The Charlotte News

Saturday, March 1, 1941


Site Ed. Note: "Time to Vote" echoes a familiar theme of the obstructionist tactics of the usual group of Senators of the era, a theme since even shortly after the war began, as stated in "Nyelock", 1 September 21, 1939, and "Neutrality", September 22, 1939. Even before war began, the vote on the Hull-Bloom Neutrality Bill, to allow the sale of arms to belligerents, for the aid of England and France against Hitler, was ruefully blocked at a critical juncture with Hitler amassing troops and materiel on the Polish border and threatening invasion unless Danzig and the Corridor, containing the primary manufacturing and trade facilities of Poland, were ceded to his control. (See, e.g., "Strictly Partisan", July 2, 1939, "Neutrality?", July 5, 1939, "What Made 'Em Vote", July 12, 1939, "Ring-Around-Rosy", July 15, 1939, "Senate's Right", July 19, 1939, and "As Prophesied", July 20, 1939.)

"Test Case" mentions the practice of jury nullification, the right of a jury in a given case to set aside the law in favor of the defendant. Some juries, such as in the South in the days of lynching, set it aside without reserve or compunction, of course. While, as Cash states, within the rights of juries to do, such should only be done in extraordinary circumstances where plainly an unjust result would occur otherwise, unjust under the circumstances of the case vis á vis a particularly Draconian law--99 years for a death in a car accident, without malice implied or expressed, as the young Percy got, for instance--but it should not be used merely to free a person against whom all the evidence plainly stacks for guilt of murder, merely for sentimental reasons, that he's like us and I woulda killed the nigger white honky chink pink fink wop redskin kike mick runt slant-eyed swope spic skinny fat freak hairy bald spoiled dumb scum kraut too, if given the chance... For that does an injustice to all, the next victim who might be someone who is not so different from thine own.

As to the particular case in question, where a husband caught his wife in the act, there is recognized in some states, more the case in times past, that so-called "heat of passion" murder may be determined as voluntary manslaughter. For that result to occur, usually a jury is required under the law to find that the person acted in the heat of passion, such a state of provocation as would overcome rational thought in the view of a reasonable person, that the stimulus, the provocatory act, for the mental state of heat of passion was immediate and that there was insufficient cooling time between the provocation and the act of killing. As that case always turns on the specific facts and the composition of a particular jury and their view of the evidence and actors, the killer obviously puts his or her head at the threat of the noose should their calculation be wrong, if in fact their act was not so the product of uncontrollable rage regarding such an act as viewing infidelity, but instead a trumped up story or mental excuse for doing what they intended for some time, or even all along. Many of these laws, written or unwritten, in the old days were sex-specific, allowing the man the possession of his wife as nearly chattel and thus the open season should a thief of hearts be found present, but not recognizing a woman's like passion in the bargain, since, after all, boys will be. Such laws, of course, would no longer pass constitutional muster, but of course such things as used to fall under them still are subject to so falling via jury nullification, but of questionable result to the ultimate well-being of the individual jurors who so decide to countenance murder, rather than following the law, whether of murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Obviously, to acquit of the killing would be a nullification under the "unwritten law" and such should never be, for the very reason that the next actor may trump up the excuse deliberately to afford the opportunity and the victim might be else than the other.

For the reference to Bridlegoose, see the note accompanying "Roll 'Em, Boys", August 19, 1940.

Speaking of Los Angeles and spousal death, and controversial cases, there was a case out of California decided about ten years back about which we have never commented--and we don't intend to do so now either to any degree. It was an interesting case, hard fought and tried on both sides, with, in our opinion, exceptional and noble traits displayed by all of the primary legal personnel involved in the case, judge, attorneys, prosecutors, all operating under the worst of conditions in terms of pressure to perform before international attention. And, we think the just result was reached, though reasonable minds may and will differ and have very vociferously done so. But reasonable minds may always differ on the guilt of the accused after an acquittal. That should not be the case, however, on the conviction of a defendant. For the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, leaving the evidence in that state where a reasonable person may say with an abiding conviction and to a moral certainty that the accused is guilty. And if reasonable minds may differ on the construction of the evidence presented vis á vis guilt of the accused, then naturally it follows that the burden is not met and an acquittal must perforce occur. That is not necessarily to say that the accused is innocent. But--maybe none of us are in one sense.

