Tuesday, April 13, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 13, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Algiers radio reported, says the front page, that the Eighth Army had moved northward yet another 27 miles from Sousse, taken the day before, to occupy Enfidaville, which had been the last ground on which Rommel might have stood before Tunis, fifty miles further north. Rommel's last stand in Tunisia therefore would now be across a 40 by 100 mile stretch of coastal plain before Tunis and Bizerte, made by an estimated 210,000 men, 150,000 of whom were German, the rest primarily Italian.

Sfax, despite having been pummeled for five months by Allied bombers, greeted its new occupiers with conviviality. A French resident, forced to the suburbs along with the 30,000 other European residents of the city, declared, in explanation for the tolerance, that one could not make an omelet without breaking eggs.

On New Guinea, the Japanese were reported to be amassing 200,000 troops for a concerted drive south toward Australia. Meanwhile, a 100-plane air attack on Port Moresby on the southern coast of the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea had been repulsed by the Army Air Corps, shooting down 37, bringing the total bag for two days of fighting in the area to 76.

That was in addition to the 34 planes shot down the previous week in the 98-plane attack on Guadalcanal. Both operations combined, said Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, to indicate a significantly increased intensity to Japanese air operations in recent days. He did not have sufficient information, however, to confirm or deny the accumulation of 200,000 troops in New Guinea or its intent, offensive or defensive.

An air raid on Konigsberg, Germany was followed by a report that no RAF activity had been reported over Germany the previous night, suggesting that the raid unusually had been conducted by Russia.

From San Francisco, it was reported that four men sought to escape from Alcatraz. One died, and the other three were captured shortly after the escape, one of them managing to hide in a cave for three days before finally being discovered.

Edgar Auchincloss, reported to have pleaded guilty to criminal negligence in a death resulting from a three-car collision in New York, should not be confused with the Edgar Auchincloss who was the uncle of Hugh Auchincloss, stepfather to Jacqueline Kennedy from the time she was 12 years old in June, 1942. The younger Edgar Auchincloss III apparently was related to the family, but only as a probable second cousin to Hugh Auchincloss. Anyway, they were all of the social register.

Kay Kyser was rejected at age 37 for induction into the Army, after having been denied his deferment, sought for provision of an essential service, entertainment of the troops with his Kollege of Musical Knowledge. Reason for the denial was not provided; but they gave him special X-rays to determine whatever it was.

Well, as we have before commented, at age 37, who could blame him? The News, however, in an editorial of March 11, had taken a dim view of his efforts to seek exemption on the basis of entertainment.

On the editorial page, "Champion of Humanity" celebrates Thomas Jefferson’s birthday by suggesting the time of struggle against the odds in war to have been one which the great leveler would have found ennobling. In like portion, however, he would have found diminishing the labyrinthine executive bureaucracy of the government, the cynical tendency of the executive branch to enact bureaucratic regulations while knowing them to be flawed constitutionally, but also knowing that by the time they were contested through the slothful court process, the murky waters might already have been parted in challenge to the balance of power, increasing executive authority to gain sufficient leverage temporarily to exert pressure for congressional legislation of a more permanent and constitutional nature. The piece concludes with several quotes from Jefferson.

Parenthetically, we note a story appearing today about a gentleman whose case has been accepted by the United States Supreme Court for review, regarding a Federal Appeals Court reversal of a substantial favorable verdict in a lawsuit he filed against a church located in Topeka, Kansas which had picketed his son's funeral somewhere near Baltimore, bearing placards saying such things as "Pray for More Dead Soldiers" and "God Is Your Enemy". The man's son had been killed while on duty as a soldier in Iraq.

The protesters obtained permit for their speech, and performed their protest on public land, 1,000 feet from the church. The man and his family did not hear them or know that they were in the vicinity of the funeral until he later saw a report on the newscast about the protest.

He filed suit alleging invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He won before a jury and was awarded 10.5 million dollars in damages, reduced to five million by the trial judge. But then the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision, upholding in defense the protesters' right to exercise of speech and religious belief under their permit. After certiorari was then granted by the Supreme Court, the plaintiff was ordered by the Court of Appeals to pay $16,000 in court costs to the sect.

Does it infringe the privacy of a family worshiping at a funeral for a religious sect, proximal to the funeral site, to exercise, under city permit, freedom of speech and religious belief, which holds that war is condemned by God and that God is punishing America with its dead soldiers because of America's tolerance for homosexuality? That is essentially the question which the Supreme Court will determine when it hears the case.

The question ultimately boils down to one of time, place, and manner of exercise of speech and whether the exercise of the liberty in this instance unduly infringed the zone of expectation of privacy enjoyed by anyone attending a religious service, also an exercise of freedom of religion, when alternative means for expression of the speech existed further from the locus of the ceremony, without any interference of another's rights. Was the sect irresponsible for having sought and obtained the permit, even though the town granted it? Does the permit insulate the group from liability for their subsequent actions consistent with the terms of the permit?

