South Coast residents should be alarmed about a bill in the Oregon Legislature that creates a new class of terrorists and mandates life sentences to punish them. Under the bill sponsored by Sen. John Minnis, R-Gresham, in Oregon, a terrorist would be someone "who participates in or carries out any violent act that the person knows, or reasonably should know, could result in the death or serious physical injury of a person and is intended by at least one participant to substantially disrupt or destroy" assembly, commerce, transportation, educational or government institutions.

There are other requirements, but the first one alone, should raise concerns. Define "violent act." Is that an attack on a person or someone shrieking in a menacing way? Define "should reasonably know." By whose standards? And while few support protestors' penchant for snarling traffic or disrupting business or commerce, should those acts really draw life sentences?

Likely chastened by the uproar raised when labor unions, civil libertarians, anti-war activists and even law-enforcement agencies joined in a chorus of opposition, Minnis ammended the bill, admitting it was "overly broad." ... The federal government prosecutes terrorism and has done so successfully in Oregon. Residents should tell their representatives in Salem to vigorously oppose this bill ....

- The (Coos Bay) World


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