Imagine some activist publicly advocating violence against abortion providers. It would be a dangerous abuse of free speech.

To take this hypothetical one step further, imagine a mainstream newspaper helping promote the message by publishing a letter from the activist. The letter might say:

“If the abortion industry puts abortion clinics in our neighborhoods, threatening children’s lives, then don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up abortion clinics and eliminate abortion and abortion workers?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding “no.” Americans have no right to resolve domestic disputes with bombs. Public outrage would rightly ensue if the letter were published. In the United States, only a marginal set of barbarians promotes violence as a means of resolving policy matters.

If we change the subject from abortion to fracking, our uncomfortable tale goes from hypothetical to true.

The Boulder Daily Camera published a letter to the editor April 19 that recommended bombing fracking sites to “eliminate fracking and workers.” Here is an excerpt:

“If the oil and gas industry puts fracking wells in our neighborhoods, threatening our lives and our children’s lives, then don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers?” wrote Andrew J. O’Connor, who is trying to get an anti-fracking measure on November’s ballot.

We repeat. This is not pretend. This letter appeared in the Daily Camera.

After readers expressed dismay, the newspaper softened the online version of the call to violence. Instead of suggesting bombs, the revised version says we “have a moral responsibility to take action to dissuade frackers” from operating.

An editor’s note, explaining the revision, said the Camera does not condone violence. The note goes on to defend the letter for presenting “a philosophical question the Camera believes is worthy of community conversation in the context of the ongoing discussion over fracking.”

In an interview with Dan Njegomir, of, O’Connor escalated his defense of violence toward workers.

“I wouldn’t have a problem with a sniper shooting one of the workers” at a drilling site, O’Connor said, arguing he was not specifically calling anyone to carry out any such act. “I see fracking as murder, and there’s medical and scientific evidence of that.”

Actually, there is not. A recent study by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment analyzed 10,000 air samples taken from the immediate vicinity of fracking wells and found concentrations of toxins lower than limits set by the EPA. Contamination of water has been negligible and rare, as have lethal drilling site accidents.

We find no lethal danger associated with fracking, aside from unhinged left-wing activists hoping for snipers and bombs.

O’Connor and the Daily Camera have lost credibility in the fracking debate. If O’Connor gets his measure on the ballot, vote it down. It is the product of a man who justifies bullets and bombs in his war against oil and gas products all of us use.

The gazette editorial board


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