I’m a joke by comparison:
For those who have never heard of her — her story is seldom mentioned in our media — Linda is Canada’s longest serving political prisoner.
She will soon surpass, cumulatively, the time spent in prison by Karla Homolka — who knowingly led three girls, including her own sister, to rapes, tortures, and murders in which she participated. Homolka, as everyone probably knows, plea-bargained her way to a modest sentence and was released more than five years ago. According to one press report (in La Presse) she was back in Ontario and studying law. Other reports placed her in the Caribbean with a new husband and child.
Linda Gibbons, by contrast, has no prospect of release. She is a grandmother, age 62. Her crime was praying, publicly, inside the 60-foot “bubble” around a Morgentaler abortion clinic in Toronto. She also, on occasion, held up a placard reading, “Why, Mom, when I have so much love to give?” She first did this in defiance of a temporary court injunction obtained by the Ontario attorney general back in 1994 and has returned to doing it, and been re-arrested, each time she has been released.
The legal complexities, by which a temporary civil manoeuvre by an NDP government to deny free speech and association, was perpetuated; and an infraction against it was graduated into a criminal offence; is much too complicated to review in the space of a column. The case goes before the Canadian Supreme Court in the autumn, and the justices will try to sort out how this happened, and what if anything they will do about it.
Another contrast is instructive. While Linda Gibbons was languishing in jail, Henry Morgentaler, the abortionist, received the Order of Canada for his “commitment to increased health-care options for women,” and so on. No comment of mine could go further in exposing the moral horror at the heart of contemporary Canadian public life.
Yet that reality helps explain Gibbons’s unusual behaviour. She does not obtain a lawyer; she refuses to defend herself in court. She refuses to make an undertaking, to stay away from the Morgentaler clinic, in return for her release. She has not complained about her sentence, or about conditions in prison, except to demand a copy of the Bible in her cell and to request more blankets on behalf of all the women forced to sleep in certain poorly heated cells. She has also caused annoyance by routinely leading other prisoners in prayer.
In light of which, charges that she “resisted arrest,” or “obstructed justice,” can be seen for what they are. As she has frequently stated: She can serve God equally in or out of prison.
This is a woman who has chosen a penitential journey; the Lenten pilgrimage. She is a mystery to those unaware that she is imitating Jesus Christ: in acts, not mere words. She has agreed to suffer herself, for evils in which she did not participate — I pray, to her own salvation.
To those who can see, she is a beacon of light in a very dark world.
God bless her. And God move in us that we might exhibit even a fraction of that kind of passion, that kind of commitment.
And might God’s justice reign down on those who incarcerate this saint.
H/T Mark Shea.