The Charlotte News

Wednesday, July 26, 1939


Site Ed. Note: The distinction: Wolves howl at the moon, imprisoned as wolves; humans speak and write, with liberty of consciousness, and, by extension of that consciousness to higher plane, imagination.

A question: When the dog quivers and squeaks in its sleep, is it a dream of chasing wild beasties through the jungle, hence an exhibit of some degree of rudimentary memory trace and consequently, of necessity for memory to exist, some rudimentary consciousness, or only our perception that it is so, by extension of our own consciousness and imagination of the dog's perceptions as being in similitude to our own?

Say the secret woed, win a hudred dollas.


We Get A New Understanding Of That Blue Law

Basil M. Boyd, the lawyer who drew up the City's Blue Law, was over in Police Court yesterday defending several persons charged with having sold watermelons on Sunday. He told Judge Sims that the intent of the ordinance was primarily to prohibit Sunday movies, ball games and to close a pool rooms, and Judge Sims agreed with him to the extent of finding nothing in the ordinance against hawking watermelons on Sunday.

So the five defendants went free, instead of having to pay a fine of $50 or go to jail for 30 days.

Well, if Lawyer Boyd had only explained what the Blue Law meant at the time such a heated controversy was revolving around it, we all might have saved ourselves time and trouble. For the defenders of it based their opposition to any modification on the grounds that if the City permitted one non-necessary business to operate on Sunday, it would have, in simple consistency, to permit them all to operate on Sunday.

And here, by George, the City is permitting watermelons to be sold on Sunday. And if you may sell watermelons without running afoul the law, you certainly may sell umbrellas or No. 9 thread or squashes.

Indeed, about the only thing you may not do, under that interpretation of the law, is to put on a ball game or show a movie. For an admission charge, that is.


Ironpants Executes A Feat On A Tight Rope

General Ironpants Johnson, in his column on the far right of this page, today executes some genuinely wonderful gymnastics.

The General supported the Hull neutrality proposals in a public hearing, and so he cannot very well go off the deep end by coming right out openly for the boys on the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate to destroy those proposals. But there are more ways to skin the cat than one and the General proceeds to demonstrate that fact.

First, he tells us profoundly that the arms embargo isn't going to deprive England and France of any considerable amount of arms. But nobody who was conversant with the facts ever claimed it would. What the President, Mr. Hull, and all their supporters in the country claimed was that the vote to down the Hull proposals was greatly important for its effect on the psychology of Hitler and his Axis partner--that they would be likely to read it as meaning that the isolationists would be able to defeat the President in his opposition to them if they resort to war, that they would certainly use it to persuade their own people to that effect, and that therefore it made war more probable. But General Johnson has repeatedly told us that that was mere nonsense.

Today, however, he advises us that Mr. Hitler and Mr. Mussolini are indeed taking the attitude that they can safely ignore the United States and are preaching it to their people. Only--only--the culprit isn't Congress but the President, with his utterances about the meaning of the neutrality vote! It is nonsense, that is, to suppose that the two dictators paid attention to the vote of Congress, but it is reasonable enough to suppose that they swallow whole the President's interpretation of how they will interpret it!

What it seems to prove is that, if you are just bound to have it that the President is to blame for everything, you can manage it if you go about it with a firm will.

Buncombe Saved

Country People, Bench And Clergy Curry The Day

The vote on the ABC stores in Buncombe turns out to have been nearly a ringer for that in Mecklenburg. The city of Asheville, like the city of Charlotte, went wet, but, as in the case of Mecklenburg, the rural vote overrode the city majority, and Asheville, and Charlotte, will have to be dry regardless of its own expressed preferences. The essential split here is the same in both cases--the breach between urban and rural.

It is a natural enough split. Tradition lives longest in the quiet of the countryside. And, as a result, so the susceptibility to the kind of rousements put on by Judge Webb, Judge Clarkson, and Bishop James Cannon.

These men have elected themselves as defenders of the faith, and every time there is a wet-dry election anywhere, you'll find them busily employing the great weight of their rank to prejudice the decision. To us that seems gratuitous interference.

Every community ought to be left to make its decision in cool reason, without being whipped up to frenzies by great personages from outside.

And moreover, we do not believe their activities here reflect any credit of themselves. They use a logic which runs like this: "Liquor is wrong, therefore prohibition is right." But that prohibition actually means, not less use of liquor but simply gross corruption in its sale and handling has been pretty well established by experience.

Maybe you can find some excuse for Bishop Cannon's refusal to recognize that. After all, he is a clergyman, and so pretty well insulated from the facts of life around him, save maybe in the bucket-shops. But it is difficult to find any shadow of excuse for Judge Webb and Judge Clarkson, both of whom have had for years to deal daily with the mess created by prohibition, and both of them are by ordinary discerning men.

Still, when we get through blaming these men, it remains true that the countryside was already of a mind to believe them easily--probably would have voted much the same way in any case. For the average decent rural dweller has little more contact with the actual facts of prohibition than the clergy.

But it seems to us altogether wrong that cities of the size of Charlotte and Asheville should have prohibition forced down their throats by the rural population around them. Both are big enough to have grown into entities in their own right, with conditions which require totally different treatment from those of the counties in which they are situated. And though, as the vote in both cases shows there are still plenty of people in them who want to go on pretending that prohibition is a grand success, the majority has clearly come to realize that prohibition must go--that its retention already means an ominous growth of corruption in government and the creation of a dangerous and powerful underworld.


It Involves A Good Deal More Than Tolerance

Dr. George W. Truett, celebrated Baptist minister, went back to a doctrine that has been half-forgotten in these times, in a speech before the Baptist World Alliance at Atlanta. The Baptists, he said, demanded "not mere toleration... for themselves as well as for all others--for Protestants of all denominations, for Romanists, for Jews, for Quakers, for Turks, for pagans, for all men everywhere... but... absolute liberty... Toleration is a gift of man, while liberty is a gift of God."

That strikes straight back to the doctrine of the Rights of Man, which was the ideological cornerstone upon which this republic was established. In recent years there has been much gabble to the effect that there is no such thing as an inherent right of man, that man is simply another animal like the wolf in the forest, and that the only right he has is the right of so much force as he can muster against the other wolves. And that in practice no man can freely enjoy a right which men with superior force are determined to deny him is plain enough in the world at present. But that is not to say that the right does not exist. Niemoeller in prison still has his right to think as he pleases, and not all the Adolf Hitlers can take it away from him. Merely, his mouth can be stopped by men who as yet are still barbarians. The essential problem is to civilize such men.

For, to the degree that men are civilized, they are not simply wolves in a forest. To the extent that they are civilized, they subscribe to and do their best to live up to the human heritage as against the old wild animal heritage from the caves over the Dordogne and the hills behind the Rhine. And it is the very essence of that human heritage that men set their course by the code, not of the beast of prey, but of their minds--a code which has as its essence the belief that every man has equal dignity as an individual human creature with every other man, and so that no one has a right to dictate to him what he should think and believe and say.


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