Baltimore Evening Sun (10 March 1914): 6.
The Hon. B. H. Hartogensis’ bill to relieve the Jews from the harsh provisions of the Sunday law of 1723 has no chance, of course, of being passed at this session of the Legislature, but if the Jewish voters of Maryland do battle for it earnestly enough, they may eventually get it through. Its purpose, of course, is not to allow Jews to disturb the Christian Sabbath by operating shooting galleries and nail factories, but merely to protect them against raiding and imprisonment for work that disturbs no one. They are very faithful in keeping their own Sabbath, and they have no desire to profane that of their fellow-citizens. But a good many of them believe that it is unjust to jail them for doing quiet and harmless work on Sunday, and in that theory they have a lot of support in public opinion and in the laws of various States.
In Massachusetts, for example, the law permits any man who actually observes Saturday as the Sabbath to go about his usual occupation on Sunday, provided it does not involve annoyance to persons who keep that day, nor any breach of specific statutes. Thus, he may noot keep a saloon open on Sunday, nor even a store, but he may engage in tailoring, or cigar-making, or paper hanging or farming. Much the same law is in force in Michigan, Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York and Virginia. In Minnesota a Jew may even keep his store open on Sunday, provided it is in a neighborhood chiefly populated by persons of his race, and in New York there is much the same provision.
Here in Baltimore, as we all know, the increase in the Jewish population has made it practically impossible to enforce the Sunday laws to the letter. Now and then, in response to prodding by professional agitators, the police raid a few stores on East Baltimore street, but they soon reopen again. Some time ago, indeed, the Police Board, in a public statement, frankly confessed that it was unable to enforce the law and called upon the public for suggestions. No suggestions were offered. Public sentiment supported the Jewish storekeepers, and even the Christian storekeepers who imitated them.
But whatever the fate of Mr. Hartogensis’ bill, it must be obvious that our Sunday law needs a considerable revision. It stands today substantially as it was passed in 1723, and it takes no heed whatever of the needs of a large city. To a farmer Sunday is pre-emtnently a day of snoozing; he has been hard at work in the open air all week, and he wants nothing but a chance to stay indoors and sleep. But the average city man is cooped up in an office or a factory for six days of the seven, and on the seventh he needs physical exercise and a change of scene. Hence his heavy patronage of the suburban resorts on summer Sundays, and his general refusal to take the Sunday laws seriously.
Those laws, here in Maryland, are truly mediæval in their rigor. It is technically unlawful to run an excursion train on Sunday, or to sell cigars or chewing gum or soda water, or to haul scenery to or from a theatre, or to hang a picture, or to deliver milk or ice, or to print a newspaper. Twelve or fifteen years ago the late Samuel T. Hamilton, then Marshal of Police, attempted to enforce this last provision of the law, and the local newspapers were compelled to go through the motions of obeying a ridiculous clown-show. And at the recent “moral clinic” of the Lord’s Day Alliance the Hon. Joshua Levering and other virtuosi solemnly discussed a crusade against Sunday excursions.
Whether or not the running of street cars on Sunday is legal in Baltimore I do not know. Back in the sixties the people decided, at a special election, that they wanted the cars to run, but I can find no specific enactment to that effect in either the Code of Public General Laws of 1904, the Local Laws of 1888 or the city Code of 1906. The cars are apparently allowed to run on the theory that they are “necessary,” within the meaning of the act of 1723. But is the service to River View necessary? Certainly no member of the Lord’s Day Alliance would admit it. Nor would he admit that it is necessary to gather news on Sunday for Monday’s Sunpaper.
But how long are the civilized people of Baltimore going to submit to government by such misguided extremists? What would become of us If we allowed them to boss us in all things? They are sworn foes of the most elementary liberty; they hold that every human being of normal tastes and appetites is a scoundrel; they get their pleasure by tyrannizing over their fellow-men; they pretend to a virtue which not one of them possesses in fact. In brief, they are obnoxious pharisees, pious frauds, bad citizens. Certainly Baltimore has grown too large to keep on dancing as moral mointebanks whistle. Things have come to such a pass that no traveler stops off here if he can help it. Outworn laws and customs are costing us millions of money and making a national joke of us. It is high time to clean up.
The Hon. John Q. Boyer offers proof in today’s Letter Column that be is actually one of God’s creatures, and so I give him welcome to the human race. But I permit myself to snicker amiably at his “proofs” that his witnesses against moderate drinking are authentic experts. Those “proofs” come, it appears, from the bureau of scientific temperance investigation of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Scientific Temperance Federation of Boston. Of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union bureau it is needless to speak: certainly no sane man looks for a scientific, or even a mildly intelligent, discussion of alcohol from Women’s Christian Temperance Union gladiators. They are sworn to the job of proving that it is invariably a poison, and to that job they bring an enthusiasm entirely unconditioned by either sense or information.
As for the so-called Scientific Temperance Federation, it is equally dubious. We all remember the pamphlet it prepared for the late William H. Anderson--a pamphlet which he tried in vain to get into the hands of every Baltimore school child. That affecting document was a tissue of pious fictions, and at least one of the authorities quoted in it--to wit, the Hon. Edward Bunnell Phelps, M. A., F. S. S., author of “The Morality of Alcohol”—has openly attacked its compilers for cunningly and deliberately misrepresenting him. Such is the New Morality. Such is the reliability of uplifters.
Five weeks more—and then the sabbatical to Christendom, the return to civilization!
Is the State of Maryland a ganov that it will pick the ex-Sheriffs’ pockets while they are down? Let them keep the money. They have earned it.—Adv.