God's Politics

God's Politics


Six Found Guilty Of Trying to See Their Senator (by John Dear)

posted by God's Politics

On Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007, six of us were found guilty in federal court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by a federal judge for trying to visit the office of our senator. We will be sentenced in a few weeks.
It all started one year ago on Sept. 26, 2006. That day nine of us entered the Federal Building in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and tried to take the elevator to the third floor to the office of Sen. Pete Domenici to present him with a copy of the “Declaration of Peace,” a national petition campaign aimed at stopping the U.S. war on Iraq, bringing our troops home, and pursuing nonviolent alternatives and reparations. More than 375 similar actions took place across the nation that week.
The senator’s office manager came downstairs and said she would only allow three of us upstairs. After 45 minutes of waiting and negotiations all nine of us decided to go upstairs, figuring we had a right as a group of constituents to deliver our petition to the senator’s office.
As we stepped onto the elevator a policeman put his foot in the door, and the next thing we knew, the power was turned off.


So there we stayed for some six hours. At one point, a police officer brought over a chair for one elderly member of our group who uses crutches. It seemed the officer was inviting us to make ourselves at home. He even said he supported our anti-war stance.
By the end of that memorable day, with more than 20 police officers, SWAT team members, and FBI officials standing in the lobby, the Homeland Security director told us we had the choice to be arrested, jailed and tried, or cited and tried. He never gave us a warning, never told us to leave, nor read us our rights. We took the citations and for the past year have been in and out of court, waiting to testify about our attempt to visit the senator’s office.
The prosecution would hear none of it. As far as one prosecutor was concerned, we went there to disrupt the Federal Building and shut down the elevator. He seemed to think we liked being in an elevator. He had been a Marine for decades and now commands a National Guard unit. He returned two days before the trial from directing military operations in Colorado Springs. He called the police and the senator’s assistant to testify against us. The prosecution alleged that we threatened to do a sit-in and disrupt the government’s office work.
Then it was our turn. One by one we took the stand — Philip, Michella, Sansi, Ellie, Bud, and me. Our excellent pro bono lawyers, Todd Hotchkiss and Penni Adrian, asked us why we went to the Federal Building and what happened. We each testified that we intended to bring a copy of the “Declaration of Peace” statement to the senator’s office in the hope that it could be faxed to him, he would sign it, and work to stop this evil war.
During my testimony, I was asked about the lists of names I brought with me that day. I had printed out the names of every U.S. soldier and Iraqi civilian killed in Iraq. I thought they would help remind us why we were there and that we might leave them with the senator’s staff. The judge interrupted me and asked if I carried those names around with me all the time. While unfortunately it is now all too common for many of us to spend our time at demonstrations reading the names of the dead, I held back from saying, “Yes, don’t you? Don’t you care about the U.S. soldiers who’ve been killed and the countless innocent Iraqi civilians killed?” Instead I said I always carried information about the war and how to stop it.
It was a grueling, exhausting eight-hour day. At the end the judge returned with his verdict but then launched into a speech explaining why he believed the police and the senator’s staff person, and not us — particularly not me. He said the fact that I carried with me the names of every U.S. soldier and some 10,000 Iraqi civilians killed proved I intended to be there a long time and shut down business in the Federal Building. He basically called us all liars and defended the government’s evil war.
I’m not so sure I intended to shut the Federal Building down one year ago, as noble a nonviolent act as that might have been. Only a few months before, I brought a group to meet with Gov. Bill Richardson. He received us warmly and let me speak for 20 minutes about why he should work to end the war on Iraq, disarm Los Alamos, abolish our nuclear weapons, and end the death penalty in New Mexico.
On Sept. 26, 2006, I didn’t rule out the possibility that Domenici’s staff might be willing to hear us. In the end, however, the police themselves disrupted business as usual. They turned off the elevator. They shut down the Federal Building. They prevented us from visiting our elected representative’s office.
So what do we learn from this experience? What is the message from Federal Court in New Mexico? I suppose it’s this: Anyone who dares visit their Republican senator to speak against this evil war is liable of a federal crime. Don’t presume you have any rights in this so-called democracy.
The judge said he would sentence us within 30 days, so there is more to come. He asked each of us to submit a statement to him. We face 30 days in jail and a $5,000 fine, which I certainly won’t pay.
Meanwhile, the real crime continues as the real criminals get away with mass murder with the crucial, full backing of our courts. The war goes on, the killings go on, and the lives of our sisters and brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and elsewhere are shattered. Our government, in its race to become a global empire, has sunk to new levels of corruption, lying, repression, and old-fashioned hubris. Our task is permanent, nonviolent resistance against the culture of war; nonviolence as a way of life; and full-time non-cooperation with violence, war, and empire.
All things considered then, it’s a great blessing to be found guilty of speaking out against this evil war. I hope more and more people will write their senators and members of congress, especially Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, and demand that they end this war. I also hope that more and more people will sign up at www.declarationofpeace.org and keep building the movement against this war; that more and more people will march for peace, vigil for peace, organize for peace, agitate for peace, speak out for peace, fast for peace, cross the line for peace, pray for peace, and find themselves guilty of pursuing a new world without war, in solidarity with Jesus who was also arrested and tried.
John Dear is a Jesuit priest, peace activist, and the author of 25 books, including most recently, Transfiguration (from Doubleday, with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu). He is featured in a new DVD film, The Narrow Path, with music by Joan Baez and Jackson Browne, and writes a weekly column for the National Catholic Reporter. He lives in northern New Mexico. For information, see: www.johndear.org.



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Cads

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:13 pm


J. Dear: The senator’s office manager came downstairs and said she would only allow three of us upstairs.
If your intent was only to deliver your “Declaration of Peace” as you said, and three of you were being allowed to deliver it, it would appear to me that the nine of you were only there to disrupt the senator’s office. By agreeing to let some of you up to deliver your message, I believe that was a reasonable compromise. Enjoy how ever many days in jail that you receive and maybe try to get along more with reasonable people the next time.



