Every Time I Learn Something: Judge Gives Anti-Nuclear Activists A Break and Platform
Evolution Happens Dept: An uplifting scene recently in a Kansas City courtroom, where a group of Catholic priests - two over 75 - and activists were being sentenced for a July protest at a National Nuclear Security Administration plant that produces nuclear weapon components. After allowing much rowdy evidence and listening intently to defendants' impassioned arguments - Question: "Don't you teach your parishioners to obey the rules?" Answer: "God's rules....We each have our own conscience to follow" - Judge Ardie Bland, who two years before had sentenced other nuclear activists to jail, announced, "If you're not getting to anyone else, you're getting to me," according to the National Catholic Reporter. Noting the activists' mention of Rosa Parks and others whose actions changed the world - Bland is black - he found them guilty of trespassing, and sentenced each not to prison, fines or community service but to the writing of a one-page essay in response to a series of ethical and political questions, to be made part of the public record in order to "give you a chance to say what you want to say." With moving, joyful, Louis-Armstrong flavored video of the July action.
Bland's questions, as reported by National Catholic Reporter:
1. If North Korea, China or one of the Middle Eastern countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion about nuclear weapons?
2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, do you think that would have changed your opinion?
3. What would you say to those who say, "If we [the U.S.] do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back"?
4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Fr. [Carl] Kabat says that you should disobey ungodly laws. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for example, when Christians used God to justify slavery and the Crusades?
5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue that their religion is to crush others into dust?
6. Who determines what "God's law" is, given the history of the USA and the world?