Apart from the emotionally loaded and insensitive nature of these statements, we think that it does infringe the family's rights to privacy, also a penumbral fundamental right under the Ninth Amendment, as recognized originally in cases recognizing the right to purchase contraceptives and subsequently in Roe v. Wade.

On the one side of the equation, the protesters obtained a permit and conducted themselves on public land 1,000 feet from the funeral, not even within earshot of the attendees. On the other side, the statements have no real social purpose and are designed to torment the bereaved, are aimed at particular individuals, casting them in a false light in some instances, as in this case, where the soldier was not homosexual. The placard carriers could stand on any street corner in the city, a mile or more from the church, not merely a thousand feet, and make the same protestant statements without harassing the family attending a funeral of one of its members. The object and motive are plainly harassment, not merely exercise of freedom of speech and religious belief. Else, why target the time and place of a funeral of a soldier, when other forums are available for their protest, both in terms of time and place? No emergent rights, pertinent to this family, are at stake for the protesters, such as a union picketing for better wages in front of a particular business, or protesters more generally picketing a business for some alleged discriminatory practice of that particular business. The protesters were not protesting the method by which the funeral was being conducted, for instance, something germane to the time and place of the protest.

Indeed, we think that the police and town were derelict and should have been named as defendants pursuant to 42 US 1983 for authorizing the interference with the exercise of the family’s rights to worship in private in the first instance.

The town should have denied the permit, allowed the sect to sue and then had the matter determined first in the courts before allowing infringement of one group's rights by another--or simply limited the scope of the permit to another time or another place not close to the time or place of the funeral.

If such a display is the exercise of freedom of speech and religion, then anyone may be allowed to stand, individually or en masse, in a neighborhood on public property, near someone's home, say 1,000 feet away, as long as they remain on public property, and carry placards which imply matter which has no relationship to the particular persons or families residing there, and do so with impunity.

Perhaps, the family and its supporters ought write up some signs of their own, such as "Stop Bad Decision-Making in Our Courts, Despoiling Everyone's Rights", and silently occupy a part of a public park or other public area near enough the homes or offices of the Federal judges, say 1,000 feet away, who reversed the jury's decision. Turn about is fair play in a free democracy.

As we have before stated, ad hoc rules on freedom of speech deny, through time, freedom to everyone. This case is just another example of how the law under the First Amendment has become so convoluted and riddled with exceptions as to be impossible of application by the courts or the public or by cities and towns issuing permits, with any common sense or consistency of application. The governing maxim seems to be that as long as there is a group with an outrageous statement of hatred to bring forth, it is permissible speech. But let an individual say virtually the same thing spontaneously, even in private, and look out. The individual has no power; the law will run roughshod over his or her rights.

Perhaps, we have had too many "common sense" "law and order" judges appointed by Republican presidents through the past four decades and need now far more judges on the state and Federal benches of the country who simply have some sense, of both the law and the Constitution, rather than engaging in childish word games to effect a predetermined result to which they aim with the most deliberate intellectual dishonesty.

Would Thomas Jefferson find the placards acceptable? Would John Marshall? We posit that they would have allowed the protest, but insisted that it be conducted elsewhere than in the vicinity of the church, perhaps a mile away, not a mere 1,000 feet, in the town square, and if the town square was near the church, at a different hour from the funeral. That is sensible restriction based on time, place, and manner, without infringing anyone's rights, the family's or the idiotic church members who haven't the sense of cats in heat.

At the end of the day, it may be that the family simply chose to sue the wrong defendant. The town, in our estimate, was at greatest fault, more than the protesters who were, after all, given permission by the town to be absurd and outrageously insensitive. Perhaps, the family balked at suing the city or town, but that is the only way sometimes to effect changes in the law to everyone's advantage and to gain protection from ignorant creeps. And then if juries or judges--as is all too often the case--balk at application of the Civil Rights laws on the books since the era following the Civil War, there to protect all of us against infringement of our constitutional rights by someone acting under color of state law, then shame on them. That is how the problems begin, setting aside the laws on the books because we feel uncomfortable with them--heck, know good old Jumbo on the City Council there, and, why, he is such a good fellow, wouldn't hurt a fly, play golf with him even, and think of the property tax hike if we tax the city with a verdict for beating this fellow senseless like that, why...

But think of living in a city where you can no longer worship or think or speak or associate or petition your government with impunity, where the order of the day is one of essential martial law and order--governed, in the final analysis, by some tv script writers who infused themselves in the paranoid and callow head of Jumbo when he was dumb as an ox in his youth watching nothing but tv and never bothering to read a book, some poetry, or take a hike, not discriminating between the violence he saw there regularly on tv every night and the calm of his own quiet hometown, such that he decided as an adult to run for City Council on the "We Gots to Have Law and Awda" ticket. Having been elected on the populist appeal, he has no choice but to keep feeding his own paranoid delusions by making everyone else eat from the same plate from which he ate 25 years earlier, watching "Hill Street Blues", informing the while with "Dallas" the basis for his political and business ambitions.