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Janible

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:24 pm


Going by John Dear’s testimony of the events, I am completely appalled by the actions of the authorities that day, and throughout the trial. That you are assumed to be a liar if you don’t agree with the “preferred” party, about such an immense issue as the Iraq war, is ridiculous to the extreme. The judge could not conceive of carrying a list of casualities for any reason other than disruption. Perhaps he would feel the same way when he saw my large number of pictures of my grandchildren. Perhaps that would indicate a diabolical plan to halt government work as I forced people to look at the pictures! Since the authorities were the ones who turned off the elevator and arbitarily decided only a few could visit the offices of His Royal Highness the Senator, perhaps they should have been detained for causing a disruption. (I wonder what their reaction would have been to a group of nine corporate leaders?)



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Janible

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:30 pm


I can understand Cade’s comment, but even that seems to rest on assumptions, with no proof. One could just as easily assume that the group felt that a larger number of representatives would impress the powers that be, with their seriousness and the importance of their mission. But this is just assumption, again. What is needed is proof of intent, and not just assuming intent from one’s own viewpoint.



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Katy

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:33 pm


I disagree, Cads. I don’t think “reasonable” people would assume nine people (especially one on crutches!) are intending to disrupt a senator’s office, particularly with a declaration of peace. Regardless of the decision-making Senator Domenici’s staff made on that day, the judge of the trial could have had reason enough to see from Dear’s past actions that he didn’t disrupt previous federal offices.
The greatest crime in this story is First Amendment violation. Nine people have the right to assemble. Nine people, even if breaking the “three-person policy” have the RIGHT to be read their rights and the right to explain their situation to police on the scene. It’s extremely ridiculous to me that our courts are spending their time prosecuting peacemakers instead of prosecuting REAL crime, not to mention our government is overly concerned about peaceful right to assemble instead of focusing on an unjust war. Wow.
Thanks for sharing this story, John Dear. It has motivated me to greater action in pursuit of peace.
for anyone to assume that 9 people



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Jeff

posted September 10, 2007 at 5:57 pm


How heavy is this Declaraton of Peace that it takes 3 to 9 people to carry it? One should be enough. I agree, allowing three was a good compromise.
Jeff



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marialynn

posted September 10, 2007 at 6:11 pm


I am saddened that the Senator, who is Catholic, treated a Jesuit Priest and his group with such contempt (maybe not him but his staff sure did).



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Anonymous

posted September 10, 2007 at 6:20 pm


Katy wrote,
“The greatest crime in this story is First Amendment violation. Nine people have the right to assemble. Nine people, even if breaking the “three-person policy” have the RIGHT to be read their rights and the right to explain their situation to police on the scene.”
My response: does the right to assemble actually extend to private offices, even if they are in a federal building? It’s my understanding that that in public places, like parks, etc. there is more leeway on the right to assemble (but even then limits may be imposed, like requiring permits for public rallies, etc.). Within less public spaces, like an office, the government has the right to determine which groups may congregate there for a public forum.
While it is unfortunate all 9 were not allowed to deliver their document, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for the Senator’s office to extend the invitation to 3 individuals.
I do wonder about the validity of the claim that the freedom to assemble can be exercised anytime, anywhere.



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sean

posted September 10, 2007 at 7:08 pm


If the right to assemble were completely above any and other rights, then I could hold my woodworking club meeting in the White House. How silly would that be?
Fr. Dear and others were picking a fight. It’s nothing less than that. The only difference between this fight and say a “real” fight is that “losing the fight” is all about winning the PR war, which is nothing less than Dear and the gang of nine were trying to do.
If weapons are illegal in a federal building, then I would think that nine anti-war (whom PD’s office couldn’t distinguish from kooks) activists surely could equal the violence of a gun or a knife if they wanted to.
If nine of you got on a plane you would still be screened. Reduction to three was the staff’s way of screening you.
I hope you convert some Christians (and even Catholics) when you are in jail.



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Wolverine

posted September 10, 2007 at 7:29 pm


It sounds like the police handled this situation poorly. That does not make Dear and company the good guys. Sen. Domenici does have the right to exercise some control over who comes into his office.
Wolverine



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Moderatelad

posted September 10, 2007 at 9:18 pm


So three were allowed and you took it into your own hands to have all nine. I believe that I would have done the samething – prevented you from coming to the office.
Tell me – did you have the respect for the office of the Senator to make an appointment with him prior to your arrival? Or did you just make arrangements with the press to be there to cover your event? You have to respect the office even if you do not respect the current holder of the office.
Blessings –
.



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Gordon

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:15 pm


If you’re going to engage in an act of civil disobedience, then you should be an adult about it, cheerfully accept the penalty, and not whine about how unfair it all was.



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justintime

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:37 pm


Doesn’t surprise me Senator Domenici would treat his constituents with arrogance.
Earlier in 2006, Senator Domenici called Federal Prosecutor David Iglesias, urging him to bring unfounded charges of ‘voter fraud’ against legally registered voters.
This is illegal meddling by the legislative branch with the judicial branch of our government.
Iglesias was later fired by Gonzo’s Justice Department in spite of his excellent record.
Perhaps someone will lay charges against Domenici.
Rumor has it Domenici will not run for the Senate again.
Good riddance, Pete.



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justintime

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:47 pm


Thanks to John Dear for the courage to stand up against this immoral war and for bearing witness to the arrogance of Senator Pete Domenici.
John Dear is not a whiner.
He’s a true American patriot.
And Pete Domenici is a coward.



