Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mary Richardson, Boston and the Bill Ayers Syndrome

Lunatics come in many guises; sometimes it is a simple, small thing that goes wrong that allows both totally crazy behavior and, strangely, a willingness of reasonable people to excuse them for the atrocity's seemingly "symbolic" qualities. In 1914, Mary Richardson took a meat cleaver to Diego Velazquez’s The Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery in London. It is said she wasn't crazy because there was a sort-of-recognizable, if disjointed, "purpose" for this act. She was protesting the arrest of the charismatic Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the suffragette movement in Britain. As a militant suffragette herself, Richardson decided to “destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the government for its role in the destruction of Mrs. Pankhurst and other beautiful living women.”

She pursued her life as a militant suffragette with various arsons and once bombed a railway station. Richardson was at the Epsom races on Derby Day, 4 June 1913, when fellow suffragette Emily Davison jumped in front of the King's horse. Ms. Davison died in Epsom Cottage Hospital later.

Ms. Richardson later became the head of the women's section of the British Union of Fascists (BUF) led by Sir Oswald Mosley.

Like pregnancy, craziness is an all-or-nothing affair and it is in their deeds where people usually reveal themselves. As charming as he was and as talented a conversationalist, Ted Bundy was as crazy as a mud hen. But, in fairness to crazies, there is a grey area here. Crazies can not help themselves. Some people behave terribly or dangerously not because they are crazy but because they are just plain vicious.

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