The Charlotte News

Sunday, July 23, 1939


Site Ed. Note: As to "Misery's Company", we offer something, though we know not what exactly or from whence it comes, nor why it came to our attention--save that one day, quite serendipitously, in February, 2003, we decided, on the spur of the moment, to go on a side trip while doing research in the Charlotte Public Library, and diverted our attention momentarily from collecting News editorials from February, 1941 to reading The News from February, 1963, specifically when the Civil Rights bill and Voting Rights bill in their first forms were proposed by the Kennedy Administration to the Congress.

On the front page of The News for Thursday, February 28, 1963--eight years after the 1955 Brown v. Board of Education II implementing decision ordering desegregation of public schools "with all deliberate speed"--under a banner headline, "President Asks Better Chance For Negro Voter, Student", an A. P. article began:

President Kennedy appealed to a divided Congress today to reinforce the Negro's right to vote and to attend desegregated schools in a nation where he said "the cruel disease of discrimination" still exists nearly everywhere.

For the first time, in a special message, Kennedy outlined a specific civil rights program to Congress. In addition to legislation directed at the ballot and the schoolhouse, he asked for an extension of the life of the Civil Rights Commission, with expanded duties.

"The program outlined in this message," Kennedy said, "should not provide the occasion for sectional bitterness."

Yet White House officials told reporters they recognize the built-in possibilities of a filibuster by Southerners in a Senate which has just rejected a bid to clamp down on filibustering. They said, though, that the program was tailored in realistic style, that it ought to be passed, and there is a good chance it will.

In the century since Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the President's message said, slavery has vanished but progress for the Negro has been blocked and delayed too often.

"Equality before the law," he said, "has not always meant equal treatment and opportunity. And the harmful, wasteful and wrongful results of racial discrimination and segregation still appear in virtually every respect of national life, in virtually every part of the nation."

To the left of this column, one story over, appeared another front-page story, also from the Associated Press, "Court Airs Bible Use in Schools". That story read:

Counsel for a Pennsylvania school district argued to the Supreme Court today that his state's requirement for Bible reading in public schools is not religious practice but a means of teaching morality.

Philip H. Ward III, attorney for the Abington Township School Board, said the people of Pennsylvania through their legislature had picked a common source of morality by use of the Bible.

His contention brought numerous questions from the court justices as to how the Bible's religious teaching and its morality teaching could be differentiated.

Justice Black told Ward that in the last 2,000 years, "the greatest years were when government didn't force the Bible on people, and the worst years were those when some government official forced it on them."

Ward agreed but insisted that the Pennsylvania law requiring the reading of 10 verses of the Bible at the daily opening of schools was not a religious act.

"If we wanted to teach religion then we could do it in a different way," Ward said. "We could pick out passages from the Bible for example."

The arguments over the use of the Bible and recitation of the Lord's Prayer at school exercises in Maryland and Pennsylvania began yesterday and will be concluded later today.

In the Pennsylvania case, a three-judge court in Philadelphia ruled unconstitutional the state's law requiring Bible reading. The ruling was given in a suit by Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Schempp, who have two children in the Abington Township School. The Schempps are Unitarians.

In the Maryland case, that state's highest court upheld constitutionality of Bible reading and use of the Lord's Prayer. The Maryland court thus rejected the complaint by a Baltimore mother and her 16-year-old son, who are atheists.

Ward pressed the argument that Pennsylvania in its Bible reading practice had "cut adrift from theology," and that because it permitted pupils to be excused during the Bible reading the state's law did not violate the federal constitution.

Black suggested that there was compulsion on children to sit through the Bible reading because other pupils listen to the 10 verses daily.

"Can you assume that there is no pressure on the child not to step aside?" Black asked.

"There may well be," Ward replied. "But it is the same situation where a child is excused from the flag salute ceremony at school opening."

The cases, incidentally, Abington School District v. Schempp, and Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), ultimately were decided 8 to 1 for the students on First Amendment grounds, the opinion having been written by Justice Thomas Clark, a Truman appointee to the Court, and father of later Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Separate concurring opinions were written by Justices Douglas (FDR), Brennan (DDE), Harlan (DDE) and Goldberg (JFK); only Justice Potter Stewart (DDE) dissented. The other concurring members were Chief Justice Warren (DDE), and Justices White (JFK) and Black (FDR).

