The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 19, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Must not the Red Terrors Wolfpack, Wildcats, Demon Deacons, and Blue Devils of 1941 have taken some degree of offense at having their good names sullied by use, for analogical purposes, to counsel more worthy appellations to the likes of the "Wolves of Tuscany" and the "Red Devils of the Piedmont"? Had Cash lived into the fifties to see his alma mater move from a suburb of Raleigh to the red earth of the North Carolina piemonte, the name of the latter hapless troupe might have taken on a patina of irony indeed. Might Cash have cracked that, with tobacco money largely ruling the roost in both places, had the diaconal entourage not brought with them some of their Baptist beliefs, they might well have adopted lock, stock and barrel the full moniker of the named brigade of defeated brigands, in order to muster sufficient characts to do proper battle with and ward off the Blue Belial of Durham, always a formidable challenge.

Of course even when the Tar Heels were known as the White Phantoms, they didn't need to resort to such Apollyonistic imagery brashly to overstate the case. Such understated irony, much as with the Terrapin, the Volunteer, etc, serves well enough for the most part.

As to "More Speed", Cash's lifelong absence of ownership of a car again shows, as he decries the raising of speed limits--to 60. Indeed, the career of the vehicle past you as either pedestrian or bicyclist can be an unsettling thing, something swiftly forgotten once one achieves the royal imprimatur to have the privilege to adopt the command post in front of all the shiny dials, gauges, pedals, levers and what-not, providing the irresistible impulse to accelerate the body through space at a far faster pace than ever achieved on foot. And, often, that propensity does produce the common leveler, two objects trying to occupy the same space at the same time. Whoosh-bam!

But, while speed limits are important, there is a right and wrong way to go about enforcement of them, especially when they are being violated en masse. Some jurisdictions take the selective approach and curb the violator who happens to be unlucky. Others offer the honor system, boldly flashing your offending speed in your face, like a touchdown score on the Big Board, thus presumably either shaming you into sloth or appearing so to congratulate you in such bright lights for your offense that you sail on into the next more populated jurisdiction at the same rate, surely then to be further congratulated by means of a citation from the ump for your continuing celerity. The more sensible jurisdictions send their patrol cars careening through traffic ahead of the speeding queue, serpentinely threading their way along to warn drivers to slow down--and this method works fairly effectively.

Now, however, we hear from the nation's capital of the implementation of a new, Orwellian method of enforcement, the never-blinking, infallible eye of the television camera. Thousands of drivers are running afoul of it daily and receiving citations by mail. And millions of dollars are being raised for civic projects while the time of law enforcement officers is thus freed to pursue more serious activity--a sort of Utopia on steroids. It sounds, well, Orwellian.

And moreover, as with most such attempts to bring Utopian overtures to things best left to our Founders, even though they never went faster than a careering horse would take them, there is a fly in the Utopian ointment. A part of the Constitution, the Fourth Amendment, requires that no arrests shall occur except upon probable cause that an offense has been committed and the accused is the perpetrator of it. A traffic citation is a form of arrest, even if received by mail and not on the spot, for if you fail to respond to it, you are subject to arrest sure enough. The problem with these citations by computer and camera is that they identify only the vehicle perpetrating the offense, not the individual causing the vehicle to be impelled forward. Thus, there is a missing element of probable cause, the identity of the human perp. There is, we are informed, a statute on the books which seeks to rectify this omission which otherwise leaves a machine to issue a citation to a machine, in which case the revenues wouldn't likely get raised very much for most machines are incapable of earning or paying a cent on their own. The dumb car would just sit there looking as innocent as the driven snow it sledded across, probably even sheepishly attempting to say, "Who, me? I only do what I'm told. Talk to the boss."

But the statute in question ameliorates this problem by requiring the registered owner of the offending vehicle to identify anyone other than him or herself who was using the vehicle at the time of the offense. Well, besides encouraging tattle tales, this method of putting out the Constitutional fire in the Fourth Amendment yet only utilizes to do it the burning of another provision of the same Constitution, that of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, compelling one either to admit guilt or assert the guilt of another, when we all know that one has the right to remain silent after an arrest or citation. One cannot certainly be compelled to speak to provide the missing probable cause of identity of the perpetrator on pain of being prosecuted otherwise for a crime on which there is no evidence that thou committed, other than happenstance of ownership of an offending vehicle. Thou art not thou vehicle's keeper, after all. What one's vehicle does in its spare time is its own business.

