Of my brother
By Beth Curtis
Kurt Vonnnagut spoke in an interview of a man who was born good and stayed that way till he was dead. I have always thought of John that way. It is not difficult to put an elegant yet human face on him.
On a crisp September day in 1947, John was born the fourth and youngest child of Bijou and Calvin Knock. His father was the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The family lived in the large yellow Victorian house next to the church. It was a time when children played all day with dangerous offensive toys, talked to strangers, had pets that were not fenced, and felt free. There were no warning labels on everyday products and suing was an unknown concept.
There were also no conspiracy laws, mandatory minimum sentences, money laundering, and scant federal law telling us what to grow, eat, think and do. Life had a clarity and cleanness about it.
John grew restless in the late 60s as did his generation and followed the exhortation - Go west. In California, it was a time of turmoil, but still with promise and freedom. There was protest in the air along with a sense of power, hope and change. California was a bubbling caldron of all these promises. The promises were of course false or suspect at the very least. The young hoped that the justice system and Federal law would bring more freedom to the dispossessed. This happened, but it was like the dog that came back to bite.
Those who have the power to keep you safe can also suck freedom from the air you breath. If the government can give you freedom, it also has the power to take it away.
Thirty years later, John Knock, a hopeful, happy, loyal, non-violent man who loves dogs, children and life is sent to prison for life in the 11th circuit Federal Court in Gainesville Florida by Judge Maurice Paul.
He was convicted of a crime that didn't take place, with people he didn't know, in a location he hadn't been. The additional irony is that the crime was conceived and instigated by the DEA and Federal Prosecutors who were aided by paid and compensated informants.
I'm his sister and I've been educated.
John has an admiration for Sir Thomas More. I would also appreciate the existentialist sentiment of the play. The idea of a self directed man could be an ideal. The corruption begins with every duty. I believe that John's admiration has it's genesis from a more primal source. A Man for All Seasons portrays Thomas More as a man of principle risking life and liberty for his belief, a man standing against the King with dignity, but unyielding.
John did not suddenly begin this admiration of the Saint through a dramatic or literary experience. I believe he arrived here by way of his time in Ireland 35 years ago when he developed a profound empathy for women in their 7th decade who were still hiding their identity for fear of government reprisal for past rebellion. This John could identify with. In a Man for all Seasons, More is portrayed as a renaissance man. Thomas More is both more practical and more of an ideologue, but, John sees him as a man of principle standing up to a sovereign state that seeks to control ones thought.
I on the other hand see the drug war through other metaphors. Arthur Miller"s Crucible comes to mind. The DEA and Federal Prosecutors peeking through the bushes into the clearing to watch the young girls dance. Could they be Reverend Parris?
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