The Charlotte News

Monday, January 22, 1940


Site Ed. Note: We note that it appears that the elephants' memory band is getting a little tired of all of the civil war with the Tigers, apparently depleting their food supply, out in Sri Lanka.

Perhaps, especially given what happened there at Christmas, 2004, the likely reason for the short food supply, consequently, too, then the attacks on the population and its menacing vehicles by the elephants, it is time after twenty years and more, a hundred years and more, to lay down arms, for the betterment of all, and quell them, the elephants, before they memorialize the entire island's population from existence.

And, of course, we are speaking not just of Sri Lanka, but of all of our many islands, big and small, which populate the earth.

In short, Mary's ghost appears mad as hell over that rather unjust hanging back in 1916.

So stop the war.

We disagree with the proposed solution to the problem set forth in "Uncandid", similar to that suggestion made in "Candidate for Isolation", January 4, 1939. Whether, incidentally, either of these pieces was by Cash, we cannot say for sure, but the first one being probably by him, we assume that so, too, was the latter. Notwithstanding, we still disagree a little insofar as the piece below suggests weeding out the retarded or defective mind in the elementary school years and "isolating them before they commit crimes". Indeed, such a preemptive strategy might very well have caused some of the aberrant cases abounding in our society at times--for ultimately, human empathy being what it is, we are not prepared as a society to become hardened into running essentially concentration camps for the mentally defective and mentally retarded when they have done no harm to anyone, only by way of precaution lest they do so.

Moreover, who is to judge these things? We all do silly things at one time or another which might convey to someone the notion of behavior as a child or adolescent, even our most normally responsible citizens and leaders. Are they then to be adjudicated as dangerous to society, likely to commit worse acts, even crimes, even serious crimes, and thus be institutionalized for doing something mildly aberrant?

Ah, we have procedures. Yes, we do, don't we? But who will adjudge whether the procedures have been properly applied and met? A hard-line law and order judge appointed by law and order pols? Will that work to effect justice?

Be that complexity as it may, we all too well appreciate, as we have come face to face with it at times, the terrible burden to society to maintain, mixed in the free circulation of its citizens, someone of apparent lunatic disposition. Yet, again, some of our supposed better citizens certainly behave as part of the lunatic fringe at times, and we can scarcely tell which is worse, a person acting like a raving lunatic on the subway or even in your front yard, yet committing no grave crime, or a fool who enters your front yard under the aegis of some local government authority, albeit without proper process, and seeks to order you to do something or desist from doing something you've a perfect right to do, quite in excess of any delegated constitutional authority under anyone's but Caesar's interpretation of the Constitution. (Candidly, we'd lock the both of them up for awhile for the trespass.)

So, where is the middle ground to be struck? What do we do with society's unwanted child, the unloved, the one who has an aberrant mind, not merely one with perceptions different from the norm or one willing to accept perceptions different from the norm to examine them for flaws potentially or for insight to others--what do we do about the truly helpless one who cannot adjust his or her conduct to any norm at all but that of predatory survival instinct, as, but not quite being, a lower animal, such as the apparent subject of "Uncandid"?

Is the answer to isolate them early and place them in an institution? Sounds good, until the practice leads, for instance, to the kind of hysterical and race-oriented abuses as characterized the practice of eugenics in many states of the nation, even through the early 1970's, silently and without a whimper from the press usually, or little airing of any whimper of it to obtain press coverage during the time it was practiced. No one knew, we offer as excuse, at least no one who was willing to speak out against it publicly, not even in the communities where it occurred. And, of course, so they said, too, at Dachau, though the numbers there, some 200,000, made it certainly more readily observable to any form of observant population than by the relatively scant numbers of cases involving eugenics in this country.

