Monday, January 11, 2010

The Saga of Kate O'Hare

Kate Richards O'Hare, American socialist and anti-war activist in 1917, went to Bowman, North Dakota as part of a speaking tour and "in the presence of 125 people" said:

"that any person who enlisted in the army of the United States for service in France would be used for fertilizer, and that is all he was good for; and that the women of the United States were nothing more or less than brood sows to raise children to get into the army and be made into fertilizer."

On the grounds that "such statement so made was made with the intention of willfully obstructing the recruiting service of the United States, to the injury of the service of the United States," she was arrested and indicted under the Espionage act.

It came out during her trial that she had further said The Great War was only being waged to protect capitalists, and that had the US loaned more money to Germany, we would be on Germany's side, but since our investments were more with the Allies, we were on the Allies' side.

The judge told her there was "no foundation" for this idea.

As part of his sentencing speech, the judge also said the Secret Service had told him, "We have been unable to secure anything specific on her that would be a violation of the Federal law ....but .... we are morally certain [she is] for Germany against our country."

Apparently being "morally certain" outweighed the lack of "anything specific."  Kate was convicted and sentenced to 5 years in a Federal prison.

If stating your opinion to 125 people in North Dakota would get you 5 years, can you imagine what would have happened to her if they'd had 24-hour television back then?

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