Tuesday, March 9, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 9, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page is here, which we covered for you in advance, yesterday. Yesterday’s front page is adequately covered today, and had little of note to offer anew yesterday anyway, save the sliced bread ban being lifted, which we covered yesterday from the editorial column, also of today, plus the bombing of three Japanese cargo ships on the Rangoon River at the old Moulmein where the Burma girl was a-settin', south of Rangoon and at Elephant Point, also, on returning, machine-gunning the Alquada reef lighthouse, the China Bark lightship, and the two-masted radio station at Diamond Point.

The print of yesterday's front page was so blurred that we decided mainly to skip it and move on ahead by a day, especially after seeing the header that a Sergeant from Morganton had participated in the Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942 and performed as the tip-top top-turret gunner, taking out three Japanese fighter planes and scoring a fourth probable hit. Not to disparage Sergeant Adams's bravery and skill at his assigned do-or-die position aboard that old crate strung together by baling-wire.

Besides, we were still reeling from a combination, two successive nights of "The Hurt Locker" and its illogical logical extension, the Academy Awards show. As we have said before, sometimes the truth hurts.

So, you got a two-fer yesterday and now may concentrate your efforts on today's editorial page, which we also previewed yesterday, free in the knowledge that you are not losing your mind. Do not adjust your headset or your eyeglasses.

Now, you will see that we were not kidding. There really was a Captain Hitler, a Captain Goering and a Lieutenant Heil. We are certain, incidentally, that, in reality, they were brave fighting men, even if their surnames happened to have unfortunate coincidence with reality.

On the editorial page of yesterday, "The Minor's Major Premise", making some light of the rush among college youth to lower the voting age to 18 in response to the draft age being so lowered, was wrong. We proved it wrong in 1971. Old enough to carry a gun and die in Vietnam, old enough to vote. And so it was in 1943. Who said that becoming 21 ever carried with it some magic wand of wisdom which is not by and large present at 18? The editorial understands the point but suggests that there was no need to rush to the voting booths ahead of schedule, that traditional 18-year old interest in "sub debs" might displace somehow sense in the responsible exercise of the franchise. Then, why, pray tell, was it at all appropriate to rush an 18-year old into combat training? Made no sense then, made even less later. The Constitution was amended and so the point is quite moot.

As to the letter to the editor re The News editorial of the previous Wednesday criticizing black press criticism of Warren Brown's criticism of the black press, the letter writer was, we think, correct. The News was wrong on that one.

We suspect, incidentally, that the piece below the Herblock of yesterday was not by Samuel Grafton but by Raymond Clapper, as it dovetails with today's piece by Mr. Clapper, summarized yesterday.

The remainder of yesterday's editorial page, as today's page, is without much grist for the mill and so we leave it for you to read, yesterday.

We were reading in today's New York Times about the Chinese gentleman, doctoral student, who was convicted of misdemeanor "defiant trespass" in Newark for having breached a security rope at the Newark airport January 3, 2010, sentenced to 100 hours of community service and a fine. He explained his actions, which were verified by his conduct, by a combination of poor English skills and impetuous love. His girlfriend was boarding a plane when he saw her in line, ducked under the rope without thinking and escorted her to the gate, violating security in the process.

The reason for the lapse was that someone had left their security post. When the breach was discovered by subsequent examination of a videotape, the airport was shut down and 200 flights were delayed or cancelled.

Meanwhile, oblivious to the matter, the gentleman causing the commotion had bid his girlfriend bon voyage and proceeded home, hearing of the problem later on the news, but still not realizing he was the culprit precipitating the stir, remaining therefore at home, mum, for five days, until police showed up to arrest him.

We assume, first, that the security person who allowed the slip was fired, but we haven’t seen what transpired on that count.

Second, why punish the gentleman in love for the plain negligence of some TSA person? Granted, everyone ought know by now that one does not slip under security ropes at airports, anywhere in the world, regardless of English fluency. But, we suggest that, on balance, the publicity attendant to this slip-up is more disturbing in terms of encouraging terrorism than the actual conduct, which was innocuous in its intent.

Third, legally, where is the criminal intent? Criminal trespass requires intentional conduct, that is, a knowing trespass, and intent requires conduct which, when undertaken knowingly and willfully, carries the substantial certainty that the action will result in the fact which constitutes a violation of the law, here a trespass, a breach of a security zone.

At most, this conduct appears to be negligent, not even grossly negligent. Absent-mindedness is not a crime. If someone, for instance, fails to pay for a small item in a store by forgetfulness and is charged with petty theft, and then can prove reasonably by the circumstances of their subsequent conduct that there was no intent to break the law, for instance, immediately re-entering the store to pay, they ought go free. That would be so, even if the store had to shut down and thousands of customers were inconvenienced.

Likewise, should have this gentleman.

But, he pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea bargain, and that is that.

Nevertheless, in our opinion, he should have never been charged. If any criminal charge had to be filed, it should have been criminal negligence against the security person for leaving their post. The young suitor had no intent to break the law. A crucial element of the crime was missing. But, it is easier to pick on the little guy, right?

Wherefore art thou, prosecutors, but to stem this matter at its beginning on common sense balancing between public awareness of the whole episode, letting potential terrorists know of security holes at airports, and trying to punish someone for a casual inadvertence? The criminal law cannot be based on consequences of innocent conduct. If someone stumbles accidentally down an escalator wearing high heel shoes for the first time and knocks twenty people down at the airport, do you charge that person criminally when their heel jammed on the escalator, some of which are quite steep at airports, when it was simply an accident? Probably not. You might, however, consider repairing the escalator or indicting the manufacturer of the high heels or the airport manager for not properly foreseeing the consequences to the public of a dangerous condition.

But that is way, way, way too complicated for those of you fresh out of law school, who haven't yet learned to read, 'ey?

If the man did the deed deliberately, with intent to evade security, sure, charge him. But negligence under these circumstances does not a crime make.

Where are they getting these idiots, these days? Are they the official graduates of the O.J. TV Trial of the Century of 1994-95, when they were about 12 to 15?

--Gee, mommy, I want be tv lawyer like them people.

--Well, first, let us learn the Alice and Jerry books. Remember, you flunked those in the fourth grade, for the fifth time. Lawyers must know how to read.

--No, I won't. It's below me. I'm royalty. I don't need read. I watch tv.

You are Fascists. Grow up. Stop living in the hypothetical. Before we make you.

We now return your tv sets to you.

"Wretches fitter for a course of hellebore than the stake."--from Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft by Sir Walter Scott, 1830

"Gentlemen in love delight in carving their autographs on the bark of trees, as other idle fellows are apt to hack and hew them on tavern benches and rustic seats. Amongst various modes, I have seen a shop-boy dribble his autograph from a tin of water on a dry pavement."

--from a Comic Annual, by Thomas Hood, circa 1830, et seq., as appearing in Jeux D'Esprit, collected and edited by Henry S. Leigh, 1877

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