Baltimore Evening Sun (22 July 1913): 6.


Maxim for amateur moralists: When in doubt, raid Joe Goeller.

The Hon. William H. Anderson having refused to make public the names of the clergymen who accepted his historic and lamentable proposal for the trimming of their church boards, I now turn to the rev. gentlemen themselves. How many fell for it? And are they willing to own up? Are they willing to submit themselves to the public judgment? Are they willing to confess in the open what they did behind the arras? I hereby give them a last chance. Let them fill out the following blank and send it in:

The Hon. H. L. Mencken, The Evening Sun Office: Sir–I was one of the clergymen who received the Hon. William H. Anderson’s letter of June 5, 1913, and I accepted its terms. That is to say, I sent the Hon. Mr. Anderson the name of the Hon. ........ .............. a member of my church board, with the understanding that the Hon. Mr. Anderson was to propose to the said Hon. ....... .................... that I be sent to the Anti-Saloon League convention at Columbus, Ohio, at the expense of the church, and that the Hon. Mr. Anderson was to “protect” me in the event of the discovery of this arrangement The Rev. --------------- -----------------, D. D., Pastor of ------------- -------------- Church.

If, as the Hon. Mr. Anderson says (American Issue, June 28, page 4), “a large number of pastors have * * * expressed their intention of accepting the * * * offer,” then some of them, at least, must have regarded it as moral. Why, then, should they hesitate to say so? Why should they clothe the whole affair in a sinister silence? Why should they allow the party of the second part to be put on trial by an outraged public without coming to his defense? I therefore formally call upon them to send in their names. And I offer to give them any amount of space they may desire, up to 10,000 words apiece, to explain and justify their acceptance of the hon. gent’s proposal.

From a moral article in the estimable Evening Sunpaper:

Back river, Middle river and Westport have become places where crooks congregate; where persons seeking diversion are subjected to robbery and beatings.

Believe me, gents, it is to larf! Go to Back river and see for yourself. You will find 5,000 and 10,000 poor folk trying to enjoy themselves at the minimum of cost. They drink a few harmless bottles of beer. They dance under the supervision of a strong-armed professor who would throw them overboard if they tried anything rough. They listen to the inane and sentimental songs that they like. They look at tedious, fifth-rate vaudeville. They risk, perchance, a few dimes on petty games of chance--the very same games that are played at church fairs. They devour fried fish and hard crabs with a vulgar smacking of lips. They bring their children and make a day of it.

To hint that these persons are crooks or that they engage in any sort of disorder whatever is to libel them cruelly and wantonly. Murders and robberies are just as rare at Back river as at River View. The dancing is a good deal more decorous than at the Baltimore Country Club. The vaudeville is the very same that is offered in the 10-cent theatres in town. Ninety-nine per cent. of the visitors haven’t money enough to get drunk. The so-called gambling is all upon a microscopic scale: the average “victim” probably loses as much as 35 cents.

A few pickpockets, true enough, prey upon these honest poor folk. But is that very remarkable? Isn’t it a fact that you will find pickpockets in all crowds, even in highly moral crowds? The county police fail to put down this petty thieving, not because they are in league with the rogues, but because they are stupid. It takes a sharp cop to catch pickpockets--and sharp cops are rare on rural police forces. The crowd helps out the jays in uniform as best it can. I have seen a pickpocket almost lynched at Hollywood. He begged to be locked up to escape the indignant “crooks” of the Sunpaper’s moral dreams.

This year, unfortunately, all the river resorts have been invaded by unusually large numbers of prostitutes. But is it any wonder? The vice crusadcrs, aided by a disingenuous Police Board, turn them out of their old haunts in Baltimore. They take to the summer parks. Back river has no monopoly of them. I was favored with the standard winks by two women at Bay Shore last Saturday afternoon--and Bay Shore is undoubtedly a park of the very first rank. I have seen ladies of the same genial profession in Druid Hill. They are far more numerous this summer than ever before. I call upon every observant man to bear me out. Back river, like all the other resorts, suffers from the evil-doing of our donkeyish purifiers.

Every Monday, at this season of the year, the newspapers are filled with exaggerated tales of levantine doings at the river parks. One hears regularly the story of the poor boy who loses his last rent at the sweat game, and of the beautiful young girl plied with drink by white slave traders. Such bosh is manufactured by journalists who snicker audibly while they write. I myself have composed scores of columns of it in the past: more than once, indeed, I have deliberately started bogus “reform” waves. The public, it appears, likes that sort of nonsense. It is highly virtuous, and it has a spicy, pornographic touch. Moralists delight in it.

But no sane newspaper man takes it seriously. I defy anyone to produce a single Baltimiore newspaper man who will state publicly, on his honor, that he believes such a place as the Hon. Spot Mitchell’s to be a sink of iniquity, or that he believes girls are ruined at Hollywood. You may find a man or two who will argue that gambling ought to be stopped, but you will never find one who will argue that Sunday beer-selling ought to be stopped. No; the reporters who carry on such crusades have no more belief in them than the police who carry on vice crusades. They are perennial jokes in all newspaper offices. Journalists have a low, vulgar sense of humor. Contact with reformers gives it to them.

Interesting news note in the estimable Evening News:

Scoring courtroom hangers-on and alleged “fixers,” Justice Sayler today publicly announced that there would be no more of them in his court.

But does the prohibition of the learned justice extend to the field agents of the vice crusade?

Boil your drinking water! Watch Uncle Fred and the Lord’s Day Alliance put the rollers under old Doc Mattfeldt!