The Charlotte News

Monday, May 9, 1938


Site Ed. Note: ...And we would not be able to resist commenting yet further, as an extension to our musical note of yesterday, on the editorial piece by Heywood Broun included in the May 7 edition of the editorial page we provided for you, by referring you to this note we added earlier, that is later, as you wish...

Now, we're in the Tyrol...

Meanwhile, here's a little more from the editorial page of this date, in which we find Hugh Johnson fully in agreement with Cash on multiple scores; and then a letter to the editor lending an added literary dash of chocolate-covered rummy's breath to the silly season, (see, for full context of the latter,"Salve for Malignant Sores", April 26, 1938):

Air Needs No Censor

By Hugh S. Johnson

Washington--At the Town Hall on April 26 Mr. David Sarnoff, president of the Radio Corporation of America, stuck his neck out, protesting any tendency toward Federal censorship of radio programs as a dangerous interference with the constitutional guaranty of free press and free speech, just as Mr. William Paley, president of the Columbia Broadcasting System, had done some weeks before.

He cited the fact that whether it be the great radio chains or small individual radio stations, they must go before the Federal Communications Commission to have their licenses renewed every six months. If that means that when these great public conveniences come to that dreadful bar of justice, they can be wiped out of existence merely because that political, partisan and dogmatic body hasn't approved of something said or sung in the preceding half-year, what becomes of freedom of speech in one of the most effective media of information that civilization has invented since the printing press and the astonishing development of newspaper services in the past few years?


Mr. Sarnoff was not as emphatic as this, but I'll tell you what becomes of it. It goes with the wind. For saying what he did say, Mr. Payne excoriated Mr. Sarnoff.

Of all the Commissioners, my sympathy has been with Mr. Payne. There are deeds within the radio commission that need the light of day, but in respect of which Mr. Payne's position would stand any inquiry. It pains me to crack him. But apparently when a man gets tarred with the stick of bureaucratic impudance, nothing can tame him.

Mr. Sarnoff didn't accuse anybody of attempting to censor programs. He merely quoted the law that the commission is sworn to enforce and which specifically withholds from them any power of censorship whatever. It is a fact that Chairman McNinch threatened censorship in connection with the Mae West-Charlie McCarthy program.

Mr. Payne seems to plead guilty to an intent to exercise censorship. He attacks Mr. Sarnoff for not apologizing for that program and of "arrogance" in protesting against radio censorship. His whole attack is centered on his dissatisfaction with the quality of radio programs. NBC apologized profusely for Mae long ago. Mr. Payne thinks it should prostrate itself continuously, like the Emperor before the Pope at Canossa.


I hold no brief for many radio programs. Jazz, swing and such seem to me as moronic as they do to Mr. Payne. Many other features nauseate me. But I know plenty of intelligent young people who seem to eat up that kind of stuff. Maybe Mr. Payne and I are living in an older age. There is plenty that comes over the radio that I do enjoy and from what I know of the Commissioner, so does he--Snow White music, symphony concerts, opera, Charlie McCarthy, even if he did slip with Mae, always Mr. Roosevelt, and sometimes even Herbert Hoover.

What I like or what Mr. Payne likes, is of no importance. The public at large approves diversity and excellence that is made possible only by public patronage through the three big radio chains. If the public did not like it, those chains could not exist. The laws against lewdness and libel sufficiently take care of really objectionable publications, as they do in the newspapers. The rest is a matter of taste. Nobody has yet been anointed as arbiter eleganttarum on that subject. Certainly the two-by-four board which Mr. Payne adorns has not been set up for this purpose. If it has any uncertainty on this point, it is up to Congress to set it straight.

In Which We Hear How The Demon Rum Works

Dear Sir:

A monumental specimen of prolonged inebriacy, he staggered up to me on a downtown street, preceded by a breath which was as devastating as an Oklahoma dust storm.

The seamed and apoplectic countenance gave an impression of extreme age, yet a closer scrutiny revealed that the panhandler was a man of not more than 25 years. His glaring and blood-shot eyes peered out from beneath unkempt brows, surmounted by a mat of hair which had plainly known neither comb nor brush in months. The fellow intrigued me and as I responded modestly to his touch, I made bold to throw a question.

"Brother," I said, "how did you get that way?"

He fidgeted on his ill-shod dogs and regarded me belligerently.

