Thursday, April 04, 2013

Today -100: April 4, 1913: Of artificial excitement and hysterical enthusiasm, dirigibles, and peanuts

Emmeline Pankhurst’s trial concludes. She refuses to call witnesses but does make a speech. She notes that she is pleading not guilty, despite having pointedly taken responsibility for the attempt to destroy Lloyd George’s country home, because the indictment said that she had “wickedly and maliciously” incited the act. Before the judge can stop her, she slips in a mention of an unnamed judge who was found dead in a brothel. She adds that she looks upon herself as a prisoner of war, under no moral obligation to accept her sentence, and that she plans to hunger strike and get out in time to speak at a meeting at the Albert Hall next week. The jury finds her guilty, with a recommendation for mercy, which the Dickensianly named Justice Lush ignores, sentencing her to 3 years.

The Standard (UK) says that the “artificial excitement and hysterical enthusiasm of militant meetings” causes “decent girls and married women” to “make criminals of themselves, [be] sent to jail, and go through hunger strikes and consequent degradation. It is useless to pretend that contact with the criminal law and experiences of prison can be otherwise than prejudicial to female modesty. Womanliness is a decent flower that cannot long survive the atmosphere of rowdyism which Mrs. Pankhurst has done so much to create.”

On April Fool’s, there was a French newspaper hoax about a German dirigible overflying France. Now, it’s actually happened. The Zeppelin IV lands, on the military parade grounds at LunĂ©ville. It got lost and blown off course. Or so its crew says. After a search of the airship for spy stuff (and a nice chance for the French to do some industrial espionage of their own) and an investigation, the airship and its crew are released. 600 locals wrote their names on it as well as Vive la France and other, less printable, comments.

Headline of the Day -100: “Peanuts Start Vice Hunt.” The Illinois Senate Vice Commission investigates an incident in which some immigrant girls (nationality unstated) traveling to Chicago stopped to buy a packet of peanuts and missed their train, leading others in their group to claim they must have been forcibly removed from the train by white slavers. By the time the train reached Chicago, the story was that two men had enticed 20 girls into their grips. Hilarity ensued.

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