For me, personally, the final evidence of the guilt of British criminal Hanratty, of anarchist Nicola Sacco. and of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg - however different the circumstances - have been a personal shock. They are the undeniable proof that people can lie even in the face of death and eternity, that claims of innocence from the scaffold are no more reliable than from any other point. The case of Sacco's fellow-accused Bartolomeo Vanzetti seems even darker: he was probably himself innocent, but he knew that Sacco was guilty as Hell, and he deliberately died with a lie on his lips, for the sake of his imagined revolution. (And to add a further taste of futility to his false sacrifice, the historical fact is that the only party who benefited from his and Sacco's executions were the Communists, who had organized all the protests against their executions, and who were sworn enemies of Vanzetti's Anarchists and would have murdered him a good deal more nastily if he had ever fallen into their hands.) But perhaps the most significant of these is the lie of Hanratty, because that had nothing of the ideological justifications of Vanzetti and the Rosenbergs. Hanratty was not fighting for any "cause", however bad: he was a rapist and murderer with no ulterior motives. And he declared his innocence right to the point of death with a passionate intensity that deceived generations of activists including myself.
How can you possibly have failed to notice that the indoctrination of teen-agers with the mantra of "question authority" has produced nothing but the most appalling conformity? It would be Umbridge who would encourage everyone to "question authority" - since the person who does so automatically places herself in a position of unrecognized authority, and her authority is always the last to be questioned, if it is questioned at all. What "Question authority" means in practice is: "Never take MY ideological opponents seriously. Always assume that their motives are other than what they say, and that they are bad. And always listen to those little suggestions I have placed in your mind". Anti-authoritarian? Yeah, right