All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Saturday, April 08, 2006

State v. Michael X. Mockus

Maine's last blasphemy trial—and probably its only such trial since statehood—was held in South Paris in October of 1919. A month before, notorious Lithuanian radical Michael X. Mockus had given three speeches to immigrant workers in Rumford that scandalized the county and state. A 1998 article from the Historical Journal of Massachusetts describes his offenses.
Typical of his talks elsewhere, he used lantern slides to flash famous religious paintings on a screen, and then proceeded to ridicule the truths therein depicted. The bulk of his listeners responded with derisive laughter, hooting, and applause. At this Rumford appearance, he specifically mocked the dove in the Holy Trinity symbol, the Virgin Birth as preposterous except by biological means, and the nearly nude figure of the crucified Christ. Furthermore, he interlaced his "exegesis" with a sweeping condemnation of religion, capitalism, and government as an unholy trinity. [Link]
I ran across the court records from the Mockus trial a year or two ago, and jotted down a few of the less incendiary quotes. Mockus said that the Virgin Mary "had a beau," and that "Religion, Capitalism and the Government are all damned humbugs, liars, and thieves." He asked if Jesus "was God from the Ghost, then where did that belly-button come from which is sprouted like a button?" Some of his more colorful statements I wouldn't repeat without first taking out a restraining order against Pat Robertson. (The curious may read more here.)

Mockus was found guilty after 45 minutes of jury deliberation (a gentleman from my hometown of Greenwood was foreman), and sentenced to one to two years hard labor at State Prison in Thomaston. He immediately filed an appeal on grounds of freedom of speech, which was denied in 1921. By then, Mockus had skipped town. His bail was revoked, and he never paid his debt to Maine society—which has never fully recovered.
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At 4:44 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Janice said...

Seems to me that Mockus' family could sue alot of people who are imitating his 1919 assertion that Jesus had a family... although they will have to wait in line it seems.



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