Christian Terror: A-OK!

Homegrown Christian terrorist Eric Rudolph is continuing to make terroristic threats against his victims from Supermax prison and pass messages on to a known terrorist group.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) — Victims of Eric Rudolph, the anti-abortion extremist who pulled off a series of bombings across the South, say he is taunting them from deep within the nation’s most secure federal prison, and authorities say there is little they can do to stop him.

Rudolph, who was captured after a five-year manhunt and pleaded guilty in deadly bombings at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and a Birmingham abortion clinic, is serving life in prison at the “Supermax” penitentiary in Florence, Colorado.

Housed in the most secure part of the prison, he has no computer and little contact with the outside world aside from writing letters.

But Rudolph’s long essays have been posted on the Internet by a supporter who maintains an Army of God Web site. The Army of God is the same loose-knit group that Rudolph claimed to represent in letters sent after the blasts.

In one piece, Rudolph seeks to justify violence against abortion clinics by arguing that Jesus would condone “militant action in defense of the innocent.”

In another essay about his sentencing, Rudolph mocks former abortion clinic nurse Emily Lyons, who was nearly killed in the 1998 bombing in Birmingham, and her husband, Jeff. He uses pseudonyms rather than naming the couple, but there is no doubt he is describing them.

Jeff Lyons is worried, with good reason, that these messages are an incitement to violence — whether against the Lyonses themselves or against abortion clinics, it’s hard to say. Diane Derzis, who owns the Birmingham clinic, finds the threat serious. Clearly, Rudolph is being allowed to incite terror from within the confines of a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility. The most secure one there is.

Can this be stopped? Funny you should ask:

Bureau of Prisons regulations give wardens the right to reject correspondence by an inmate for “the protection of the public, or if it might facilitate criminal activity.” That includes material “which may lead to the use of physical violence.”

The Bureau of Prisons failed to respond to repeated inquiries from The Associated Press about whether Rudolph’s writings violate prison rules.

But U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, who helped prosecute Rudolph for the Alabama bombing, said there is nothing the prison can do to restrict Rudolph or the supporter who keeps posting his writings, anti-abortion activist Donald Spitz of Chesapeake, Virginia.

“An inmate does not lose his freedom of speech,” she said.

Tell that to Lynne Stewart, who’s serving jail time because of a press conference she held after speaking with her client Omar Abdel-Rahman. Or to Jose Padilla, who’s been held completely incommunicado for five years even though he is an American citizen and has not even been tried yet. Or to John Walker Lindh, who has been forbidden from speaking Arabic during his sentence and is subject to a gag order preventing him from making public statements about his case during his sentence (which, at 20 years, is pretty stiff for what he actually pleaded to).

What’s the difference between Padilla and Rudolph? Rudolph has killed two and wounded 117 people in three separate terrorist attacks, while the government has backed off charges that Padilla was plotting to plant a dirty bomb and have now charged him with, essentially, money laundering. But of course, that can’t explain why Padilla can’t speak to anyone — it took years and the intervention of the Supreme Court before he could see a lawyer at all — and Rudolph can send as many letters as he wants to the Army of God just begging for another abortion-clinic bombing.

Oh, could it be that Padilla is a Muslim, and Rudolph is a Christian?

Paddy at Cliff Schecter did a little reimagining of the article, changing “Eric Rudolph” to “Osama bin Laden” and “Army of God” to “Al Qaeda,” and asked whether prison officials would be so sanguine about screening Rudolph’s mail if the religions were switched (though, to be (somewhat) fair, the Supermax prison in Florence seems to be a bit lax in the mail-screening department, allowing a number of missives from the 1993 World Trade Center bombers to reach supporters overseas). Her conclusion:

Any of the prisoners in Gitmo get to send mail to their fans?

Terrorism is Terrorism, no matter which God you offer it up to.

Of course, as we’ve seen time and again, terrorism by Christians against abortion clinics doesn’t count. Note that the AP described Rudolph as an “anti-abortion extremist” rather than a terrorist. And that of the victims or their families interviewed, only the people connected with the abortion clinic were concerned about repeat terrorist attacks.

