Because of decisive actions of the FBI, law enforcement officers can sleep easy knowing the heinous plot of the Hutaree, a Michigan-based Christian militia, has been thwarted.
The news of an FBI takedown of militia members in Sandusky and Huron spread through the area like a wildfire in the past week. Everyone knew a little something about the two local men facing federal charges and were more than willing to share it via the gossip telegraph.
Are they nice kids who got caught up in something they didn't understand? Are they oddballs who had little respect for authority? Kristopher Sickles was described as a good father, a good husband, a fun-loving jokester, a paranoid survivalist, a demented moviemaker wannabe whose productions catered to his perverted fantasies, a good son, a sex offender, a Christian, not a Christian, a domestic terrorist or an evil, overgrown boy scout.
Which, if any, of these statements are true doesn't seem to matter to the people who are so willing to be judge and jury of this young man's future. Evil, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Saint or sinner, patriot or deviate -- it all depends on your point of view.
One thing is certain. Though Sickles and his compatriots are dissatisfied with the way the country is headed and were ready to do something, no matter how misguided, about it, they are still American citizens. They are still protected by a justice system that says they are innocent until proven guilty. They still have the right to a speedy and fair trial, one based on facts, not on gossip.
Family members not part of the alleged plot are not criminals, nor do they deserve to be ostracized, criticized or judged. Kelly Sickles, a young woman facing a nightmare of epic proportions, is our neighbor. Her husband, the father of her children, is in a heap of trouble. The repercussions of his acts will affect his life, and those of his wife and children, for years to come. Whether he is guilty of plotting against the government of the United States or just guilty of incredibly bad judgment in his choice of friends, the wheels of justice will determine.
Through the Hutaree plot, we have seen the dark side of American thought, the results of buying into conspiracy theories and the advocacy of violence as a viable solution to America's ills. The flip side of that coin -- the one that shows America in a shining light -- is a community which shows compassion, common sense and common courtesy in dealing with innocent members of the families of the accused.