The Charlotte News

Tuesday, July 11, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We reproduce the following, having already set out the first part of the saga:

Mr. Shipp Retorts To A Young Man


When you are old enough to vote, which I hope you will be soon, since you seem to be an intelligent moppet, please remember that failure to exercise your franchise--that is, failure to cast your ballot--is the worst sin of all. In the library election, those who did not vote were the most culpable, for their absence from the polls was a negation. It was their absence that defeated the library. We can quarrel not at all with persons who voted against the library. I despise them but they had a perfect right to vote as they please, and they should always have that privilege.

So you see, my enterprising juvenile, my letter was addressed to the right people. The murderers of Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Longfellow, Frost, Cather, Green, Wolfe, Glasgow and of Marian Sims, LeGette Blythe, Tim Pridgen and Mrs. Rupert Gillette were--the people who did not vote.

Incidentally, the issue was not a 5-cent levy. The enabling act passed by the Legislature was phrased for a levy "not to exceed 5 cents," and the levy the agreed upon by the Mecklenburg County Commissioners was 3 cents. This was published in at least one Charlotte newspaper. I know because I used to be a newspaper man and I wrote the story. But apparently this was forgotten and the issue seems to have gone to the polls as a 5-cent tax.

Most of my friends are illiterate, but I was astonished when they failed to understand the difference between three and five.




(Note: The above letter represents a reply to a letter published in last Friday's News by "Not Old Enough To Vote," which was itself a reply to a letter Mr. Shipp published in the preceding Tuesday's News. Mr. Shipp had made some biting remarks about a town which would deliberately close a library. "Not Old Enough To Vote" argued that those remarks were unfair, in view of the fact that only a small proportion of the eligible voters actually participated in the election--Editors, The News.)

G-Man News Man

Mr. Purvis Ought To Be Safe From Irate Readers

Melvin Purvis, the G-Man who is generally credited with bringing down John Dillinger and other feats of derring-do, is going into the newspaper business. He has announced that he would start an afternoon paper in Florence, S. C.

Florence (1930 pop. 14,774) already has a paper, The Florence Morning News, and it remains to be seen if the city can support two dailies. But we were just thinking what marvelous equipment Mr. Purvis brings to his new job. It used to be that an editor in the South needed only to have the proper reverence for the Democratic Party and a few classical allusions at his command plus a font of italics, to make a local fame for himself. But even then he was bound to step on somebody's toes now and again, and so apt to be invited out of the sanctum and requested to back up his words.

Times have changed, and the fashion nowadays is for editors to lay off personal feuds and concentrate their irascibility upon inanimate things and a few non-subscribers such as the Chicago gangsters and the man-eating shark. But if Mr. Purvis cared to resume the old fire-eating style of journalism, we know of no man in the trade less likely to be challenged. Alas, why was it our own misfortune to be born neither brawny nor bold, and with it all candid to a fault!


Judge Redd Has Salary Raised By Unanimous Vote

It was quite a compliment Judge Marion Redd had paid to him yesterday. The County Commissioners and City Council, meeting in joint session to transact business that is common to both governments, voted unanimously to raise his salary from $3,000 to $3,600.

Surely this is an indication that the two boards consider Judge Redd's service is commendable and his stewardship over the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court a factor in the welfare of the people of the community.

Out On A Limb

Who's Lawyer Hogan To Call The Decision?

Lawyer Frank Hogan could do with a little brushing up on both his discretion and his American history. President of the American Bar Association, he lamented to that body at San Francisco yesterday that the Supreme Court has "replaced stability with inequality," and went on clearly to infer that it had become a mere stooge which nobody can any longer trust to protect our liberties and to hand down honest decisions.

But what ails him, quite obviously, is that he takes his own opinions for the necessary shape and substance of truth, and supposes that court decisions that run counter to them must proceed from something other than honest judgment. That is not very good logic, and if he had looked into his history a little, he'd find that the same cry has been raised against the court in every critical period in the country's history.

