Publication information
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Source: Truth Seeker
Source type: magazine
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “Mrs. Austin Has Her Say”
Author(s): Austin, Kate
Date of publication: 12 October 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 41
Pagination: 650-51

Austin, Kate. “Mrs. Austin Has Her Say.” Truth Seeker 12 Oct. 1901 v28n41: pp. 650-51.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response: criticism); Truth Seeker; anarchism (laws against); Leon Czolgosz; McKinley assassination (personal response: anarchists); society (criticism); McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); the press (criticism); Emma Goldman; John J. O’Rorke.
Named persons
Kate Austin; Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; William McKinley; John J. O’Rorke.
Click here to view the Truth Seeker editorial referred to in the letter below.

Click here to view the magazine’s editorial response to the letter below.

Click here to view a reader’s response to the letter below.


Mrs. Austin Has Her Say

To the Editor of The Truth Seeker.
     We are strangers, but I am not modest about addressing a stranger when I have something to say. I am heartily disgusted with The Truth Seeker editorial on the assassination of McKinley. It sounds cowardly and it sounds hypocritical.
     If the “enactment of repressive laws” would be “proper enough to protect our representatives,” how can anything that is thus proper work “injustice to innocent people”? Wouldn’t it be more in line with common sense to protest flatly against the enactment of repressive laws, which cannot be right or proper under any circumstances?
     Besides, I cannot see as our representatives deserve special laws for their protection any more than the hod-carrier or day laborer, who on the whole is a far more useful member of society.
     I am sorry to see The Truth Seeker grow rabid in its denunciation of Czolgosz. The line of reasoning adopted by the Editor, namely, that Czolgosz cannot complain at the infliction of the death penalty, because he resorted to “deadly weapons; that if he could reason he had the right to use them, then he must admit others have the same right”—this line of reasoning, I say, is probably the one Czolgosz followed. The ruling classes murder men, year in and year out, legally of course. Their first resort in every difficulty is deadly weapons.
     Czolgosz simply followed their example. [650][651] He presumed it was his duty and a benefit to humanity to remove a certain man, and he did it. The man had never harmed him directly, it is true; neither had the culprit in the felon’s dock who received the death sentence from a murderous judge ever harmed that judge directly, but the judge presumed he had a duty to perform in removing that man, and he did it. I can see no difference in the two acts; both are the wilful [sic] taking of human life, but if obliged to choose between the two I should say Czolgosz’s motive was the nobler of the two. His act meant self-destruction, and this proved his sincerity to a mistaken idea of duty. On the other hand, no judge would sentence another man to death, if the sentence meant his own doom. This proves that their idea of duty is a hypocritical pretense. The assertion in the editorial that “the savage has assassinated our liberties as well as our representative and there is but one deserved fate for him, death!” has a good old-fashioned [?] to it, something like “an eye for an eye,” etc. Perhaps if the ruling class would set a less bloodthirsty example before men, there would not be these few occasions to weep and wail over the untimely taking off of one of their number. That talk about “assassinating our liberties” is bombast. No man can kill liberty. The spirit of liberty will die only when the race is extinct.
     For three weeks the pulpit and press of this country have so far surpassed Czolgosz in their exhibition of murderous frenzy that the latter seems an angel of light in comparison. They have done their best to incite the mob spirit in the ignorant fanatics, and this while innocent men and women are under arrest, with no shadow of evidence against them. The Press has so lied about and vilified an innocent woman that, if acquitted, her life is in danger. Yet you infernal headlights of The Truth Seeker dare not write an editorial in condemnation of this spirit, or say one word in defense of our imprisoned comrades, whom you know to be innocent. I’d hate to feel as small as you must, and I know you will not get angry at anything I say, for you will feel you deserve it. One consolation: I learned in The Truth Seeker news items who that miserable cur John J. O’Rorke is. His letter is circulating far and wide in the press, and unspeakably defames Emma Goldman. The one who made the comment, “that his statement so far as the Manhattan Liberal Club is concerned is a lie,” might just as well have said the whole letter is a lie. O’Rorke is a fine specimen of humanity; no use wasting breath condemning Czolgosz while [?] as he disgrace the earth.
     Well, I’ve said my say, and I feel heartsick over the cowardice and brutality of this age. Sincerely yours,

    Caplinger Mills, Mo.


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