Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

The Politically Incorrect Show - 22/07/1999

Music - Die Fledermaus

Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Thursday July 22, proudly sponsored by Tuariki Tobacco Ltd, the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit, & excellence, against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.

Music up, music down!

I am obliged to the listener who called yesterday pointing out that it was the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Robert Green Ingersoll, one of nineteenth century America's most outstanding, if least-remembered, figures. A crusader for freedom of thought & expression against the widespread Christian bigotry of his time, it was said of him that were it not for his anti-religious beliefs, he would assuredly have become President. Lawyer, soldier, bon-vivant, poet, orator, "His heart was open as the gates of day," as he said in a eulogy to another; "if all his deeds were flowers, the air would be faint with perfume."

In 1885, he defended one Charles B. Reynolds who was indicted for blasphemy in Morristown, New Jersey, after being set upon by a mob of fanatics. Reminding the jury that liberty of speech "shall not be abridged," Ingersoll went on to say what real blasphemy consisted of: "To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body, to strike the weak & unprotected in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant & superstitious mob, to enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips, to persecute the intelligent few at the command of the ignorant many, to pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain, to violate your conscience ..." - THESE things, said Ingersoll, were what constituted real blasphemy.

He lost the case - & paid Mr Reynolds' fine himself!

His earliest biographer said Ingersoll "had that indefinable something called presence. Tall, commanding, erect - simple in speech, graceful in compliment, titanic in denunciation, rich in illustration, prodigal of comparison & metaphor - & his sentences, measured & rhythmical, fell like music on the enraptured throng."

A fervent individualist, Ingersoll observed that, "On every hand are the enemies of individuality and mental freedom. Custom meets us at the cradle and leaves us only at the tomb. Our first questions are answered by ignorance, and our last by superstition. We are pushed and dragged by countless hands along the beaten track, and our entire training can be summed up in the word -- suppression." He avowed that "liberty is the seed & soil, the air & light, the dew & rain of progress, love & joy." "I see a world," he wrote, "where thrones have crumbled & where kings are dust. The aristocracy of idleness has perished from the earth. I see a world without a slave; man at last is free. Nature's forces have by science been enslaved. I see a world at peace, adorned with every form of art, with music's myriad voices thrilled; while lips are rich with words of love & truth; a world in which no exile sighs, no prisoner mourns ..." "Oh Liberty," he wrote, "thou art the god of my idolatry ... at thy sacred shrine hypocrisy does not bow, virtue does not tremble, superstition's feeble tapers do not burn, but Reason holds aloft her inextinguishable torch whose holy light will one day flood the world."

He died quietly in his chair, after dinner, on the night of July 20, 1899, in the company of the wife & daughters upon whom he doted, untroubled by threats of fire & brimstone in the hereafter that his opponents, those apostles of a god of forgiveness, had heaped upon him throughout his career. "If death does end all," he had written, "next to eternal joy, next to being forever with those we love, is to be wrapped in the dreamless drapery of eternal peace."

Ingersoll loved music above all the arts; he adored the music of Wagner, & pronounced Wagner's opera Lohengrin "the sublimest musical composition of the world." So, one hundred years after his death, I'd like to salute the magnificent spirit of that free radical, Robert Green Ingersoll, with a small portion of his favourite music.

Prelude, Lohengrin, Act 3.

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