Baltimore Evening Sun (23 September 1912): 6.


Today is another one of the days set for the trial of the case against the ex-sheriffs. [Long-coutinued applause.]

A book agent selling the works of Edgar Allan Poe come darn near being lynched at Havre de Grace Sad’d’y.

Anyhow, Pimlico has got one advantage over Havre de Grace: the track is a good deal nearer the City Jail.

The boomahs! The boomahs! What joy to be a boomah! Ah, blow the fife and thump the drum and reach for the mazuma!

A busted sport from Havre de Grace drowned himself the other day in the Patterson Park lake. But let the folks of East Baltimore hold their protests. Pimlico will send little trade in that direction. Lake Roland is much more convenient.

Free suggestion to the estimable lithocaputs of the City Council:

An ordinance appropriating $2,000,000 for cutting Hanover street through to the northern city limits.

The Hon. William H. Anderson, camerlengo of the Anti-Saloon League, gives over a whole page in the current number of the American Issue, Maryland Edition, to a violent attack upon the police, whom he accuses of conniving at the continued violation of the liquor law by keepers of disorderly houses. The facts, of course, are on his side. It is an indisputable fact that liquor is still sold in disorderly houses, at least to visitors who appear to be safe and sane, and it is equally a fact that the police are making no very heated effort to stop it.

But in denouncing this condition so gayly the Hon. Mr. Anderson overlooks two things. One is that the complete stopping of illicit liquor selling would be an enterprise to daunt a regiment of Sherlock Holmes, working day and night in eight-hour shifts. The other is that no intelligent policeman, once he gets into a corner to think it over, can bring himself to put much faith in the current crusade against vice,. or in its chances of ultimate success, or in its value in case it succeeded.

Policemen, in brief, are cynical of such jehads, and with sound reason. They know very well that all the bawling in the world will not suffice to put down vice in a city as large as Baltimore, and so they come gradually to the theory that the best way to deal with the situation is to abandon the effort. In brief, they favor compromise, which means a more or less organized attempt at regulation. Such an attempt, they know by experienee, is much easier to make than the other, and far more likely to succeed. That is to say, they know that it is possible to hold vice within reasonable bounds, but they also know that it is impossible to stamp out vice altogether. So whatever allegiance they profess to give to a campaign of complete extermination is bound to be an allegiance with reservations. At bottom, they always believe that their own plan is best, and strange as it may seem, many quite intelligent and well-informed persons, not openly criminal, agree with them.

But any such theory, of course, is inherently immoral, for it involves winking at a plain violation of the laws. Well, suppose it does? What of it? Are laws, then, so sacred that we must accept them without resistance, however palpable their absurdity? I think not. Go behind the law and examine the lawmaker. You find, as a rule, a fourth-rate politician, a stupid and ignorant man. You find a crowd of farmers trying to solve the most complex and recondite problems of life in a large city. You find a gang of trimmers eager to follow the fanatic who makes the loudest noise and launches the wildest threats of punishment for resistance. Such donkeys make our laws. Naturally enough, the laws they make are often absurd.

Therefore, it is asgood thing, on the whole, that the police have fallen into the habit of amending and improving such laws to suit their taste. Compared to the actual lawmakers, the police are undoubtedly experts. They know more about the problem to be solved and they bring a vastly higher professional intelligence to the business of solving it. That they, too, sometimes err I am perfectly willing to admit. That they are sometimes tempted to corruption I am also willing to admit. But allowing for all this, I believe that the average police captain is fully as honest and ten times as intelligent and a hundred times as well informed as the average legislator, and so, if I had my free choice, I should much rather be governed by police captains than by legislators.

What is more, whole races of men, and these not the least civilized, make the same choice. The so-called police regulations of the French and German cities are not made by farmers and ward heelers bossed by fanatics, but by committees of experts, and on those committees the actual police have representation. Here in the United States. however, we give over the business to the very persons whose knowledge of its data is least accurate, and whose opinion of its requirements to least sound. The one amelioration of that ridiculous systein lies in the fact that laws thus made amount to little until competent experts, working extra-legally, have amended and approved them. In brief, the police break the laws in order to make them workable. But just suppose all those laws were enforced to the letter as conceived by fanatics and passed by fools!

Advice to the Havre de Grace deacons: Get the last week’s board in advance.

The gamblers! The gamblers! I’d hate to see them go, for though they’re sharks at Havre de Grace they’re saints at Pimlico.

The classical combination at Havre de Grace: leading lawyers, well-known business men, professional politicians, magnates of vice. South street and Pine street! Jurisprudence and the primrose path! Boomery and the red lights!

Governor Goldsborough is a Republican and the Hot Towel argued magnificently for his election--but thire are firmer allegiances, stouter loves! The Hon. Augustus Cæsar Binswanger is also a Republican, but the Towel forgot it when he tackled the camorra. Principles above party!

Boil your drinking water! Cover your garbage can! Three cheers for the ex-sheriffs!

The Greater Havre de Grace Committee announces a massmeeting of school children to protest against the crimping of the current boom.

A crime at Havre de Grace! A sacrament at Pimlico!