Scott, Scout, and Boo Radley
Rev. Michael Bray 7 August, 2009
  Rev. Michael Bray
     I prefer literature and film which take their audiences and readers through complex problems and present the hard decision.  The decision is hard because it runs against the forces of tradition, law or public opinion – the powers that are.  Such is the case with Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Boo Radley, the innocent defender of children under attack, is compared to a mockingbird, the killing of which is said to be a sin.  It is the six-year-old Scout, tomboy daughter of the heroic lawyer, Atticus Finch, who makes the comparison from which the book finds its title.  It is a sin to kill a mockingbird because, unlike other birds, it serves people by its wonderful music.
   Anticipating the prosecution of Scott Roeder, I watched again last night the film version starring Gregory Peck as Atticus. (It is among my top five favorite films.) It is early August and the trial of Scott Roeder is scheduled a month from now.  I know that the story features a theme which is on display now in Kansas. The state is prosecuting Scott Roeder in the shooting death of abortionist George Tiller inside his Lutheran church on Pentecost Sunday.  The apparent irony is not restricted to “killing in the name of God in a house of God.”  Rather, it includes the fact that a man who practiced the shedding of innocent blood for three decades should have been allowed to hold membership in a house of God.  There was a propriety in shooting Abortionist Tiller in the sight of those who share the blame for allowing him to shed innocent blood.  His fellow parishioners had forsaken him along with their duty to correct him.  His blood is on their hands and was appropriately and graphically shed in their presence and in the “house of God” where they fraudulently offered their worship.
     Lee’s classic, staple reading for all high school curricula, is about racial prejudice.  The setting is Macomb, Georgia, during the Depression, but the story is drawn from the author’s own experiences growing up in the sleepy southern town of Monroeville, Alabama.  In nearby Scottsboro, nine young black men were accused of raping two white women in 1931.  Five were sentenced to long prison terms in a case where the testimony of the women was doubted by many.   The book was completed in 1957 and published in 1960 before the peak of the Civil Rights movement.
     Jem, Scout’s ten-year-old brother, is impressed by his father’s display of marksmanship when he is called upon by the Sheriff Heck Tate to shoot a rabid dog which was wandering menacingly down the street.  Jem is informed of his father’s achievement as the best rifleman in Maycomb as a young man.  This local history is revealed by the Sheriff rather than the humble Atticus, but the father takes the opportunity to speak about restraint in the use of a weapon.  Atticus was allowed as a young boy to shoot squirrels and then birds as he improved his skills.  But his father had taught him that it was “a sin to kill a mockingbird” because that bird did no harm to anyone.  It only brought pleasant music for people to hear.
     “Boo” (Arthur) Radley is a strange character, a recluse with undisclosed handicaps, who lives a few houses away from the Finches.  The two children of Atticus exercise their imaginations in the summer over the many rumors which circulate about the comings and goings of Boo.  But they gradually discover that he is benevolent in his shyness and that he is looking out for them.  Indeed, he becomes their protector and saves their lives from the attacks of an assailant.
     The main antagonist, the attacker of the children, is Bob Ewell, a poor racist who blames his daughter’s unilateral sexual dalliance with a black man, Tom Robinson, upon him and accuses him with a rape that he did not commit and that never even occurred.  Mayella Ewell, the daughter, plays a short role as a victim, manipulated by a tyrant father whose threats against her are the apparent cause for her to lie against Tom resulting in his conviction in court and subsequent death.  Hopeless of any justice, he is shot by deputy escorts as he attempts to run away while being transported to another prison.
     Sometime after these tragic events the children attend a harvest festival at the school and are walking home through the woods when they are attacked by Bob Ewell. It happens that unseen Boo is also in the woods watching after the children.  He kills Ewell as he defends the children.
     It would be a sin to prosecute Boo Radley, the Sheriff concludes.  He comes to talk to Atticus and lays out the ethical situation.  An innocent man has been killed, Tom Robinson.  A guilty man is dead, Bob Ewell.  It would be “a sin” to put the shy and benevolent Boo through a trial for the sake of the assailant, Bob Ewell. The damage it might cause the kind and heroic recluse would be immeasurable and unjustifiable.  He says, “To my way of thinking, it is a sin” and “I am not about to have it on my head.”  And further, he says, “It is not a sin to prevent a crime.  I never heard it being against the law for a man to do his utmost to prevent a crime.”
     He states that his official report would be that “Bob Ewell fell on his knife.”  And he prefaced his declaration by iterating and repeating: “I am still the Sheriff of Macomb County.”
     Scout, by now seven, is not too young to understand this simple justice.  She says to Atticus, “The Sheriff is right.  It would like killing a mockingbird.”
    This is the theme of the book: justice prevails.  But a sub-theme here is that for justice to prevail, a false report must be filed.
      It would be a sin to prosecute Roeder as it would have been to prosecute Boo Radley.  The mockingbird theme here refers to a good person who is harmed by the evil of mankind.  Whether that evil comes from bad laws, malfeasance, or the simple wickedness of a citizen, it must be overcome.  Evil must be opposed where it is asserted.  The innocent must be defended.  The weak must be protected.  Roeder must be found not guilty and the lawful ground is justifiable homicide in the protection of true human beings who were being routinely murdered under the cover of a false law known as the Roe v. Wade opinion.
     Scott Roeder faced a terrible evil in the practice of child murder by late-term abortionist, George Tiller.  He who destroyed 60,000.000 womb children was not deterred by the warning of Shelley Shannon who mercifully shot him in both elbows in August of 1993, sparing his life and allowing him the opportunity for amendment of his ways.
     A government which prosecutes Roeder says it approves of one who murders innocents and opposes those who protect them.  Such a government sins as one who would kill a mockingbird.  What will the jury sitting in judgment of Scott Roeder do?
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Genesis 9:6
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed:
for in the image of God made he man.
Numbers 35:33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are:
for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the
blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it
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