Calling Anti-Pipeline Vandalism Art Doesn't Make It So

A committed group of leftists in America are determined to trespass, damage and shut down five existing pipelines in Minnesota.  We learned last week that now they have funding from state taxpayers to help spread the word about their mission to eliminate all pipelines that carry fossil fuel.

“Thunderbird Strike” is a video game developed by a former Duluth-based artist.  The purpose of her recently released video game is to “symbolically destroy oil pipelines and other infrastructure.”  Her “art” was funded by a $7000 grant of which half of that amount came from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which receives its funding from the state’s sales tax. The remaining amount came from the Minnesota budget’s general fund as administered by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.  

The game begins, according to a report filed by Minnesota Public Radio, “by showing the route of existing oil pipelines from Canada to the Great Lakes region, and ends with the message “no pipelines on indigenous land.”  

The executive director of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council who provided the grant that funded the project with taxpayer dollars said that “We would never fund a project that we believe would advocate violence…. It’s just striking and horrific that people would look at art and decide they don’t like the political content, and threaten an artist.” 


 Imagine, if you will, the outrage we would be hearing from every corner of the state if it were divulged that state funds were used to fund an “artist” who created a video game that showed where newly constructed bike lanes were built …and that gamers were instructed that bike lanes “shouldn’t exist” and that it was OK to “symbolically destroy bike lanes and other infrastructure” they don’t agree with.  And the privately-owned bikes used by citizens to ride on the roads and trails. And we called it “art.”  Taxpayer funded art, no less.

You can’t imagine it because it wouldn’t happen.  

More importantly, this type of violence has already occurred in Minnesota. Last year, a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy was vandalized in Clearwater County by a radical group of environmentalists who attempted to shut down pipelines in four states.  They were affiliated with the D.C.-based Climate Disobedience Center who believe that they have “no alternative but to use our bodies in a final effort to avoid the abyss” and they desire to live in a “fossil fuel-free world.”  The vandalism of these eco-terrorists resulted in Enbridge taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of first responders, citizens in the nearby of Leonard as well as the surrounding land by temporarily shutting down the pipeline. 

According to AP news reports, when this case goes to court next month, the Minnesota protestors will be allowed to use a “necessity defense, enabling them to present evidence that the threat of climate change from Canadian tar sands crude is so imminent that they were justified in trying to shut down two Enbridge Energy oil pipelines last year.  Legal scholars believe this will be the first time such an unusual defense will be allowed to justify vandalism against private property.” 

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, you can expect more acts of violence that eco-terrorists will now justify on the basis of artistic expression or using the “necessity defense” to defend indefensible actions by environmental extremists. 

Political debate and peaceful protests on major policy disagreements are a fundamental hallmark of our country.  But pipeline vandalism by those entrusted with taxpayer dollars exposes an inconvenient truth about the new and dangerous tactics of the far-left environmental movement in America.  

These actions are a dangerous escalation in the war against fossil fuels by some determined to encourage violence and destruction of private property and to discourage the lawful construction of a proven and environmentally sound way of transporting fuels – fuels critical to our modern way of life.  But most importantly, providing funding and encouragement of such destruction has no role in Minnesota and must be stopped by the legislature.

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