Soapbox Speakers

The history of hecklers

In News for Speakers' Corner on May 23, 2019 at 9:21 am

There are many articles about the history of soapbox orators, but none about the hecklers. This article addresses that omission.

1. Julius Caesar  46 to 44BC
Julius was a character. His main topics were politics and the military. However, he had stiff competition from two other soapbox speakers: Brutus and Mark Antony. You can find examples of their speeches on Youtube.
  Unfortunately, Caesar’s hecklers were a disagreeable lot, and one day things got out of hand. He was stabbed and taken to hospital, but pronounced dead on arrival.

2. Jesus Christ  circa 27 to 35AD.
Jesus stood on a hill and talked about religion (a popular topic). Some historians say he had about twelve people in his audience, which suggests his oratory skills were no better than Helmut’s. Other historians claim he had hundreds of people in his audience, which suggests his oratory skills were entertaining, but lacked sufficient depth to attract more than twelve regulars.
  His hecklers were brutal, and he didn’t last long as a soapbox speaker. However, he was the most successful; his ideas are still discussed today.

3. Adolf Hitler 1930s to 1945
Adolf was a controversial soapbox speaker who stood on a balcony to talk to his ardent followers. He had a remarkable ability to inspire audience participation: for reasons unclear he would intermittently get his followers to raise their right arm. However, Adolf broke the unwritten law of soapboxing by using a microphone and amplification, and drowned out his hecklers’ objections. For that reason none of his hecklers rose to prominence.
Unfortunately there was a war going on at the time and his distracted hecklers were losing interest in what he had to say. With his popularity waning, in April 1945 Adolf took his own life.

4. Benito Mussolini. 1930s to 1945
‘The Iron Prefect’ was an Italian fellow who, like Hitler, enjoyed addressing his followers from a balcony. His adept use of body language, vocal variety and improvisation made him one of the world’s best soapbox speakers. However, he made Hitler’s mistake of using a microphone and amplifier, but his hecklers were less accommodating. One shot him dead. That concluded Mussolini’s soapboxing days.

5. Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma was an Indian soapbox speaker whose favourite topic was civil rights. But he was a man of contradictions: his speeches pleased the Indian segment of the community and alienated the English, yet there is no suggestion he was racist. He would often undertake long fasts, yet there is no firm proof he had an eating disorder. He lived modestly and honestly, and advocated non-violence, yet spent plenty of time in jail. A heckler became fed up with Mahatma’s inconsistency and shot him dead.

In conclusion, we can see that hecklers are a disagreeable and murderous lot. It is not an understatement to say our current orators are brave and noble fellows, for they have chosen to put their lives on the line for the edification of their followers. For that we thank them.


