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Stories for the Long Silk Road

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Michael Ceraolo: Free Speech Canto XXXVIII

Scott Nearing redux,
after his firing by the University of Pennsylvania,
this time he was at the University of Toledo,
           true to his stated principles,
he was again active politically,
this time on whether the U.S. should enter the war
                                                                            War was
"uncivilized and should be abolished"
"We need protection"
                                "but not against
          or London,
                          or Paris,
                                       or Petrograd,
but against Wall Street"
some newspaper headlines
soon after the U.S. entered the war:

"Draft Success Puts New Life in New York Market"

"Year's Best Prices Reached")

Nearing's speeches inspired
Reverend Patrick O'Brien to say:
"I feel tonight like taking by the nape of the neck
and hanging him to the nearest tree"

though Nearing narrowly escaped that fate
he was fired by the University of Toledo
shortly before war was declared

again that didn't stop Nearing from speaking out;
he published a pamphlet titled
The Great Madness:
A Victory for the American Plutocracy:

"The declaration of war
was a slap in the face of democracy----
the censorship bill bandaged it eyes,
plugged its ears,
                         and gagged its mouth"


"The American plutocracy was no more interested
in establishing democracy in Germany
than they were in establishing democracy
in the United States
They did want to see German industry crushed"


"The plutocratic brand of patriotism
won the endorsement of the press,
the pulpit,
                the college,
every other important channel
of public information in the United States"
many other pages in a similar vein

the Federal Government took notice of his work,
and eventually indicted him,
in April 1918,
the marvelously mismonikered
Espionage Act,
                        a law
less designed to combat espionage
than to quash dissent
wasn't even brought to trial
until February 1919,
a few months after the war ended
Showing the true purpose of the law
the prosecutor's case consisted of
citing Nearing's words,
he readily admitted were his
they made no attempt to show that those words
had actually had the prohibited effect,
a fact Nearing pointed out:

"The prosecution has not been able to show
a single instance in which recruiting was obstructed
They have not been able to show a single instance
in which insubordination,
refusal to duty was caused"

Nearing was acquitted,
the censorship provisions remained

Nearing continued to speak out,
and to write,
he lived to be a hundred,
he never worked in academia again

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