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John Livingston

The Quality of Mercy

My Quaker grandmother protested in front of the American Friends Service Committee on the campus of Swarthmore College early on during the Viet Nam War. Her son was a Navy fighter pilot and because he was flying in Viet Nam—Corsairs, my grandmother was shunned at Quaker meetings and ostracized in the community of mostly pacifists and conscientious objectors.

When Jane Fonda visited a North Viet Nam POW camp where US Navy pilots were imprisoned, and when it afterwards became known that she had taken a secret piece of paper given to her by a POW and placed it in the hands of a prison guard, The American Friends Service Committee’s sponsorship of Mrs. Fonda was cause for action for a 72-year-old Quaker lady Patriot.

She wore a long white dress with white knee socks. She carried a homemade sign on a tomato stake. After three days she was asked to relinquish her position at Swarthmore College. An early lesson for me about liberal progressives who preach “tolerance and acceptance” but when someone else has a different point of view and they are looked at as just not being in the minority, but as being a threatening faction, all bets are off, and the First Amendment becomes moot. The same thing happened during the Covid political pandemic when a virtue signaling former Idaho Attorney General opined on editorial pages across the State that a highly credentialed medical doctor should lose his license to practice medicine because he didn’t agree with the status quo regarding mitigation and treatment during the political Covid pandemic.

Sara Brady stood up for her principles and should be respected for her personal courage, but as the day turned into night her judgement became the issue. As she was pursuing her First Amendment Right of “conscience”, which is what freedom of speech, press, and religion are all about, she very quickly became the center of an angry group of about 300 people. An act of conscience can quickly become an act of violence, or it can be painted by a media with a political narrative to be an act of violence—think about how Jan. 6th was turned into an “insurrection” by the media and their accomplices in the justice Department and The FBI and the likes of Liz Cheney, Adam Schiff, and Nancy Pelosi. Did the local media in Idaho ever claim there was an insurrection at our State House when the SAY THE WORDS crowd stopped anyone from entering the House or Senate Chambers for half a day? One man’s peaceful protest is another man’s insurrection. It is all in the tainted and tinted eye of the beholder.

“A mob is the place where a (normally-jml) peaceful person goes to take the place of their conscience”.

The person at the center of the protest can easily lose control of the mob and their consciences. That is where the police come in. They are there as an agent of all parties. The participants, the property of others, and maybe other protestors on the opposite side of the issue. When the police say stop—STOP. If you don’t you are placing yourself at the mercy of their judgement. From what I have read of the Sara Brady case this is what she did. And the police officer’s judgement and discernment were anything but wise. The police officer was no Solomon and Mrs. Brady was not the Queen of Sheba (Bilqis). They were both human beings who both placed themselves in positions where the actions of another person would determine what happened next. That is not a good place to be if you are either a policeman or a citizen facing a policeman. Respect was lacking by both parties. As I told my sons, always respect the police even when they are wrong. The time to sort things out is not at the scene where actions are in dispute. They didn’t always listen and neither have I listened to my own advice on occasion. Uncontrolled emotions can also lead to bad outcomes.

Sara Brady “toed the line” and should be respected. She was wrong in not respecting the police officer. The police officer was wrong in not exercising restraint and judgement when trying to diffuse the situation. Were either Sara or the police officer “cruising for a bruising” —doesn’t matter. When the police officer says stop—STOP.

One other point. Raul Labrador was perfect and appropriate. He let all parties know what was going on before he dropped the case. The Mayor of Meridian was not one of those parties. Mr. Wasdin never understood how concepts of “equity and law” would play out and because of that the justice rendered by Mr. Labrador was not able to be understood by his predecessor.

“The quality of Mercy is not strained,

It dropeth as the gentle rain from heaven,

It is twice blessed—

It blesses he that gives and he that takes” Portia’s Speech Merchant of Venice All parties were blessed by the Mercy of Mr. Labrador.

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