Friday, June 09, 2006

Sedition by Example XX: Thompson v Nalder

(A continuing exposure of the abuses perpetrated under the archaic law of sedition)

Article published in Revolt, a newsletter issued by the Militant Worker's League, September, 1931:

The Single Men

Once again the single men are being made the goats! It does not seem to have occurred to the workers yet how neatly and completely they have fallen into the trap and allowed the fact of men being single or married to create a barrier between worker and worker. No wife-less wages. Even amongst militants, we often hear it, "He's all right, he's single!" And the barrier is erected and the workers ranks split. It is proposed to draft all the single men into the backblocks, into the block of nowhere, where they will be conveniently out of the way upon some highly philanthropic pretext of "food, shelter, and a little pocket money in healthy surroundings." Dear, dear! Kind of the unemployment board, isn't it? For the good of the single men? No - emphatically no! It is to isolate them, keep them away from the main body of the workers and above all, ignorant. To dragoon them and prepare them for their part in the coming war which the scoundrels who rule the British Empire are plotting as a road out of their difficulties. The single men must organise and fight against this wholesale deportation. The married men must fight side by side with them, or they and their families will go next. The employed workers must back them up. The attempts to isolate these men - treat them as criminals - put them beyond the pale, must be smashed. That, or the men will be taken away, gradually forced into a state where they will do as they are told - Fascised, fit weapons against the other workers here or for foreign warlike adventure. The fight for the single men therefore is a direct blow against the boss's Government, a direct attack on N.Z. Capitalism, a blow for the whole working class.

Demand: Equal treatment for married and single men - no distinction, no divisions of the ranks!

No exile from the workers centres on this or any other fancy pretext. If no work, then free food, clothing, and shelter for all workers, married or single.

Rally round the U.W.M. and the Militant Workers League!

Down with fancy employment schemes - work at T.U. rates or full maintenance!

To hell with the United Swindlers Government.

A man caught distributing the above - the "Thompson" of the title - was arrested and charged under the Police Offences Act 1927 with inciting "disorder, violence, and lawlessness". While there was "nothing in evidence to show that any serious disturbance has happened", or anything linking outbreaks of disorder to the circulation of the paper, it was held to be "a mischevious publication which definitely encourages disorder" and "an invitation to its readers to disregard law or rule for the purpose of gaining their ends". Thompson was convicted, and imprisoned for three months.

(Sources: Revolt!, No 1, 1931, Militant Workers League, Auckland; Thompson v Nalder, 32 GLR 61)