from contrived certification schemes; they will form faux alliances with farmers to prevent fracking and mining; and they will behave illegally but claim worthy aims”.

The repetition of “they” creates an us versus them mentality, creating the sense that these environmental groups are barely on the fringes of society, and everything they do goes against societal norms.

Governments must counteract the scheming of green groups by releasing accurate information, standing up for the rights of citizens and organisations to go about their legitimate activities and clamping down on the unscrupulous and illegal behaviour of environmental organisations”.

Again, casting environmental groups as “scheming” criminals further entrenches their ‘outsider’ status. From the article, however, we can gather that what the author considers eco-terrorism differs greatly from the other articles. The author assumes her audience has a negative opinion of the term ‘eco-terrorist’ and uses the term to create a sense of fear when discussing environmental campaigns that may not necessarily fit the FBI’s definition of eco-terrorism.

Michael Kavanagh’s 2005 article, ‘Conflating environmentalists and terrorists is all the rage’ published by Grist criticises the loose use of the term ‘eco-terrorist’, which Kavanagh explains causes society to define environmentalism by terrorism, and prohibits us from understanding the real nature of the separate terms.

Kavanagh is writing in response to a popular conservative radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh, who previously said “What liberals and their allies in the environmentalist wacko movement fail to understand is…”. Kavanagh states, “In his world… you can’t be an environmentalist and escape wacko-ism”. The author counters claims that all environmentally motivated individuals and groups are radical by nature, and spends the entirety of the article attempting to separate extremism and the green movement.

Kavanagh states that ELF and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), both groups known for their extremism, have been denounced by “every major environmental group”, however are still being positioned as representatives of all environmental groups.

Yes, some expensive and illegal acts are committed in the name of the environment; and yes, the framework of terrorism is an easy and useful one for the FBI and the DHS to use when handling those incidents. (By calling ecological sabotage “terrorism” as opposed to arson or vandalism, federal officials are given slightly greater powers in investigating and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

The author isn’t trying to prove that eco-terrorism doesn’t exist, he states that it is a real threat and the FBI have reasonable grounds for the usage of the term ‘terrorism’. In addressing this, he appeals to those with opposing views to his, by using factual argumentation to convince readers to not view eco-terrorism as a black and white issue. He wants them to understand the difference between eco-terrorists, and those who pursue environmental interests using peaceful and democratic means. Discourse surrounding the issue is just as important as the issue itself.

For example, he uses a 2003 case where Greenpeace activists boarded a ship from Brazil to the U.S. carrying illegal mahogany in an attempt to stop the trade deal, and uses a quote from Greenpeace’s executive director John Passacantando, who says “Even with Greenpeace, a group that’s been doing nonviolent action for 30 years, they tried to make us look like terrorists”.

In part, that’s because people like Rush Limbaugh and John Stokes have been effective at reducing the image of the environmental movement to a group of little green Hitler elves, running around blowing things up”.

Like Monbiot’s article, Kavanagh discredits the reckless characterisation of environmentalists by conservative commentators. In distinguishing between the small minority of reckless terrorists and the majority of peaceful environmental activists, the author urges readers to think carefully about what is called eco-terrorism, and whether it deserves the label.

Let’s consider Seton Motley’s 2016 article, ‘We Don’t Negotiate With (Eco-) Terrorists’, that was published on RedState.com, which, as the name indicates, is a conservative, Republican-leaning U.S. blog and news outlet.

Motley’s claim, explicitly stated in the article’s title, is that the government and society should not be accommodating to the wishes of eco-terrorists.

His first justification comes before his central argument, as he asserts that terrorist negotiations regarding traditional security threats have not worked in the past, therefore they will not work when it comes to eco-terrorism. Utilising facts, he outlines the failures of terrorist negotiations in the past, such as Obama sending “terrorist Iran” $400 million in exchange for the release of four American hostages, and the subsequent capture of more hostages by Iran after the deal, as well as the advancement of Iran’s nuclear arsenal. Motley implies that all of these are because the government has been too lenient on terrorists, and has been affording them whatever they want.

