Publication information
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Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Experts and Their ‘Facts’”
Author(s): Austin, Kate
Date of publication: 9 March 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 10
Pagination: 4-5

Austin, Kate. “The Experts and Their ‘Facts.’” Free Society 9 Mar. 1902 v9n10: pp. 4-5.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response: criticism); Leon Czolgosz (mental health); Leon Czolgosz (psychiatric examination: criticism); Czolgosz family; McKinley assassination (personal response: anarchists).
Named persons
L. Vernon Briggs; Walter Channing; Leon Czolgosz; Carlos F. MacDonald [misspelled below]; Edward A. Spitzka; Wat Tyler.
Click here to view the article by Wat Tyler that the piece below is written in response to.


The Experts and Their “Facts”

     In FREE SOCIETY of February 14, Wat Tyler comes forward with the information that “thru a scientific investigation conducted by Drs. Channing and Briggs of Massachussets [sic], it has been positively demonstrated that the crime of Leon Czolgosz was the effect of insane delusions that had pursued him thru life and continued to the day of his death.” I gather from Wat Tyler’s article that the evidence which led to the “positive demonstration” was procured thru interviewing Czolgosz’s family. From that evidence it appears that the rebel, who has been the victim of so many scientific (?) demonstrations, was fond of his own company, that he loved to read and think and sleep, that—like the average American citizen—he studied the Almanack.
     It may not be out of place to remark that all the people I know do these things, myself including. Nearly all the people I know have faith that certain things forecasted in the Almanack “come true.” They are practical people for the most part, and [4][5] their sanity unquestioned. Dr. Briggs further learned that Czolgosz prepared and ate his food apart from the family. These are the main points gathered by this latest scientific investigation, the summing up of which led Dr. Channing to declare “indicated a considerable degree of mental impairment, probably amounting to actual disease.”
     Now, it is a well known fact among radicals that there are comrades who are considered by their relations to be insane or depraved because of the strange views they hold, so at variance with popular tradition. The fact that Czolgosz’s family practically deserted him in his extremity, that they were Catholics, while he had repudiated religion, shows that the ties of kinship as well as sympathy had long been broken between them. This, coupled with ignorance and fear for their personal welfare, make [sic] their testimony weak, and the weakness extends to the conclusions drawn by the learned gentlemen. Moreover, we learn by another scientific investigation thru material evidence gained in a post mortem, that mentally and physically Leon Czolgosz was in perfect health, if anything the brain being better than the average. It matters not that these experts added a postscript to the effect that the subject was “socially diseased,”—physically and mentally, they demonstrated by a careful examination that he was sane and healthy. I will call their decision Scientific Demonstration No. 1[.] Drs. Briggs and Channing, by holding a post mortem over a lot of gossip and second hand [sic] information in the shape of opinions gathered from “Tom, Dick, and Harry,” give us Scientific Demonstration No. 2, viz: that “a considerable degree of mental impairment[”] existed, “probably amounting to actual disease,” and that Czolgosz’s act was the culmination of insane delusions. When scientific experts thus differ and contradict each other’s conclusions, it is well to be a little modest in regard to things being “positively demonstrated.” The words a typical regicide convey about as much meaning as does socially diseased. It is enough to make one weep tears of wrath and pity, when we consider how so-called learned men, in the name of science, tax human credulity in the effort to prove a king-slayer either insane or a natural fiend. But who ever desired to hold a post mortem over the rulers who slay thousands in invasive wars to satisfy the lust of conquest and greed? The public executioner, who expresses so much pleasure over his neat method of killing a fellow being, and the harmonious details connected with the proceeding, never interests our savant. A great naval officer who speaks of a sea fight he took part in, where hundreds of poor men lost their lives, as “the most beautiful sight he ever saw,” they silently ignore, and so long as they do, thus ignore licensed murderers, and express not the slightest interest in discovering why the ruling class kill and take pleasure in killing, I shall regard with contempt their scientific (?) researches that demonstrate, by their very onesidedness [sic], what fools, knaves, and hypocrites these searchers [sic] are. Had Messrs. Spitzka, McDonald, Channing and Briggs, held a post mortem over the industrial condition of this country and the crimes of those in power instead of dissecting the remains of Leon Czolgosz and a lot of gossip, they might have demonstrated a few facts that would prove those conditions responsible for human explosions like that at Buffalo. As it happened they preferred to ignore social conditions and assume that Czolgosz was either insane or a fiend incarnate. In regard to those “Anarchists who tacitly accepted Czolgosz at his own estimate,” being mistaken in such acceptance, I heartily concur with Comrade Tyler. A rebellious workingman who deliberately gives his life in exchange for that of a worthless hulk of a ruler has such a very modest estimate of his own value, that I for one would not dream of taking it. While I mourn for every noble life that has thus been given, I recognize and accept the act as the supreme protest of a brave and generous heart against “the curse of government.”

     Caplinger Mills, Mo.



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