"I oughta tell you to go to hell," he answered, "but I ain't. Want the truth, do you--and nuthin but the truth?"

I assured him that he had the idea.

"They got me," he answered simply.

"Who got you?" I countered.

He regarded me with the utmost surprise, and a trifle pityingly, I thought.

"Why, the distillers, of course," he returned. "They got me before I was half-through grade school."

"Exactly how, may I ask?"

This time there was no doubt of the rather contemptuous glance which he turned on me. He had been asked an idiotic question, and he was at pains to impress me with the fact.

"How?" he growled, "why, the way they always get 'em. Heck, don't you know?"

I shook my head.

"With chocolate rum-drops out of an Easter rabbit," he rasped, and lurched down the street.

R. T. H.


Not Without A Price

How successful Mr. Chamberlain has been in detaching Rome from Berlin may be judged from the fact that Hitler has renounced all claims to the south Tyrol. It is almost as though he had renounced Austria itself. For it flies straight in the face of his Pan-Germanism and his hot concern for oppressed German minorities under foreign flags. The south Tyrol is as completely German as the Rhineland, and no Germans anywhere have been more oppressed. Mussolini has even denied them the right to their language. They hate Italy, are completely Pan-German, and have looked to Hitler as the Moses who is to snatch them back into the German bond.

And if he has abandoned them, it is certainly for a very great price. Quite likely, that price is the active backing of Mussolini in the forthright grabbing of Czechoslovakia. But it was presumably to prevent his taking of Czechoslovakia that Mr. Chamberlain came to terms with Mussolini.

Mr. Chamberlain, however, does not seem to mind that he has obviously failed. Apparently it is his conviction that if only you say loudly enough that you have succeeded, it is not really necessary to succeed in fact.

Defining A Red

Daniel Casey, Boss Hague's stooge Commissioner of Public Safety, says flatly that he didn't and won't grant Congressmen Jerry O'Connell and John T. Bernard a permit to speak in Haguetown because they are "reds" and because they will bring along other "reds" with them.

In point of fact, of course, they would still be entitled to the right of free speech if they were as red as Stalin. But there is not the slightest evidence that either is even pink. O'Connell is a Democrat from Montana, and Bernard is a Farmer-Laborite from Minnesota. And as for the "reds" in their entourage, they include such people as John Chamberlain, the editor of Scribner's Magazine, Rockwell Kent, the artist, and Margaret Hatfield of the D.A.R.

But now, of course, we are talking quite as though Mister Kelly was using the term "red" with its ordinary and rational meaning. And actually, he is doing no such thing. When he says that the Congressmen and their supporters are "reds," he simply means that they are opponents of Boss Hague in that they believe in the right of free speech for opponents of Boss Hague. By definition, that's what a "red" is in Haguetown.

Site Ed. Note: Assuming this piece also to be by Cash, we are not sure how it squares with his admissions of sub rosa gleanings in "Reading for Sub-Debs", so we shall let you be the judge.

Yet, with the advance of the tv age over the decades to the last 25 years or so, and even further to the cop "reality" shows, even to the yellow journalism practiced on the crime news, a national extension of the old local format of doormat sensationalism, we find ourselves most wholeheartedly in agreement.

Hasn't blood and guts begat only more blood and guts--or, given that blood and guts has been with humankind since the caves, does the greater and more excruciatingly detailed presentation of it really do any good toward the civilization of the race by shaming it, and, not incidentally, also making it so hyper-fearful of one another that neighbors are given to become would-be snitches of one another's innocent behavior to the point of creating a climate of vigilanteism, that which the whole thing is supposed to be designed to prevent?

In the end, is Oswald Spengler not vindicated in his theory of cycles?

Anent all of which, we can tell you with absolute precision the night on which we were first permitted as a child to stay up past 11:00 p.m.: it was that night of November 22, 1963. The extended coverage of that saddest and most troubling of all events in our lifetime was, of course, grimly necessary for the nation at the time. But what led to that event? That is the question.

Little Boys' Poison*

We can't claim that our own skirts are free of sin. But all the same, we cannot look at the detective cartoon strips, so-called comics, without qualms about their effect on the little boys who are being brought up on them. And the same thing goes for the gang-busters program on the radio. The latter claims that it doesn't appeal to children since it doesn't come on until little boys are supposed to be in bed. But, in fact, it has simply had the effect in thousands of homes of deferring the hour at which little boys go to bed.

