An interesting editorial from my hometown paper, circa 1927, just after a major socialist/communist riot/march in protest against the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti:
“There seems to be some surprise expressed over the fact that Miss Aurora D’Angelo, who led a mob of demonstrators in a riot over the Sacco-Vanzetti case, in Chicago, passed the mentality tests of psychiatrists with flying colours.
There is no reason for supposing that the intellect of those who lead movements opposed to the theories that govern society of today is defective. If they are regarded as being warped in their judgements, that is chiefly due to the fact that their ideas differ profoundly from those of the majority. It does not imply that they have less mental ability than the average.
It is possible that these people have allowed their emotions to assume control of their minds rather than their reason, and that they are therefore prevented, in certain cases, in which their emotional nature is mainly involved, to pronounce as well-balanced a decision as they might otherwise do, but it must be remembered that mankind is largely made up of emotional creatures, and these are not to be classed as subnormal.
In the famous case of Eddie Sidis, who was trained from babyhood by his father, the well-known psychologist, and possessed and twelve or more actual learning than the average man has at thirty, all this brilliant achievement in the way of early education did not prevent him from being arrested while making a revolutionary speech to a mob of red agitators. Had young Sidis possessed a subnormal intelligence, his father’s experimental education must have failed.
Eddie Sidis and Aurora D’Angelo were both 18 years old when arrested as disorderly rioters. Youth is the time when emotion has the ruling place in most human mentalities. It is not often that the wild enthusiasm of youth are carried, unimpaired, into the maturity of middle and old age. But the world would be a dull place if the young people did not have their occasional outbursts.
It would be very satisfying to those who feel that the only path to safety is that of extreme conservatism, if they could pronounce all agitators to be defective in mind and have them placed under lock and key. But a glance over even recent history goes to show that the revolutionary thinker of today is likely to be the conservative of tomorrow or the next day, and that the progress of humanity is largely due to those who have differed from their fellows and who have been persecuted for their ideas.
The youthful anarchist will probably become the middle-aged constitutionlist and, at any rate, no case can be made out against such persons on the ground of defective mental powers.”
In less words, “at 20, you think with your heart, at fourty with your head”. An interesting defense of radicalism that defends against calling radicalism an ‘infantile disorder’ and then calls it that. For some context to the Sacco-Vanzetti trial and execution, some more news from the same time:
“Guns and Bombs Scatter Red Mob
Chicago Rioters Are Injured in Scramble with Police when they Charged
August 10, 1927
Demonstration against exucution led by pretty sixteen year old, Aurora D’Angelo…mob of four thousand singing Internationale, shouting ‘Mob the Police’, marched toward district jail today, dispersed only after clashing with police…used tear bombs and pistols…sixty-seven men, four women, arrested…several rioters trampled in scramble to escape. “Ain’t this a free country? I’m only a girl, a kid. I know what this means, I’m going to jail.”
“Armoured Cars Readed To Stop Disturbances
August 8, 1927
New York police take great precautions against violence as excitement grows as execution day draws near for Sacco and Vanzetti, denied a stay from death…greatest police guard in history of the city, including during the war, patrolled New York from Hudson to the railway yard in Queens…comissioner Warren disclosed elaborate plans against further disorder…two Italians loitering arrested on charge of disorderly conduct. Police break up several attempts to stage meetings under permit of Socialist party…Communists predict 500,000 will down tools protestings the executon of the two anarchists.”
All those “young people [with] their occasional outbursts” causing all that trouble! The horrors!