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Davey Rumsey

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:50 pm


I agree with Gordon. It appears that you seem bitter in your sentence, which I don’t think Jesus would be. I agree with you that the war isn’t right, but when the opportunity is given you with a little bit of compromise concerning how many people take the document up there, I think you should follow it. I also don’t think this helps unify political parties…



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Gordon

posted September 10, 2007 at 11:54 pm


Well, justin, I would agree that Domenici is a coward, and I wish he (or perhaps his staff) had handled this better. But John Dear’s piece strikes me as just so much whining about consequences he and his collaborators could have easily anticipated. It seems a bit silly, when Domenici’s office had agreed to meet with some of his folks, to insist that all nine had to be present. The original idea was to deliver a message, wasn’t it? Couldn’t three people have done that about as well as nine?



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:12 am


“So what do we learn from this experience? … Don’t presume you have any rights in this so-called democracy.”
Because the Senator only allowed three of the nine people who wanted to visit him into his office, we no longer have a democracy? That is ludicrous. The people responsible for ensuring the Senator’s safety told you that three people would be allowed up. After much deliberation, you ignored those people, and were arrested. Rightly so.
My father has been in prison for 15 years for a crime he did not commit. that is injustice. You, my hippie Jesuit friend, do not know the meaning of the term.



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justintime

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:28 am


‘My father has been in prison for 15 years for a crime he did not commit.’
How did that ever happen in America?



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:01 am


“‘My father has been in prison for 15 years for a crime he did not commit.’
How did that ever happen in America?”
The answer is complicated, and doesn’t easily fit any political ideology. My initial response was to become extremely liberal, until I realized that liberals were often guilty of various forms of oppression as well. As such, I sought to define what I believed government SHOULD do, rather than react to what it was doing.



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Cads

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:29 am


Justintime,
Do you think Pete may not be running again because he was born in 1932? Perhaps he may want a little time off before his health starts to fail.
Not many of the super liberals who usually comment on this site have checked in with their support for Father Dear, which tells me they may think he was being a bit unreasonable with his demands. He was offered a perfectly legitimate compromise and he chose to ignore it and proceed with his agenda. In doing so, he wasted the time and resources of close to 50 law enforcement officials who could have been doing some real work instead of babysitting the Santa Fe Nine.



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Donny

posted September 11, 2007 at 6:59 am


Take your “declaration of peace” to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They’ll show you what “breaking the law,” really means. Oh, and they’ll also show you Islam, the religion of peace.
If you people need plane tickets let me know.



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justintime

posted September 11, 2007 at 9:26 am


Senator Domenici ignores the interests of all Americans in favor of his corporate benefactors:
…….
The grassroots organization Republicans for Environmental Protection singled out Domenici as “Worst in the Senate in 2006” on environmental issues. In addition to assigning Domenici a score of zero for his environmental voting record, the group issued him “environmental harm demerits” for what they saw as two particularly irresponsible acts: first, for spearheading efforts to include in federal budget legislation provisions for “speculative revenues from oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; second, “for sponsoring and securing passage of S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which would perpetuate America’s dangerous oil dependence, set a precedent for drilling in sensitive marine waters, and direct a disproportionate share of federal royalty revenues from a public resource to four states.” Domenici also received an exceptionally low environmental rating from the nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters, who claimed in 2003 that “[d]uring the last decade his voting record has become even more strikingly anti-environmental.” The LCV went on to criticize Domenici for voting in 1995 “to allow mining companies to ‘patent’ (purchase) public lands in order to extract minerals from them, without environmental standards, for the ridiculously low ‘price’ of $5 an acre or less.”
…….Wikipedia
A coward and a corporate stooge.
Good riddance, Pete.
And good riddance to another corporate stooge,
Idaho Senator Larry Craig.



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Tom

posted September 11, 2007 at 10:35 am


Kevin is watching the Twin Tower Coverage, I’d suspect. Listen closely, Kevin, to your media. Why do you have a disdain for the government? The socialist, lap-log, liberal media is carrying us, right now.
TOM



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justintime

posted September 11, 2007 at 10:53 am


“…I sought to define what I believed government SHOULD do, rather than react to what it was doing.”
OK, Kevin, what do you think government SHOULD do?



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Moderatelad

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:40 am


Freedom of Speach and yes – freedom after speach.
Freedom of Assembly
Yes – but there are restrictions. You want to assemble – most townships require a permit depending on the size of the group and where, when they want to assemble.
In this day and age of terrorists, you better control who gets in and who doesn’t in any office of an elected official. There have been several murdered over the past few decades that might still be alive if we had the protections in place back then like we do today.
Don’t do the crime unless you can do the time.
Blessings –
.



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sean

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:50 am


“In addition to assigning Domenici a score of zero for his environmental voting record, the group issued him “environmental harm demerits” for what they saw as two particularly irresponsible acts: first, for spearheading efforts to include in federal budget legislation provisions for “speculative revenues from oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; second, “for sponsoring and securing passage of S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which would perpetuate America’s dangerous oil dependence, set a precedent for drilling in sensitive marine waters, and direct a disproportionate share of federal royalty revenues from a public resource to four states.”
This is off-topic, but I didn’t bring it up. It is also high-minded nonsense–1) that drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico would perpetuate America’s oil dependence, and 2) that drilling for oil is somehow dangerous.
Americans have the cleanest facilities per industry of any country in the world.
The most dangerous aspect of our oil dependence is paying Chavez, Pemex and the weird beards billions of dollars a day for our oil.



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Lynn DeJong

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:21 pm


O.K. – 9 people took time out of their lives to see a U.S. Senator. I have worked in a grass-roots organization against gambling, and let me tell you how difficult it is to actually get to see a U.S. Senator. We have met with staffers, but never with the Senators. Don’t Senators represent the people? Do you have to have lots of money to see them, as Corporate people do? What about the average American who wants to speak to someone who represents them in government? Yes, Dear could have gone up with 3 people to deliver the document. But the point is, their group consisted of 9 people who all wanted to be heard, or at least seen, in support of this document. They had that right to be seen and heard. It is time Senators get down off of their high horse and start talking to the people on the ground again. This is supposed to be government by the people, for the people – not just the corporations.



