What Probably Should Have Been a 4th of July Post. (See: “day late, dollar short.”)

Remember this guy?

Yeah, him. The genius that tried to blow up a plane with a bomb in his dang shoe.

Granted, this is really old news– he pled guilty way back in 2003 to eight counts of terrorism and was sentenced to life without parole in a super maximum security prison. (Which frankly I think is a little lenient considering HE’S the reason we now all have to remove our shoes and put them in a plastic conveyer belt bucket while standing in the airport security line with our bare feet nervously resting on nasty, oddly stained linoleum/industrial carpet .) But just this week somebody sent me a copy of what the presiding judge, a man named  William Young, said at his sentencing hearing, and I was mightily impressed.

Here’s a little confession: I truly love my country and feel incredibly privileged to live in it, but frankly sometimes excessive displays of noisy patriotism make me a little nervous! Sometimes ‘celebrating our country’ can be used as an excuse to bash other ones. During my lifetime of traveling around all different parts of the world, I’ve witnessed some incredibly cringe-worthy examples of ‘the ugly American’ attitude. I personally believe we can celebrate our country and its hard-won freedom while still respecting other cultures and belief systems. However, let’s be clear– I am NOT talking about terrorism in any way, shape or form. Russ and I visited Ground Zero in New York about nine weeks after September 11th, and I can tell you that what was churning around inside of me as we stood and gazed at that still-smoking, gaping hole with that giant cross formed out of twisted steel rising from it… Well, let’s just say that my feelings that day did not really reflect my Christian, pacifist upbringing. So when I read this incredibly eloquent, well-thought out response by Judge William Young to the arrogant, remorseless Shoe Bomber’s ravings during sentencing, I wanted to share it with you. It really moved me; here’s hoping it stirs something noble up in you as well.

As Richard Reid was being sentenced, he began yelling at Judge William Young, repeating his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and proclaiming himself ‘at war’ with the United States. Before he was removed from the courtroom by guards, the judge replied with the following:

“This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Now, let me explain this to you.

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

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 it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, 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. You’re a big fellow. But you’re not that big. You’re no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you’re no big deal. You ARE no big deal.

What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.

And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

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 winds carry freedom. They carry 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 discreetly.

It is for freedom’s sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, and will go on in their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.

Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

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 still stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.”

24 Responses

  1. LindaB

    I think I’ve read this before, but I enjoyed it again. Judge Young is right on! And it’s heartening to know there are still judges who believe “It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.” Some judges make me wonder!

    I especially loved it when he waxed eloguent and said, “Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea.” I LOVE this country! And I thank God I am so fortunate to live here!

    What I’d like to hear is what the judge will say when sentencing the UNDERWEAR bomber! That speech has a lot of potential, if you know what I mean! LOL

    So far, since 9/11, we’ve been attacked by two goofs! One who couldn’t get his shoe to blow up, and one who only succeeded in blowing up his underpants and suffering some embarrassing yet painful burns! May God protect us in the future! And God bless the brave people on those flights that subdued those two idiots.

  2. LindaB

    I meant “eloquent”! Sorry! It’s late.

  3. MostlySunny

    Well, that just made my day! Very well said, Judge Young.

    I’ve had my American flag up since 9-11; I think I’m on my 8th one. Not that we’re a perfect country; we’ve done some stupid and awful things (I’m American Indian – many people are still on reservations…) so our history isn’t perfect. But, there are some things that we value above all politics – freedom, liberty and justice. We are a country of laws and some people just don’t like that.

    We went to the site where Flight 93 was crashed near Shanksville, PA, about an hour from here. I had that same sickening, roiling feeling in my stomach. Who does something like this?

    Justice will prevail. And, if not here, before the True Righteous Judge of all mankind.

    LindaB – you crack me right up!

  4. rodB

    Loved it then, love it now. I’m from Harlan county, Ky…and the only thing we would have done to change any of this in Harlan…is at the end of the sentencing, when all was proven to be guilty, life would have been way to easy. Carrying out the sentence from the bench, that would have been justice. Had this guy been smart enough to blow up his shoe…he would have carried out a sentence on a plane full of people.

    Justice after all, has to be fair.

