A Clown A Hammer A Bomb… and Father Carl

Father Carl Kabat, on his way to disable a nuclear weapon.

Father Carl Kabat, on his way to symbolically disarm a nuclear weapon.

So I’ve been thinking about the Plowshares movement a great deal over the past few days. As I reported last week, the Tennessee Jury on the Transform Now Plowshares case found three peace activists (Michael Walli, Greg Boertje and Sister Megan Rice) guilty. They not only found them guilty of vandalism (which was expected, and which carries a relatively minor sentence). The jury also found them guilty of Sabotage–I’m given to understand that the charge indicates the jury found they were engaged in willful destruction of US military property in order to interfere with US defense. I think someone needs to talk up that whole Jury Nullification thingy. That particular charge carries a 20 year prison sentence.  And of course the ‘sabotage’ charge implies that they were going to try to disable the Y12 factory. What they did in fact was hammer on the brick facade of the new HEUMF building and hang peace banners. They also poured their own blood. Details are here.

I’ve written about the case on this blog, and you can always go to the Sex and Politics website and download my interview with Sister Megan Rice. In the meantime: The picture above is of Father Carl Kabat, one of the original Plowshares Eight and arguably the priest with the most time behind bars in the history of this republic.  On Good Friday 1994 (which fell on April Fool’s Day), Father Carl decided to be a Fool for Christ–he dressed in a clown suit and broke into a Minuteman III missile base in North Dakota, where he disabled a nuclear weapon (don’t panic here) by hammering the silo doors so that the missile tube couldn’t open.  The picture above is from another Father Carl action. I wrote a play about the action many years ago (I did NOT write a biography of Father Carl, and the play does take some liberties with his actions that day). My goal was to explain the world view of the Plowshares to an audience.  He is one of the bravest people I’ve ever met.

And last year I performed the play A Clown, A Hammer, A Bomb and God on my own (since my actor friend Ben Roberts decided to move to a country where the locals believe in peace and find nuclear weapons appalling). At Union Square. On Good Friday. Outdoors. I need a better clown suit.

If you want, I will gladly come perform for you about Father Carl’s action. In the meantime, you should send things of value to the Transform Now Plowshares prisoners. Their sentencing is in September.


One comment

  1. Dan, given your observation on jury nullification, perhaps this would be of interest – http://www.saczee.com/z_current/z_page1.html#GRANDJURY

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