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linda

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:28 pm


I found all the comments interesting and a bit harsh.
I would wager that had the nine been there to make a donation to the Senator, all nine would have been invited to the office.
However, regardless of the reason for not allowing the nine into the office – holding them in an elevator for 6 hours is unreasonable. And by the police action created more of an upset in the federal building than if the nine had just been allowed up to the Senator’s office.
I would hope that the Senator would come to the defense of this group and encourage the judge to set aside any jail time or fines.



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wildebeast

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:33 pm


Let me get this straight:
1. Nine people thought it was necessary to enter their senator’s local office to fax him something when he was presumably in Washington, DC;
2. Nine people entering the office of a very senior official thought they knew its accepted capacity better than the office’s staff, and decided to make themselves at home regardless of his staff’s wishes;
3. Nine people are surprised by the draconian reaction of law enforcement officials in supporting the requirements of the official’s office when they decide willfully to break the time, place and manner restrictions to make a fax? (think of the Hart Office Building anthrax scares, Oklahoma City bombings and other “public building” events that merit strict protocol)
I understand people are upset with the war in Iraq. As a member of the military I know people who have died–and killed others–over there. Yet I have also served as a high official’s gatekeeper, and understand why it is important to limit the number of entrants to offices to maintain decorum…regardless of how strongly they feel about something.
Jesus and the apostles who wrote the New Testament by and large encouraged Christians to respect the government and its rulers and obey its laws. Clearly breaking laws is some times justified, but is purposefully making yourself a martyr (and a stench in the government’s eyes) simply because the powers that be won’t respect your exact way of meeting on your exact terms such a good choice? Do you think the policeman who had to respond to your actions was more or less sympathetic with your position after he had to deal with you?
From experience running such an office, I recommend making an appointment in advance, laying out a general agenda of what you would like to discuss, specify the number of people who will accompany (and what role they will play in discussion), and how long you request attention for. Time, place and manner nearly always expand with prior, proper planning, and the Government is not the enemy.
Finally, Shame on a responsible, Christ-centeredand proactive agency like Sojourners to showcase such a poor example of action in support of Christian social justice. Surely you can cover more appropriate martyrs than this!



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Wolverine

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:43 pm


Lynn DeJong asked:
Don’t Senators represent the people? Do you have to have lots of money to see them, as Corporate people do? What about the average American who wants to speak to someone who represents them in government?
The short and somewhat awkward answer is: money isn’t an absolute necessity, but it sure helps. This doesn’t just go for Domenici, it applies to nearly any elected official above, say, state rep. This is one of the reasons why the church should not rely to heavily on the state for humanitarian work.
Look, these are important people and their time is valuable. And as terrible as this sounds, you do not have a right to meet with your Senator in person. Look at the Constitution — it’s not in there. You do have the right to assemble and make petitions. You do not have the right to force an elected official to meet with you on your terms.
And while you think your little peace petition is the most important thing in the world, Pete Domenici is allowed to think otherwise.
Wolverine



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Richard

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:50 pm


Do you think they would turn away nine wealthy Republican donors with a pocket full of cash? If the staff didn’t welcome them they would be looking for work that day.



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bren

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:00 pm


Cads wrote: Not many of the super liberals who usually comment on this site have checked in with their support for Father Dear, which tells me they may think he was being a bit unreasonable with his demands.
Sean wrote: Americans have the cleanest facilities per industry of any country in the world.
These are but two examples of posts that, instead of dealing with issues such as 1) protesting the war; 2) the difficulties or seeing, and being seen by, someone who is supposedly your representative in government; 3) getting media coverage; instead redirect discussion to points that have nothing to do with the right, in this case, to object to what the government is doing, apparently in our name.
I don’t think of John Dear as a martyr; nor do I think Cads has the ability to read minds. I do know that John Dear and his group were not the first group to be arrested for trying to see their representatives and I can’t see that as appropriate in a democracy. If the numbers are too great, the representative should offer a suggestion about the circumstances under which he can see the entire group.
I happen to agree with John Dear that America’s presence is a disaster–for which individual Americans and the country as a whole will be paying a huge price for a very long time. I especially worry about the injured soldiers who are being treated so very badly by the government once they are back in the U.S. How is it that we allow so many of these veterans to become homeless, for example?
Thank you to John Dear for reminding us to think about these things!



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Sue

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:06 pm


When we quibble about three or nine, we miss the point about speaking and acting for peace.
Anyone who has followed the work of John Dear knows that he is willing to to do his own work for peace, and accept the consequences. If one takes his article as whining– that attitude might reflect more about the person commenting on the article than the article itself.
I have read a number of comments on the Sojourner Blogs– and I find it a place of discouragement rather than encouragement. Is it possible to keep our focus on the real issues?



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Mike Grello

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:09 pm


I saw no whining in this post. Jesus called His followers to expose injustice. You do what you have to do, and then when they over-react and further heap unjustice, you proclaim it from the housetop, so that their injustice is revealed. The powers know how effective non-violent direct action is, that is why they work so hard to suppress and hide it. They read the Bible, so they know what is “up our sleeve.” This is waht makes this opponent so much more difficult than the Romans or the Soviets, who were ignornat to social action Jesus’ way. They are a step ahead of us, knowing what we will do next. Hal Lindsey is looking more and more credible (gasp). It is interesting to see that those in this group that don’t read their Bibles ignore their U.S. Constitution also; this is not just an issue of freedom of assembly but also to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:22 pm


“Do you think they would turn away nine wealthy Republican donors with a pocket full of cash? If the staff didn’t welcome them they would be looking for work that day.”
I would note that even lobbyists and supportive 527s typically have to schedule appointments with Senators, and are often turned away when they do a drop by. They also wouldn’t have any particular reason to bring nine people either.
“Jesus called His followers to expose injustice.”
He did? Explain. I don’t see where Jesus told his disciples to locate injustice, identify it, and then shout about it from the rooftops.