  5. LindaB

    Okay. Tori, this is your fault—–you got me thinking about these “attempted terrorists” and what was their mindset in planning their failed terrorist plots. Was the shoe bomber sitting around with some likeminded friends and talking in hushed tones, “Hey! I think planting a bomb in my shoe would be a brilliant idea! I’ve got an old pair of Nike’s that I wouldn’t miss if they blew up—–heck! I’ll be in America and I’ll just buy a new pair! Yep! I’ll do it!” But the most bizarre thought process had to be that of the Underwear Bomber’s! “Well, I want to carry out a suicidal attack on America and assure my place in Paradise with my own bevy of 72 beautiful virgins——so, I’ll just cause my underwear to explode in a ball of fire great enough to bring down an aircraft! Yep! That’ll work!” If he had succeeded, there’d be some pretty disappointed virgins. And THEN I wondered if this guy’s self-inflicted injuries were treated by a crack team of American medical personel to preserve this guy’s ability to reproduce?? This is a crazy world indeed!

  6. tori

    LindaB, you never fail to bring the LOLs!

  7. LindaB

    And you never fail to let me! ;)

    But seriously, this story should be a comfort to any parent who’s disappointed in their offspring! Think about the mother of the Underwear Bomber! What does she say when other villagers ask her how her son is doing? “Well, right now, he’s in prison in America for blowing up his shorts! His father and I are so proud of him! He always did show promise in that area. He didn’t pull if off perfectly, and now he walks funny, but he’s young and he’ll get better at it with a little more training.”

  8. MostlySunny

    LindaB – You are on a roll!!!!!

  9. LindaB

    After staring at that picture of the Shoe Bomber, not to be unkind or shallow or anything like that, but I think the reason behind this guy’s anger is his inability to get a date! Can you see a girl’s parents letting their daughter go out with this character? Or a girl WANTING to go out with him?? I can’t.

  10. LindaB

    And THAT HAIR??? He should be arrested for his hair! If he ever gets out of jail, and he decides to try that bombing thing again, I hope he comes back as the “Hair Bomber”! At least, he’d be doing mankind some service.

  11. LindaB

    Sunny, what can I say—–it’s blazing hot outside and my garden needs tending……and I’m stalling.

  12. Gramma Jac

    Did anyone see Saturday with Mark and Tony today? Mark talks about when he was younger, the big thing in his church was I Cor. 11:14,…that men shouldn’t have long hair. (He was talking about legalism.) I think, Linda B., that that scripture may have been written about THIS GUY’S HAIR!!!

  13. Gramma Jac

    Oh,it’s Saturday night. Everyone pray that Linda B. stays away from the hospital tomorrow!!!!!

  14. LindaB

    Amen, Gramma Jac!!!! Amen!

  15. LindaB

    I’m sleepin’ fully dressed with my shoes on though……just in case!

  16. auburn60

    Yeah, I gotta say, it adds a whole different nuance to air travel to eyeball your fellow passengers and wonder what they have in their shorts.

  17. LindaB

    Yayyyyyy!!!! Alyson’s here!

    Don’t ya wonder how the other passenger’s reacted to this guy? Like…..did a couple of them call for a stewardess and say, “Uhhhhhh, Miss……that guy over there……his shorts are smokin’! Do you think something’s up? And can I have another diet Coke, please, when ya get time?

  18. Gramma Jac

    LOL LindaB.

    I’m writing this at 11:05 p.m. my time,….did you make it through Sunday without a hospital trip?!?

    Have a great week all!

  19. LindaB

    YES, I DID, GRAMMA JAC!!! Thanks for asking!

  20. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Oh my, I’m supposing that fella couldn’t get a job as a door to door salesman…

    As for the judge, I’d love to have him over any Sunday for dinner.

  21. delightedabroad

    Hi friends, I just came home with great news: I passed my exam so now I’m a certified translator for French too!

  22. rachelbaker

    Delighted … I am delighted for you!! That is great news.

    LindaB, I’m pleased your weekend passed without medical emergency.

  23. Gramma Jac

    I’m off my computer until Sunday,…have fun everyone! Anxious to read Tori’s next “pithy” entry!!! You can feel sorry for me (NOT!)–I’m off to Lake Tahoe for a wedding!!!LindaB, I’ll pray next Sunday be a repeat of this past Sunday!!!

  24. LindaB

    Congratulations, Delighted!!! We knew you could do it!!! Praise God!

    Thanks for the prayers, Gramma Jac! Have fun at the wedding!

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