Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY; MARCH 14th, 1914. ORGANISED LUNACY.
At last' there' is a glimmer .of.' open revolt against the . extraordinary tactics of the militant suffragettes in England, and the great British public, wearied with the never-ending scries of outrages, is asking why (lie authorities should tolerate this constant upsetting of its peace and the deliberate destruction of valuable property. Yesterday's cables announced that "there is a widespread demand for more severity towards the militants and suggestions that they be allowed to ■starve ■•.■themselves." The convention which sanctions in these women acts which would involve! the most severe punishment if! perpetuated by men, is plainly a' false one. They are using theirl peculiar position in the world; both as a sword and shield, and! have already done more to destroy the: ethical line of demarcation between the sexes, so far as legal retribution is concerned, than any' race of savage women could have achieved in the same time. The position could best be appreciated if all the male malefactors in the London prisons began to hungerstrike. Mr McKenna's concern could not, we think, extend to the length of letting them out on license! Yet so far as the respective crimes are concerned it may be found that, for the most part, it is merely a matter of degree,, not of kind. They have smashed innumerable windows, destroyed thousands of letters in street letter-boxes, damaged golf-links, placed bombs in railway carriages and cut signal lines on railways, blown up valuable apparatus in museums, set fire to timber yards and hundreds of country houses, and organised rioting and other disturbances at public meetings. The .'"suffragette responsible for the latest act of criminal vandalism—the destruction of a valuable picture—has been sentenced to six months', imprisonment, but she merely needs to refuse food for a few hours and she will be set free—to openly flout the authorities. That they cannot help injure their cause by their militancy must be apparent to every one of these women who is not wholly insane, and it seems very plain that 'they-.are more concerned for the success of. their methods than for that of their cause. The position is very ably summed up'"'by Mr Lloyd George in an: article in "hash's Magazine^' 'His opening words make his conchtsions all the more interesting and valuable: ""I have long been a convinced advocate of, women's suffrage, and am now j .firmer than ever in supporting! it." And after,enumerating the reasons for his belief he presents the following' remarkable indictment of the tactics that have rmade pariahs of the leaders -of the movement •—'/ It is perfectly astonishing' to recall with what diabolical ingenuity they have contrived to infuriate all their .sympathisers, and to stir up against themselves cv.cry prejudice in the average " man's breast. A few years ago they found three-fourths of the Liberal M.P.'s on their side. They at once proceeded to cudgel their brains as to how they could possibly drive them into the enemy's camp. They rightly decided that this could not be done more effectively than by insulting and assaulting- the Prime Minister, the chief of the Party and a leader for whom all his colleagues
and followers feel an unbemnded admiration, regard, and affection. When they had thus successfully; estranged the majority of Liberals they began to study the political situation a little more closely. They .saw that the Irish Nationalists were very powerful factors in the Ministerial Coalition. The ncx( problem, therefore, was how to destroy the last" chance that the Irish Nationalists would sup-: port their cause. They achieved this triumphantly,,first by making trouble in Belfast, where the only Nationalist member is, or was, a strong Suffragist, and secondly by going to Dublin when all Nationalist Ireland had assembled to welcome Mr Asquith, throwing a hatchet at Mr Redmond, and trying to burn down- a theatre. That finished Ireland,, bill still they were dissatisfied. There was a dangerous movement of sympathy .with their agitation in Wales, and they felt that at any cost it had ...to be checked. They not only checked, but demolished it with the greatest ease, by breaking in upon the proceedings at an Eisteddfod, .
. . ." and Welsh interest in their; cause iell dead on the spot. But even iheu they were not happy* They were still encumbered by. the good will of perhaps a hundred Tory M.l Vs. But they, proved entirely equal to the task of antagonismg 1 them. They began smashing' windows, burning country mansions, firing racestands, damaging golf-greens, striking as hard as they could at the Tory idol of Property." There is really noihing more left for them to do: they have alienated every frjend they ever had ; their work is complete beyond Ih-jir wildest hopes.