Monday, 8 January 2018

Taking a Stand or Taking the Piss?

By Les May

On 29 May 1916 a crumpled note was thrown from the carriage window of a south bound train as it sped through York station.  Inside was a party of conscientious objectors on their way to face a firing squad.’

SO starts the article ‘Shoot the Conchies’ by Christopher Draper in the Summer 2015 printed edition of Northern Voices. Their crime and its punishment was ‘tried by Field General Court Marshal for disobedience, sentenced to death by being shot.’   In the end Kitchener did not get his way. His ship hit a mine off the coast of Orkney the following month and the men’s sentence was commuted to ten years penal servitude.

Eric Blair, better known as the author George Orwell, went to Spain in 1936 to fight on the Republican side against fascism.  In May 1937 he was wounded in the throat by a sniper’s bullet which just missed his main artery.

In their very different ways ‘The Conchies’ and Orwell had made a moral choice and taken a stand against something they believed to be fundamentally wrong. They paid a heavy price for doing so.  Their stories put into perspective the antics of the self congratulatory, posturings at the Golden Globe awards where ‘taking a stand against sexual predators’ cost precisely nothing.

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