Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2024 Issue

Two Elderly Women Attack the British Library's Copy of the Magna Carta with a Hammer and Chisel

Striking a Blow for the Environment?

In one of the more bizarre attacks in memory, one of the rare early copies of England's Magna Carta was attacked at the British Library. The Magna Carta is Britain's bill of rights, the most important document in its history. The two suspects attacked the document with a hammer and chisel. Then, the story gets really strange. The two suspects were women, elderly women. One was 82-years old, the other 85. The younger one was an Anglican priest, Reverend Dr. Sue Parfitt. The other, Judy Bruce, was a retired biology teacher. These are not the typical profiles of violent criminals.


They did not get far with their attack. The Magna Carta is kept under sturdy, unbreakable glass. It would have taken a lot of power to break it, and two women in their 80s are not likely to be possessed of superhuman strength. Add to that the fact that there were lots of people around when the attack took place, and it's obvious their mission was doomed. Perhaps they wanted it that way.


At the conclusion of their act, the two women glued their hands together and said a few words to the surprised visitors.


They were there to draw attention to a cause. Their cause was an organization called Just Stop Oil. This organization is concerned with climate change, and they see oil as a major culprit. They want us to stop burning oil, and their timeline is much shorter than various government programs to wean us off the stuff. They want the UK government to commit itself to end the burning of oil, gas, and coal by 2030. That's an aggressive schedule, but then again, the earth appears to be warning at an aggressive pace.


They each had an explanation they gave, quoted on the Just Stop Oil website. Rev. Parfitt said, “The Magna Carta is rightly revered, being of great importance to our history, to our freedoms and to our laws. But there will be no freedom, no lawfulness, no rights, if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe that is now threatened.


“We must get things in proportion. The abundance of life on earth, the climate stability that allows civilisation to continue is what must be revered and protected above all else, even above our most precious artefacts.”


Ms. Bruce commented, “This week 400 respected scientists - contributors to IPCC reports, are saying we are ‘woefully unprepared’ for what’s coming: 2.5 or more degrees of heating above pre-industrial levels.


“Instead of acting, our dysfunctional government is like the three monkeys: ‘see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing - pretend we’ve got 25 years’.. We haven’t! We must get off our addiction to oil and gas by 2030 – starting now.”


It's hard to argue with their points. Some may dispute climate change is real, but anyone who lives on the Earth must know better by now. Winters are milder, summers hotter. It is a serious issue, and will be even more so for our children, more yet for their children. There are already climate refugees crossing the sea to Europe, and crossing the southern border to the U.S. to escape the drought and heat that have led to famine at home. That's just reality.


However, I have a hard time understanding what the Magna Carta has to do with this or why attempting to destroy it does anything to ease the climate crisis. Rev. Parfitt said climate stability is more important than our “most precious artefacts,” and I don't deny her point. But, how does destroying those precious artefacts help solve the climate crisis? Should we in America blow up the Washington and Lincoln monuments because solving the climate crisis is more important to civilization than those monuments? What good would that do, other than make a lot of people mad at you, and perhaps your cause? It's sort of like getting stuck in an hours-long traffic jam because some protesters blocked traffic. Does that make you like their cause better or irritate you so much you like it less? I suspect there must be better ways of winning the hearts and minds of the British people than trying to destroy the Magna Carta.

Posted On: 2024-06-01 03:18
User Name: midsomer

The left wing fringe think they are always right and above the law. They eventually will come for all of the left-wing moderates.

Posted On: 2024-06-01 07:10
User Name: marxandmarzipan@yahoo.com

They were never trying to destroy Magna Carta but simply raise awareness of something that governments around the world continually try to sweep under the carpet. And their method worked - look at the coverage they got. Next target - destroy the British Library...oh, I think some Russian already did that.

Posted On: 2024-06-01 08:29
User Name: dlw181

“Why are those crazy women trying to get my attention?” said the frog as the water he was sitting in got warmer and warmer.

Posted On: 2024-06-22 21:42
User Name: laurelle

I would have knocked both of them out of their shoes had I been there.


Rare Book Monthly

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