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Moderatelad

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:22 pm


Posted by: linda | September 11, 2007 12:28 PM
Had they been there to make a donation – I believe that they would have made an appointment to assure that the person they were giving the money to would be in the office. People of means, both Reps and Dems know the value of time for them and the other person and also for the most part respect the others persons time.
Hope they got a good photo opt. out of this.
Blessings –
.



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Mike Grello

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:41 pm


“turn the other cheek”, “give your cloak also”, “g two miles”; these are not actions of capitulation, but rather strategies to expose injustice. Jesus did not call His followers to be doormats, but rather to oppose oppression in an effective fashion. The master who backhands his slave must humiliate himself by performing an unclean gesture or counting him an equal if he strikes him again on the other cheek. If the indebted gives his cloak also, he will be naked, and taking the coat overnight is already an offense to jewish law; being driven to nakedness by someone already breaking the law exposes his injustice. And a roman soldier could compel a peasant to carry his pack only one mile; if the peasant was seen going further the soldier would be subject to anything from ridicule to discipline and imagine the soldier pleading with the peasant, “please, give me back my pack.”
Jesus staged a “sit in” in the temple, preveting any business from taking place. Non violent protest is a tactic that He himslef employeed.



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justintime

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:46 pm


The Bush administration:
9/11, War on Terror, 9/11, Al Qaeda, 9/11, Osama in Laden, 9/11, barbaric terrorism, 9/11, dead or alive, 9/11, let’s roll, 9/11, they hate our freedom, 9/11, weapons of mass destruction, 9/11, Saddam Hussein, 9/11, be very afraid, 9/11, mushroom clouds, 9/11, bring it on, 9/11….
GWB: “I wake up at night, thinking about how I can protect America. I’m a War President.”
Are we still afraid?
Are we a nation of cowards?
John Dear isn’t.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:56 pm


You do what you have to do, and then when they over-react and further heap injustice, you proclaim it from the housetop, so that their injustice is revealed.
Just what MLK Jr. did.



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 2:30 pm


“Jesus staged a “sit in” in the temple, preveting any business from taking place. Non violent protest is a tactic that He himslef employeed.”
Ummm… He fashioned a whip out of ropes and began beating people with it. Which is fine. I agree with you that Christ was not at all passive (and I see no evidence whatsoever that he is a pacifist). However, I do not see a call to take what amounts to several hours of inconvenience and discomfort to the rooftops.



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John

posted September 11, 2007 at 2:43 pm


Finally, Shame on a responsible, Christ-centeredand proactive agency like Sojourners to showcase such a poor example of action in support of Christian social justice. Surely you can cover more appropriate martyrs than this!
What drivel encapsulated in this article! A priest, of all people should know, understand and obey authority having voluntarily given himself wholly to divine authority and the hierarchy to whom he answers.
All nine fully pushed the envelope. And they knew it going in, or at least immediately after the point where they were told three could go in but collectively agreed to rebel against the authority of the office to which they were attempting to gain access. And he wasn’t even in his office? Incredible!
Enjoy the time in prison Father Whiner.
By the way, isn’t that what “Civil Disobedience” is all about? Disobeying? Did Paul not say obey the laws of the land in which you live? Even as a child what happened when you disobeyed?
May the Albequerque Nine take their licks, their tissues and be done with it.



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Mike Grello

posted September 11, 2007 at 2:50 pm


Mark 11:15-19:
“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written:
” ‘My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.”
He did a heck of a lot more than that. Also, a pacifist is one who actively and aggressively pursues peace; “peace maker” (the actual word). It is convienent to read the scripture as saying that He was “beating people” with the whip, as it justifies (somehow) unprovoked wars and nuclear weapans (?), and mentally misspelling pacifist as passifist; but neither are true.



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John

posted September 11, 2007 at 3:31 pm


34″Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn
” ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw—
36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.'[e]
Matthew 34-36



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 3:46 pm


“He did a heck of a lot more than that. Also, a pacifist is one who actively and aggressively pursues peace; “peace maker” (the actual word).”
On this we agree.
“It is convienent to read the scripture as saying that He was “beating people” with the whip, as it justifies (somehow) unprovoked wars and nuclear weapans (?)”
I didn’t say it did. I also don’t think it justifies disregarding an eminently reasonable compromise
“and mentally misspelling pacifist as passifist; but neither are true.”
No, but pacifism does necessitate a complete refusal to use any violence. While Jesus never killed anyone, he certainly appealed to violence allegorically in a way that suggests he is not opposed to it’s use. Otherwise, why not stage a sit-in instead of whipping people? Why not talk about the importance of the family, isntead of promising to divide mother and daughter?



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John

posted September 11, 2007 at 4:45 pm


Please, Kevin.
These people disobeyed the authority they were attempting to challenge. They willfully ignored the direction of the one in charge of the safety of that authority. The article is a whimpy tirade of that person’s experience and personal disappointment at his expectations being dashed.
This in no way is tatamount to Jesus’ overturning the money changers’ tables, and physically beating them and throwing them out of the temple.
By the way the Pharisees and Saducees were really upset about that, because in addition to the moneychangers and animal sales racketeers, they were making a pretty penny on that little economy while overlooking the desecration to the temple.
The Albequerque Nine will get what they deserve. Blowing this out of proportion as someone’s “Right Wing Agenda” or manifestation of “ultra Conservativism” is ridiculous. Trying forcing your way into Bill Clinton’s office in New York with eight other people and see what kind of result you get.



