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(DV) Allwine: In Good Conscience I Cannot Pay a Fine for Speaking Out Against the War







In Good Conscience I Cannot Pay a Fine
for Speaking Out Against this War

by Janine Maria Allwine
March 11, 2007

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The Honorable Rufus G. King, III 
Chief Judge, Superior Court for the District of Columbia 
500 Indiana Ave., NW 
Washington, D.C. 20001 
Re: Janine Maria Allwine (Defendant) 
Crim No. 2006 CDC 26113 
Convicted on February 16, 2007 
Dear Judge King: 
You have ordered me to pay a fine of $50 for the above-referenced conviction. I have thought long and hard about this matter and, even though the money would go into a Victimís Restitution Fund, my conscience dictates that payment of any money into any fund for something I have the Constitutionally protected right to do is wrong. 
I am writing to respectfully tell you that I will not pay this fine, but, more importantly, I want to tell you why. I want to be sure that you understand that I mean no disrespect to you or to your court. But because I know that your conviction of me was wrong, I also know I can not pay a fine and continue to look at myself in the mirror. 
I was arrested while exercising my Constitutional right to petition my government. It would take me several pages to tell you what I have done since 2002 (indeed since the installation of George W. Bush as president in 12/2000) to stop the downward slide of this country into what I know is already here -- a particularly dangerous brand of American fascism that infects our foreign and domestic policies. I do not use this term lightly -- in fact, I have hesitated to use it -- but because it truthfully states what is happening, I now use it when discussing this subject. 
Our government has invaded, destroyed and occupied another country for reasons that have nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Husseinís actions toward his countrymen, democracy, freedom or any other lie put forth by this administration. These dangerous neocons have been itching to invade Iraq since we left it during the first Gulf war and they were laughed out of the Bush I and Clinton White Houses when they agitated for it. You can read all you need to read about this in The Project for a New American Century (online). Perhaps you already have.

This group intended to invade Iraq for reasons that have everything to do with an exercise of American military might designed to make the world afraid and willing to tow the US line on what our freedom really means: the freedom for American corporations to do business everywhere and in any manner they see fit. Our government has used our military, our democratic processes and the trust of ordinary Americans to make the world safe for American business -- and that, Judge King, is the classic definition of fascism. 
I was an ordinary person, aware but ordinary, before Mr. Bush was allowed to subvert the democratic process I used to trust. After 9/11, I waited and hoped that he would learn the lessons that were so obvious -- that we must engage the countries of the world, we must work for human and equal rights, we must not be hypocrites by paying lip service to democracy while giving our intelligence agencies free rein to remove those world leaders we donít like, and, above all, we must not allow American business to rape the rest of the world for its own ends. That is why ďtheyĒ hate us. Itís not hard to understand -- but obviously, itís not a lesson that fits in with the plans of people like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, Ledeen, Wolfowitz and a whole host of others, who in reality hate what they say this country stands for. 
I watched in utter horror over the months in 2002 as it became obvious to me that we would invade Iraq and we would concoct any lie to do so. And so we have. And so Iraq is a bloodbath -- for the Iraqis and for us. My country has destroyed Iraq and I donít think I will ever feel good about my country again. I am 53 years old and I never ever thought I would lose hope for my countryís future and the future of my daughter and all our sons and daughters, but I have over these past 6 years. My peace of mind has been destroyed by this government. But I am only one person still living in comfort here -- not a single day goes by that I do not force myself to look at pictures of the dead and wounded Iraqis and US forces -- all dead by our governmentís hand. I look at the Iraqis whose living hell of a life I can not really imagine and for which I feel unrelieved shame. I look at the US soldiers, who trusted their government would not call them unless it was really necessary, and now they are legless, armless, burned and mentally ill for the rest of their lives -- their lives wasted for no reason at all. 
I marched, I wrote and called my representatives, I wrote letters to the editor, I flyered, I talked to everyone I could, I engaged in civil resistance because I didnít know what else to do. I endured harassment at work. I was subjected to the ugliest speech you can imagine when I protested -- everyone else was on a patriotism high and I was definitely the anomaly. Early on, I was afraid I would be shot while I protested -- a Quaker was shot at in Annapolis in 2003. But I did it anyway because I could not -- I will not -- be silent. During all this time, I have read and informed myself more than most people have. I know too too much to ever be silent again. 
Judge King, this is just a hint of how I feel and how committed I am to what I am doing. If the First Amendment to the Constitution does not mean what it says, then what are we? The police actions on 9/26/06 were designed to do nothing more than prevent us from doing the very thing this country came into existence for -- to protect the people from tyrants and to guarantee the right of people like myself to speak out against them when we see them. 
And I do see them -- they are in the highest levels of our government and I will continue to speak out against them. It is my right as an American. You, more than most, must know that our precious civil liberties, those rights that make us different from any other country, have been cast aside by those currently in power. It is my right, it is my duty to do everything I can to prevent these dangerous, America-hating, greedy corporate shills from wreaking any more havoc on this country and the rest of the world. I will never be silent again. I will never be still again. 
I respectfully decline to pay the fine. 

Janine Maria Allwine is a Baltimore activist with the Pledge of Resistance. She will not pay a fine for exercising her rights to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly.