The Charlotte News

Tuesday, June 14, 1938


Site Ed. Note: This item also appeared on the page of this date:

From Port Hudson

June 14, 1863

Jackson, Miss.:--A courier arrived at Brookshaven last night from Port Hudson. He reports our troops in fine spirits and that they have repulsed the enemy 27 times, and that an attack successful on our part is close at hand. He states that the enemy has been punished severely. His company in the front and second regiments made good marks for the boys who took deliberate aim and killed and wounded great numbers. He says that our troops have 60 days provisions and no fears are felt. They are determined to hold out to the last.

Determination and supplies, and even endless propaganda by the homeland press, however, do not compensate, we opine, for vast stupidity.

The Law's a Spoil-Sport*

One thing about all the "witnesses" who were rounded up in that raid on Sportland late yesterday afternoon--they were there of their own free will and without duress. It isn't our idea of sport to buy a $2 ticket on a horse race unless you're at the track to see your nag come in, but if people get a kick out of betting in absentee, and many of them indubitably do, why, that's their business and their money.

Hence, it is the law rather than Sportland which in this case is the common nuisance. Any spoil-sport is a nuisance. Which is not to say, of course, that the grand jury or the cops had any other choice than to close up the place for violating the law if it was violating the law. But it is to say that the law is smug and stupid, that it only loses face when it proscribes simple pastimes, that it has more than enough real crimes of violence and malice to keep its agents busy without requiring them to police the sporting element.

If you doubt it, take a look at the kind of crimes they were trying in Superior Court yesterday at about the time Sportland was surrounded. The calendar for the day listed two assaults with a deadly weapon, four storebreakings, one house breaking and one breaking & entering, one receiving stolen goods, a couple of murders and one accessory to murder. On tap for today are three murders and one criminal assault, among other real crimes--and the "witnesses" who were rounded up in that raid on Sportland, we say, were there of their own choice and having a pretty fair time.

Site Ed. Note: Ah, but maybe the Sportslanders were past postin'. Ye fala?

Then again, maybe everything was just jakey.

Statesmen in a Hurry*

Railroad legislation this Congress did and didn't take gives a pretty good indication of what sort of Congress it has been. The railroads, as everybody knows, are in foul shape. A great many of them are undergoing the endless procedure of bankruptcy reorganization, and a great many of the rest of them, due in part to higher wages and taxes and operating costs, are facing the same dreary prospect. And while the plight of the railroads is largely the railroads' fault, there is a grave question that the administration can afford just now, of all times, to let them be stewed in their own juice.

Yesterday, the House passed and sent to the Senate a bill to levy a 1% tax on railroad pay rolls in order to set up an insurance system for workers who might lose their jobs. And yesterday, Senate leaders announced that there wasn't enough time left to take up either the bill to speed the procedure of reorganizing insolvent railroads or the bill to provide RFC credit for new equipment.

Unemployment benefits are fine, of course, and we are for them whenever feasible. And we don't say that Congress ought to have authorized RFC loans to the railroads, which are victims of too easy credit already. But at least Congress might have taken the time and the trouble to see how much water was left in the railroads' well before drawing off these additional bucketfuls.

Six Months of Probation*

Until North Carolina, at the direction of the last Legislature, began its experiment in probation, there was no lenience the judge on the bench could show to a convicted criminal except to suspend his sentence and hope, somehow, that he would go straight. Nobody kept an eye on him or went to any trouble to see that he had a job, and it's hard as the mischief to go straight if you haven't a job.

Under probation, it is different. The judge may deal out terms on probation to offenders who appear to be susceptible to reform, who then are placed in the charge of the State's probation officer. This official assumes a sort of guardianship role, requiring regular reports from probationers and helping them in any way that he can. He may revoke their probation if necessary, which means that they must serve out the sentence suspended by the court.

On six months' trial, probation has been proving its merits. Revocations have been few, remarkably so in view of the fact that many repeat offenders were among the crowd. All of them but one have found some kind of employment, which means not only that the State has been relieved of supporting prisoners but that charitable organizations have been relieved, in many cases, of supporting their dependents. Altogether, the probation officer for this district estimates that it has saved the State $25,000 in money, on top of which the saving in humanity makes an imposing total.

To Pay Paul

There have been a lot of tears shed over the Southern tenants and sharecroppers in recent Congresses, but they were pretty plainly the forgotten men when the wage-and-hour bill was drawn up. All of them are completely exempted from its provisions, and it is easy to understand why. The cotton farm economy simply won't allow their wages to be jacked up--much. That economy lives at all probably only because of the fact that it is already being heavily subsidized by the Government. And if anything like the wage and hour requirements which have been applied to the industrial economy were applied here, one of two things would be bound to happen: either the owners of cotton lands would all go bankrupt, or the Government would have to pay subsidies equivalent to the difference in wages. And that last is a prospect to frighten even the spenders of the administration.

But it is not only that they are left completely out--these tenants and croppers--but also that the bill seems calculated to increase their woes. That all industrial wages in the country are going up horizontally seems doubtful. NRA showed, indeed, that there is likely to be a definite scaling down of the higher brackets to compensate in part for the increases in the lower brackets. But still, according again to the lessons of NRA, the general level is likely to be somewhat raised. Which, in the light of NRA, means increased costs of the things the tenants and croppers will have to buy.

Hull's Realism

In his speech at Asheville last week Cordell Hull called the notion that we, as a nation, can successfully maintain "isolation"--that we are really prepared to put up with anything short of invasion of our home shores on this continent in order to stay out of war--a "cruel illusion." And the emphatic and prompt "no" which was handed to Japan yesterday in response to her demand that our ships get out of the Yangtze-kiang so as to give her navy a clear path to Hankow, is pretty good evidence that he is right.

Mr. Hull himself, indeed, took the responsibility of uttering that "no". And it might therefore be argued that it was only Mr. Hull who is speaking. But nobody who remembers the Panay incident will long have much doubt that he spoke, and knew well that he was speaking, for the overwhelming majority of his countrymen. That incident showed, to be sure, that we have probably learned a certain caution--that the threshold of our response to challenge has been raised since the days of the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor. But all the samplings of opinion at that time showed, too, that nine out of ten people were in favor of determined action about it. The plain and obvious fact is that the frontier tradition still runs strong in us, and that, as always, we are likely to be pretty quick on the draw. Mr. Borah can shout against that as long as he pleases, and it may be that it ought not to be so. But nevertheless, it is pretty certain that the only genuinely realistic attitude is that which Mr. Hull assumes: the one that recognizes that we are not going to run away to avoid a fight, and which takes its measures accordingly.

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