War Tax Resisters Kathy Kelly and Karl Meyer

Some excerpts from a profile of Kathy Kelly published in the Chicago Reader:

Her experience hasn’t hardened her or made her cynical. In fact, she expresses genuine sympathy for those who don’t have the luxury of living as she does. “I’m fortunate that I’ve found a couple of important truths that I can declare with passion and that I have the freedom to act on them. If I didn’t have this I think I’d be leading a life of quiet desperation.”

Kelly shares an apartment with Karl Meyer, a veteran war-tax resister who’s achieved considerable notoriety over the past 35 years by creating a series of "inventions of nonviolence" to arouse an apathetic public and drive the Internal Revenue Service crazy. She and Meyer were married in the mid-1980s but obtained a divorce several years later, largely because Meyer was determined to separate himself from every institution approved by society and regulated by governmental entities. The divorce has apparently had no influence on their relationship or their living arrangement. Meyer remains Kelly’s mentor and emotional support, and the bond of affection between them is quite apparent. “Karl is an amazing thinker,” says Kelly. “He questions everything, makes you reconsider all assumptions. The two of us have always had a marvelous coherence.”

One result is that she and Meyer refuse to pay taxes, since a hefty portion of every tax dollar goes to support the military. This has created problems in the mostly part-time jobs Kelly has held as a teacher since resigning from Saint Ignatius. Whenever the Internal Revenue Service gets on her case and starts garnishing wages, she quits and goes to work somewhere else. She now teaches English as a second language several hours a week at a north-side factory. She’s never made much money, but then she doesn’t spend much either.

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Mrs. Harvey’s Sale.

Few places could seem so unpropitious as a field for Suffrage propaganda as Bromley, in spite of the constant presence of a Suffragist of the calibre of Mrs. [Kate] Harvey; yet, strange to say, the outcome of her protest meeting on Monday was more than gratifying, and the event must be chronicled as an unmitigated success. By the skilful handling of Miss Munro, a dense crowd which threatened disorder settled down to listen in patience to four speeches of more than average excellence; and when at the close three cheers were raised for Mrs. Harvey, there was a definite show of goodwill and appreciation of the attitude and view which inspired the protest.

From early in the day Mrs. Huntsman and a noble band of sandwich-women had paraded the town announcing the sale and distributing leaflets. In the afternoon a contingent of the Tax Resistance League arrived with the John Hampden banner and the brown and black pennons and flags. These marched through the town and market square before entering the hall in which the sale and meeting were to be held, and which was decorated with the flags and colours of the Women’s Freedom League. Mr. Croome, the King’s officer, conducted the sale in person, the goods sold being a quantity of table silver, a silver toilette set, and one or two other articles. The prices fetched were trifling, Mrs. Harvey desiring that no one should buy the goods in for her. Much hostility was displayed throughout the proceedings; and several Freedom Leaguers were of opinion that it was long since so much unpleasantness had been experienced as during the day’s campaign.

When the Inland Revenue vacated the rostrum and Miss [Anna] Munro took the chair, an ugly spirit appeared to possess the meeting for a few brief moments; but it was charmed away by the chairman’s tact and firmness, and an excellent and most courteous hearing was given to all the speakers — melting, towards the end, into real sympathy.

The first speech was from Mrs. [Charlotte] Despard, in her most spirited style, winning a hearty meed of applause; and she was followed by Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes, who has an admirable “way” with a crowd. Miss [C. Nina] Boyle then spoke, provoking much amused laughter; and the last speaker, Miss Hicks, closed the “case for the defence” with a well-pointed and finely-balanced argument. After that came questions, which Miss Munro dealt with in her usual adroit manner. The audience departed well satisfied and good-humoured, and several new members were won.

Tea was served at Brackenhill after the meeting, a party of ten having been entertained to lunch earlier in the day by Mrs. Clarkson Swann.

In the forenoon Mrs. Harvey and some of her friends, including Mrs. Snow, Mrs. Fisher, Miss Boyle, Mrs. Kineton Parkes, Mrs. Clarkson-Swann, and some members of Mrs. Harvey’s household held rendezvouz at the local Sessions Court to hear the case against Mrs. Harvey in respect of not paying a tax on her gardener. As when Dr. [Elizabeth] Knight was summoned, the representative of the London County Council brought his case into court in the most slovenly, scandalous fashion — these cases furnishing a lurid light on the way the liberties of the public are held cheap by careless authorities. A spirited defence, which made the cocksure representative aforesaid look extremely foolish, was put up by Mrs. Harvey’s counsel; the verdict of the court being 30s. fine, and costs. Mrs. Harvey declared she would not pay fine or costs, and the ultimate verdict was “distraint or seven days” — in the second division.

Among those who were at Bromley for the protest were Mrs. [Anne] Cobden Sanderson, Mrs. Huntsman, Mrs. Kux, Mrs. Macpherson, Mrs. Smith, Miss F[lorence]. A. Underwood, Miss Howard, Miss Rowell, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. [Emily] Juson Kerr, Miss Barrow, and Miss Taylor.

Also from the same issue:

Tax Resistance.

In pursuance of our policy of tax-resistance, the Women’s Freedom League has decided to resist the Insurance Act on the ground that we refuse to acquiesce in any legislation which controls the resources of women without the consent of women. We are now threatened with prosecution by the Insurance Commissioners, but it remains to be seen whether the latter will make good their case.