Foreign News: The Unspeakable Crime

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An Elder's View. Last week Home Secretary Maxwell Fyfe was in deep consultation with medical and legal experts on the subject. In the House of Lords, old (83) Liberal Leader Lord Samuel expressed a view that was perhaps closest to that held by most Britons:

"My Lords, we are shy of talking about these things . . . but when the moral law is weakened, all men are concerned. It is weakened [now] partly because the dogmas of the old theologians ... no longer grip and control conduct, partly because two great wars have shaken faith in the providential order on earth, and partly also because of the development of science, which teaches strange new doctrines in physiology and psychology, tending to weaken individual responsibility ... I believe that a great deal of nonsense is talked about this kind of quack psychology, and that we should return to common sense, which is nothing else than a requirement that the rules of conduct should be based upon the universal moral law ..."

* Boiling with rage at the playwright's rumored intimacy with his son, Lord Alfred Douglas, the splenetic Marquess of Queensberry, whose name is still associated with the Queensberry rules governing the manly art of pugilism, went to the opening night of Wilde's hit play, The Importance of Being Earnest, determined to insult him. Barred from the theater by a forewarned Wilde, he went later to the playwright's club and left a card: "To Oscar Wilde, posing as a somdomite [sic]." Wilde's friends persuaded him to bring charges for criminal libel. In the trial that followed, the marquess was exonerated. Wilde himself was then arrested and put on trial under the Criminal Law Amendment Act. His first trial resulted in a hung jury. At the second, he was found guilty and sentenced to two years at hard labor. A year after his release from prison, he wrote and published anonymously the famed Ballad of Reading Gaol.

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