The Charlotte News

Monday, May 22, 1939



The Killers

Men With History Of Violence Should Be Freed Cautiously

In the story of the Concord man who last night killed the woman he was enamored of and then turned the gun on himself, there is one very interesting piece of information. At the age of twelve, he shot his father and was committed to the Jackson Training School. There his conduct was exemplary, and when his term was up he was retained in the employment of the school as an athletic instructor.

The incident seems to have been almost forgotten. But in view of this other development, it may be questioned if that was quite wise. At the age of twelve, this man had already demonstrated that the inhibition against violence was poorly developed in him--that anger could drive him not merely to threats or at worst fisticuffs as it does in most of us, but to the will to kill, even as against his parent. But after serving a short period of penance he was turned loose again--without any proof that his inhibitions had been made safe for society. That, of course, was not the fault of the Jackson Training School, but of the whole system under which we handle such cases. As we have pointed out before, a man charged with major crimes of violence--assault with intent to kill or second-degree murder--are among the most numerous classes regularly paroled from State's Prison.

It would be too much to say, certainly, that every man who has once committed such a crime should be isolated for good. But it is plain that he ought to be isolated until there is very positive evidence that his inhibitions have been sufficiently reinforced to make them trustworthy--evidence confirmed by expert judgment in the field of psychiatry. And after he has been turned loose, he should be under close surveillance. When a man guilty of robbery, theft, and other crimes against property is given a second or third or fourth chance and fails to make good, the mistake is not irrevocable. But murder is.


Point Counterpoint

England Plays To Russia While Hitler Moves Toward A Showdown

The Chamberlin Government seems at last to have made up its mind that it is necessary to move with dispatch and decision in lining up Russia in a new Triple Entente. The announcement yesterday that Poland and Rumania were yielding to English and French representations and giving out their objections to receiving aid from Russia, clearly indicates as much. For it is doubtful that these "objections" were ever much more than convenient excuses for Bumble & Co. to hide behind in their great reluctance to abandon hope of "appeasing Hitler" and embrace the bear.

Rumania has some solid ground for fearing Russia, of course, since Bessarabia was taken away from her by force during the disorders which followed the Bolshevik Revolution. But after all, Russia does not need territory--and as between the certainty of being gobbled whole by Germany if Russia does not come to her aid, and the possibility that the Russians might indulge in some gobbling on their own account if they did, the choice is fairly easy. As for Poland--Colonel Beck and other of the politicians have protested their reluctance to admit Russian soldiers to their soil, though even that may have been more a diplomatic play for Bumble's benefit than anything else. But the Polish army has been reported all along to be overwhelmingly in favor of complete Russian alliance--as convinced that, without such an alliance, Poland would be quickly overrun and absorbed by Germany if war came.

Thus the announcement that the "objections" are being dropped works out to a fairly definite indication of what course England is now pursuing.

In the light of that it is interesting to consider the killing of a Danzig German by the chauffeur of a Polish official who had been attacked by a Nazi mob. For it may indicate Hitler's will to hasten the showdown before the Anglo-French-Russian Alliance can be completed. It is unlikely, surely, that this particular killing was deliberately precipitated. But the Nazi mobs were extremely active in Danzig over the week-end, just as they were active in the Sudetenland last September; and it is more than probable that was all done in the hope of producing just some such incident as this, to be used as an excuse for new demands--perhaps ultimatums--to Poland. It seems reasonably plain that this fellow got only what he richly deserved. But if it suits Hitler's purpose, he will of course be turned into a holy martyr brutally murdered in cold blood.


Cordial Invitation

From Queens College And The Town To Dr. Blakely

The Rev. Dr. Hunter Bryson Blakely Jr., whom Queens-Chicora College has invited to its presidency, is evidently a man of notable attainments. Look, for instance, at his educational statistics. Graduated from Erskine College with an academic degree. Graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and Louisville Theological Seminary. A doctorate at the University of Edinburgh. Oxford for year, and a course at the University of Berlin. Meanwhile, he received his D.D. at Hampden-Sydney.

A young man--young, certainly, as college presidents go--Dr. Blakely is described to us as personable as well as scholarly, precisely the sort of president Queens is looking for. Presently he is serving as chairman of the board of trustees of Mary Baldwin College at Staunton, Va., and likewise is a member of the board of both Hampden-Sydney and Union Theological Seminary. He is, besides, author of several books, and with all these activities has been pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Staunton for nine years.

And while it is primarily Queens' concern whether he accepts or declines the invitation so cordially tendered, the college is a part of the city, its development a matter of great importance to us all, irrespective of the denominational considerations. That being so, we may confidently express the city's interest and its hope that Dr. Blakely will be impelled to take up his residence among us.


Hard, Maybe

But Right--This Rule About Old Field Officers

The decision of the War Department to ask for the retirement of all army officers from 50 to 62, who have not passed the rank of captain at the lower age, that of major at 55, that of colonel at 58, and that of brigadier-general at 62, in spite of protests from some quarters, is probably as reasonable as could be made in the circumstances.

It is quite true that sometimes an officer of lower rank has a great deal more intelligence and ability than his superiors. The man who really mapped the great German victory at Tannenberg was neither Hindenburg nor Ludendorff, but a mere captain named Hoffman. And the man who is more responsible than anybody else for the German break-through in the Spring of 1918--the break-through that nearly won the war--was a relatively obscure colonel of the General Staff.

Nevertheless, the plain fact is that captains, majors, and colonels are, for the most part, field officers, charged with the responsibility of leading men directly into battle--and that brigadiers function in a sort of middle ground between field service and the mapping of campaigns. And such being the case--well, it is manifest that legs of 50 years and more are no better adapted for leading charges out of the trenches, forced marches, and that sort of thing than for running bases or the prize ring.

It will be bad if the wholesale purge deprives the army of men of notable brains and knowledge. But the remedy for that would seem to be the advance of men purely on the basis of merit rather than, as sometimes happens, on the basis of mere seniority or political pull or intrigue by ruling cliques of officers.


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