Sunday, February 20, 2005

A London Fog Exclusive: Canada's False Heroes

This is the second post in what I hope will be an ongoing expose of Canada's Greatest Heroes. The first post touched upon Tommy Douglas' views regarding homosexuality and Emily Murphy's beliefs about sterilization and the mentally deficient.

The London Fog's False Heroes series today focuses on Emily Murphy, a 'great' Canadian that I will be coming back to for the next little while, time permitting.

Emily Murphy (1868-1933) was recently honoured on the back of the new fifty dollar bill, along with the four other members of the "Famous Five". This great Canadian who now joins the ranks of the Queen, enshrined as she now is on our currency, was the first police magistrate in Canada, as well as a rather prominent author. Murphy and her fellow freedom fighters focused predominately on equal rights for women and children. In particular they fought for the right of women to be deemed full persons and thus eligible for appointment to the Senate. However, Murphy's own ambitions to be appointed to the Senate were never realized, nor is her contribution to woman's rights as significant as we are led to believe, at least not in terms of securing individual liberty against state tyranny. As another researcher into Murphy's career comments:
Today, approximately 30 women benefit from appointments in the Senate as a result of her efforts while thousands suffer because of her equally arduous pursuit of spreading her particular brand of racism.
She also seems to have had much to say about drug 'offenders' and forced sterilization. Although plenty has been written about Murphy, a little reported fact is her general intolerance and bigotry regarding not only drug users, but also non-whites, as she felt they were generally responsible for poverty and 'immoral' behaviour. Equal rights at the expense of other's rights; yet another example of the hyprocrisy of the so-called defenders of equal rights, and the moral bankrupcy of our politically chosen icons. Murphy's intolerant and arrogant views, if discussed at all, are generally dismissed as endemic of the time period.

I'll begin by focusing on her views concerning drug users, as she is considered by many to have played a crucial part in shaping Canada's dranconian drug laws. As drugs were at the time mostly imported and enjoyed by non-whites, like Mexicans and Chinese, her discussion about drugs will also help elucidate her views concerning other races.

An excerpt from Murphy's 1922 manifesto The Black Candle:
Charles A. Jones, the Chief of Police for the city, said in a recent letter that hashish, or Indian hemp, grows wild in Mexico but to raise this shrub in California constitutes a violation of the State Narcotic law. He says, "Persons using this narcotic, smoke the dried leaves of the plant, which has the effect of driving them completely insane. The addict loses all sense of moral responsibility. Addicts to this drug, while under its influence, are immune to pain, and could be severely injured without having any realization of their condition. While in this condition they become raving maniacs and are liable to kill or indulge in any form of violence to other persons, using the most savage methods of cruelty without, as said before, any sense of moral responsibility.

"When coming from under the influence of this narcotic, these victims present the most horrible condition imaginable. They are dispossessed of their natural and normal will power, and their mentality is that of idiots. If this drug is indulged in to any great extent, it ends in the untimely death of its addict."

Mr. Hamilton Fyfe in The Real Mexico, writing of this drug says of it, "They (the Mexicans) madden themselves with a drug called Marahuana. This has strange and terrible effects. It appears to make those who swallow it do whatever is uppermost in their thoughts. At El Paso, a peon came across the International Bridge firing a rifle at all and sundry. Much talk against the Americans and a dose of Marahuana had decided him to invade the United States by himself. The bridge-keeper quickly put a bullet into the poor wretch."

[. . . . .]

Dr. Warnock in The Journal of Mental Sciences for January, 1903, states that acute mania from hasheesh varies from "a mild, short attack of excitement to a prolonged attack of furious mania, ending in exhaustion or even death."

He describes the hasheesh user in the following words: "They are good-for-nothing lazy fellows who live by begging or stealing, and pester their relations for money to buy the hasheesh, often assaulting them when they refuse the demands. The moral degradation of these cases is their most salient symptom; loss of social position, shamelessness, addiction to lying and theft, and a loose, irregular life makes them a curse to their families."

It has been pointed out that there are three ways out from the regency of this addiction:

This is assuredly a direful trinity and one with which the public should be cognizant in order that they may be warned of the sharp danger that lies in even curiously tasting poisons which have been inhibited, or which are habit-forming.
Have no fear though if you are a 'law abiding' citizen:
Getting a warrant to search a place for a suspected câche of poisons is almost as difficult as getting a passport to Russia. Society holds up its hands in horror and talks of "violated rights" if a policeman appears at its door with an order for search, and calls him names, the scope of which can only be measured by their ability to pronounce the English language. It is absolutely astounding what a hullabaloo can be made by an otherwise perfectly gentle lady, who has been asked to open her trunk or pass over her keys.

A most causal consideration shows, however, that if a câche of deleterious drugs be found in a suspected house, the magistrate's order was justified; if not found, the householder has a very high joke on his side and all the satisfaction. He may know, too, that as a citizen he has "the proved pre-eminence of worth," or —well, that the police through some favorable revolution of the stars, walked right over the câche and never noticed it.

If a housewife has the corners of her cupboards clean, and last night's dishes washed, there is no great trouble in the letting police "look through" any more than prospective buyers or inspectors from the gas company.
Similarly, the modern equivalent of the polite and law abiding housewife won't mind if cameras are installed in every room in her home, for its a preventative measure you know, to ensure the greater safety of society. Property rights be damned.

More on Emily soon. For now, I leave you with these closing words from this early engineer of the nanny state.

It is good to live in these first days when the foundations of things are being laid, to be able, now and then, to place a stone or carry the mortar to set it good and true.

-Emily Murphy

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Your opinion piece was so helpful for me. I am doing an english project on exactly the same thing. I was planning on doing my thesis on whata hero Emily Murphy was and all of the great things that she did, but then I read her piece on sterilization, and in my head I'm like, "is this a joke??!!" But it wasn't and voila! my new thesis: "Emily Murphy contributed to ensure women were equal to men, but she also hindered canada in becoming an accepting multi-cultural society and contributed to the apparent racism still in our society.