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carl copas

posted September 11, 2007 at 5:10 pm


“the weird beards”??
There is every liklihood that Jesus had a beard not unlke the one sported by bin Laden.
And just on its own merits, that is a childish statement.



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nad2

posted September 11, 2007 at 6:18 pm


just stopped in to read an article and some comments and was quickly reminded why i don’t post much here anymore – the only thing that changes is the article around which the same comments are posted. oh well, blessings to all, i hope it is meaningful to you, and if not, that you try to move it in that direction.
kevin, i am truly sorry to hear about your dad.



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justintime

posted September 11, 2007 at 6:20 pm


Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, was attacked by six capitol police [yesterday], when he was stopped from entering the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill, where General Petreaus gave testimony today to a joint hearing for the House Arms Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee on the war in Iraq.
After waiting in line throughout the morning for the hearing that was scheduled to start at 12:30pm, Rev. Yearwood was stopped from entering the room, while others behind him were allowed to enter. He told the officers blocking his ability to enter the room, that he was waiting in line with everyone else and had the right to enter as well. When they threatened him with arrest he responded with “I will not be arrested today.” According to witnesses, six capitol police, without warning, “football tackled him. He was carried off in a wheel chair by DC Fire and Emergency to George Washington Hospital.
Rev. Yearwood was examined for possible head and leg injuries then transferred to Central Processing. He has been charged with “assaulting a police officer.”
Rev. Yearwood said as he was being released from the hospital to be taken to central booking, “The officers decided I was not going to get in Gen. Petreaus’ hearing when they saw my button, which says ‘I LOVE THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ.’”
update: Rev. Yearwood has a broken leg, he’s in a cast and he’s being arraigned for assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct.
……
I guess Rev. Yearwood should have stayed within the ‘Free Speech zone.’



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ds0490

posted September 11, 2007 at 6:46 pm


Kuo was right.



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justintime

posted September 11, 2007 at 7:11 pm


Kevin, When will your father be released from prison?



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kevin s.

posted September 11, 2007 at 11:25 pm


“Kevin, When will your father be released from prison?”
One case has been overturned on appeal (DNA evidence cleared him). A hearing is imminent (on similar grounds) in the other case. So, with God’s blessing, this year, but I’ve been saying that for more than a decade.
He has already been eligible for parole, but parole requires remorse for one’s crimes, which is difficult to adequately express when you have committed none. As such, he is due for release in 2014, I believe.



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Mike Grello

posted September 12, 2007 at 12:04 am


He did stage a sit in; He drove off the animals, this we know, it is conjecture that He whipped anybody. He sat, blocking traffic and teaching, until evening. I am sure if the first century family was as much a shining example of love and compassion as that of the 21st century church, He would have devoted a LOT more time to the subject.



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Ms. Cynthia

posted September 12, 2007 at 3:15 am


What was Mr. Domenici doing in his office that he did not want a Catholic Father and his constituents to see? For that matter why did it take Pete 6 hours to run out the back door while the peaceful 9 where in the elevator?
Next time bring your cell phones and post some kids around the building with their video camms.
Maybe the only thing they did wrong is not bring about 600 more people to show up and demonstrate what a true sit really is when Pete gets cold feet.
How many peace makers can you get in a congresional elevator?
If you could be accused of something, what else you rather be accused of? If you could choose a any person to have run away from you, what kind of person would you want them to be?
We all ‘stand accused’ in that elevator with you Father Dear.



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Steve

posted September 12, 2007 at 9:37 am


You were too hard headed (conservative). You should have settled for the three allowed to enter the private office so you could deliver the petition. Then you could have told you story six others were denied access. You blew it.



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Moderatelad

posted September 12, 2007 at 11:03 am


John Dear –
I guess I am going to ask the question…
Did you call and make an appointment with the Senator?
Why did you not let 3 go so that you could deliver your message?
My opinion – for what it is worth.
You have to, have to respect the office of the Senator even if you do not agree with the person in that office – period.
Blessings –
.



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kevin s.

posted September 12, 2007 at 2:46 pm


“He did stage a sit in; He drove off the animals, this we know, it is conjecture that He whipped anybody.”
True, he used the whip to drive people away. One can only guess whether he hit people with it.
“He sat, blocking traffic and teaching, until evening.”
It is pure conjecture as to whether he sat. However, he also tossed coins, overturned tables, and was generally unpeaceful about the whole thing. And he didn’t do it to speak against injustice. He did it because he was consumed with zeal for his father’s house. To pretend that this was some sort of sit-in for political change is false.
“I am sure if the first century family was as much a shining example of love and compassion as that of the 21st century church, He would have devoted a LOT more time to the subject.”
More time on what subject? The family? Not sure what you are talking about.



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Mike Grello

posted September 12, 2007 at 3:26 pm


Kevin,
We disagree; and seem to be speaking past each other.
So…
Shalom



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Pastor Dan

posted September 12, 2007 at 3:42 pm


Who works for whom in a democracy? The senator received a visit from nine of his employers and they were treated like thugs and terrorists, even the one on crutches! All too typically, those who thought themselves to be in authority over-reacted and caused the true shutdown of the federal building, as someone previously mentioned. Unless we all wake up, get off our behinds and reclaim our status as the employers of our elected officials as these nine attempted to do, then I’m afraid we’ll continue to get the government we deserve. I never thought I’d encounter such zealous support of totalitarian governmental behavior here in the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.”



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D B

posted September 12, 2007 at 3:56 pm


I’m just speculating but I think that if 50 of the Senator’s “constituants” came, without an appointment, to deliver a petition in favor of the war, the only detaining would have been until the press could get there for the photo op. You gladly accept and seek votes from many people, you must also allow them to speak to you.



