Baltimore Evening Sun (9 August 1913): 6.


The Hon. William H. Anderson in the current American Issue:

If we were whipped in the city, as wo probably would be in a city vote alone, * * * we could pound through a prohibition amendment and get the benefit of the help of the temperance majority in the state outside of the city to overcome the liquor vote in the city itself.

A frank statement of Anti-Saloon League hopes and plans. No sane man believes that Baltimore city, as a whole, will ever go dry. A few residential wards may do so--that is to say, wards in which saloons are now few and far between, and in which little local demand exists. But the people of the city as a whole, unless they all lose their minds, will always prefer the open saloon to the blind pig. We may eventually reduce our saloons in number, and we may even segregate them after a fashion, but so long as we keep our common sanity we will never try to improve them by turning them into speak-easies. A large city cannot be run on the scale of a one-horse country village. It contains ordinary human beings as well as Leverings and Cochrans, and those ordinary human beings will always demand the right to regulate their private habits for themselves.

But what the Anti-Saloon League is admittedly unable to accomplish with the consent of the people of Baltimore it will try to accomplish against their protest. So much for its hypocritical whooping about self-government and the right of each community to decide things for itself! Baltimore has half the population of Maryland and three-fourths of the wealth, but the counties are in control of both houses of the Legislature, and by large majorities. It is upon this notorious unfairness that the boozehounds stake their case. They plan to foist prohibition on Baltimore by appealing to the prejudices of the country folks. They are bad citizens and disingenuous men. They get their pleasure, as the vice crusaders and all other such gladiators of the uplift get it, by cracking the whip over their fellow-men.

The Anti-Saloon League is not in favor of local option, for local option grants something to free government. It merely uses local option as a blind. All of the men who founded this rich and impudent organization are in favor of prohibition, and the main reason why they are in favor of prohibition is that most normal men, even including the majority of teetotalers, are against it. The so-called liquor evil doesn’t bother these men. They are not compelled to drink themselves; they do not live near saloons; what is more, they know very well that prohibition would not put a stop to drunkenness. The one genuine motive in them is a desire to make some one jump. They are natural-birb crusadors, Puritans, Pharisees. The raid is their sport and passion. It is the chief sacrament of that orgiastic Mohamnmedanism which they seek to foist upon us as Christianity, to the scandal of all genuine Christians.

The processes of mind of such violent and ridiculous fellows have been but imperfectly understood in the past, but as the science of psychology advances we begin to comprehend them. Out of that new knowledge arises a great distrust of the chemical purist, the virtuoso of virtue, the tin-whistle archangel. What we learn about these men is that they are moved by that very same will-to-power which moves all the rest of us, that their aim is not go much to make the world better as to make the world dance as they fiddle. They are not daunted by the fact that the dancing may be painful, and even dangerous. On the contrary, it is that very fact which makes them enjoy it. The cowboys who fired at the heels of a cavorting tenderfoot were moved by the same impulse, and got the very same satisfaction.

It ts no use aguing with such disorderod enthusiasts. It does no good to show them that prohibition is still a grotesque failure in Maine, after more than 60 years of trial, and that vice-crusading makes things worse instead of better. It does no good to point to the bitter experience of countries older than ours, and to the opinions of wise and honest men. To attempt to convince them in that way is to forget utterly what they are trying to do. They are not trying to remedy evils; they are merely trying to turn evils into sports. They prefer prohibition to license because prohibition offers ten times the opportunity for raiding, spying and snouting and because it violates the common rights of their fellow-men. They prefer the dispersion of prostitution to its sane regulation because dispersion is merely another name for constant excitement, because it is a lawful and stimulating form of the chase, because it gives every volunteer all the rights and enjoyments of a bloodhound.

I am well aware, of course, that certain honest men believe sincerely in such so-called reforms. We have a few of them in Baltimore. They argue reasonably for stringent laws, even while admitting the practical impossibility of enforcing them. But the professional reformer, the self-appointed saint, the specialist in virtue, is a bird of different feather. There is no arguing with him. He doesn’t want to listen to reason. He offers nothing in support of his own alleged facts save a mass of windy platitudes, a folderol of campmeeting theology, a mishmash of pious mendacities. No sophistry is too transparent to serve his uses. No pretense is too impudent for him to make it.

Such is the Puritan, a foe to all sound living and honest thinking. His salient trait, if I do not err, is his insatiable hatred of his fellow-men. He is never content unless he has them on the run; he is never so happy as when he has them under his lash. The normal impulses of healthy human beings are incomprehensible to him. He cannot understand why anyone should ever want to smile, or sing or fling a leg in air. The world, as he sees it, is a sort of penitentiary, a dark and forbidding calaboose. And his own single aim and function in life is to cuff up the prisoners. He was born with a whip in his hand. He serves the Lord by making sinners yell.

If you miss Prof. Alexander Geddes’ daily poem on page 4, you miss the most exquisite burbling since the days of Q. Horatius Flaccus. The Professor grows mellower and more melodious with the years. I know of no oiler of our day and generation, not even the Hon. Goose Grease Altfeld, who is more adept with the unguents. And when it comes to the composition of penetrating and iconoclastic epigrams his one rival is his distinguished colleague and preceptor, the Hon. Aristides Sophocles Goldsborough, K. T. LL. B.--Adv.

Say what you will against Dan Loden, nobody never heard him say nothing in favor of the New Thought.–Adv.