For us, the case in question was a simple one--after viewing the evidence for awhile. One cannot have a bloody spot matching the DNA of the accused on the back gate leading to the murder scene in the morning after the murder, while at the same time not having the same spot there the night before, after the murder occurred. So it was in this case. Wasn't so much that the glove didn't fit, for the shrinkage factor was there due to the blood. It was, to our view anyway, that if in the night the spot you haven't got, in the morning, you've the rotten id plot. Common experience tells us that photography at night by flash might, if overexposed, blot the small spot from the film, especially when reflecting off of a bright white gate. But the experienced criminalist who took the photo, experienced in the methods of photography and thus likely to have had his exposures correct, could not explain the absence of the spot in the nighttime photo. The evidence didn't fit and thus...

Nor should we as a society condemn an accused once acquitted, simply because we think we know better than the twelve good and true, angry or not, those who saw and heard only the properly admissible evidence at close hand, were instructed in the law of the case by the judge, and had the weight of their own individual consciences in rendering their verdict. Easy to be an armchair player or ump; harder when on the field of battle.

And, civil cases have a much lower standard of proof, preponderance of the evidence, that is more likely than not, in the eyes of the civil jury based on the evidence presented, than do criminal cases. Even such a civil finding, therefore, still does not necessarily mean guilt of the act in the abstract sense, any more than acquittal in a criminal case necessarily implies innocence.

Out, out, damned Spot.

See, not Othello, but Midsummer Night's Dream and Merry Wives of Windsor. Maybe, too, Merchant of Venice.

We find, in our observations, that it's the comedies in error by which the murderers and usurpers of truth play their most dastardly games of obfuscation, not usually so much through the teary-eyed tragedies, though both may play their part, the tragedy giving rise to the sentiment which gives rise to the need for the handy-dandy of the comedy to hide the feelings of dark guilt. Thus, when Lincoln went to the play, Our American Cousin, Booth chose that, and the comedic line, "You sockdologizing old mantrap," turned around on itself as ironic pathos for his once newlywed and comely South's perceived humiliation at the second altar--stripped of her unilateral decree of divorce after being hunted for four deadly and bloody years like a wild rabbit, and all, after all, for merely running with her true lover, Independence, (yet, J.B., sometimes independence from rational thought, itself, boy, too)--as the point to pop off his little derringer.

And one should, while about it, read, as we rad, Frank O'Connor's "Ghosts", written in early draft form in 1940.

Round and round we go. But, as long as ye be doin' that, ye murthers, we'll be doin' this--at least until we become murtherless children, learning to appreciate the milk of slow and arduous, but worthy, generation by generation advance.

Time To Vote

Cloture Should End More Repetition of Argument

If the votes are available--and Senator Van Nuys of Indiana says they are--cloture should plainly be applied to the Senate debate on the Lend-Lease Bill next week.

What is going on now is manifestly a mere delaying action on the part of Wheeler, Nye, Reynolds, Clark, Clark & Co.--not a filibuster in the formal sense of the word but a filibuster nonetheless in its essential spirit.

One motive for delay is to gain time for the isolationist-appeasement organizations now whipping up the country's isolationist-appeasement element to deluge the Senators with enough mail to frighten the more timid ones out of support for the measure.

Many of these organizations are Nazi, Fascist or Communist in their origin, though some of them are bona-fide associations. But all of them are enormously busy in persuading their followers and dupes to write letters to Washington while people who support the bill mainly neglect to write, in the complacent assumption that the bill will pass anyhow.

It is probable that in some cases that there is another motive also--the hope that delay will make aid for England obviously too late to be useful to her--that Hitler will deliver the death blow while Congress dallies and so dispose of the question at once and for all. It is pretty easy to see that in the attitude of Wheeler and Nye. In some instances there is no reasonable doubt that this motive is strong.

In that of Chaves of New Mexico, for instance. This man long ago made his sympathies amply clear when he delivered speech after speech in the Senate eulogizing Franco and the Spanish Fascists.