H/T Kat.

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18 comments for “Christian Terror: A-OK!

  1. R. Mildred
    May 15, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Bill Donahue says to tell you that you should be thankful that you’re not living in afghanistan, otherwise he’d be totally cutting your head off and putting your severed head inside a burqa.

    Not that that’s a threat or anything.

    Why do you hate catholics?

  2. Bitter Scribe
    May 15, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    There may be a silver lining to this cloud. If the anti-abortion movement keeps getting identified with murderous assholes like this guy, it can only help the battle for public opinion in the long run.

  3. May 15, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    John Walker Lindh isn’t allowed to speak Arabic? WTF? Do they think Arabic is like some sort of secret mind-control language or something? Or that he’ll give the air cooties from speaking it?

    I mean, I’m no huge fan of John Walker Lindh, but that’s beyond ridiculous.

  4. lou
    May 15, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    But his terrorism wasn’t just against an abortion clinic. He also killed a tourist at the Olympics. In fact, that was his first terrorist activity. How do these people wrap their warped logic around that?

    And imagine if a Muslim terrorist had performed the same act at the Olympics in the US. Would these people have the same shoulder-shrugging response if said Muslim were sending out emails taunting his victim?!

    I’d even suggest Rudolph knew he wouldn’t be considered a “hero” for the first act so he committed the others to get sympathy from the wingnut crowd.

  5. Mostly Normal
    May 15, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Totally and completely insane. And terrifying.

  6. Mnemosyne
    May 15, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    I’d even suggest Rudolph knew he wouldn’t be considered a “hero” for the first act so he committed the others to get sympathy from the wingnut crowd.

    I’m guessing you’re right. A guy with an ego that big needs an audience to worship him, so he gave them what they wanted and is now basking in the adoration, much like Charlie Manson and John Wayne Gacy.

  7. zuzu
    May 15, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Don’t forget, the stated motivations for the other two bombings were anti-homosexual.

  8. May 15, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Hey guys, I don’t usually point this out, but since this site is “Feministe” and I am a woman…… I did the Rudolph post, not Cliff.

    Just FYI, and I love this site. I lurk, but I do come by.

  9. zuzu
    May 15, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Sorry, Paddy! I’ll fix that.

  10. May 15, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks zuzu, appreciated.

  11. May 15, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Great post. The terrorism double standard kills me. Many people even refuse to admit that Eric Rudolph is a terrorist because they have tied terrorism to Muslims. The idea that Christians could be terrorists doesn’t compute with many people–I remind my students about this terrorist and Timothy McVeigh every semester.

  12. Aerik
    May 15, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    I’ve submitted the MSNBC version of the article to the social networking site where I fight rampant sexism every fucking day,, under a title daring users to explain how they think shit like this is just all about protecting babies.

  13. May 16, 2007 at 12:34 am

    Bitter Scribe Says: There may be a silver lining to this cloud. If the anti-abortion movement keeps getting identified with murderous assholes like this guy, it can only help the battle for public opinion in the long run.

    Scribe, that won’t happen so long as anti-abortion terrorism is ignored, minimized and rarely called by its right name.

    It’s up to us to get the meme out there: an IED at a women’s clinic is terrorism, terrorism, terrorism.

  14. Isabella
    May 16, 2007 at 10:00 am

    What if a Muslim bombed an abortion clinic?

    That would really tie the Right up in knots.

  15. Catty
    May 16, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    This type of crap enrages me to no end. They can stop Lindh from speaking Arabic, but thay can’t stop him from tauting his victims? WTF!!!!!


  16. May 16, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    This isn’t freedom of speech. This constitutes threat and harassment.

    We all have freedom of speech, but if you hate the neighbors on the left side of your house, and you keep telling the neighbors on the right side of your house that you REALLY (no, really) want to stab them, you might get a visit from some police officers.

    Who would I have to try to contact to get some justice here?

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