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NBC Justifying Vandalism?

It couldn't be.  NBC doesn't really believe it's okay to smash somebody's Hummer for Mother Earth, does it?


On the July 19 broadcast of NBC's Today show, reporter Bob Faw covered the vandalizing of a brand new SUV parked on the street in a tony D.C. neighborhood. Two masked men launched a vicious attack on a $38,000 Hummer, breaking every window, slashing every tire and battering the front end with a machete. 


The strange thing was, the reporting sounded sympathetic to the criminals.  Why?  Because the target was a Hummer, and the crime was committed in the name of the environment.


The vandals gouged the words “For the environ” into the side of the vehicle, which Faw described as a “gas guzzler so big it wouldn't even fit in (the victim's) garage.”


Faw asked whether the crime could be considered “eco-terrorism,” and showed footage of the damage caused by fires set by militant environmentalists in 1998 and 2003.  The young owner of the SUV came on camera to detail the damage and say he was not against the environment.  A friend of the victim was allowed to say, “Everyone has a right to drive whatever they want and nobody has a right to do this.”


At this point the story took a decidedly green turn.   


Faw said, “But in this prosperous, environmentally conscious neighborhood, some think (this man's) Hummer got what it had coming.”  He interviewed an angry female neighbor, who said: “He is very proud of himself, that he has such a macho vehicle.  It belongs in a war zone. Send it to Iraq.”


According to The Washington Post, environmental sentiment runs high in the neighborhood, and many neighbors consider Hummers to be a “strain” on Mother Earth.  A Prius-driving neighbor told the Post, “The neighborhood in general is very concerned with the environment….It's more liberal leaning. It's ridiculous to be driving a Hummer.”


Faw ended the NBC piece by citing Hummer's declining sales, and saying: “In one of those 'not in my backyard neighborhoods,' someone apparently thinks a Hummer is a bummer.”


One wonders how Faw would have reported the story had the vandalism had been directed against an abortion clinic.  Would he have featured a neighbor saying the clinic owners deserved it?  Had the words “For Life” been gouged into the vehicle, would Faw have sought out someone to take the side of the vandals?


Not a chance.


Vandalism is a crime no matter what the target.  It isn't less of a crime just because the act committed reflects a community's values or tastes. Think of the implications of that particular standard of justice.


But then again, NBC (which should now be called the Green Network after the unabashed support and air time it gave to Al Gore's Live Earth snoozefest) worships at the Altar of the Environment.  In that world view eco-vandalism might be a bummer, but it isn't a crime.


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.