1 The reference to "Nyelock" reminds us of something we ran across some time ago on the internet, someone stating re The Mind of the South that they had been assigned to read it in high school back in the early seventies, and proceeded upon seeing the reference to "Shylock" to become disenamored, assuming the author to be another anti-Semitic Southerner. The comments did not bother to indicate any retreat from this position, indeed admitting that the author had not re-read any part of the book since high school, and so we took it upon ourselves to try gently to educate the writer to the folly of the gleaning he had in high school. To appreciate such folly, one only need read something like "McNinch and Immigration", from the Cleveland Press of September 28, 1928, when Cash alone was editor of that paper in man-of-cloth, Klan-fan Thomas Dixon's hometown, literally dozens of News articles and editorials taking on Nazi anti-Semitism, and many of them early in the storm, 1935-36, when few even in the Northern press realized what was happening or cared enough to write about it. These articles included "Time of the Scorn", May 31, 1936, "Papa Franz Boas", July 12, 1936, "Europe's Ku Kluckers", September 5, 1937, "The Fanatic Fuehrer", March 20, 1938, "Poet and Superman", March 27, 1938, "At A Water Jug", June 2, 1939, "Without A Port", June 3, 1939, "Bed Sheets", June 15, 1939, "Nazi Trap", September 25, 1939, "Germany Real Loser in Pogroms", November 19, 1939, "Plot?", June 22, 1940, "Bob Emerges", February 24, 1941, "In the Open", February 25, 1941, "More Clear", March 18, 1941, and dozens of other editorials along the same lines, including regular attacks on native North Carolina Senator Robert Rice Reynolds and others of his ilk, such as Father Coughlin, for their regular anti-alien pronouncements, aimed obliquely at Jews seeking asylum from the Nazi.

In sum, in one way or another, practically all of Cash's newspaper work in the period was devoted to eradication of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-unionism, and any other form of attempt invidiously to discriminate between humans based on religion, socio-economic background, or immutable physical characteristics. Discrimination among ideas, however, is another thing entirely.

We do not mean to pick on the writer of this comment. He is certainly not alone among those who latch onto a word and run with it, especially in this age where the art of writing and reading irony and over-statement has gone wanting. As the writer seemed intelligent, we assume, were he to re-read today the passage in which the word appears, that he would be challenged, as we were, to understand how he thought the mere reference to the Southern common white's stereotyped perception of Northern capitalists as Shylocks was anti-Semitic.

So for full edification, that you may make up your own mind, here is the quote, from Book I, Chapter III, "Of An Ideal and Conflict", section 4, p. 79:

There you have it, then. Seeing always from within the frame of Southern unity, the common white, as a matter of course, gave eager credence to and took pride in the legend of aristocracy which was so valuable to the defense of the land. He went farther, in fact, and, by an easy psychological process which is in evidence wherever men group themselves about captains, pretty completely assimilated his own ego to the latter's--felt his planter neighbor's new splendor as being in some fashion his also.

His participation in the legend went even further yet. Though nothing is more certain than their innocence of conscious duplicity, one who did not know them might have said that these planter captains of his were studying with Machiavellian cunning to dazzle and manipulate him. For continually, from every stump, platform, and editorial sanctum, they gave him on the one hand the Yankee--as cowardly, avaricious, boorish, half Pantaloon and half Shylock--and on the other the Southerner--as polished, brave, generous, magnificent, wholly the stately aristocrat, fit to cow a dozen Yankees with the power of his eye and a cane--gave him these with the delicate implication that this Southerner was somehow any Southerner at random.

And, indeed, there you have it...

We will let others make defense of Shakespeare and his time in Elizabethan England.

Some have claimed, in apology for Cash, that he was an "equal opportunity offender". Not that either, when really studied reasonably closely, though we understand the sentiment as being intended inoffensively. In fact, however, he was a defender of equal opportunity for everyone, no one to receive special perquisites, though additional empathy society's underdog often received from him. Being in that position of seeking true equality for all means inevitably, with all shades and hints of typical modern paternalism and White Man's Burden apologia (another form of racism and ethnicism, when boiled to its essence) dropped away, may cause at times, especially to our modern eyes, the appearance of offense. Indeed, it probably was and still is highly offensive--to racists, anti-Semites, etc., of varying spots and stripes and degrees of progress away from it--as well as those who simply are careless readers and misapprehend the art. (We are reminded of the two middle class white ladies in a video store in California who openly expressed shock and dismay to two teenaged male African-Americans for their free expression to each other of the word, "nigger". How shocking. Strange how things turn upside down and get twisted in the minds of people in fact possessed of racist tendencies--like inevitably these two women.)

Cash was not "sex-obsessed" either, as we read recently the contention in a book published about three years back by someone who seems to bear a special recurring delight in finding some tarnish to nearly everything Cash wrote, now over 65 years ago. Ho-hum. Maybe this author merely delights in the provocative to cause us to have to expend print in defense. In any event, in the whole of the book, the word "sex" or a derivative thereof appears precisely five times in 420 pages--that is, if you don't count "gyneolatry", which appears exactly twice. But we will act as the bunt on that calumny for now and await another day to show in greater detail that it's not up to dick.

