As I said back in February at the arraignment, my disarmament action at Bath Iron Works was dedicated to a brother-in-law, Clifford Weed, who at that time was dying in agony from a cancer caused by his exposure to Agent Orange nearly 30 years ago. Cliff was an ambulance driver in Vietnam, risking his life to evacuate the bleeding and dying from these killing fields, some of them burned bare from our napalm, which was produced in major chemical companies in the US. He died in June, a few weeks before his son's (and my godson's) second birthday. Of course, on the day Cliff joined the ranks of over 200 million peopie killed in Wars in this century, I was here in Cumberland County Jail, paying the price for refusal to cooperate with the national insanity of nuclear weapons. I missed Cliff's funeral, but I hope and trust that from where he is now, he understands.
Also, I throw a kiss to my grandmother, who died in July. Anagusta was 100 years old, a lover of life, and quite influential in my formation as a Catholic, which in so many respects is the reason I am standing here today.
Incidentally, Ms. Kazanjian's quick success in persuading the court that the US Navy is a victim in this case and her insistence that we pay thousands in restitution has struck some members of my family as a kind of cruel joke. My sister and brother-in-law fought for years with the Veterans Administration to achieve the recognition of being a victim of Agent Orange. The end result was a check for $853.37. This was in restitution for six years of unrelenting pain, for the death of a husband, for a child growing up without a father!
Yes, there are plenty of victims in our case, but can we all just stop for a moment and have a good laugh at the idea that the Navy is one of them? After all, the Navy's ability to threaten, coerce, terrorize and exterminate people all over the globe remains unchanged. These floating arsenals of flying extermination ovens, called Aegis destroyers, are still being built in your district, Judge, at a billion dollars a piece, while nearly half of Maine's children experience hunger on a regular basis.
The Navy has received full support in this courtroom for its possession with intent to use nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles, despite the fact that the law -- moral, international, Constitutional -- forbids this. And the people of this country -- the majority of them, anyway -- have still not as yet come to act on the convictions that most of us share, namely, that all nuclear weapons must be dismantled and that our government is utterly powerless to do so. As much as I would like to claim otherwise, the Navy's position as bastion of Empire, a mortal threat to humanity, and worldwide victimizer, remains intact.
This nation has become a runaway armament factory. We sell weapons To 162 out of 182 countries of the world, in many cases to both sides in the same war. We are the most violent people in the history of human civilization, both in terms of arms proliferation and body count. For the past 52 years since we became the first and oniy nation ever to use nuclear weapons -- and that on defenseless civilian populatians -- we have held a nuclear gun to the head of all humanity. And yet we throw up our hands in exasperation at our inability to stem the tide of violence in our own streets, in our own homes and schools, which seems well on its way to destroying us from within. My family and I encounter the victims of this violence every day in our Catholic Worker ministry in New Haven CT, as we share a common table with homeless veterans, battered women, drug addicts and their children the mentally ill, refugees.
So it is from that experience that I want to cry out to my daughters Keeley and Soledad, who are here in the courtroom and understand what is happening to their father today, and to my son Justin, who is too young yet; I want to say before them and all of the next generation that we have got to find a way out of this mess. We have all, each of us, got to examine our roles in this demonic madness, whether it is a passive one of silence, apathy, and denial -- as I have played for too much of my life -- or an active role such as you, Judge Carter, intentionally or not, are playing by your court justifying the building, possession, and intent to unleash on the world weapons which will eliminate all life, and by your punishing of those who deny these weapons' right to exist. We have all got to come to a simple, thoughtful, nonviolent and persistent decision that we will not play our part in the end of life anymore. We will neither participate in nor permit the theft of our childrens' future. Such a decision takes courage and involves hardship. Nevertheless, it is inescapable. Fifty- two years is enough. This government is helpless to disarm. We must do it ourselves.
And as fate would have it, my act of disarmament at Bath Iron Works, of which I am obviously proud, has presented you with several opportunities to exercise the kind of leadership on which the future of our children depends. But thus far you have failed to do so. You failed at the trial by not even permitting the jury to hear the law -- our defense based on international law, which is binding in this court, according to the US Constitution. (Let us not forget that even members of the jury itself were troubled by the unfairness of the trial.) You failed to prevent these federal marshals from denying large numbers of people access to this courtroom that they might witness our attempt to expose the government's criminality to public scrutiny. You failed by allowing us to remain in jail for eight months, instead of being free to pursue our vocations to public nonviolent resistance and service to the poor.
And now I come before you again, and you have yet another opportunity to exercise just judgment, moral judgment, not beholden to politics, to the Pentagon, or to the insanity in which our government expects you to play your role like a good functionary. I am not a particularly good or virtuous person, nor do I claim to have apprehended all truth. But I do know that what we did at Bath Iron Works -- the hammering of swords into plowshares -- was right. It was responsible. It was good parenting. It was required by Jesus Christ, the God of my faith, who commanded us to ]ove our enemies. A court that punishes such an act stands condemned. Therefore, with respect, Judge Carter, I advise you that if you choose to punish me, you will do so without my consent and without my cooperation. When released from prison, I will pay no restitution; I will report to no one, nor will I allow my conscience to be supervised. I have put my hand to the plow. I have decided to resist this government's obsession with violence and to do what is in my power to defend its many, many victims. Now it is your turn.
I am inviting you today to refuse this role as a functionary, to reclaim your identity as a judge to change your allegiance from death to life, and in so doing, to change a bit of the world. I invite you to refuse to punish me, to give me your blessing, and send me back to where I am needed, living the life of a nonviolent resister, servant to the poor, husband, and father.
Thank you for listening.
Sketches from the Sentencing.