Baltimore Evening Sun (18 October 1912): 6.
From the rascally Sunpaper of this morning:
With only one dissenting vote, the Mount Royal Improvement Association disapproved the sewer rental plan last night * * * The one dissenting voter was Mr. Charles E. Falconer. * * *
Et tu, Jacobe! Can it be that the Mount Royals were permitted to run amuck without a protest from that veteran of Old Town’s massacre, a loud nay from that valiant keeper of the faith? Mr. Falconer, of course, did well to stem the walkover, but where was the Hon. Jacobus Hook? Did he vote with the Goths and Huns?
Dr. Howard A. Kelly, commander of the Vice Crusade, to a protesting correspondent:
Let me * * * ask the gentleman why houses of prostitution should not be located in his neighborbood, and even next door to him, as well as in some other parts of the city and next to some poor man’s home?
An argument of apparent fairness, but still one that goes to pieces on close inspection. Let us turn from the theory to the facts. Do the old segregated areas interfere seriously with any honest poor man’s peace and dignity? It must be plain that, as a general rule, they do not. They have been in existence so long and their boundaries have become so rigidly defined that it is unthinkable that any poor man should move into one of them without knowing where he was going. In point of fact, the persons who live in actual contact with the disorderly houses of these areas are nearly all negroes of the lower castes, whose self-respect is not appreciably invaded by their proximity. These negroes act as a sort of buffer and shield. On the one hand they cloak the actual disorderly houses, and on the other hand they present a front to the world no worse than that presented by the negroes of hundreds of other Baltimore alleys.
Isn’t it better to have all, or, at any rate, nine-tenths of the disorderly houses in such areas, where they are least offensive and can do least harm, than to have them scattered promiscuously through the city? I am convinced that it is, and what is more, I am convinced that 90 per cent. of the Baltimoreans competent to judge, including practically all policemen, agree with me. Therefore, it seems to me that Dr. Kelly’s correspondent puts forward a valid and vital objection to the Vice Crusaders’ gay plan of scattering the infection. This man moved into a neighborhood in the belief that it was decent, and he is within his rights when he protests against its invasion by vice. But the man who moves into a neighborhood frankly given over to vice has no intelligible cause for complaint if he finds it next door to him--and no sane man ever gets into such a neighborhood by accident.
True enough, the plan of segregation has not worked perfectly. Now and then, as everyone knows, a disorderly house, or, to be more exact, a house inhahited by persons thought to be disorderly, appears in some neighborhood indubitably decent, and sometimes the business of getting rid of it takes time and presents difficulties. But consider how much worse the situation would be if there were no areas of segregation! As things stand, it is to the interest of 95 per cent. of the keepers of such houses to go into the areas and stay there. They gain little by remaining out and a lot by going in. And so, in the last analysis, it is usually possible to chase them back.
But if the areas of segregation were abolished, then they would have to stay out, willy- nilly, and, naturally enough, they would fight for life with all the resources at their command. What is more, they would be vastly increased in number; where one such outlaw house defies the neighbors and eludes the police today there would be a hundred under the plan of restriction. And so the problem, instead of solving itself, would offer new, complex and baffling difficulties. With from 1,000 to 1,500 places of prostitution to deal with, each clandestine and each mobile and elusive, the police would face a situation to daunt an army corps.
The likeness of Dr. Kelly’s plan of repression to prohibition is obvious and yet a bit deceptive. We of Baltimore know the advantages of our present method of dealing with the liquor problem. It gives us a firm hold upon every liquor dealer; it enables its to limit the number of such dealers; it enables us to confine them to certain areas, and it gives the open and recognized dealer, who submits willingly to regulation, distinctly the better of the clandestine dealer. The objection to prohibition is that it would make all liquor dealers outlaws without appreciably diminishing the demand for liquor. In consequence, it would--and does, in actual practice--build up an enormous and corrupting clandestine liquor trade, beyond the reach of ordinary police processes and a source of evil to the entire community.
Repression of prohibition, wherever it has been tried, has worked in the same way, but toward a failure even more certain and disastrous. The reason for that greater failure is not far to seek: the evil which repression seeks to stamp out is infinitely more ancient, infinitely more widespread and infinitely more tenacious of life than the evil which prohibition seeks to stamp out. After all, the liquor traffic is not ubiquitous, nor even very old. Whole nations have got along without it, and many get along without it today. But prostitution is as old and as widespread as the human race. Not all the laws made by Legislatures, nor all the anathemas launched by churches have ever disposed of it, or even materially diminlobed it. It has presented an insoluble problem since the dawn of history; it has poisoned the blood of every race that ever was; it is more firmly grounded in Christendom than any other institution, sacred or profane.
In the face of all this failure, is it likely that Dr. Kelly and his friends, attacking facts by denying them, will achieve a glorious and miraculous success? I doubt it. On the coutrary, I believe that their efforts, however well intended, will only serve to make conditions worse, that after two or three years of their campaigning Baltimore will suffer from this immemorial and crying evil as it has never suffered before, that we shall all be out of a reasonably comfortable frying pan and into a red-hot fire.
Say what you will ag’in Dan Loden--and he has his faults, he has his faults!–anyhow he don’t never let the Concord Club run loose like Jake lets them Old Town Merchants.--Adv.
Since the fact became known that Colonel Roosevelt’s assailant is a Municher Col. Jacobus Hook has lost 22 pounds and refuses to touch sauerbraten.—Adv.
Boil your drinking waterl Cover, your garbage can! Watch the ex-sheriffs wriggle out of it!