  1. ^ Jeffrey M. Shaw; Timothy J. Demy (2017). War and Religion: An Encyclopedia of Faith and Conflict. ABC-CLIO. p. 309. ISBN 978-1-61069-517-6.
  2. ^ “Gandhi”. Archived 14 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
  3. ^ “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi”. Gandhiserve foundation (Berlin). Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  4. ^ McGregor, Ronald Stuart (1993). The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 799. ISBN 978-0-19-864339-5. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Quote: (mahā- (S. “great, mighty, large, …, eminent”) + ātmā (S. “1.soul, spirit; the self, the individual; the mind, the heart; 2. the ultimate being.”): “high-souled, of noble nature; a noble or venerable man.”
  5. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (2006) p. 172: “… Kasturba would accompany Gandhi on his departure from Cape Town for England in July 1914 en route to India. … In different South African towns (Pretoria, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, and the Natal cities of Durban and Verulam), the struggle’s martyrs were honoured and the Gandhi’s bade farewell. Addresses in Durban and Verulam referred to Gandhi as a ‘Mahatma’, ‘great soul’. He was seen as a great soul because he had taken up the poor’s cause. The whites too said good things about Gandhi, who predicted a future for the Empire if it respected justice.” (p. 172).
  6. ^ Nehru, Jawaharlal. An Autobiography. Bodley Head.
  7. ^ Jump up to:
    a b McAllister, Pam (1982). Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence. New Society Publishers. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-86571-017-7. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Quote: “With love, Yours, Bapu (You closed with the term of endearment used by your close friends, the term you used with all the movement leaders, roughly meaning ‘Papa’.” Another letter written in 1940 shows similar tenderness and caring.
  8. ^ Eck, Diana L. (2003). Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras. Beacon Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-8070-7301-8. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Quote: “… his niece Manu, who, like others called this immortal Gandhi ‘Bapu,’ meaning not ‘father,’ but the familiar, ‘daddy’.” (p. 210)
  9. ^ Jump up to:
    a b “Gandhi not formally conferred ‘Father of the Nation’ title: Govt” Archived 6 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine, The Indian Express, 11 July 2012.
  10. ^ Jump up to:
    a b “Constitution doesn’t permit ‘Father of the Nation’ title: Government” Archived 7 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine, The Times of India, 26 October 2012.
  11. ^ Maeleine Slade, Mirabehn. Gleanings Gathered at Bapu’s Feet. Ahmedabad: Navjivan publications. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  12. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c Khan, Yasmin (2007). The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan. Yale University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-300-12078-3. Archived from
  13. ^ Khan, Yasmin (2007). The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan. Yale University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-300-12078-3. Archived from the original
  14. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c Brown (1991), p. 380:
  15. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Cush, Denise; Robinson, Catherine; York, Michael (2008). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Taylor & Francis. p. 544. ISBN 978-0-7007-1267-0. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Quote: “The apotheosis of this contrast is the assassination of Gandhi in 1948 by a militant Nathuram Godse, on the basis of his ‘weak’ accommodationist approach towards the new state of Pakistan.” (p. 544)
  16. ^ Todd, Anne M. (2012) Mohandas Gandhi, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 1-4381-0662-9, p. 8: The name Gandhi means “grocer”, although Mohandas’s father and grandfather were politicians not grocers.
  17. ^ Renard, John (1999). Responses to One Hundred and One Questions on Hinduism By John Renard. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-8091-3845-6.
  18. ^ Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autobiography chapter 1 (Dover edition, p. 1).
  19. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Guha 2015 pp. 19–21
  20. ^ Misra, Amalendu (2004). Identity and Religion: Foundations of anti-Islamism in India. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7619-3227-7.
  21. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (2006). Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People, and an Empire By Gandhi. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-14-310411-7.
  22. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c d e f Tendulkar, D. G. (1951). Mahatma; life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Delhi: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  23. ^ Malhotra, S.L (2001). Lawyer to Mahatma: Life, Work and Transformation of M. K. Gandhi. p. 5. ISBN 978-81-7629-293-1.
  24. ^ Guha 2015, p. 21
  25. ^ Guha 2015, p. 512
  26. ^ Guha 2015, p. 22
  27. ^ Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich (2002). The Ways and Power of Love: types, factors, and techniques of moral transformation. Templeton Foundation Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-890151-86-7.
  28. ^ Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber & Rudolph, Lloyd I. (1983). Gandhi: The Traditional Roots of Charisma. University of Chicago Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-226-73136-0.
  29. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (2006) pp. 2, 8, 269
