Spoke truth to power, as many self-righteous of this day claim they do, when they know nothing of the kind of power he faced, autocratic, middle eastern, first-century A.D., rule by whim of ruler.
Herodias the trophy wife gave the word to her dancing daughter, voluptuous, tempting, the coolest of chicks. Her stepfather Herod, a potentially decent sort, got lassoed. Had been drinking, the kid got to him (and his hangers-on, watching his every move), he promised the world or half of the part he controlled (I said POWER). The fool.
The angry mother told her. The head. She told the fool in charge, gulp. He liked John, liked to listen to him. John used the occasions not to butter him up but to admonish him. He was not going to back down, knew what was right and what was his duty. Very gutsy guy. Went with his conscience, angered the spiteful woman.
Now what? The others are looking at him. He had promised, had he not? What kind of king was that whose promise meant nothing? He swallowed hard. Turned to the hatchet man (not a figure of speech, as we use the phrase today), said get the head. Hurry up, chop-chop.
The daughter, learning how things are done, took the head on a platter (not figurative), and the mother smiled.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.