Test Case

California Prosecutor Will Ignore Coroner's Verdict

In California the legality of the disposition of murder cases by coroner's jury is apparently going to be put to the test.

The man whose case was being considered was a Los Angeles carpenter name R. L. Hawkins. He told the coroner's jury that he killed one Newman Clinton Thomas, an aircraft worker, when he came back home suddenly and found Thompson embracing his estranged wife. [Note: "Thomas" and "Thompson" in original]

The jury deliberated and came to the conclusion that this was "justifiable homicide."

Of course, it was a gross flouting of law, as written in California and all other American states. The law everywhere holds that a crime committed in a passion of jealous rage is a crime just as one committed under the influence of any other emotion. And rightly, else this claim would be used to justify all sorts of murders.

Petit juries in the courts sometimes disregard the law also--assert this non-existent "unwritten law." In that case there is nothing which can be done about it. But to have such cases settled by a jury of six men, selected either from one list of the "regulars" who serve for the fee or at random, and presided over by a judge who is a specialist in anatomy and not law, seems uncommonly like Bridlegoose.

Anyhow, the assistant district attorney at Los Angeles seems to think so, for he announces that he will disregard the verdict and go right ahead with the prosecution of Hawkins.

The outcome of his effort will be watched closely in North Carolina, which also has had coroners who assume final authority.

To Texas

Truly Strategic Spot for Smelter Is Located

Jesse Jones went ahead and did it, anyhow

Tuesday the Washington Merry-Go-Round reported that Mr. Jones, as Federal Loan Administrator, was having trouble in deciding where to put the new $3,500,000 tin smelter which the Government will finance as the first in the country. Forty-five states, said Merry-Go-Round, had sent lobbyists to Washington to try to lay hands on the plum for themselves.

Jesse had ruled out the Middle East and New England, but Philadelphia and Baltimore thought they had a good chance still. But then, said Merry-Go-Round with its tongue in its cheek, Mr. Jones comes from Houston and owns a good part of that town.

Maybe that was calculated to restrain Mr. Jones from giving it to Houston. And in fact he didn't. But he did give it to Texas--to Texas City, which is a burg of about 4,000 people located some ten miles from Galveston, some 25 from Houston.

For Texas City there is a good deal to be said. Galveston is as close to Bolivia as any other port, closer than most, and Bolivia will be our source of tin in case of war. Moreover, Galveston, like other Gulf ports, is so located that it is easily defended. And so it is entirely possible that the Army and the Navy are not just being polite to the Secretary of Commerce when they tell Mr. Jones that a Gulf port would be a good idea. Besides, Galveston has plenty of cheap fuel gas and hydrochloric acid--both of which are necessary--says Mr. Jones.

Devil's Due*

This Is To Be Said for Our Two Local Governments

The 300 or so women who met together yesterday could be a considerable factor in creating a more wholesome community. Apparently, they had the city's egregious tendencies to violence and crime on their minds, and their applause of Fred Helms' denunciation of the "little handful of persons" who he said control the City and County Governments indicated that they had politics on their mind too.

The interest of these ladies is a highly welcome development. There is a lot they can do. But before they start out to do anything, the wise course would be to get the whole picture before them in sharp perspective.

Mr. Helms was perhaps warranted in denouncing the hold of a few politicians over our two local governments. That is not a healthy condition. And in some respects the City Council has indubitably made a botch of the business, as in its perennial mishandling of the Police Department.

But the alternative to having one crowd of politicians in control is generally to have another crowd of politicians in control. And once these ladies have "cleaned out" the crowd that is in, they will lose interest, and the politicians, who never lose interest, will take charge again.

Furthermore, it needs to be said in defense of the City Council and the Board of Commissioners that, on the whole, they have more than a common interest in the public welfare. The Board of Commissioners, in particular, impresses us as a group of men who are doing their best, who are frugal in spending the taxpayers' money and who have the County's interest at heart.

As for the City Council, we agree that it could be greatly improved. But let the ladies not lose sight of the fact, and it is a fact, that the City's business has been pretty well run these last few years, due in large part to the executive ability of former City Manager Marshall, and that Mayor Douglas has been a highly successful promoter of Charlotte. He has been worth a great deal to the city in many ways.

The ladies, as they go into that, will find these statements to be largely substantiable. Still, there is a great deal that they can do for the betterment of the community and we are glad that they are pitching in.


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