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Moderatelad

posted September 12, 2007 at 4:01 pm


Posted by: Pastor Dan | September 12, 2007 3:42 PM
It is more of a respect issue. Can you imagine if only 10% of the Senators constituants showed up one day in groups of 9 and demanded his time?
Again – you have to respect the Senator’s office even if you do not like the person in that office.
A little forward planning and respect on the side of the nine and I believe that we would be reading a totally different story.
Blessings –
.



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FestinaLente

posted September 12, 2007 at 4:04 pm


I will just say this… this so-called democracy was born of revolution. If our “Founding Fathers and Founding Mothers” worked off of compromise, we might not be here today.
How can we hairsplit reasonble (3 people? 6?) when so many die.
Just saying.



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EMS2006

posted September 12, 2007 at 4:13 pm


I’m always amazed by the extreme responses on both sides of most issues these days. Yes, wanting to bring 9 people in an office that most likely only had room for 3 was an invitation to escalate the situation–on the other hand, the reaction of law enforcement on the scene does sound like it was extreme.
What happened to opposing sides being willing to compromise? All of the hot button issues that everyone keeps thumping their chests about are irrelevant in comparison. The inability to compromise is what has almost brought our government to a complete standstill. If we can’t find a way to compromise and reach consensus THAT will be the ruin of this county.



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kevin s.

posted September 12, 2007 at 5:28 pm


“Who works for whom in a democracy? The senator received a visit from nine of his employers and they were treated like thugs and terrorists, even the one on crutches!”
The senator works for 3 million or so folks. If they were thugs and terrorists, the Senator would not have invited three of them inside.
“I’m just speculating but I think that if 50 of the Senator’s “constituants” came, without an appointment, to deliver a petition in favor of the war, the only detaining would have been until the press could get there for the photo op. ”
You speculate incorrectly. A senator will arrange photo-ops, and invite supporters, but simply agreeing with the Senator on an issue is no guarantee of an audience with the Senator.
If I wanted to go into Amy Klobuchar’s office and talk to her about the need to protect the unborn, it is highly unlikely that I would get the time of day. If I persisted, I would be arrested, and rightly so.



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Amber

posted September 12, 2007 at 6:25 pm


It sounds like many of you feel Fr John deserves to go to jail for refusing the compromise given to him. Is that grace? Until I have the courage to go to jail for my beliefs I cant answer that. God works in mysterious ways, maybe this really is the plan.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 12, 2007 at 10:13 pm


I really don’t understand how there can be so much hatred for one another that people who identify as Christians want to punish other people identified as Christians so severely.
I guess this is the meaning of “hardshell Christianity” that I’ve been hearing so much about.
It all seems to be about political dominance, with absolutely nothing about Jesus or becoming more like him.
If we blithely and vehemently back political ideologues and lightning-rod political leaders, doesn’t this amount to angrily shouting, “We have no King but Caesar!”
We all know that the business of elected officials is mostly soliciting campaign contributions for re-election year-round, and this is entirely conducted through paid lobbying. This has become such a normality and matter-of-fact that it is understandable that any quaint idea of constituent engagement is a disruption that costs valuable time and money and is an interference with normal government business.
Christians and other constituents should be aware that the country and its ways of governance have drastically changed from its founding, and need to modify their practical ways of trying to engage it.
Most probably this means conducting every action as a planned media event, which is the normal mode of communication familiar to elected officials and the one they do respect.



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Gordon

posted September 12, 2007 at 10:45 pm


The idea of Dear and Co. as Sen Domenici’s “employers” strikes me as a bit inapt. I would cast this more as like the relationship between stockholders and the CEO of some corporation they hold stock in. They are the CEO’s employers in some ultimate sense, but their only leverage is to vote at the next stockholder’s meeting.



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Mike Grello

posted September 13, 2007 at 1:12 am


Gordon,
You are young, right?
Please say yes,
Mike



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Moderatelad

posted September 13, 2007 at 10:00 am


John Dear – (secong time)
I guess I am going to ask the question…
Did you call and make an appointment with the Senator?
Why did you not let 3 go so that you could deliver your message?
Can we get an answer?
Blessings –
.



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Anonymous

posted September 13, 2007 at 5:13 pm


Father John wrote, “Meanwhile, the real crime continues as the real criminals get away with mass murder with the crucial, full backing of our courts. The war goes on, the killings go on, and the lives of our sisters and brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and elsewhere are shattered. Our government, in its race to become a global empire, has sunk to new levels of corruption, lying, repression, and old-fashioned hubris. Our task is permanent, nonviolent resistance against the culture of war; nonviolence as a way of life; and full-time non-cooperation with violence, war, and empire.”
This is a good example as to why there is and should always be a seperation of church and state in this country. In as much as the state should not interfere with the affairs of Church/faith, the Church needs to do the same and stay out of our government affairs. This guy is a far, far, far left liberal and a member of the “blame-America-first committee. Anyone who says, ” It was a grueling, exhausting eight-hour day”, has obviously never worked a day in his life. Father John needs to really get in the trenches and understand what we are fighting for. Fortunately we live in a country where the collar does not mean immunity.



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Anonymous

posted September 13, 2007 at 5:14 pm


Father John wrote, “Meanwhile, the real crime continues as the real criminals get away with mass murder with the crucial, full backing of our courts. The war goes on, the killings go on, and the lives of our sisters and brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and elsewhere are shattered. Our government, in its race to become a global empire, has sunk to new levels of corruption, lying, repression, and old-fashioned hubris. Our task is permanent, nonviolent resistance against the culture of war; nonviolence as a way of life; and full-time non-cooperation with violence, war, and empire.”
This is a good example as to why there is and should always be a seperation of church and state in this country. In as much as the state should not interfere with the affairs of Church/faith, the Church needs to do the same and stay out of our government affairs. This guy is a far, far, far left liberal and a member of the “blame-America-first committee. Anyone who says, ” It was a grueling, exhausting eight-hour day”, has obviously never worked a day in his life. Father John needs to really get in the trenches and understand what we are fighting for. Fortunately we live in a country where the collar does not mean immunity.