And furthermore, all of that impermissibly shifts the burden to the accused to prove his or her own innocence, a violation then of the Seventh Amendment and Due Process as well. For, as everyone knows, the prosecution has the burden to prove the guilt of the accused, including identity of the perpetrator and every element of the offense, beyond a reasonable doubt. While true enough, the defendant typically has the burden of proving properly raised defenses, including the SODDI defense, ("Some Other Dude Did It"), still, the prosecution must show some scintilla of credible evidence of identity of the perpetrator to support probable cause, without thereby coercing an admission from the accused as a mere practicality. ("Hey, dude, we need the doe to keep the streets paved.")

Now, just so some wiseacre out there won't try to use this advice to say that therefore next time when stopped by a traffic officer, he or she can plead the Fifth and need not therefore say anything, including his or her name, we hasten to add that when using the roads and by-ways, we do so as a privilege under license and so when we obtain that license for said privilege we agree to produce it upon the lawful request of a peace officer. But--a peace officer must have some lawful cause to so request while one is actually operating a vehicle pursuant to that privilege, which does not of course include going to your mailbox and opening a letter saying your vehicle has been cited by a picture-taking machine and thus you as owner of it must confess another or pay a fine.

So, in any event, this silly law, to raise revenue in our nation's capital, is coercion to testify against one's self. Thus, whoever dreamed up this system--(shall we just lovingly label it the DCBS?)--of catching speeders and the accompanying law to force the owner of the perpetrating vehicle to identify another or admit guilt obviously never got very far in Constitutional law or understands the portent for even so venial an offense as speeding.

We hope therefore that the many thousands of hapless drivers having their machines thus nabbed by a machine en masse while their machine was following only the flow of traffic anyway, no doubt, will, as good citizens, help our nation's capital uphold the Constitution.

After all, we would not wish to see this precedent imposed on more serious conduct: "Greetings, Sir or Madame: Since a car resembling your own was today identified by a hidden camera located on Dupont Circle as having been used in a bank hold-up as the get-away vehicle, we have decided there is enough probable cause to charge you with the offense of aiding and abetting bank robbery. For only you or someone else could be driving your car. And therefore you must know who it was, if not you. Should you feel that you are not the correct person indicted, please tell us under penalty of perjury who was hurriedly driving your vehicle from the vicinity of Dupont Circle at 11:59 p.m., New Year's Eve, 1983. Failure to comply will result in your being found guilty of bank robbery--as you have no defense, since our camera got your license number and you are the registered owner associated with that license number. Thank you and have a pleasant tomorrow. P.S. Should you be so arrogant as to ask for a trial, when you or someone you know and won't tell us about is obviously guilty, please be advised that we substantially increase the penalties for troublemakers."

And as to "Local Custom", we suspect that, on at least one other occasion during the long career of the jurist therein named, he was even more non-plussed by the non-appearance before him of at least one particular defendant, though unindicted in the conspiracy that particular defendant remained. Nevertheless, the gavel got banged anyway, in absentia.

Tip For A Host

And a Candid Description of the Ways of Young Men

We seem to sense in the letters about making the Air Base men feel at home when they come to Charlotte a decidedly unbecoming attitude on the part of some of our correspondents. They imply that if these young (and therefore high-spirited) men-away-from-home will assume the right sort of attitude, they will welcome them to their churches, and make room for them in their pews.

The spiritual welfare of its soldiers is important to the Army. It is a part of that mental well-being which is called morale. And the churches, being our largest and most influential organizations, undoubtedly can help a great deal in a great many ways.

But not to comprehend the problem is to guarantee a miserable failure in solving it.

There will be nothing noticeably different about these young men from their counterparts, the young men of Charlotte. And insofar as the high spirits, restlessness and gregariousness of the young men of Charlotte demand an outlet other than in associating with decorous oldsters in their formal exercises, so these young strangers will demand a further outlet, except that their demand will be heightened by their being in a group and away from home restraints.

What these young men are going to want in their free hours, and are going to have in one way or another, is a good time. The chief question, the question the people of the city must help to answer is, will it be a wholesome or unwholesome good time?

So far as The News is concerned, we are not going to demand that they read the editorials if they would far rather read the comics.

More Speed

States Ignore Experience To Allow Faster Rates

By studies conducted by several states it has been demonstrated that the greatest number of automobile accidents happen on straight level roads. That may mean that the factor of inattention was a part in such accidents. But what it mainly shows is certainly that speed is the chief source of trouble.

In view of that it is a little surprising to see that a number of states are preparing to revise their speed limits--upward.

It is understandable perhaps that Oregon and California have apparently decided that their present limit of 45 miles is too low. An automobile can be driven at somewhat higher speeds than that without too great danger. But the proposed new limit of 60 miles will also leave the way open for jalopies that can't be driven safely at such a speed.

