Friday, June 16, 2006

Sedition by Example XXI: Reverend James Chapple

(Being an ongoing incitement for the repeal of the archaic crime of sedition)

Reverend James Chapple, Unitarian Minister, speaking to a meeting in Greymouth, March 29th, 1918:

You are under the heels of the war lords. We have not enough population for our own country, yet we are lusting after the annexation of Samoa. The patriotic poison is in our schools. Childen are taught to salute the flag and taught to sing the National Anthem. I tell my children, when they come home, not to sing the National Anthem. I am hoping with a fervent hope that in this war there will be no victor to pray about. A war is blasphemy. A woman goes down the valley of death to bring a child into the world, she nurses it, sends it to school, sees it through the sixth standards, and then comes the call to arms, and it goes away to war. What for? To die for its country? No; to die for the profiteer.


Russia wanted war, England wanted war, the upper class in New Zealand wanted war. Never has there been such a wonderful five days (meaning the days of the Russian revolution). The old Russia has gone and the new Russia has come in. I hope before I die to see a similar movement in new Zealand. I hope the day will come in new Zealand when these war lords will be repudiated. I hope not a penny of the war loan will be repaid. You do not authorise them.

For saying these words during the course of a 90-minute speech, Chapple was charged with two counts of sedition. He was convicted, and sentenced to eleven month's imprisonment.

(Source: New Zealand Herald, May 11 and May 18, 1918).


On one hand he was (rightly) arguing against WWI, on the other hand, he was hoping for a Communist revolution in New Zealand.

So although I oppose sedition laws & would have called for his release on those grounds, I wouldn't exactly have shed any tears over any hardships he suffered.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 6/16/2006 10:03:00 PM

As a matter of interest, Chapple is the grandfather of Maurice Gee, and Gee's model for the character Rev. George Plumb in the 'Plumb' trilogy ('Plumb', 'Meg', 'Sole Survivor'). Probably the greatest novels in New Zealand's history.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/17/2006 03:57:00 PM