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Im your king

Filed Under , on October 7th, 2017

The Privilege of Decision

By Seth Kabala

I delivered the speech below as project #6 in my Toastmasters journey to earning my Competent Communicator award. Wish you had been there, dear reader. Someday. For now, here’s the text:

* * *

Words echoed in the courtroom, reverberating off the walls like mad spirits. Running, bouncing, stopping, reversing, accelerating—each word was a terrible messenger joining with its fellow bearers of bad tidings to deliver the final judgement: guilty.

Guilty of what? Of speaking my mind? Of listening to those who speak theirs? Of daring to pursue actions for the common good?

The answer: yes—to all of the above.

The sentence: death.

By whose authority do you condemn an innocent man to die?

By my right, for I am the king, and you … ? You are the dirt on the soles of my shoes, the moldy crusts I throw to the dogs, the excrement in my chamber pot.

You are nothing, and to nothing you shall return.

* * *

Ask yourself this question: if my life and liberty were on the line, would I rather they be in the hands of an unstable monarch or subject to the measured judgement of a jury of my peers?

Prior to the United States of America declaring its independence, I imagine scenes such as the one I just portrayed were common place. If not word-for-word, surely some derivation of those words and ideas existed, for why else would bands of explorers set sail across the ocean to find a new world, establish a new world order, and fight to the death to defend that order?

Leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, King George III was committing egregious acts against his subjects, the American colonists, such as:

1. Restricting trade, forcing the colonists to rely on Britain for basic supplies, bankrupting towns to the point of destitution.

2. The imposition of martial law, whereby you could either agree to join the British cause or else suffer the plundering of your land, killing of your livestock, and perhaps the tar-and-feathering of yourself.

3. Suspension of habeas corpus, effectively legalizing illegal imprisonment, and along with this, removal of any private American citizen from the colonies to England for prosecution. The goal was to deprive the accused of “all that is substantial and beneficial in a trial by jury,” per Edmund Burke, a 1770s Member of Parliament and supporter of the colonial cause.

You can’t buy anything but British goods? Fine, you become a farmer. Make everything yourself. Time to become resourceful. You join their side or they burn your farm? You were looking to travel anyway. No one has discovered your hidden donkey tied up on the back 40. Plus, you’ve heard minimalism is all the rage!

But illegal imprisonment for real or imagined treasonous acts and hauling you across the ocean for summary judgment not from your peers but from the diseased mind of the crown and his cronies? How do you spin that?

You don’t. I argue that if there’s anything worth fighting for, it is the right to liberty and justice and a trial by a jury of your peers.

A couple months ago, I served on a 12-member jury for a civil medical malpractice trial. The defendant, a neuro surgeon, was accused of botching a lower lumbar disc removal, causing the plaintiff/patient permanent nerve damage. The plaintiff, who was 26-years-old at the time of surgery, suffered, among other things, permanent erectile dysfunction and sensory deficits, which meant he couldn’t get it up and couldn’t feel it if he did.

The junior-higher in me wanted to snicker at the two weeks of descriptions we heard of flaccid this and no harder than a raw hot dog that, but I pushed those feelings down and reminded myself of the privilege of sitting in that jury box.

Folks, people died, scores of them, over hundreds of years, thousands of miles; families were ripped apart; legacies were tarnished; lives were ruined to build the foundations of America so I could have the privilege, not the duty, of serving on a jury of peers to help bring justice to someone who had been wronged.

Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

Unstable monarch or jury of your peers.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our privilege to decide.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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