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elsa

posted September 13, 2007 at 5:24 pm


Hi,
Just curious in terms of the text in this case, but where in the Bible does “Jesus call(ed) His followers to expose injustice”?



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Chuck

posted September 13, 2007 at 8:57 pm


Your story should have been over the the moment you said that they invited 3 of you up to deliver the petition. There are security considerations. There are rules. You do not have my sympathy. You may in fact be letting our cause lose respectability with fence sitters.



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Trray

posted September 13, 2007 at 9:25 pm


Without a doubt, had the staffers treated the J. Dear contingent cordially, there would be nothing to blog about, and the petition would be sitting in a pile of shredded paper somewhere, a harmless act of authentic witness to the gospel, riding a garbage truck to the dump, having been delivered by a set of American Christian couriers, be it three or six or nine couriers, it matters not.
But the staffers chose to punish these wacky Christians, make’em wait, then off the elevator. Cute move. It did get a bit out of hand after that, didn’t it? Chill your wacky pacifist heels in a dead elevator for a few hours, suckers! Boy oh boy, did they set those peace-nics up, but good. That’ll teach ‘em to try to end wars and stuff!
All this, just to try to end a stupid war? A such a shabby war, maybe even a bad war, a war that doesn’t satisfy many of the criteria for a good war, I mean, a “just” war. (Jesus would only like a “just war”, right?)
So really, who cares if this Iraq war thing drags on a few more years? Jesus?



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Elizabeth

posted September 14, 2007 at 1:42 am


If the Senator was afraid of nine including a cripple and a Priest, imagine how he would have reacted to Jesus Christ and His twelve Apostles? These people were not prosecuted for going to the Senator’s office, but only for getting on an elevator. I would assume that if I go to an office, there is a waiting room nearby for my friends to wait, not downstairs. I am sure that several police could have accompanied these people to an office or waiting room, or at the very least just told them to leave. It looks like cowardice and simple PR on the part of the Senator; I’m sure that the nine people simply thought that accepting only three of them was a way to diminish the petitions, and put on record that only three people cared enough to deliver the petitions. Senators are supposed to meet with constituents, not meet with three and tell the others “my way or the highway.” A Senator is a public servant, and his office is public. But what I really don’t understand is the slamming of the protesters, not for their stand against a war, but for actually exercising their American freedom to speak to their Senator. What are those men and women in Iraq fighting for… dictatorship at home in America? If it is indeed a just war against terror, why is freedom being damaged at every turn; why are undamaged homes being stolen from people in New Orleans; why are voters being hounded, such as my elderly parents who no longer have their drivers’ licenses, and had to have family members go with them to Motor Vehicles to have a picture I.D. taken before the last election, which would not have happened if a family member had not been available, etc. etc… this is not democracy here, but terror, and the neocons are spreading that terror.



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Anonymous

posted September 14, 2007 at 1:52 am


Cads Posted: “By agreeing to let some of you up to deliver your message, I believe that was a reasonable compromise.”
Cads, Please explain your understanding of:
1) “Public Servant” – i.e. Domenici,
2) “Constituent” – i.e. Those who ELECT the Public Servant, WHOM HE IS SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT;
3) “Constitutional Government” and the “Right of the People to assemble PEACEFULLY” …
Now Ask yourself:
4)why are we “exporting democracy to Iraq”, while denying it to our own citizens?
5) Why Bush/Cheney — who swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States — have been trashing it, writing Presidential Directives, making UNCONSTITUTIONAL POWER GRABS?!
As for, “Enjoy how ever many days in jail that you receive and maybe try to get along more with reasonable people the next time.”
— You call this REASONABLE?!! —
I wonder what Thomas Jefferson or James Madison would say.
SHAME ON YOU for such a RIDICULOUS and UNAmerican POST! Get a copy of the Constitution, do your homework, and learn what our nation was intended to be!
It is NOT what the GOP/Bush/Cheney envision!



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lysel

posted September 14, 2007 at 2:04 am


Moderatelad wrote: “It is more of a respect issue. Can you imagine if only 10% of the Senators constituants showed up one day in groups of 9 and demanded his time?
Again – you have to respect the Senator’s office even if you do not like the person in that office.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Do any posters understand our system of government, or is Civics no longer taught in our schools? And what about the founding of this nation, and the American REVOLUTION, which was fought because the colonists were opposed to the HEAVY HAND of the King and wanted CIVIL LIBERTIES?
The Senator is an EMPLOYEE of the People of his state!! He is PAID over $160,000 per year, to REPRESENT HIS CONSTITUENTS! PEOPLE, STUDY YOUR CONSTITUTION, Learn your BILL OF RIGHTS – the first 10 Amendments to your Constitution, or YOU WILL COMPLETELY LOSE YOUR RIGHTS!
“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” ~~ Thomas Jefferson ~~



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John

posted September 14, 2007 at 9:03 am


“Again – you have to respect the Senator’s office even if you do not like the person in that office.” Amen!!
If one is rude and beligerant enough to press on beyond what has been stated are acceptable boundaries, then he or she deserves whatever repercussions result from their own rebellion.
God makes right come out right every time. If you as a Christian are going to willfully violate someone’s time and disrespect their appointed office (remember God put him in that office), then you better be aware of your own actions enough to know when you are receiving a sound rebuking on account of your own actions.
This applies to anyone on either side of the fence and those sitting on it. Cowboy up and take your licks like a man, not a whiny 21st Century blogger.
Enough said.



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