As Thomas Jefferson essentially said, all of the First Amendment freedoms survive together and are balanced when conflicting with one another or they all hang together, for all are encompassed by one sentence.

All in the wrong, in this instance, save the family simply trying to attend in private the funeral of their deceased loved one, a soldier, and to be left alone as a family properly to grieve.

"When the General Departs" compares the expected imminent departure of Rommel from Tunisia--assuming, as did military observers of the time, that he had not already abandoned the front for Italy as reported a couple of weeks earlier--to that of General MacArthur being ordered by FDR in late February 1942 to leave the Philippines for safer haven from which to conduct his operations, Australia. Mr. Davis also compares the necessity thus to preserve a great general's command to that of Napoleon being forced to abandon North Africa in 1799. Soon, Rommel's headquarters would be in Italy and the wreckage which he would leave behind in the hands of General von Arnim would not long endure before the encircling might of the crushing pincers of the combined Allied forces of Patton, Anderson, and Montgomery, and the Air Force of General James Doolittle.

Raymond Clapper renews his criticism of FDR for proposing to exclude the press from the upcoming international food conference. He had to withdraw his story of the previous day that the policy had been reversed and the conference was to be opened to the press after all. The dispatch had been based on erroneous information. The conference was still closed and the right of the press to report on non-military matters was being wrongly infringed.

Dorothy Thompson examines the concept of re-education of Germany post-war, as informed by The New York Times survey which found that college freshmen were faring poorly on reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, as well as in basic knowledge of history. She views the two notions as antithetical to one another, rhetorically inquiring as to how the United States could hope to re-educate Germany when it could not even adequately educate its own citizens, even those among its brightest bound for college.

The flaw in the concept, she suggests, is that the origins of Nazism and Fascism came not from the educational system but from strict adherence by the bulk of the populace to the concept of nationalism, impressing upon society's members, via egocentrism, a world view which enjoyed only the comfortable and limited perspective of purblind patriotism, seeing every societal problem and issue through a lens assuming German or Italian cultural superiority. Such myopia can occur, she opines, in any society, including that of the United States.

The anodyne for such a condition was a system of instruction of history which integrated a broader understanding of society and worldwide events at any given time. Social studies programs were cropping up in the schools to seek to fill this gap by combining the study of raw history with the studies of geography and sociological and cultural evolution. But the attempt had proved hard to effect when too few teachers demonstrated adequate understanding themselves of the broader concept, combining literary and artistic endeavors of society in a particular era with historical events, understanding the while the interrelationships causally in time between geographically dispersed events.

She counsels finally that the first step on the road to accomplishing any planned re-education of Germany was to approach the subject with proper humility, divorced from the hubris which leads to fostering nationalism, and before starting the program, endeavoring first to insure mastery of the educational process within the United States.

That which she counsels for better understanding history, incidentally, was coincidental precisely with the formula utilized by W. J. Cash in The Mind of the South, an exploration of the socio-cultural history of the region, its cultural mind--or, as he found it to be historically, a mind absent of culture, one given to emotion and sentiment rather than thought and analysis in resolving societal issues.

Besides repeatedly criticizing the inapt title, Samuel Grafton finds a new British propaganda film, "Next of Kin", to be an effective device for teaching the lessons of secrecy and hushed mouths during wartime, far more effective than lectures from military leaders and pronouncements from Mount Olympus. He suggests letting Hitchcock loose on the propaganda front--which had already begun with his 1940 film "Foreign Correspondent", his 1942 "Saboteur", and would follow in 1944 with "Lifeboat", as well as two French short films that year produced under the auspices of the British Ministry of Information.

Was the lesson finally learned so well during World War II, and enforced so thoroughly afterward during the initial years of the Cold War, that it became too well ingrained, at least in the United States, leading to acceptance through time of systematic suppression of information, so without question, within the minds of some puppets, as to its inherent conflict with the First Amendment and the concept of openness in a democracy; so well ingrained that the practice has continued to manifest itself unquestioningly within our population even twenty after the end of the Cold War, gained indeed of additional fervor in the aftermath of the evnts of September 11, 2001? For, isn't it the case that some dummies cannot succeed without putting down the free flow of information, denying the right of intelligence to speak its mind, out of fear and consternation that intelligence might actually cause thinking to catch on and then all the dummy-speak which proliferates on our airwaves would, subito, be rendered without an audience? without all that advertising revenue obtained from inducing other dummies to watch rapt and spellbound?

And, we could not leave the day without imparting that a few hours ago, as we went to get in our car, we found the wandering gray cat, the same which had been in our garage weekend before last for a couple of days camping out, reading short stories, learning, before we found it and put it out. Apparently, it was now seeking to grab the reins and learn to drive our chariot through the countryside. We had inadvertently left the window down and the cat had taken its place comfortably in the driver seat, ready to proceed with the first driving lesson.

We don't know the name of this cat or its owner. But, we think that it should have an apt nickname, all things considered. So we dub it "Fields-West". For one or both of their spirits have obviously infused into this kitty cat from somewhere out the ether. We hope that a small snake doesn't bite it.

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