[saymaListserv] three nuns put Quaker principles into practice

Steve Livingston nc_stereoman at charter.net
Mon Oct 4 09:54:50 JEST 2004

Dear Friends,

Many of us are aware of the long-standing "Plowshares" effort to 
bring attention to America's huge arsenal of long-range missiles 
armed with nuclear warheads. The purpose of this effort is not to 
physically damage these weapons, but rather to symbolically 
diminish their value through simple acts of civil disobedience 
involving tiny hammers, paint, and even the protesters' own blood.

An unexpected but welcome turn of events in Colorado comes with 
a zealous U.S. Attorney determined to brand three gentle nuns as 
virtual traitors, charging them with obstructing the U.S. defense 
rather than simple misdemeanor trespass, as if their symbolic 
actions actually threatened our nation's ability to launch a pre-
emptive nuclear holocaust. A year of litigation has kept the case --  
and the question of the efficacy and morality of such weapons in a 
post cold war world -- in the news.

Last year, a jury found the three nuns guilty as charged and 
sentenced them each to prison terms of at least two years. But the 
judge left open the door for appeal, and their case was heard this 
past Friday by the appellate court. Hundreds of supporters showed 
up to monitor the proceedings. Two articles appeared in the Denver 
Post to describe the case.

Background and Description of Plowshares Case

News Story on Friday's Appeal Hearing

Readers were treated to a description of exemplary non-violent 
activism that modern Friends might find familiar, instructive, 
inspiring. The crime committed by the nuns consisted of cutting 
through a chain-link fence, then tapping on the huge weapon of 
mass destruction with ball-peen hammers, the drawing peace signs 
and a large crucifix using vials of their own blood.

During the initial trial, the nuns were depicted as  "pray[ing] for their 
prosecutors and beseech[ing] the Almighty to shower his blessings 
on all the judges who sentence them . . ." The government was 
forced to admit that their case for sabotage was based not on the 
ludicrous argument that the nuns might have damaged the missile, 
but instead on the ludicrous argument that the cutting of the fence 
and the use of human blood constituted a threat to national security.

During last week's hearing, hundreds of supporters convened at the 
University of Colorado campus as well as packing the courtroom 
and the street outside. "It's been very wonderful," one of the 
attorneys for the nuns reportedly beamed.

Steve Livingston
nc_stereoman at charter.net
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