Posted by Simon Parke, 07 February 2018, 10.12am
People are asking the government to pardon the suffragettes who risked everything to give women the vote in the 19th and 20th centuries.
With ‘deeds not words’ as their slogan, they smashed windows, spat in the face of policemen, jumped in front of horses – to get themselves noticed, to correct an injustice, to expose a madness.
So they were law breakers, there’s no question of that… and (harshly) imprisoned.
But should these brave women now receive a pardon?
It sounds like a good cause but Amber Rudd says it’s complicated, and I don’t warm to that idea at all.
I mean, how can you pardon someone for being sane?
This is the issue.
If sanity is the only crime, then it’s the law makers who best beg for pardon, not the sane.
The suffragettes don’t need anyone’s pardon, because they did nothing wrong. They are guilty only of refusing to collude with societal madness.
And they certainly don’t need it from a government that doesn’t have a moral leg to stand on.
It would be like emotional pygmies forgiving spiritual giants for being bigger than them.
Governments never have been and never will be moral arbiters.
So I don’t imagine Jesus, another law breaker, still petitions hopefully for a pardon from the Italian government.
He’s not bothered.
Sanity is its own suffering and reward.
The sane do not crave pardon from the morally compromised; they do not hanker after such patronising and self-serving domestication.
They don’t wish to come in from the cold, to be part of the team.
No, in a world of mad laws and bankrupt authority, the greatest accolade is to remain…
... ‘an unpardoned law breaker.’