FeatherPenClipArtWar is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Most people have heard of Greenpeace. This is a private (as opposed to public) organization that was started by Canadians in 1971 and is now based in Amsterdam. It focuses on environmental issues like climate change, overfishing, whaling, deforestation, genetic engineering and nuclear pollution. It’s known for a sort of in-your-face activism, and works through lobbying, research and direct action. A number of incidents have led to legal charges and worldwide controversy.

However, some people think the organization doesn’t go far enough to stop commercial and environmental damage. For example, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is an eco-terrorist organization with something of the same goals as Greenpeace. It was formed in Brighton UK in 1992 and quickly spread to Europe. It works through leaderless activism, the same model ISIS is now implementing for jihad, and aims to take the profit out of commercial activity through sabotage and property destruction. This means the group aims their terrorist activities at logging companies, genetic engineering companies, construction companies, fisheries, etc.

The two organizations have similar goals, but clearly they have different philosophies in how to reach them. Greenpeace makes fairly bold statements through its direct actions but generally stays on the good side of the law. The ELF is considered a terrorist organization. A number of its members, plus those of similar eco-terrorist groups, are now serving prison terms for their slash-and-burn tactics.

And now to the topic I’ve suggested with my title: We have the idea that activism for a good cause is a good thing. When does it cross over the line into terrorism?