Baltimore Evening Sun (15 May 1913): 6.
The boomers! The boomers! Again they’re on the wing! And some of of them go bang, bang, bang, and some go bing, bing, bing!
From an article by the Rev. William T. Ellis on the recent spectacular vice crusade in Atlanta, Ga.:
Judged by any standards, the Atlanta campaign has been more fun than can be got out of a fleet of aeroplanes or a garage full of racing automobiles.
A somewhat indiscreet confirmation of a doctrine I have preached several times of late, to the scandal of many sentimental psychologists--the doctrine, to wit, that vice crusading is a form of sport, and that the motive behind it is often nothing more respectable than a yearning to knock somebody about. Many other popular forms of missionarying, I am convinced, are tarred with the same stick. For example, the mad, glad jehad of the Lord’s Day Alliance. This singularly busy organization is full of pious pretenses: its ostensible purpose is to save the common people from crime. But in its actual acts it rather tends to make them criminals. That is to say, it tends to make them outlaws, feræ naturæ, good game. The pursuit of such game is the delight of the militant moralist.
The Rev. Dr. Ellis, in the article I have quoted, plainly seeks to give the impression that Atlanta has been cleaned up. “More than 200" women, he says, have “forsaken the old life of shame,” and the disorderly house is no more. Other vice crusaders harp upon the same string: Atlanta is now their shining example, just as Los Angeles used to be, and Chicago before Los Angeles. But the facts, as always, are bitterly against them. Not a month ago, I printed the report of a Baltimorean who had lately been in Atlanta. He said that the town reeked with prostitution, that the streets were full of street-walkers.
But were conditions any better under segregation? I doubt it. The manifestation was different, but the thing itself was the same. Segregation, as it is commonly practiced in the United States, is a woeful failure. The causes of that failure I do not pretend to know: no doubt they are enormously complex and obscure. But one of them seems to be the fact that segregation, as we know it, is always an extra-legal device--that it is not grounded upon the law, but upon a frank conspiracy to violate the law. This violation of the law, of course, makes pickings for the politicians. They become agents of the law-breakers; they try to market the privilege of law-breaking; out of their activity arises the cadet system.
Here in Baltimore the judges of the Supreme Bench sought to break up that graft by taking the business into their own hands. The plan worked very well. Graft was actually reduced to next to nothing; the cadet well nigh disappeared. But the Supreme Bench could not forbid the Police Board to enforce the law, and so the Police Board stepped in, and the result is the present hybrid system. Under that system a premium is put upon petty and pointless tyranny--and today there is more such tyranny than ever before. Some of the women of the old red light districts have been turned out, and are now being chased from pillar to post by volunteer moralists. Others have been reduced to desperation by regulations as illegal as their own acts. A few have gone into the stockades of the vice crusaders to await a clearing of the air.
Meanwhile, there is no visible decrease in prostitution. The insidious flat system, for long a curse in New York and Chicago, has begun to flourish in Baltimore. Scarcely a day passes that news of some new centre of vice does not penetrate to The Evening Sun office. Even respectable flat-houses have begun to be invaded, and not long ago a delegation of tenants in one of them went from authority to authority seeking redress. Such redress is commonly impossible under the law. The flats of Chicago are still in full operation, despite five years’ work by vice crusaders. New York, for all the effort of ardent moralists, is one vast disorderly house, at least for the two blocks to either side of Broadway.
But if segregation is thus a failure and dispersion is a failure, what is to be done? I’m sure I don’t know. What is more, no one else knows. Read the reports of the various vice commissions--for example, that of Chicago--and you will be depressed beyond measure by their infantile puerility. One and all they recommend suppression--and yet every sane man knows that suppression is impossible. The Chicago report, in particular, is an almost incredible farrago of absurdities. But don’t take my word for this. Rather read the acute analysis of it in Walter Lippmann’s new book, “A Preface to Politics.” And yet this Chicago report will probably be the basis of all other such reports for years to come.
There seems, indeed, to be no progress toward a solution of the problem. Its discussion, in practically all American cities, is chiefly in the hands of persons who start out by denying the plain facts. Emotion takes the place of reflection; instead of serious inquiry we have exhorting and reviling. There is no motive for saner men to combat the sophistries of these matadors; nothing can be accomplished by provoking their fire. Now and then, true enough, a Brand Whitlock or a Dr. Hainsford makes a protest, but it falls on deaf ears. The crusade goes on: it makes heroes, martyrs, Chautauqua stars, “experts.” And prostitution goes on with it.
The Rev. Annie Rix Militz, the eminent New Thought rabblerouser, in the Nautilus:
The victim of the drink habit is often of a lovable nature, full of genial attraction. * * * with a forgiving disposition, liberal, fearless, broad, generous to a fault.
What a contrast to the poor victim of coffee, with his yellow skin, his chronic biliousness, his saturnine pessimism, his cruel misanthropy!
To the Hon. Algol of the Letter Column my apologies, and upen him my blessings! He admits that he has sinned: therefore, he is no moralist. The true moralist cannot sin. He is in a state of perpetual and complete asepsis. No gross juices of the hop vine and malt bean have ever trickled down his esophagus. He has golden wings and is clad in sterile gauze. His soul is surgically clean.
Ten thousand dollars cash for any intelligible argument, not palpably satirical, against giving women the vote.--Adv.
All that remains is for the Hon. Sunday School Field to hand down an opinion approving the Hon. the super-Mahon’s diligent scratching for the Calvert Bank.
Boil your drinking water! Help the boozehounds save Besotted Baltimore! Watch Bob come back!