What strikes us about the juxtaposition of these articles--still timely for our times though much has changed since 1963--and curiously struck us at the time we first saw them in that juxtaposition in February, 2003 in The Charlotte News of February, 1963, though we had never laid eyes on the editorial below, is the A. P. story intervening the two, replete with a large picture, about two large and licking-lovable Irish setters under the headline: "Beloved Dogs Must Die".

Two beautiful and well-behaved Irish setters are doomed to die this week in accordance with the will of a dead woman. There is little hope of saving them legally.

Destruction of the friendly animals was directed in the will of their mistress, Miss Ida M. Capers of Pittsburgh who died Jan. 26.

"She took absolutely magnificent care of them and couldn't stand them not getting the same love and care after she died," said attorney Fred C. Houston, Jr., executor of the will. "She was very concerned about this."

Houston and an attorney for the Humane Society searched without success for legal means to save the dogs.

The dogs' greatest admirer is kennel owner Thomas Miller who has been caring for them since Miss Capers took ill Jan. 9. He wants to save them.

"When you look at the dogs you just wonder why they have to be destroyed," Miller said. "Miss Capers asked me to give them obedience training while they were here. I did and they learned it fast. They're both wonderfully behaved. You couldn't ask for better dogs."

Houston said he's reluctant to have the dogs put to death. But he said he must see that it's done.

He did some legal research at the time the will was made and could find no reason why the will should not be carried out.

The Humane Society agreed to kill the dogs with injections this week.

Actually, as to the case of the two Irish setters, as well as the exact same sort of case curiously of which Cash wrote on this date in July, 1939, albeit of two Scotch terriers, the law probably does make exception in equity. For anything by contract or Will deemed unconscionable, contrary to the standards of decency in a community, need not be done. Whether it should be deemed unconscionable to destroy two domesticated, harmless house pets when providing them a new home was obviously no burden has an obvious answer.

One cannot contract to kill; nor may one Will it be done.

It is best we learn the lesson.

New Carry Nation

Charleston Zealot Puts On A Trespass Act

At Charleston, S. C. some local teams made up of men who work for their living on weekdays, have been playing baseball on Sundays--on a diamond in a suburb of the city. Apparently, that is their clear right under the law in those parts, for no police officer has sought to interfere with them. And indeed nobody has sought to sick the cops on. But there is obviously a need for the interference of the cops on that diamond.

For, on the last two or three Sundays, the games have been broken up by a gang of people led by one, the Rev. Paul M. Pridgen, who invade the premises, sing hymns, parade with banners to the effect that "We Don't Want Sunday Baseball," and pretend to hold "religious" services--thus creating such an uproar and distraction that there is nothing left for the poor players to do but resort to fisticuffs or retire.

The fellow announces, moreover, that he means to keep right on heading his mob to the place every Sunday until he breaks up the game for good.

This reverend zealot and his crew are common trespassers, engaged in the creation of public disorder--to the end of illegally breaking up a harmless form of amusement and coercing people who do not agree with them into conformity with their particular form of "morality." And the cops in that country are grossly neglecting their duty in not putting a halt to it. For these people have not one whit more right to behave in this fashion than the baseball players would have to invade the parson's church and break up a religious service by having a baseball game there.


Hatch Bill Provides Sauce Only For Gander

The Hatch Bill, as passed by the House and Senate, is at best a sadly incomplete piece of legislation. About the desirability of eliminating the participation of executive officers of the huge Federal bureaucracy in politics there is no doubt at all. The way they generally participate is by intimidating their employees into voting as they want them to and into kicking in for campaign slush funds.

Nevertheless, the bill as passed is open to the same suspicion that almost all other bills of this Congress--one of the shabbiest on record--are open to: that the prime motive behind it is partisan and Anti-New Deal spite toward the Administration: the will to hamstring it in the present contest for power in 1940. And certainly, it is one calculated to increase the political power of Congressmen at the expense of the executive branch. It specifically exempts all members of Congress from its provisions. And what that means is not only that the boys are protected in their patronage but also that they are left at liberty to bring pressure on the rank and file of executive employees under penalty of depriving them of their jobs.

If it is wrong for the executive branch to play politics with relief and the bureaucracy, it is just as wrong for the legislative branch. And to be a good bill, the Hatch Bill needs to be supplemented with some others. One for example to limit the amount which may be spent by a Congressman or a Senator seeking re-election. (According to The Baltimore Sun, Tydings spent $50,000 in his last campaign.) And, above all, one to place all employees of the executive branch under civil service--utterly to eliminate patronage, historically the single greatest source of corruption in American politics.

