Baltimore Evening Sun (5 July 1913): 6.


Pious doctrine laid down by the Hon. Charles G. Mason in today’s Letter Column:

The only attitude that decent society can maintain publicly toward a wilfully flouting scarlet personality is that of the healthy toward the leprous–namely, intolerance.

And this savagery now passes for Christianity! Let the Hon. Mr. Mason take notice that his beloved “intolerance” of lepers is no longer practiced west of the Bosporus. We have ceased to pursue them with wolfhounds. We have stopped knocking the “devil” out of them with clubs. Today we segregate them.

A DAILY THOUGHT. When you are down in the mouth, think of Jonah--he came out all right.--Robert Browning.

The estimable Sunpaper, defending its astounding doctrine that the contract system is responsible for “nine-tenths of all prison evils,” and that State labor would immediately wipe out those evils, offers the following singularly unconvincing argument:

In the one case influential individuals have a direct pecuniary interest in getting the maximum of work out of the prisoners, whether or not they be ill and about to die of tuberculosis. In the other case there would be no much motive for practices which, in some institutions in other States at least, have justified the name of slave-driving. No sane person believes that the atrocities of the Congo and of the Putumayo district would have been committed had it not been for the fact that the mutilation and torture of the rubber gatherers made the business more profitable to some one.

The weakness of this argument lies in the fact that two-thirds of the atrocities actually proved have been committed under the system of State labor. In all those Southern prison camps wherein prisoners have been chained together and confined in bull pens they were on State roads work. At Sing Sing and Auburn prisons in New York, both lately muck-raken with melodramatic effect, the so-called “State use” system has been in vogue for years. And in the Congo, as every one knows, the natives were mutilated and tortured, not by private contractors nor by the State agents of private contractors, but by officials of the Congo administration acting for the State, which was the only lawful employer of labor. In most parts of the Congo, indeed, it was a penal offense for a native in work for anyone save the State.

The learned Sunpaper’s willingness to believe tales of oppression and torture, even after they have been definitely disproved and the animus behind them revealed, is one of the most curious features of its current jehad. It has been officially decided, for example, after a rigid investigation, urged on by the enthusiastic Dr. Goldsborough, that the Ijams boy was not “in any sense” cruelly beaten by Superintendent Lankford, and that his subsequent death from acute miliary tuberculosis was “in no wise connected with said whipping,” and that Mr. Lankford is “not guilty of any misconduct whatever in the premises”--and yet the Sunpaper still argues piously that “the man or boy sentenced to three years in prison is sentenced to just that; he is not sentenced to illness, or to mutilation, or to death.” In other words, the Sunpaper continues to support its case with the very evidence that has been rebuffed, discredited and blown up. And aside from this bogus evidence, it has no evidence whatever to offer.

Far be it from me to defend deliberate cruelty to prisoners. As a matter of fact, no man defends it, or ever has defended it. But when necessary measures of discipline are cunningly exaggerated by emotional sentimentalists and political wire-pullers into “mutilation and torture,” and when respectable newspapers are deceived and led into absurdity by this sinister campaign against prison officials who, whatever their defects, are at least no more brutes than the rest of us--then it is high time to make a protest. The question whether contract labor is a good thing or a bad thing is still an open one: honest men differ over, as they differ over many other vexatious questions. If it is ever settled at all, it will have to be settled by sober and intelligent discussion. It is not going to be settled by hysterical attacks upon men who have done no wrong, nor by ill-concealed efforts to turn the resultant public excitement to political uses.

An anonymous Harford county boozehound in yesterday’s Letter Column:

The Hon. Mr. William H. Anderson’s wise and Christian generalship of the temperance forces is always a source of trouble to the liquor interests. His recent {...} to secure a large attendance of pastors and laymen of our churches at the great Anti-Saloon League Convention in Columbus seems to have brought special distress and apprehension to the liquor interests.

Oh, la, la, la! Far from bringing “special distress and apprehension” to the liquor interests, the Hon. Mr. Anderson’s late seduction of the more prehensile clergy has brought the greatest possible delight to the liquor interests. Those interests, you may be sure, are quite human, and they get human satisfaction out of the downfall of their critics. Nothing has pleased them more since the Hon. Isaac Lobe Straus bestowed his blighting favor upon the Anti-Saloon League.

The pious Harford countian speaks of the Hon. Mr. Anderson’s promise to “protect” his partners in chicane as “Christian generalship.” Nothing could more beautifully demonstrate the current debasement of the word “Christian” at the hands of fools, fanatics and worse. In times past that word was a synonym for gentle, fair, honest, charitable and just. Today there are men who are trying to make it a synonym for cruel, revengeful, bloodthirsty, mendacious, stupid, obscene and tyrannical. Those men are fooling a few silly and emotional folks. But they are not fooling many intelligent men. And before long they are going to feel the impact and burden of their failure.

The enforcement of the prohibition law in Oklahoma now proceeds with the utmost diligence and ferocity--that is to say, against strangers. A friend now touring that moral region tells me that all through trains are boarded at the State line by so-called “enforcement officers,” and that these Dogberries go through the baggage of the passengers. All jugs of whisky are confiscated. What becomes of them? It is difficult to say--but not long ago a number of enforcement officers were selling confiscated whisky to the natives. Every Oklahoma town has its outfit of speak-easies and joints. And in the rural sections the virtuous peasantry is protected from cramps by paregoric, peppermint extract, Peruna, fusel-oil and Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound. By all means, let us have this moral system in Maryland.