Three people indicted in connection with arsons in the Sacramento area were sentenced last Friday. Sisters Eva Holland and Lili Holland, portrayed by their lawyers as innocents caught up in a plot they didn’t fully understand, were given two years apiece. The alleged ringleader, Ryan Lewis, was portrayed as a devoted follower of the ghostly Earth Liberation Front.

While fighting for leniency, Lewis’ attorney said his client is a good kid from a good family, who deeply regrets his actions.

Judge Edward Garcia did not buy the argument, saying he wanted to send a message to others who may attempt eco-terrorism. He sentenced Lewis to six years in prison — 12 months longer than prosecutors were asking for.

I’m a little confused by this:

At times, the judge chided defense attorneys for misusing the term "idealism" in explaining their clients’ actions.

"I don’t understand why you and the other lawyers talk about ideals," Garcia said to Lewis’ attorney. "I consider this type of terrorism (a) most serious crime."

But it’s only "ideals" that separate this crime from plain ol’ arson, right? That’s why it’s being treated differently, no?

"Domestic terrorists mistakenly believe they are on the moral high ground, but their actions are those of cowards," U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott told reporters after the sentences were handed down.

"Let today’s sentencings be a warning to idealistic young people that if they make the wrong decisions, they will spend several years in prison."

Is he not misusing the word "idealism"? And how is an "idealistic young person" who risks arrest more "cowardly" than one who doesn’t act on their ideals? Stupid, yes. But why cowards?

I don’t have anything to add, really, to this story. It’s just more evidence of how confused discussion of this issue is, and how vulnerable our society is to the hysteria du jour.