Site Ed. Note: The lengthy "lee'ard" letter to the editor, which we won't reproduce in whole, to which the opening paragraph below makes reference, criticized the recent report of Judge Sims of the City Court criticizing the police department's inefficiency and corruption, (to which other editorials reprinted herein have referred); the letter questioned rhetorically whether it was not "passing strange" that the judge took two years to render his report and did so at a time when Chief Pittman's political enemies needed such a report to justify his firing; goes on sardonically to criticize the judge for asking that his $3,000 per year salary be increased; and finally questions the recommendation that a police commissioner "with no police experience", Mr. Grice, be appointed at a $4,500 per year salary to advise and oversee the police chief "with 27 years' experience". The letter writer concluded:

"Solomon in the Holy Writ says: 'There are three things which are too wonderful for me--The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a snake on a rock and the way of a ship in the midst of the sea.' If he was [sic] writing this today, I wonder if he would not include the majority faction of our City Council?"

To which the editors added:

[Note: There was a fourth matter upon which Solomon remarked in Proverbs 30:18-19, which our correspondent overlooks. In the spirit of service, we hasten to set down the whole quotation:

There be three things which are
too wonderful for me, yea,
four which I know not:

The way of an eagle in the air:
the way of a serpent upon a
rock: the way of a ship in
the midst of the sea: and the
way of a man with a maid.

--Editors, The News]

A second letter from Lumberton praised the "noble thing" of the judge and suggested him as a new version of the Prophet Nathan, taking no more courage for Nathan to tell David, "Thou art the man," than it did for the judge to expose the inefficiency of the police department and call out the names of corrupt cops over the radio.

For our part, assuming all the facts as exposed by Judge Sims to be the case, we side with the judge and the Lumberton letter writer and conclude the Solomon quoter to be full of hot air and probably things in need of protection and concealment by corrupt cops taking bribes to acquit some of their corrupt conduct while setting the dogs on others who might see and critique the corruption... After all, the same chapter of Proverbs, among other things, says in verse 6: "Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."

Imagine a time and place where murder of some went, for intents and purposes, unpunished, with one or two year sentences meted out for "manslaughter", while cops attested to the "good character" of bootleggers. It happened.

And it, or the like, still goes on in certain burgs, big and small. Make no mistake about it. Just a little bonus, you see.

But, so long as there are courageous seers such as Judge Sims who will say what they see, it will never get a foothold, to everyone's ultimate advantage, save perhaps the corrupt and corrupt corrupters.

Would it had been so in Germany in the latter 1920's and early '30's, before...

The Mill Grinds*

A Few Chosen Court Cases Of Last Week To Ponder

A fifth thing that passes understanding (see our Letters column to lee'ard) is the way of the law with its offenders. Take, now, the case of the three white men, well known about town and two of them no strangers to trial, whom County Solicitor McAulay snared into his court a month ago on a charge of conspiracy.

The evidence, mostly documentary, established to Judge Howard's satisfaction that two of them bought and sold liquor in a common enterprise, that the same two were maintaining nuisances, that all three were violating State law by selling liquor without a license, and that all three fraudulently manipulated automobile titles to evade losing them to the law.

He fined them $100 and costs, with an alternative sentence of six months in jail. They appealed.

Last week their case was nol-prossed in Superior Court, which meant that they went scot-free on the same charge. Not, mind you, that they shouldn't have been turned loose. Suspicion, no matter how stout, is insufficient ground for punishment. The benefit of doubt is the accused's. But he has that benefit in all courts.


Take the case of Jim Massey, "King of Charlotte's Harlem," and a convicted liquor law violator. County officers searched Jim's place on April 28 and found a few pints of liquor. Judge Howard astutely gave him a twelve-month sentence on the roads, suspended on condition that he violate no law, particularly the liquor laws, for a period of time. Subsequently, the Rurals went back to Jim's place and found 150 pints.

It looked bad for Jim, since his suspended sentence could be imposed out of hand, without the right of appeal. But see what happened. Six City police officers testified to Jim's good character, but had to admit that he sometimes sold liquor. His attorneys pleaded "double jeopardy" that he had had the 150 pints at the time of the first seizure and that the raiders had overlooked it. Solicitor McAulay seemed to have no great satisfaction in his case, and so there was nothing left for Judge Kirkpatrick, subbing for Judge Howard, to do. Jim went free.


Take the cases, so similar to circumstance yet contrasting so in outcome, of Irene Moore and Haywood Mitchell, Negroes. Both had killed other Negroes. Irene's plea of guilt to simple manslaughter was accepted by the court. She got from one to two years. Mitchell got the works.

