Overheard on CNN.com: Politics of anarchy
FBI photos show Brandon Baxter, top from left, Anthony Hayne, Connor Stevens; bottom, Joshua Stafford and Douglas Wright.
May 1st, 2012
08:03 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Politics of anarchy

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

One of the most talked-about stories on Tuesday was about five men arrested for allegedly conspiring to blow up a bridge about 15 miles south of Cleveland, according to court documents released Tuesday. Authorities say at least three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists, and a lot of readers pondered what kinds of philosophies the men held and how they could be classified politically.

5 arrested in alleged plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge

Readers speculated about the political backgrounds of the men. Several readers suspected they might identify with the Occupy movement, but some had other ideas.

BobRoss: "I love how some of these leftists try to deny reality (aka lie) by saying that anarchists are from the 'far right.' All of the major anarchist movements have been led by leftists and have been closely aligned with Marxism. By the statements for these guys it is clear that they are not in any way libertarians or 'right wing,' but sincere anarchists. I can understand though. I would try to deny their affiliation if I was you also. My guess is the Occupy Wall Street crowd is going to enter into a full PR campaign to distance themselves from these guys."

djfl00d: "Two flaws with your argument: Anarchists are anti-government. This is hardly a far left ideology, rather is closer to a far right ideology, yet is still inaccurate because if anarchists are anti-government, they are anti-political. Secondly, you have to think of politics as a circular scale, not a linear one. If you lean too far to either the right or the left, you begin to incorporate ideology from the other side."

Samilcar: "I'm certain these guys aren't connected to any Occupy groups. They all look like those violent tea partiers."

We heard from a lot of people who said it's not possible to know the men's affiliations at this point.

SavoryBrown: "It's definitely Obama's fault ... well, or maybe it was the tea party's fault. But either way it was definitely either the left wing or the right wing, for sure. There is no way it was just a few crazy people. Most assuredly, it was the fault of the political party I align with the least."

stateschool: "Although the FBI is providing no details, the sleuths in the comments section have already determined that the would-be bombers are Muslim Christian anarchist communist liberal conservative tea bagger Republican Democrat FBI agents."

Are conclusions about the men's views too self-serving, or do they hold merit?

pinetree51: "7ruthere wrote: 'Funny how the liberals are saying, "these guys are conservatives!!" and the conservatives saying, "these guys are liberals!!' That's because we live in a two party political system which closely resembles a sporting event. Since many Americans are so sports-driven, you are either on one team or another in their eyes. One team = good. Other team = bad. No other nuances or variations are possible in the sports world. Two teams. That's it. You are one or the other. Like dealing with grade school children."

TommyNIK: "Very well-said. It's the old 'black and white, no shades of gray' argument. There are shades of gray. It generally takes people of intellect both to recognize this fact and also to deal with it in a sane manner."

Who is the responsible party here?

Trilithium: "This is all Obama's fault."

Henne: "Nope, Bush's - still."

A few folks put the blame elsewhere ...

Icreatejobs: "I blame their barber."

davidp44022: "What barber? It looks like they cut their own hair."

If you're an anarchist, does that create additional problems?

Mike Drake: "The problem with anarchy is that it's very difficult to enforce."

sumguy2006: "It's funny when 'anarchists' try to organize something. Pretty much doomed to failure from the start."

A few of the commenters were critical of the sting operation.

Corey Warner:
"FBI: hey...you wanna blow some stuff up?
"Anarchists: Well...I don't know....
"FBI: C'mon, it'll be easy!
"Anarchists: OK...
"FBI: Here, take these explosives....
"Anarchists:.....are these even rea.....
"FBI: You're under arrest! Hooray! We caught us some terrorists!!!!"

Branamsays: "I agree. People say and do strange things under the influence of meth. These guys don't look like they could start a campfire, let alone blow up a bridge."

Cleveland, Ohio, can't get a break.

tequilala: "A bridge in Ohio is the first thing I would think of to blow up."

clemjones: "These guys were just trying to help the economy of Cleveland. If they blow up the bridge, it will put people to work, rebuilding it, burying the dead and planning how to stop future attacks. It's the same as Pelosi's philosophy on how unemployment stimulates the economy."

judahMaccabee: "If I was stuck in Cleveland, I'd probably be ready to blow up something too."

Keeping it clean.

astounded1: "Occupy a shower" (also suggested a washing machine)

WatAnon: "They'll have plenty of time for that with their new friends soon."

Or are they ...

JECD: "The Ted Nugent Fan Club. (It only has 5 members....)"

Some people couldn't get past the hair.

pOdPeOpLe: "Saw these guys play Coachella. They were pretty good."

astounded1: "Didn't they call themselves The Spin Doctors in the '90s?"

ENDFEDNOW: "So this is what happens to washed-up boy bands?"

tinwatchman: "Well, at least now we know what happened to the other members of N'Sync."

foreverwar: "Seems like they all get their hair cut by the same lawn service."

