Baltimore Evening Sun (28 January 1914): 6.


Speaking of the skull and crossbones, here is the new heraldic device of the plupious Anti-Saloon League:


This advertisement, with its voluptuous, levantine picture, appears in the American Issue of January 24, page 14. The minds of the syndics of the Anti-Saloon League, it would appear, run upon such deviltries. Three or four weeks ago, more in shame than in bile, I reproduced from the American Issue a portrait of a lady taking a thermal bath. Apparently this was not enough for the old deacons: at all events, it is now accompanied by the leg picture. What next? I blush to speculate. The immoral old Sunpaper, for all its crimes, yet draws the line at such pictorial debaucheries. No view of a lady in the altogether, or even in the two-thirds, is admitted to its columns. But the American Issue, like the Police Gazette, seems to take them as they come. One contemplates with something akin to horror the influence of such a ribald sheet at the domestic hearth. Even in the barber shops it must occasionaly provoke a yell.

The four “anti-vice” bills introduced in the State Senate yesterday by the Hon. William Milnes Maley, apparently at the request of the odorous Pentz Society, are of the sort long advocated by professional snouters, and, in several States at least, actually forced upon the statute books, to the dismay and discouragement of all persons seriously interested in the reduction of the social evil and its alttendant diseases. The first of the four is the so-called Iowa red-light bill, which the suffragettes are now trying to induce Congress to adopt for the District of Columbia. How it works in Iowa was told before a Senate committee on January 7, 1913, by Col. Jefferson R. Kean, chief of the sanitary division of the army. Among other things, Colonel Kean introduced in evidence a report from his subordinate, the army surgeon at Fort Des Moines, dated May 23, 1913. I quote a few strophes:

The professional prostitutes who were known to the police as such at the time the law went into effect were compelled to leave town. Their places, however, have been filled by recruits from this and other places. Furthermore, I believe that this system results in many girls practicing clandestine prostitution unknown to their parents or friends, and believed by other girls to be respectable until the latter find themselves gradually persuaded and enticed into the same practice. My own opinion is that the law has not made Des Moines a whit more moral than any other city, that it has increased clandestine prostitution, spread the leaven broadcast, increased the incidence of venereal diseases, and is a promoter of seduction. * * * Street walkers are quite numerous, and any cab driver will take a man to such women should he be a stranger to the ways of the town. Many of these women visit the post [i. e., Fort Des Moines] in the afternoons. * * *

So much for the actual workings of the law, as described by an observer admirably fitted to judge it. In view of this complete failure of it, why are all professional vice crusaders so hotly in favor of it? The answer is simple enough. They are in favor of it because it facilitates that raiding and snouting by which they get their living, and by which the wealthy old sports who employ them are entertained, and because it does not actually decrease the stock of game. On the one hand, it gives their forays a sort of semi-official character, and so protects them from personal damage suits, and their employers with them, and on the other hand it is so full of loopholes that it encourages prostitutes to continue in business, and so provides an endless supply of moral opportunities.

The whole subject is discussed at length in Chapter IX of “The Task of Social Hygiene,” by Havelock Ellis, the foremost living autnority upon prostitution. He shows how ineffective and dangerous all such grotesque laws are bound to be--and how difficult it is to keep weak and ignorant Legislatures from passing them. Says he:

So gross is the ignorance of the would-be moral legislators--or, some may think, so skillful their duplicity--that the methods by which they profess to fight against immorality are the surest methods for enabling immorality not merely to exist--which it would in any case--but to flourish. A vigorous campaign is initiated against immorality. On the surface it is sucessful. Morality triumphs. But, it may be, in the end we are reminded of the saying of M. Desmaisons in one of the Remy de Gourmont’s witty and profound “Dialogues des Amateurs”: “Quand la morale triomphe il se passe des choses très villaines.”

As for the remaining three bills, they are scarcely worth serious consideration. That aimed at streetwalking does no more than ratify the existing law; that aimed at visitors to “houses of ill-fame or any house or room [used] for immoral purposes,” is obviously unenforcible, and probably unconstitutional; and that raising the penalty for adultery is a mere piece of moral fustian, a specimen of Bonapartism at its stupidest and worst. If it is impossible to enforce the adultery law with a penalty of $10, how is it going to be enforced with the fine raised to $500 and a jail sentence added? After all, an offender must be convicted by a jury--and there is no place In Christendom where juries habitually convict for adultery.

In brief, all four of these bills are hypocritical, ineffective and imbecile. They will give the hired smuthounds, true enough, a lot of profitable sport, but they will not do the slightest execution upon the soctal evil. No man or woman who is honestly devoted to the reduction of that evil can view them with anything save discouragement and despair. This problem has got out of the hands of honest and intelligent men: it is now the special sport and passion of damphools.

Immoral note from a physician of 10 years’ experience in the treatment of alcoholism, including three years of service in a sanitorium:

I feel that what is perhaps the most dangerous tendency in modern American life is the prohibition movement. * * * Temperance crusades are not a sign of health in a nation, but a sign of weakness. Just as individuals, when they become hypochondriac and neurasthenic, take to vegetarianism and other such “health” fads, so unhealthy nations take to abstinence and prohibition. Young and vigorous nations, as a rule, are heavy drinkers.

Incidentally has anyone ever noticed that, for all its marshalling of “scientific proofs” against alcohol, the Anti-Saloon League has never lured a single Baltimore physician of eminence into its headquarters committee?