The author uses a contemporary case to further his claim: The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which has been criticised because of the destruction of cultural artefacts and the possible crude oil contamination of the Missouri River.

Motley positions those who oppose the DAPL as “anti-capitalist environmentalist radicals”, assuming all those who protest the pipeline are extremists resorting to non-peaceful action, as well as assuming all those in attendance are anti-capitalist.

Enter the environmentalist radicals… as if environmentalist radicals wasn’t bad enough – EarthJustice consists largely of trial lawyer environmentalist radicals. Terrorists with Doctorates of Jurisprudence.”

The author undermines the legitimacy of EarthJustice, one of the main groups advocating for the halting of construction, but chooses to do so by attacking the individuals within the group, particularly taking aim at the lawyers whose education he states is worthless because their cause is worthless.

Going full circle in his article, Motley explains to his readers the reference to Iran negotiations in the latter half, stating that “EarthJustice and the Tribe are attempting to take the DAPL hostage… by physically blocking it”. His analogy between more traditional terrorist tactics and the non-physical hostage situation of protesters blocking roads to the DAPL elevates the severity the actions of environmental activists on the frontlines. He asserts that although there isn’t any violence occurring, the consequences of the pipeline protests make these groups deserving of the title ‘eco-terrorists’.

 

Motley doesn’t clearly define what he considers eco-terrorism, nor does he abide by conventional definitions of the term. Although he calls individuals on the DAPL frontlines terrorists, he doesn’t give clear reasoning as to why he thinks this is the case. His article does what Kavanagh’s article explicitly avoids – labelling all protesters as radicals.

Let’s consider a 2008 news journalism piece by Andrea Stone, titled ‘Eco-terror suspected in Seattle blazes’ and published by USA Today.

The article covers an investigation into a fire destroying three luxury show homes “that may have been torched by eco-terrorists who mocked developer claims that the houses were environmentally “built green””. The more violent language of “torched” depicts the arsonists as senseless criminals, whilst a mean demeanour is created by the verb “mocked”.

The article states that ELF activists, the suspects, “have targeted companies and organisations it considers unfriendly to the environment. They work in autonomous cells without central leadership, Gutt said.” By incorporating this quote into the article, the journalist is implying that the environmental group doesn’t have formal meetings, and thus its actions are unwarranted because they can be carried out at the whim of any individual claiming to be flying under their flag. The name ELF is therefore just a front for misguided people to further their environmental agenda by criminal means.

Gutt says a January 2006 arson of a new home on Camano Island, Wash., is still being investigated for links to the shadowy radicals”.

Shadowy” is a rather informal word to be used in a news piece, however it serves to create a sense of secrecy, and thus, illegality.

Stone also provides an extensive list of ELF’s past actions, therefore framing them as the probable suspects in this case. “Among ELF’s targets: SUVs, logging trucks, ranger stations and a ski resort in Vail, Colo., that burned in 1998, causing $12 million in damage”. Making readers understand the organisation’s long history of terrorist activity, they’re positioned to be against the group and its activities.

Although the news article doesn’t explicitly present a perspective on the event, the selection of quotes and information provided about ELF is indicative of their criminal activity.

“”I’m shocked and saddened,” said Lundber, who expects the loss to be covered by insurance. “There are builders out there whose livelihoods have been seriously damaged.”

The builders are portrayed as innocent victims in this article, contrary to other articles which cast environmental activists as victims, however in this case, there is significantly more justification to apply the word ‘eco-terrorist’ to the arsonists involved. The quote paints eco-terrorists as destructive, and oblivious to the full extent of the consequences of their actions.

The last piece, a 2011 broadcast by RT News presented by Alyona Minkovski, ‘Earth Day: ‘Eco-Terrorists’ Crackdown’, casts politicians, of whom the presenter states are mostly climate deniers, in a negative light. Minkovski states that these people are not doing their job as they are “easily bought off by oil and gas companies”.

