Newspaper editor jailed

by
13 March 2020

March 12th, 1920.

THE Editor of the Catholic Herald has gone to prison for six months. The jury found, after half an hour’s deliberation, that Mr [Charles] Diamond, in a now widely read article, had been guilty of soliciting others to commit murder. That is a grave offence against the community, and we have no reason to doubt that the jury, reading the article in its plain sense, interpreted it in the same sense as many of its readers. We do, however, question the right of the judge to declare the intention of Mr Diamond in writing the article. Addressing the prisoner, he said: “Your efforts to persuade the jury that you did not mean what the words implied failed, and rightly failed, and in the case of a man of education like yourself such a contention was not candid, was not honest, and it was not true.” It is enough for a man to stand his trial for actions that can be proved. No man can judge of the interior things of another’s mind. Blazing indiscretion as the article was, and rightly held dangerous to public order, we cannot believe that the editor of a Catholic newspaper, to whose high character witness was borne, could have harboured the intention to incite to murder. We find no difficulty in accepting his explicit statement that he did not. The best of men may in unguarded moments express themselves so ill as to see with dismay grave damage to others result. It is for the result that they must answer to their fellows. God only can judge the intention.

[Diamond had been commenting in accord with Irish nationalist sentiment on the attempted assassination of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord French (100 Years Ago, 20/27 December 2019).]

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