Utah is also adopting a speed limit of 60 miles. And Maryland, where the boys seem really to be in a hurry, has provided stiff penalties for anybody who drives faster than 85 miles an hour!

Most surprising of all, however, is Pennsylvania which proposes to authorize a speed of 70 miles an hour on its new four-lane turnpike. Nobody can drive an automobile safely at that speed on any road.

Fierce Names

They Look Funny Being Chased by the Skirted Greeks

Pride goeth before a fall, and in Albania the Greeks, with the assistance of the British, are deflating one of the most swollen and synthetic legends of our time--the legend of cool Italian valor in combat.

The very arrogant names of the regiments that come running off the field, with their figurative tails between their unheroic legs are, under the circumstances, a supreme humiliation. It is impossible for American correspondents to conceal their glee in cabling that the Greeks, in some new success, have routed an Italian regiment styling itself "Wolves of Tuscany," or another parading as "Red Devils of the Piedmont."

For a troop of tight Italian soldiers to run away from battles that they had not wanted anyhow, is one thing, and a more or less pathetic thing. But for "The Bloodthirsty Blackshirts" to flee, trailing their banner in the dust before a few snarling Greeks, is something else, and it is almost a scream.

There is a moral in all this with a domestic application. A custom has grown up whereby football teams, high school or college, get themselves a fearsome name first and then start practicing to put their ferocity into play. Wildcats, Demon Deacons, Red Terrors, Wolfpacks, Blue Devils--these are some of them and we can tell you that we have seen some cats that, at the end, were anything but wild, some deacons who had lost their devilishness and some terrors who are more red (from frustration) than terrible.

Verily as the case of Mussolini and his legions clearly shows the proper order is to do the deed of daring and let the brave name come along after, not before.

Open Way

Labor Tempts Fate In Its Course at Wright Field

Army control of labor disputes is about the last thing union labor can ever want, is about the last thing anybody could want who believes in labor's right. The general history of military men everywhere (there are individual exceptions, of course) is that they have been highly unsympathetic to the legitimate aspirations of labor and that they have favored settling disputes by summary force, always in favor of the status quo or worse.

So much is probably inevitable in the training of soldiers. Their profession, which may involve the necessity of walking into certain death on command, allows no room for parleys as to rights, etc., and breeds a rigid sense of hierarchy.

For all that, labor will be wise never to allow the Army to set up precedents for interference in labor disputes. And in the Wright Field case it plainly is throwing the way wide open.

The strike is simply idiotic. It involves no legitimate grievance, no question of wages and hours and working conditions. It is purely a jurisdictional one, arising from the fact that a sub-contractor brought five CIO expert workmen in to do an electrical job. For that 800 non-electrical AFL workers have twice walked off the job, obdurately refuse to budge, are holding up the nation's defenses at one of its most vital points.

It is simply a dispute between two rival gang of labor leaders as to which shall have the right to set up a labor union monopoly in this country. If that moves the Army to take charge, labor will have only itself to blame. And so will AFL, which has followed a far more patriotic policy in this emergency than has CIO

Local Custom

Traveling Judges Can Do Little To Break It Up

When a case was called and the defendant failed to appear, Judge Sam Ervin probably didn't like it. When another was called, and no answer was forthcoming, and when finally twenty defendants were unaccounted for all in one day, Judge Ervin must have become downright vexed.

At any rate, in twelve of the cases he ordered judgment to be entered against bonds which had been put up to guarantee appearance in court. In eight drunken driving cases he followed the comparatively new legal procedure of notifying the State that their licenses were subject to revocation, which seems fair enough, for their failure to appear in court and defend themselves testifies strongly to their guilt.

Yet, after all, they had a hundred precedents for taking their court engagement lightly. It has been established beyond contradiction that a way to keep from being tried in Mecklenburg Superior Court is simply not to show up.

The judge of the bench may get upset, most certainly will issue various high-sounding orders which may or may not be served.

But that judge will soon be gone and a new one, stranger to the incompleted actions, will take his place. The new judge will encounter other missing defendants, issue the same instructions with the same meager result, and be off to another district.

This custom of rotating judges works badly in Mecklenburg County--and for that matter, Gaston. The judges apparently take their responsibilities seriously and consider it essential that persons whom the police have arrested or grand juries have indicted, should be brought to trial. But the judges seldom remain in Mecklenburg long enough to see the matters through.

And it has been evident for years that the court official who remains in permanent charge, Solicitor Carpenter, is either totally unable to cope with the volume of court business in his jurisdiction or simply can't be bothered with it.


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