Baltimore Evening Sun (29 March 1913): 6.
Come on, dear fellow! Don’t be alarmed! The Sunpaper won’t hurt you!
The Municipal Journal, in its current issue, prints a half-page picture, in three colors, of the boat lake in Druid Hill Park, showing the Hon. Aristides Sophocles Goldsborough taking the super-Mahon for a row. Next week there will be a chromo of the Padgett asphalt plant, showing a class of city asphalt inspectors in training. The week following there will follow an aquatint of the Calvert Bank, with the Hon. Richard Gwinn sitting on the front steps, reading the Hot Towel and smoking a genuine 10-cent cigar.
So far the following towns have joined the super-Mahon’s hand-picked League of Maryland Municipalities:
Westport. Havre de Grace. Brooklyn. Laurel. Pimlico. Belair.
The boomers! The boomers! Oh, hear them whoop and roar! The whole darn earth grows jealous of dear old Baltimore!
The renewal of the Hon. William H . Anderson’s threats to bring in a prohibition amendment to the State Constitution in case the local option bill is rejected next winter shows how little truth there is in the local optionists’ constant allegation that they are in favor of home rule, that they plead only for the inalienable right of every community to decide the liquor question for itself. It is with this claim in their mouths that they tackle all candidates for public affairs. Let a candidate but refuse to indorse the local option bill, and they are full of tartuffin accusations that he is a foe to the fundamental principle of democracy.
But as a matter of fact, they themselves are not in favor of any such principle. The thing they actually are in favor of is the despotic and anti-democratic principle of prohibition. They want to abolish the legal sale of liquor in Maryland, and to introduce in its place that surreptitious sale which now makes a hog-pen of every dry State in the South. In brief, they are typical militant moralists. They put whooping above honest reform, sound above sense. They are in favor of prohibition because it is melodramatic and violent, and not at all because it is effective. They get more joy out of damning the brewers than they would ever get out of making the State dry. That lust to revile and punish which is at the bottom of all other enterprises of militant morality is at the bottom of this one too.
No professed local optionist in Maryland is actually in favor of local option. If you want to test any of them, propose to him that the question of Sunday selling be submitted to the voters in each election district. He will be against it. Or propose to him that the people in the areas now dry by legislative fiat be given a chance to decide the thing for themselves. He will be against it again. No honest enthusiasm for self-government is in him. He has none of that respect for common fairness and square dealing which you will find in most of the men he denounces as scoundrels. He doesn’t want to make his fellow-men secure in their rights: his one aim is to take away their rights—and not only the right to drink, but more especially the right to decide about drink, one way or the other, for themselves.
What has the local option fight accomplished in Maryland, after all these years of bitter accusation and abuse? On the one hand, it has made fine pickings for the politicians, it has thrown the saloookeepers into their hands, it has created and prospered that “liquor ring” of which the local optionists bellow so tragically. And on the other hand, it has stirred up hatreds that will continue to make trouble for a generation to come. It has loosed the worst passions of humanity. It has destroyed that reasonable tolerance and good will which should prevail between man and man, even when they disagree. It has put a premium upon the most hysterical excesses of professioinal moralists, those insatiable foes to peace, to sound progress and to Christian charity.
Does any sane man believe that the passage of the local option bill would improve matters? Certainly not. On the contrary. It must be plain that the resultant local fights would only serve to make matters worse. In probably a half of the election districts there would be a new election every two years. These incessant elections would make fortunes for the ward bosses. The sale and delivery of votes would become an organized industry. A regular tax would be laid upon the saloons, and that tax would be as heavy as the traffic would bear. And by the same token, a staggering tax would be laid upon the foes of the saloon—a tax collected in the name of God by professional rabble-rousers and tear-squeezers, devoted frankly and enthusiastically to stirring up hatreds between neighbor and neighbor.
The passage of a prohibition amendment, if anything, would be worse. True enough, it would not carry with it any pestilence of ward fights, but it would establish the blind pig from end to end of the State, and if you want to know what the blind pig means just ask anyone who is familiar with conditions in Georgia. The saloon is bad enough. It has a lot to answer for. The local optionists, whatever their follies, have at least brought that fact home to all of us. But every evil that the saloon works is also worked by the blind pig, and a hundred others follow after. It is one of the most powerful agents of corruption ever set up in Christendom. It makes drunkards, it fosters the spirit of law-breaking, it debauches the police, it gives excuse for hysterical raids, it multiplies animosities, it reduces civilization to barbarism.
All this we are asked to face in the name of piety and virtue. Every man who protests against it is denounced viciously as an atheist and a rascal. The local optionists assume a monopoly of rectitude. They try to make it appear that they represent Christianity, that they are Christianity. But I doubt that many fair men are going to be deceived by that bumptious and gratuitous pretense. The people of Baltimore, in general, are getting tired of the whooping of self-consecrated archangels. They are beginning to see clearly how much of all this bawling is good-will to men and how much of it is mere yearning to make somebody sweat. They are beginning to understand the difference between that real Christianity which strives sincerely to lift up and dissuade the erring and that bogus Christianity which is no more than a debased and savage form of Mohammedanism.
The Concord Clubbers are still using their mantelpieces as poker tables. And Col. Jacobus Hook, K. T., is still blowing money like a Russian grand duke.—Adv.