Thursday, June 28, 2018

Shouting Fire

Working my way through 20th century mass murders. The Italian Hall massacre in Calumet, Mich. in 1913 is the highest body count so far: 74 (mostly children) trampled to death when someone (likely working for the mine owners) falsely yelled "Fire!" causing a stampede for an inadequate exit. (Thanks Nadja for pointing me to it.) I find myself wondering if Schenk v. U.S. (1919)'s use of "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic," was based on this event.

As I categorize these tragedies, I list weapon used. In most cases, this is easy: (ax, hatchet, knife, razor, poison, drowning and on rare occasion a gun). What is the weapon here? Speech? Voice? Mouth?


  1. I am going to make a suggestion: take breaks from this study, to let the negative emotions diffuse. Divert yourself with light amusements, such as comedy movies, and avoid being provoked by current events.

    If you dive too deep in this pit of horrors, you may not be able to get out.

    I am thinking of Iris Chang, who compiled the definitive account of the Nanking Massacre. She later started work on a book about the Bataan Death March, but then suffered a nervous breakdown, with severe depression - in large part due to the subjects she had worked on - and committed suicide.

  2. I do take breaks.

    Iris' problems predated both books. I think she had pretty severe bipolar disorder: hence her productivity.

    Once I got past the first shock, these news stories are easy to detach from.