Riddle: When is an arson suspect not an arson suspect?
Answer: When the New York Times decides to call him an “environmentalist.”
The headline reveals a certain way of thinking at the Times — that arson might be a sort-of respectable tactic in pursuit of a higher cause. You know, in the tradition of Howard Roarke, perhaps. But does this conflation of criminality and environmental “activism” really help the cause of the environment in the long run? Perhaps it does among the readers of the New York Times, but I suspect not among Americans with less clouded moral vision.
To understand who this guy is, you can read paragraph two of the Times article:
After serving his time, Mr. Solondz, 30, who is on the F.B.I.’s wanted list, will be deported to the United States, where he faces charges stemming from what the authorities say was his role in an arson rampage that destroyed buildings in three western states as a member of a group related to the environmental extremist organization Earth Liberation Front. He was indicted in absentia in 2006.
If it were your newspaper, how would you write the headline for the Times editors?