Or, maybe they're something far more sinister.

justincase04: "I'm pretty sure those are my sister's past five boyfriends ..."

What's your take on this story? How would you classify anarchists? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. kim

    I bet they are all on meth but somehow feel, there superior despite the lack of grooming and addictions. Really some people really need to take a good look at thereselfs. Maybe they will see its them that's the problem.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy ©

    TommyNIK in the article said it best, IMO.
    Like it or not, things aren't always black or whitej Republican or Democrat, Tea Party vs. OWS.
    Until we know more about their belief systems, (or not, being anarchists and all), I can't really give an informed opinion of what drove them; maybe the meth pipe, maybe something more ghastly, Mommy didn't hug them, they hated the color of the bridge...

    While I am glad this was diverted, I will be very interested in finding out more of the pathology of this crime, the purpose of it, and whether or not it actually was a set-up by the FBI in an attempt to reassure the American public that they are safe from our terrorists within.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZoSo

      @banasy ©
      I agree with your informed common sense.
      Are these OWS patsy's?

      May 2, 2012 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I'm much less concerned with their being Left or Right than I am with their being anarchists.
    It would please me to see all USA anarchists end up where Sacco and Vanzetti did.
    This country was designed with appropriate and peaceful mechanisms to achieve change. We do not need anarchy.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mr Dalloway

    They all look like hot rough tricks

    May 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    Sure isnt much info on these individuals, or their motives. Regardless, everyone is responsible for their own actions. I am curious though on the set up of this sting. Does the FBI just place ads looking for nut jobs or troll the streets lookin for them?

    May 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    not me @ l2:27.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Q.CNN: Where do anarchists fall on the political spectrum?

    A. JF: They don't.
    Before you can see where the anarchist falls in the spectrum, you have to define anarchy. So before you click this and that, here's a brief definition from dictionary .com:
    [ an -er-kee]
    – noun
    1. state of society without laws or government
    2. chaos
    So I think it is safe say this person
    co-exists in our society, with the distinct belief, that the law simply does not apply to them. So they pretty much do what they want, when they want, how they want, with no intrusion from anybody. Hence they are remenents of the extremist far right. They regard centerist and tea party GOP's more like liberals. They regard centerist and left wing democats, liberals, and communists as people they would like to see exterminated. Dangerous? Absolutley!

    May 2, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • G. Zeus™

      I'm sorry but I do not think it is "safe" to extrapolate all those things from the definition of anarchy.
      Those things do not automatically follow from the premise of " a state of society without laws or government" at all.
      We remain human beings with all that entails. That some people are asocial or sociopathic does not mean that all people are that way, so you might characterize these guys as having a specific agenda, but you cannot reasonably connect their agenda with the lack of law or government. Just sayin.

      May 2, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Go OSU football... 😉
    Happy to see your troll isn't creating issues for you lately. You do not deserve that. Got to get up at 5am. See you nice people later.

    May 2, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Before anybody asks about the funny hyperlink attached to my 1:35a post, I don't know what it is (but it's obviously asian), or how I triggered it. CNN best put thier best geeks on it.
    @Ms. Saidi – I don't have a clue what happened.

    May 2, 2012 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. hamsta

    neither the tea party nor occupy represent anarchy.the tea party represents old fashioned american capitalism and occupy represents failed soviet communism.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. hamsta

    Anarchy does not mean chaos thats the government changing the definition just like they did with the word drug to fit there own needs.there is a small country somewhere that has no government.there is no chaos there.anarchy simply means nonexistant government.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. hamsta

    Pre 1984 definition for the word drug: MANMADE MEDICATION.post 1984 definition of the word drug: MIND ALTERING SUBSTANCE. they did that to fit marijuana,an herb, into the category of the word drug.definition of the word herb:NATURALLY OCCURING MEDICATION. so by the government standards zantac is not a drug but marijuana is.

    May 2, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Portland tony

    Anarchist is just a term the government uses to define the motives of these few individuals. They could be defined as domestic terrorists or violent activists, but their agenda seemed, at least in the beginning, to be benign ...ie. destroying a few signs or defacing images depicting the "establishment". Apparently, they were trying to make a statement by. blowing up a local
    landmark, unfortunately this would have caused a loss of innocent lives. Where they escalated to planning mahem, I don't know, but they didn't appear to be too sharp intellectually.

    May 2, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Hot Water

    Humans are not fit to rule over other humans, there should be no such thing as laws

    May 2, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. saywhat

    What's preventing us from calling them terrorists?
    Mind you, folks belonging to these fringe 'groups' are never benign in their purpose or agenda. They are heavily armed, well trained. And as uncovered in many instances ready & willing to take on the Govt. of US of A. Mindless of causing death & destruction on a large scale.
    Their philosophy basically runs through neo-Nazism to White Christian domination to simply anti-establishment. As far as I can gather.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
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