The broadcast begins with the presenter stating that Earth Day is a day to realise that “hey, we should try a little bit harder not to screw it up for ourselves, for future generations, for all of humanity”. The sarcasm in her tone is balanced with the gravity of the latter part of the phrase, in which Minkovski implies that protecting the earth is a collective responsibility, and an issue which we have to hold ourselves accountable to.

The presenter has covered the topic of eco-terrorism numerous times, calling it in another broadcast “the new Boogeyman”, that is, a myth created by lawmakers to scare their constituents into good behaviour.

Most of the broadcast is an interview between Minkovski and Will Potter, an environmentalist and one of the most prominent critics of the concept of eco-terrorism.

Potter discredits the term, stating it was created by special interest groups who deliberately used the term in the press and in Congress, “making the threat more real and less of a PR campaign”. Potter addresses the rhetoric surrounding eco-terror discourse, further highlighting how indistinguishable “corporate rhetoric” and “official government policy” has become.

Potter recalls his time handing out leaflets against animal testing, before being arrested for disorderly conduct and being told by the FBI that unless he becomes an informant to investigate other activists, he would be placed on the domestic terror list. The anecdote serves as a real-life case displaying the absurd allegations against certain environmental activists.

These corporate interests view these groups as a threat, they’re effective, they’re growing, they’re part of a movement that’s demanding real change and that’s becoming more and more powerful and that’s why they’re demonised.” Alleviating the blame from environmentalists, whom he believes are targeted because of their opposition to many corporate projects, helps us as readers understand the complexity of the term ‘eco-terrorism’, and attempts to dissuade us from automatically assuming the worst of those branded eco-terrorists.

Eco-terrorism can be viewed in countless ways. From the texts presented, it can be said that all the articles assume readers have a negative disposition of the label ‘eco-terrorism’, however they have considerably different ideas as to what eco-terrorism actually is. Discourse surrounding the interrelation between environmentalism and terrorism is important because these varying definitions have hindered productive debate. All the authors agree that violence enacted in the name of environmentalism is wrong, yet there still seems to be tensions surrounding other acts carried out by the green movement. Whether or not you think environmentalism is turning a darker shade of green, is up to you.

 

References

Greenpeace UK. 2010, ‘Have a Break?’, Greenpeace UK, 17 March, accessed 22 October, available at:<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaJjPRwExO8>

Jarboe, J. 2002, ‘Before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health’, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, 12 February, accessed 22 October 2016, available at:<https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/testimony/the-threat-of-eco-terrorism>

Kavanagh, M. 2005, ‘Conflating environmentalists and terrorists is all the rage’, Grist.org, accessed 22 October, available at: <http://grist.org/article/kavanagh/>

Monbiot, G. 2011, ‘Eco-terrorism: the non-existent threat we spend millions policing’, The Guardian, 18 January, accessed 23 October 2016, available at:<https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jan/17/eco-terrorism-policing-environmental-activists>

Motley, S. 2016, ‘We Don’t Negotiate With (Eco-) Terrorists’, RedState, 30 August, accessed 20 October, available at:<http://www.redstate.com/setonmotley/2016/08/30/don%E2%80%99t-negotiate-eco-terrorists/>

RT News. 2011, ‘Earth Day: ‘Eco-Terrorists’ Crackdown’, RT News, 22 April, accessed 19 October 2016, available at:<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upUTf5HMKLU>

Sloan, J. 2014, ‘Stop giving eco terrorists free range to bully’, The Australian, 1 April, accessed 21 October, available at:<http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/stop-giving-the-eco-terrorists-free-range-to-bully/story-fnbkvnk7-1226870157369>

Stone, A. 2008, ‘Eco-terror suspected in Seattle blazes’, USA Today, 3 March, accessed 19 October 2016, available at: <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-03-seattle-fires_N.htm>

Yan, A. 2016, ‘Dakota Access Pipeline: What’s at stake?’, CNN, 28 October, accessed 29 October 2016, available at:<http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/07/us/dakota-access-pipeline-visual-guide/>

 

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