“That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose:
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
Yet grace must still look so.”
(Macbeth, act 4, sc. 3)
Comment. In a recent Court case, defendant, failed suicide-bomber and terrorist Richard Reid admitted his guilt without apologizing for it. He was condemned to 80 years in prison. Upon passing the sentence, the judge delivered a sermon to him.
That condemning the terrorist was necessary, it goes without question. Nor it is, or it would have been possible for the defendant to reply to the judge’s words and sermon.
What follows, however, is a ‘virtual’ dialog including what, feasibly, the defendant could have said, in reply to the judge, whose words are reproduced verbatim.
Judge. “Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutively. (That’s 80 years.). On count 8… The Court accepts the government’s recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.
This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.”
Defendant. I hearken all right and I am, I was well aware that I was committing an act of war, or, depending on how you define the word, an act of terror, during which I failed to execute my plan.
And, as the Duke of Albany says to the wicked wife Goneril, I concur with the idea that,
“If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come,
Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep.”
Therefore, not even in my mind, I am questioning your sentence. But, as you yourself must have said or perhaps thought at times, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, as I will explain shortly. And may I respectfully suggest that your position – there where the tide of pomp beats upon the high shores of the world – should not partialize the unstooping firmness of your upright soul, as Richard II affirms when taking up himself the role of a judge.
Because, you see Judge, this is where your reasoning totters. That the sentence be just, I am not here to dispute, but that the justice be righteous I take issue with.
Judge. Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid.
Defendant. I am sorry, Judge, you may not be afraid of us or of any of my terrorist co-conspirators, but your extension to the plural is contradicted by facts. You have created a department (the NSA, National Security Administration), that is immense, and growing daily in immensity. Which, by the way, has enabled not a few to become immensely rich. Yet, in a sense you are probably right. The NSA characters in question are not afraid because of the enormous layer of protective mercenaries they surround themselves with. But junior-high-school logic suggests that the billions expended in and by the NSA (which are sucked away from more social or productive pursuits) have one and only justification, fear.
Judge. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.
Defendant. It is good to know that you reach out for justice. I don’t know to whom the plural applies to, but let that go. However, since you mention ‘justice’, I am afraid to say, you open up the proverbial can of worms. Your words, by the way, show that “even for revenge (you) mock my destruction”, and you, representing the winners, have the traditional right to gloat on your victory and accordingly mock me.
There is one thing I may take the liberty of reminding you of. Though I was ready to give up my life for a cause, I can assure you that I care to live like anyone else. We have families too, we have the land you invaded, the children you slaughtered, the women your soldiers killed and raped (see picture and link below). But let me continue, please.
“There is a history in all men’s lives, featuring the nature of the times deceased…” etc. etc. And I would like to remind you that the acts of terrorism began in the early 1970s. May I also remind you why? Because after the 1967 war, the entire world expected that your friend (or ruler?) the Zionist state, would move out of the Palestinian land, occupied during that invasion. I may add that there was also the United Nation resolution 242 ordering the liberation from the invasion. That the United Nations is an expensive joke, whose function is to pay huge fees to a bunch of sybaritic parasites, is an acknowledged proposition. Nevertheless, as you are the right representative of the Law, the UN was intended to guide our martyred planet by the rule of Law.
But that, as you know, did not happen. On the contrary, the Zionist state has carried out for 40 years, not only a brutal occupation, genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, torture, unlawful imprisonment etc. Anything bad, you name it, it has been the fate of our people to suffer. And because we do not control the world and not even our resources, all we have to fight with is our life. This is why some, actually many of us, are ready to give it up in an attempt to redress the scales of what you call justice. The same justice that you, so eloquently, claim to be reaching for.
Judge. It seems to me, you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.
Defendant. Thank you for bringing this up. One of your presidents – not famous for his command of the English language, though he kept the works of Shakespeare well visible at the White House – one such president, to justify the invasion and pillage of Palestine and of all Muslim lands, spoke of “clash of civilizations” and also of our being “envious of your freedoms.”
Now, Judge, you may even stoop yourself to agree with me that envy is a very destructive state of mind. The Latin poet Horace, if I may be allowed, stated it beautifully in one of his Odes, “Invidia, Siculi non invenere tyranni majus tormentum” (Not even the Sicilian tyrants discovered a worse torment than envy).
However, it may surprise you to know that we are not at all envious of your freedoms. It would take too long here even to start discussing the meaning of freedom, liberty etc. Nor I should remind you that George Orwell has wonderfully described how your employing state commits the most egregious curtailing of traditional freedom in its very name… but let’s continue.
We have no intent whatsoever to impose our values or our laws in your Country. Still, we do not envy your freedom to degrade women to sell products, to make a sacrament of consumption and poverty a sin, to waste immense resources to satisfy the lust of a few, to let financial monster-crimes go unpunished while jailing a poor soul who stole for bread to appease his hunger. Should I mention the monsantization of crops, the mcdonaldization of food and the simpsonsizazion of the American families. Which, after all is the not-so-hidden agenda of sundry Think-Tanks and of the corporate media – the Public Relation agency of the Pentagon and the Apparatkit.
No, thank you, we do not envy your freedoms. All we would like (would have liked) is to live our lives in our lands.
You may know that in our religion hospitality is sacred. We would have welcomed you as guests, we cannot welcome you as invaders.
You may plan to subvert our civilization with the use of arms and with the corruption of our souls, after having corrupted with money many of our leaders. Who knows, you may even succeed. “In the corrupted currents of this world, offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice, and oft is seen the wicked prize itself buys out the law” (our law).
Judge. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it, or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not—–, you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court.
Defendant. With all due respect, what I am is for me to think, though of course you may say what you like. Or rather, what you say is not true just because you say it. And that, I think, even applies to Judges. As I was saying, you may plan to subvert our culture and civilization.
Yet, hope is the last goddess. A few flickers of light shine in your country. Bradley Manning, one of your soldiers had the guts to defy a system designed to crush him so as to expose the crimes of his government, the crimes of his civilization. And it is most interesting, most telling that a colleague of yours, the Judge in Bradley Manning’s case, declared (sic) that “conscience does not have a place in this Court”.
Which, translated, means that Bradley acted out of conscience to expose a crime, but that is irrelevant. A statement that speaks volumes about your interpretation of “freedom”, “democracy”, “rule of law”, “openness” and all the other fine words bandied by politicians and pundits.
Judge. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: ‘You’re no big deal. ‘
Defendant. You and State Trooper Santiago said it, I didn’t.
Judge. See that flag, Mr. Reid? That’s the flag of the United States of America . That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.
Defendant. If I am allowed…. Tis well said again; and ’tis a kind of good deed to say well: and yet words are no deeds.” I am sure you know, Your Honor, that in your Country there exists a silent though not accurately determined number of millions. They believe that the flag makes a colorful wrapper to hide state crimes under it.
Not a novelty, really. It has been successfully applied in all totalitarian states until they got away with it.
Image of American soldiers raping (bringing freedom) to Afghan woman. For the complete article (and more harrowing images) the link is
In the Play. Malcolm to Macduff after commenting on the changes that made Macbeth a tyrant.