The stuff keeps children in a constant state of excitement and must inevitably be bad for their nerves. Worse still, it directs their attention to crime and the use of firearms and killing. And even worse still, it continually instills into them such dubious doctrines as these:

1--That a corpse is a pretty sight.

2--That it is all right for policemen to kill criminals out of hand regardless of the law or common humanity.

3--That the third degree is a necessary part of police methods, and perfectly alright in dealing with suspected criminals.

4--That so long as crooks get their deserts, it doesn't make any difference how they get them.

The methods of the heroes held up to admiration are, indeed, sometimes almost quite indistinguishable from those of a gang of lynchers.

On Good Authority*

One more shred of that tattered Economy Act shot through Congress in the first bustling hours of the New Deal was torn off by the House of Representatives last Wednesday. It passed and sent to the Senate a bill to increase from $30 to $40 pensions for Spanish and World War veterans permanently disabled from non-service-connected causes.

To quarrel over a $10 raise for men permanently disabled is not, we assure you, a congenial undertaking. Most of them need it and can use it, nicely. At the same time...

Yes, at the same time, if there is any justification for pensioning ex-soldiers permanently disabled by reason of chronic alcoholism, to choose a flagrantly illustrative case, or venereal diseases or automobile accidents or apoplexy suffered long years after their period of service in the armed forces, then there is justification for paying $40 a month to all permanently disabled persons. President Roosevelt himself has laid down precisely that proposition. Pointblank to the American Legion convention of 1933 he said:

"No person, because he wore a uniform, must thereafter be placed in a special class of beneficiaries over and above all other citizens."

The Nazi Criminology

We remarked the other day that nowhere has the Nazi ideology contributed more signally to civilization than in the field of criminology. In support of that, we showed how it has remarkably clarified the definition of treason--got rid of the old stupid and barbarous notions and set up the rule that whoever fights to preserve the independence and sovereign status of his native land is a scoundrelly traitor. And, conversely, that whoever conspires with a foreign power (provided, of course, that it be fascist) to destroy the independence and sovereign status of his native land, and to murder its women and babies, is a patriot deserving his countrymen's everlasting gratitude.

But perhaps the greatest contribution has been the drawing out and making clear of crimes that a beclouded race has not even suspected to exist. Consider the case of Baron Rothschild, by way of example. The Baron is a Jew. The Baron is a banker, and comes from a long line of barons who are also bankers. The Baron owns some great estates in Austria. And he and his forefathers have often lent the Austrian treasury, as well as the German treasury, money. Very often, they have not got it back again. No matter; they lent it.

He has seen fit lately to remove his person from Austria. And so one day this last week a Nazi court at Gaming, in lower Austria, decided that in view of all these crimes, the Baron ought in common justice to be deprived of his Austrian estates for the benefit of the Nazi treasury. It is all beautifully lucid when you think about it.

Site Ed. Note: Clampangu? Let's check the map again, boys. Wasn't it Cipangu when last we looked?

These sea salts be messing with our minds.

Vindicating Messer Marco

When in the thirteenth century, Marco Polo, in the company of his father and uncle, traveled over the top of the world to "Llander, which Cublay Cane [Kublai Khan, of course] builded," and, after many years, returned to write his curious book, men in Europe practically laughed themselves to death at his stories.

He had said, for instance, that he had seen a people who worshipped cattle and among whom widows threw themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands. But in the eighteenth century men stopped laughing at that, for they found out that there actually was such a land--India. He said again that in an island he had seen there was a race of little hairy men who dwelt in the branches of trees. But men have stopped laughing at that, too, for in the Indies is found the orang-outang, sufficiently human in appearance to excuse Marco's blunder. He said, yet again, that he had seen a high snowy land where the women had several husbands. And everybody knows now that was Tibet.

But the thing they laughed at as much as any was his story that in the eastern sea 1,500 miles from China there was a great island called Clampangu, which Kublai had attempted to conquer with a fleet, only to fail. The geographers of the time all solemnly proved that there was no such island. But that island existed, all right. Nowadays we call it Japan, and at this very moment it is busily engaged in returning the compliment upon Kublai and attempting to conquer the land that was his, without much more success, to date, than he had.


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