The broad construction and principle which seems to be the chief devil he exorcises, was not--as, being a lawyer, he should very well know--invented by the present court, but on the contrary is as old as that great arch-conservative John Marshall, the first Chief Justice. And as for his suggestion that civil liberty is not safe in the hands of this court--how does he reconcile that with the fact that in the Hague case, it has recently handed down the most clear-cut decision on behalf of free speech ever rendered in the history of the nation?

The decisions of this court, like all other human decisions, are open to question and to criticism. But the mere fact that broad construction happens now to favor some ideas of which Mr. Hogan doesn't approve instead of the conservative ones it has favored in the past, is no ground at all to cast aspersions on either the judgment or integrity of the court.

That'll Fetch 'Em!

Bookless School Libraries Will Bring P. T.'s A-Running

The runaway Library topic careened around another turn yesterday with the County Attorney's ruling that the County Commissioners had no legal authority to supply school libraries with books. Mr. Delaney's opinion and citations seem indisputable. The State has explicitly reserved to itself the responsibility of purchasing books and as explicitly has failed to send down the necessary appropriations.

But the bad news, coming on top of the closing of the public library, may have its brighter side. Even those who hold that a public library is a frippery are bound to concede that school libraries without books are totally useless appendages. That, however, isn't the half of it. What the Library has lacked all along has been organized support. And, the schools of the city and county, messieurs et mesdames, have behind them support that is organized to the hilt and beyond.

If this untoward development does not bring out in full force the phalanxes of the Parent-Teacher organizations, with blood in their eyes for books in the school libraries and an appropriation to re-open the public library, then we are mistaken in the P-T's.

Pretty Clear

Bumble At Last Sounds As If He Meant it

The statement made by Neville Chamberlain in the House of Commons yesterday was at long odds the most definite which has ever issued from the present English Government. It said explicitly and certainly (1) that Britain is absolutely bound to aid Poland in case of any clear threat to her independence, and (2) that the Government recognizes that Danzig, controlling the mouth of the Vistula River, and with it two-thirds of Poland's trade, is vital to the country's independence--that it is plain that any country which owned Danzig could cut Poland off from the city and destroy her independence.

More than that, it went on bluntly to recognize the fact that Hitler's plan of attack is to have Danzig "voluntarily" announce its adherence to the Reich, thus forcing Poland to take the offensive or to acquiesce. Britain clearly repudiates the idea that in such circumstances Poland could rightly be called the aggressor; warns, not precisely that it inevitably would mean war but that it would create "a grave international situation."

That last indefiniteness may give rise to new doubts in some quarters. And so may the fact that the door is left open for new negotiations. But the latter at least is probably wise, since it leaves room for some nominal concessions to save Hitler's face with the Germans as much as may be, without involving any necessity to accept his entirely worthless promises in return for anything real. Altogether, it looks as if the Tory Government at length means business, and that Mr. Hitler would do well to get the idea through his head, if he does not mean to plunge the world into a war which will probably conclude by the destruction not only of himself and his henchmen but of Germany as well.


Mr. Green Sounds A Bit Ominous In This

The statement of William Green that unless Congress repealed the hour and wage provisions of the present law, against which WPA workers in many places are striking, there will be "strikes and strikes," sounds unpleasantly like an ultimatum.

Contrary to a widespread popular notion, the WPA workers probably have as good a right to strike as others. Certainly, that is true on the theory that it is not their fault that they are not employed in private jobs. One of the ideas behind the present law, indeed, is that many of them have preferred the short hours and union pay (for skilled workers only of course) to the terms of private employment. But the unions have some case when they protest that sharply reduced rates are likely to result in a battle on the part of contractors to force down private wages, too. And so long as the strikes are peaceful, this right of the WPA men to demonstrate against the conditions they dislike is probably just as good as the right of say, a neutrality group to parade through Washington with banners.

But what Green seems to threaten is something else than that: a proposal to call a general strike of these workers summarily to force Congress to grant their demands out of hand. And that goes far beyond anything we have yet seen--involves the principle that it is the privilege of any organized minority to coerce the majority. It is more undemocratic than the filibuster itself-- so undemocratic that if it ever gets established, democracy is probably done for.


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