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ARGUMENT AND ELOQUENCE, Issue 15646, 10 November 1914
ARGUMENT AND ELOQUENCE
MR AND MRS SNOWDEN
ON LIQUOR AND LICENSE
For the purposes of public conviction the No-lioense party have obtained really formidable assistance in the persons of Mr Philip Snowden, M l’., ami Mrs Snowden, and really from last night's meeting in the Garrison Hall Mrs Snowden is likely to bo tire inspiration. Far while Mr Snowden excels in the cold logical marshalling of facts, his wife has tho true gift of the advocate—eloquence. Ho pub before tho largo audience last night what he claimed to be, the cold facts of the “liquor” situation ; Mrs Snowden lifted the facts into the sphere of emotion, which is the motive power of every movement. Reduced to essentials, tho argument of Mr Snowden was that the license of one citizen ceases where the rights of another begin—that it is the function of law to restrain individual license; Mrs Snowden used every moment of a genuine gift for conveying emotion to express the woman’s point of view—that if any traliic constitutes a danger to tho little cliildren and tho sox that bears and rears children it is snihcient argument for its abolition. But hear thorn in their order. Mr Snowden (brictly introduced by (lie Mayor) quoted the arguments of tho trade, and' submitted them to critical examination. Tho liquor trade advanced a number of statements in advocacy of the trade. Some of these were too trivial, too contemptible almost for notice, but some wore so plausible as to demand attention. Ono of the former kind was strange, striking, and novel ft was argued tint the consumption of alcoholic liquors had been one of tho principal factors engaged in tho progress of civilisation. This lemarkablo contention would have them believe that tho great geniuses of tho past had been inspired by tho consumption of alcoholic liquor; that Milton wrote his ‘Paradise Lost’ with a battle of whisky at his elbow, and .Shakoapcn.ro his j lays under the guise of strong beer. This was one of those arguments that carried its own refutation. Thus, when a man went to an insurance office ho was asked some very inquisitive questions. No company in New Zealand or in the world would issue a life policy on the life of a man who declared himself to be a free drinker or a confirmed toper. The experience of insurances was that tho life of a total abstainer was better than that of even a moderate drinker. But [Kissing from these self-convicting statements to more plausible arguments raised in favor of the liquor traffic, Mr Snowden proceeded: " One point of opposition to National Prohibition is based on the ground 'hat it vouid bo an unwarrantable interference with individual liberty; that tho State has no right to deprive the individual of tho opportunity of indulging his appetite for alcoholic liquor. Is there any reason in this argument? It is over Lite in the day to say that the State has no right to interfere with the habits of tho individual. All law is aimed at the restriction of the individual in ono form or another—a restriction of individual liberty tr individual license. . . . The individual exists
ottlv as a part of the community, for tiie individual owes everything which distinguishes hint from the brutes to the fact that ho is a member of a social community. If certain actions committed by individuals are injurious to themselves, ami injurious to their fellows, the case for State interference is complete. It is established according to all precedent of law. All that we have to prove is that the liquor trade is a trade anti-social, interfering with the resources of the community and social welfare. If wo ear. prove that, the ease for the abolition of the drink traffic is established. In Nea Zealand during the past three years 55,000 convictions for drunkenness had been recorded. Mr Borcham (who was ejected later) ; And 13,000 of them in Prohibition electorates. Mr Snowden went on to say that in this small community there were 11,000 convictions annually for drunkenness. It was impossible to estimate the economic loss involved in this, but at least they might assume that every one of those 11.000 persons wasted ono day in getting drunk, another day in attending tho court, and. if he were unable to pay the fine, several more days in His Majesty's temperance hotel. (Laughter and applause.) The heads of all the great lunatic asylums in England averred that 25 per cent, of tho cases that entered these institutions were directly due to drink. Drink was also responsible for a great amount of cruelty. They had in the Old I,and a society for tho prevention of cruelty to children, and 2,000,000 cases had been brought into the courts, of which 96 per cent, were duo to the effects of drink ; that was to say that the cruelty was committed when one or another of the parents was drunk. And, again, there was tho economic waste. Mot only was tho money spent on drink wasted, but it cost the community enormous sums to decal with the results of this wasteful expenditure of individual wealth. Tho argument of the individual right had been urged against all great reforms. When hours of work were curtailed it was argued that no one should hinder the man from working 12 hours a day if he wanted to. It was his right. But now workmen’s hours were fixed by legislation. Ho would furnish yet another instance of State interference for the benefit of tho majority. Four years ago in the Homeland only 5,000,000 of 14,000,000 workpeople belonged to friendly societies, and thus provided for sickness and permanent infirmity. This absence of provision for tho individual was against the welfare of tho State. The British House of Commons argued that, in the interests of the individuals and the State they could not allow them to exercise tho right of not making provision, and now every person who worked for wages had to pay a proportion to a friendly society. Ho"was not even given the freedom of paying his contributions. They were deducted from his wage before he saw tho remainder. (Applause.) So it was tho function of legislation to inhibit the individual for the common weal, and all they had to do to establish a case for the abolition of tho drink traffic was to show that its continued existence destroyed tho physical health of men, women, and children, that. I it was sowing evil and corruption through I tho land, and then they could appeal to ; the precedent of every Act of Parliament, and wipe the traffic out. (Applause.) Mrs Snowdon was very warmly received, and in the course of a very reasonable ami yet fervid speech said that women had always suffered more than men from the unwise indulgence of tho latter in alcoholic liquor. One great writer had said that there had never been a day when women had not bitterly resented man's use of alcohol. There was a special arid particular way in which women regarded this ami every other public question. Because of her special work in the world, because of her special environment (which included her body and tho implication of her body), woman was apt to regard this question from a special point of view. For every woman was potentially, if not actually, a mother, and while men through the ages had been toiling fee property (till they came to regard it as sacred) women had tailed and labored and joyed and agonised for children, until in a special sense children were the property of women. Even the law in some ways regarded property before honor. There was the case where a man was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for stealing an overcoat, while another for assaulting a child was fined 10s and costs. When woman understood the power of political combination to improve social and individual conditions —when she understood the power of the i vote to determine the lives of the little children—then (when she obtained the political franchise she was entitled to) the vote of the woman would be always on the side of human life and honor before property. For as the flower turned to the sun tho heart of Woman turned to the child, and the love of children constituted woman’s right to a vote on any question. It could be demonstrated that the liquor traffic was an illegitimate one, that it would be no real loss even if the State lost £1,000,000 a year; but all these arguments faded to insignificance before the supremo one that the traffic constituted a danger to , the little children and the people who bore children. (Applause.} J
Mr Philip Snowdon will speak again at tho Garrison Hall to-night on the economic aspect of tho liquor question. This may be the last opportunity of hearing this clear and forceful speaker. Mrs Snowden will assist at the evening’s meeting, and on Wednesday deliver her lecture entitled * A Peep into Parliament Through a Woman’s Eve.' l!o.\ plan is now open at the Dresden.
ARGUMENT AND ELOQUENCE, Issue 15646, 10 November 1914
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