  30. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Arvind Sharma (2013). Gandhi: A Spiritual Biography. Yale University Press. pp. 11–14. ISBN 978-0-300-18738-0.
  31. ^ Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber & Rudolph, Lloyd I. (1983). Gandhi: The Traditional Roots of Charisma. University of Chicago Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-226-73136-0.
  32. ^ Gerard Toffin (2012). John Zavos; et al. (eds.). Public Hinduisms. SAGE Publications. pp. 249–257. ISBN 978-81-321-1696-7.
  33. ^ Guha 2015, p. 23
  34. ^ Guha 2015, pp. 24–25
  35. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Rajmohan Gandhi (2015). Gandhi before India. Vintage Books. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-385-53230-3.
  36. ^ Louis Fischer (1982). Gandhi, his life and message for the world. Penguin. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-451-62142-9.
  37. ^ Rajmohan Gandhi (2015). Gandhi before India. Vintage Books. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-0-385-53230-3.
  38. ^ Sankar Ghose (1991). Mahatma Gandhi. Allied Publishers. p. 4. ISBN 978-81-7023-205-6.
  39. ^ Ramachandra Guha (2015). Gandhi before India. Vintage Books. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-385-53230-3.
  40. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Mohanty, Rekha (2011). “From Satya to Sadbhavna” (PDF). Orissa Review (January 2011): 45–49. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  41. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Gandhi (1940). Chapter “At the High School”; Archived 30 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  42. ^ Gandhi (1940). Chapter “Playing the Husband”; Archived 1 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  43. ^ Ramachandra Guha (2015). Gandhi before India. Vintage Books. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-385-53230-3.
  44. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Guha 2015, p. 29
  45. ^ Guha 2015, p. 30
  46. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Guha 2015, p. 32
  47. ^ Gandhi (1940). Chapter “Preparation for England”. Archived 2 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  48. ^ Rajmohan Gandhi (2015). Gandhi before India. Vintage Books. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-385-53230-3.
  49. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Guha 2015, pp. 33-34
  50. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (2006) pp. 20–21.
  51. ^ M K Gandhi (1940), The Story of My Experiments with Truth Archived 17 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Autobiography, Wikisource
  52. ^ Thomas Weber (2004). Gandhi as Disciple and Mentor. Cambridge University Press. pp. 19–25. ISBN 978-1-139-45657-9.
  53. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c d Brown (1991).
  54. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Herman (2008), pp. 82–83
  55. Badian in Griffin (ed.) p.16
  56. ^ Goldsworthy, p. 30
  57. ^ Ward, Heichelheim, & Yeo p. 194
  58. ^ Blackburn, B and Holford-Strevens, L. (1999 corrected 2003). The Oxford Companion to the Year. Oxford University Press. p. 671. ISBN 978-0-19-214231-3
  59. ^ Keppie, Lawrence (1998). “The approach of civil war”. The making of the Roman Army: from Republic to Empire. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-8061-3014-9.
  60. ^ Suetonius (121). “De vita Caesarum” [The Twelve Caesars]. University of Chicago. p. 107. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. “More than sixty joined the conspiracy against [Caesar], led by Gaius Cassius and Marcus and Decimus Brutus.”
  61. ^ Plutarch. “Life of Caesar”. University of Chicago. p. 595. “… at this juncture Decimus Brutus, surnamed Albinus, who was so trusted by Caesar that he was entered in his will as his second heir, but was partner in the conspiracy of the other Brutus and Cassius, fearing that if Caesar should elude that day, their undertaking would become known, ridiculed the seers and chided Caesar for laying himself open to malicious charges on the part of the senators …”[dead link]
  62. ^ Tucker, Spencer (2010). Battles That Changed History: An Encyclopedia of World Conflict. ABC-CLIO. p. 68.
  63. ^ Froude, James Anthony (1879). Life of Caesar. Project Gutenberg e-text. p. 67. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. See also: Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Julius 6; Velleius Paterculus, Roman History 2.41; Virgil, Aeneid
  64. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:28–30
  65. ^ Dionysius, iii. 29.
  66. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xi. 24.
  67. ^ Niebuhr, vol. i. note 1240, vol. ii. note 421.
  68. ^ Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.7. The misconception that Julius Caesar himself was born by Caesarian section dates back at least to the 10th century (Suda kappa 1199). Julius wasn’t the first to bear the name, and in his time the procedure was only performed on dead women, while Caesar’s mother Aurelia lived long after he was born.
  69. ^ Historia Augusta: Aelius 2.
  70. ^ Goldsworthy, p. 32.
  71. ^ Suetonius, Julius 1; Plutarch, Caesar 1, Marius 6; Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.54; Inscriptiones Italiae, 13.3.51–52
  72. ^ Plutarch, Marius 6
  73. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Plutarch, Caesar 1; Suetonius, Julius 1
  74. ^ Suetonius, Julius 1; Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.54
  75. ^ Velleius Paterculus, Roman History 2.22; Florus, Epitome of Roman History 2.9
  76. ^ “Julius Caesar”. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012.
  77. ^ Suetonius, Julius 1; Plutarch, Caesar 1; Velleius Paterculus, Roman History 2.41
  78. ^ Canfora, p. 3
  79. ^ William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities: Flamen
  80. ^ Suetonius, Julius 2–3; Plutarch, Caesar 2–3; Cassius Dio, Roman History 43.20