Up Pops Charlie*

A Smart Fellow Who Sees FDR's Every Point

Ps-sst! Don't tell anybody, but we have an idea who that well known business man was--the one who told the President that Congress's refusal to do the right thing about neutrality was killing "the nicest little business boom you ever saw."

He was the same w. k. b. m.--bound to have been--who came to see the President not so long ago, snorting that the budget ought to be cut in half, and who left humbly admitting that he didn't see, now that it had all been explained to him, where a single copper cent could be saved.

He was the same w. k. b. m. who declared out loud, and gave the President permission to quote him, that it was a great boon to be privileged to pay stiff U.S. income taxes and enjoy U.S. freedom, in contrast, to European tyranny--(but he didn't go on to explain what precise mathematical relation there lies between income tax rates and personal liberties).

He was the same w. k. b. m., in sum, who has always popped up in strategic times to tell the President that he thoroughly agrees with him, and his title to great wisdom, over and above all the other business men, large and small, is based on that very meeting of minds. He very well may have been a real person in every instance, the same or a different person in every instance, but in no instance has he been imbued with sagacity except because he saw eye to eye with his Edgar Bergen.

Misery's Company

A Few Remarks On A Lady's Will To Be Remembered

"Killed By Kindness" would be an appropriate epitaph over the graves of two pedigreed Scotch terriers out in Colorado. If they are killed that is.

For the moment, a reluctant judge has put off the execution, which had been ordered posthumously by their late mistress, a wealthy woman, in the conviction that pets suffer unhappiness after the death of their owner.

It may be, but it is a concentric soul who so presumes on her irreplaceability as to shorten the lives even of the lower animals to her own span. It's extremely difficult to tell, you see, if you are extending mercy to those who live after you, or simply trying to project your own will and personality into a little bit of the hereafter, insisting that whatever grieves for you shall be grieved with you.

For the will to live, in all creatures, is matched by the blessed certainty of forgetting, and it is better so. It wasn't Ulysses the faithful old dog rose to greet only to fall dead, consoled that at last he had found again his master. It was only a man, a visitor, a familiar smell. But in between times the heroic pup had undoubtedly been chasing Ithacan rabbits, with seldom a thought for the warrior long gone over into Troy.

...Somewhere, beyond the sea...

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him, saying: "I mark, I heed, all this thou speakest to one with understanding. Do thou then go before me, and I will remain here, for well I know what it is to be smitten and hurled at. My heart is full of hardiness, for much evil have I suffered in perils of waves and war; let this be added to the tale of those. But a ravening belly may none conceal, a thing accursed, that works much ill for men. For this cause too the benched ships are furnished, that bear mischief to foemen over the unharvested seas."

Thus they spake one to the other. And lo, a hound raised up his head and pricked his ears, even where he lay, Argos, the hound of Odysseus, of the hardy heart, which of old himself had bred, but had got no joy of him, for ere that, he went to sacred Ilios. Now in time past the young men used to lead the hound against wild goats and deer and hares; but as then, despised he lay (his master being afar) in the deep dung of mules and kine, whereof an ample bed was spread before the doors, till the thralls of Odysseus should carry it away to dung therewith his wide demesne. There lay the dog Argos, full of vermin. Yet even now when he was ware of Odysseus standing by, he wagged his tail and dropped both his ears, but nearer to his master he had not now the strength to draw. But Odysseus looked aside and wiped away a tear that he easily hid from Eumaeus, and straightway he asked him, saying:

"Eumaeus, verily this is a great marvel, this hound lying here in the dung. Truly he is goodly of growth, but I know not certainly if he have speed with this beauty, or if he be comely only, like as are men's trencher dogs that their lords keep for the pleasure of the eye."

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: "In very truth this is the dog of a man that has died in a far land. If he were what once he was in limb and in the feats of the chase, when Odysseus left him to go to Troy, soon wouldst thou marvel at the sight of his swiftness and his strength. There was no beast that could flee from him in the deep places of the wood, when he was in pursuit; for even on a track he was the keenest hound. But now he is holden in an evil case, and his lord hath perished far from his own country, and the careless women take no charge of him. Nay, thralls are no more inclined to honest service when their masters have lost the dominion, for Zeus, of the far-borne voice, takes away the half of a man's virtue, when the day of slavery comes upon him."

Therewith he passed within the fair-lying house, and went straight to the hall, to the company of the proud wooers. But upon Argos came the fate of black death even in the hour that he beheld Odysseus again, in the twentieth year.


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