  81. ^ Suetonius, Julius 46
  82. ^ Again, according to Suetonius’s chronology (Julius 4). Plutarch (Caesar 1.8–2) says this happened earlier, on his return from Nicomedes’s court. Velleius Paterculus (Roman History 2:41.3–42) says merely that it happened when he was a young man.
  83. ^ Plutarch, Caesar 1–2
  84. ^ “Plutarch • Life of Caesar”.
  85. ^ Thorne, James (2003). Julius Caesar: Conqueror and Dictator. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 15.
  86. ^ Freeman, 39
  87. ^ Freeman, 40
  88. ^ Goldsworthy, 77–78
  89. ^ Freeman, 51
  90. ^ Freeman, 52
  91. ^ Goldsworthy, 100
  92. ^ Goldsworthy, 101
  93. ^ Suetonius, Julius 5–8; Plutarch, Caesar 5; Velleius Paterculus, Roman History 2.43
  94. ^ Mouritsen, Henrik, Plebs and Politics in the Late Roman Republic, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2001, p 97. ISBN 0-521-79100-6 For context, see Plutarch, Julius Caesar, 5.4.
  95. ^ Velleius Paterculus, Roman History 2.43; Plutarch, Caesar 7; Suetonius, Julius 13
  96. ^ Sallust, Catiline War 49
  97. ^ Kennedy, E.C. (1958). Caesar de Bello Gallico. Cambridge Elementary Classics. III. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 10. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  98. ^ Hammond, Mason (1966). City-state and World State in Greek and Roman Political Theory Until Augustus. Biblo & Tannen. p. 114. ISBN 9780819601766. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  • Meier writes that Jesus’ birth year is c. 7 or 6 BC.[1] Rahner states that the consensus among scholars is c. 4 BC.[2] Sanders also favors c. 4 BC and refers to the general consensus.[3] Finegan uses the study of early Christian traditions to support c. 3 or 2 BC.[4]
  • ^ Most scholars estimate AD 30 or 33 as the year of Jesus’ crucifixion.[6]
  • ^ James Dunn writes that the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus “command almost universal assent” and “rank so high on the ‘almost impossible to doubt or deny’ scale of historical facts” that they are often the starting points for the study of the historical Jesus.[7] Bart Ehrman states that the crucifixion of Jesus on the orders of Pontius Pilate is the most certain element about him.[8]
  • ^ Greek: Ἰησοῦς, romanizedIesous; Hebrew: ישוע, romanizedYēšū́aʿ; Arabic: عيسى, romanizedIssa
  • ^ The New Testament records a variety of names and titles accorded to Jesus.
  • ^ Jump up to:
    a b In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman wrote, “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees”.[16] Richard A. Burridge states: “There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more”.[17] Robert M. Price does not believe that Jesus existed, but agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars.[18] James D. G. Dunn calls the theories of Jesus’ non-existence “a thoroughly dead thesis”.[19] Michael Grant (a classicist) wrote in 1977, “In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary”.[20] Robert E. Van Voorst states that biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted.[21]
  • ^ Ehrman writes: “The notion that the Gospel accounts are not completely accurate but still important for the religious truths they try to convey is widely shared in the scholarly world, even though it’s not so widely known or believed outside of it.”[23]
  1. See Benito and Mussolini in Luciano Canepari, Dizionario di pronuncia italiana online
  2. ^ Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509514-2.
  3. ^ “Historic Figures: Benito Mussolini (1883–1945)”. BBC – History –
  4. ^ “Mussolini founds the Fascist party – Mar 23, 1919”.
  5. ^ Anthony James Gregor (1979). Young Mussolini and the Intellectual Origins of Fascism. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520037991.
  6. ^ Jump up to:
    a b Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi (1997). Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy. U of California Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0520926158.
  7. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c d e Gregor 1979, p. 191.
  8. ^ Haugen, pp. 9, 71
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ MacGregor Knox. Mussolini unleashed, 1939–1941: Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy’s Last War. Edition of 1999. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. pp. 122–27.
  11. ^ MacGregor Knox. Mussolini unleashed, 1939–1941: Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy’s Last War. Edition of 1999. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. pp. 122–23.
  12. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c d Moseley 2004.
  13. ^ Viganò, Marino (2001), “Un’analisi accurata della presunta fuga in Svizzera”, Nuova Storia Contemporanea (in Italian), 3
  14. ^ “1945: Italian partisans kill Mussolini”. BBC News. 28 April 1945. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  15. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c d Charles F. Delzel, ed. (1970). Mediterranean Fascism 1919–1945. Harper Rowe. p. 3.
  16. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c “Benito Mussolini”. 8 January 2008. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008.
  17. ^ Jump up to:
    a b c d Tonge, M.E.; Henry, Stephen; Collins, Gráinne (2004). “Chapter 2”. Living history 2: Italy under Fascism (New ed.). Dublin: EDCO. ISBN 978-1-84536-028-3.
  18. ^ “Alessandro Mussolini 1854”. 8 January 2008.
  19. ^ De Felice, Renzo (1965). Mussolini. Il Rivoluzionario (in Italian) (1 ed.). Torino: Einaudi. p. 11.
  20. ^ Gregor 1979, p. 29.
  21. ^ Gregor 1979, p. 31.
  22. ^ Mediterranean Fascism by Charles F. Delzel p. 96
  23. ^ Mauro Cerutti: Benito Mussolini in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.

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