And so, do not these historical excesses, the first, perhaps motivated out of some genuinely compassionate belief, the second, as practiced in Nazi Germany, obviously motivated by the very predation which its pogroms were claiming to try to eliminate from a society gone mad, exhibit all too readily the difficulty in entrusting even to so noble a profession as medicine, and its step-children, psychiatry and psychology, the ultimate determination of institutionalization before any crime has been committed and brought to the bar and adjudicated as ordinarily culpable under the law under the requirements of Due Process, those being the right to a fair trial by jury, the right to effective assistance of counsel, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to testify, or meaningfully to exercise the privilege not to do so, and the right to call witnesses and present evidence in one's own behalf without limitation except by the relevance of it or other evidentiary rules? Does not the one, that motivated by some degree of compassion, lead ultimately, perhaps inexorably, to the second form for its initial, more benign state having stimulated in some a type of blood lust, once stimulated, and the abuse then of the power thus held to satiate this increasing and unchecked desire, finally reducing itself to generalized vengeance against a representative scapegoat reeked for this or that more specific petty grievance?

So, we reject the solution suggested in "Uncandid", as unworkable and unsound in practice, inherently unfair and inhuman even, though it may sound at first as an ideal, as when we euthanize animals for their welfare.

And so, finally, did a 6-3 majority of the United States Supreme Court in 2002, in the landmark case of Atkins v. Virginia, 536 US 304, holding that the death penalty for the mentally retarded violates the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment.

No human being may be characterized properly as an animal incarnate, the essential difference being, except for the comatose, that there is consciousness at some level of being, something beyond merely Pavlovian instinct in all humans, though in behavior perhaps, especially en masse, such as Nazis, based on a militaristic model of absolute discipline responding without regard to individual conscience, some are sometimes, and without too much need to stretch the simile, likened to be. But even Nazis, when caught, received their full trial.

Forty-four retarded persons, registering intelligence quotients less than 80, (although the legal standard is typically 70, varying among the states from 65 to 75--recognizing that these standards should be based on mean scores as scores may vary by as much as 10 or more points with anyone), were executed in the United States between 1984 and 2001. One took place in Delaware in 1999, three in Missouri, in 1992, 1998, and 1999, one in Arizona in 1996, and one in Illinois in 1995. The remaining thirty-eight occurred in the South: nine in Texas (six of whom were executed between 1995 and 2000), six in Virginia, four in Alabama, four in Florida, four in Louisiana, three in Georgia, three in Oklahoma, three in South Carolina, and two in Arkansas, (one of whom, a lobotomized individual, was in 1992). We don't hook blame, incidentally, on the governors of these states who refused clemency in these cases, though it was within their power to grant it, for we might just as well blame the prosecutors who prosecuted the defendants to the full extent the law allowed, or the juries or judges who provided the penalties the law allowed; the blame is to be fixed finally and probably solely upon that creature of which "Uncandid" makes mock, when it shows its worst, least reasoning, most politically attuned, despotic, side to us--usually presented in the form of a state legislature or a Congress run amuck with emotional fervor of one sort or another, for a time, anyway, until the disturbed populace which elected it begins again to understand that excessive law and order is always only a problem, never a solution, attempting to cure by treating symptoms rather than the disease itself.


The Excuse Offered For This Is Unpleasant

From the Associated Press report of the execution at Columbia, S. C., we cull the following:

Dash, described by psychiatrists as having the mind of a six-year-old, entered the death chamber...without any show of emotion... The youth, who did not know his own age, was listed in the penitentiary records as sixteen, but officers who investigated at the request of Governor Maybank reported he was eighteen or nineteen or older...

We are not prepared to maintain here that the execution was ipso facto wrong. The young Negro had hacked a 65-year-old woman to death with a knife after having criminally assaulted her. But six-year-old minds in charge of sixteen-year-old or nineteen-year-old bodies are ipso facto an intolerable menace to society.

The rational precaution would seem to be to make some effort to discover these persons while they are still in the public schools, to make provision for isolating them before they commit crimes, not afterward. In any case, once the crime is committed, perhaps the very best thing to do is to put the less than human creature responsible quietly to death.

But one thing about these cases always sticks in our craw, that the execution is done not as a practical consideration but in the name of moral responsibility. To talk of moral responsibility in such cases is simply a travesty. Nobody in his senses talks of the moral responsibility of a normal six-year-old boy. To talk of it in the case of six-year-old minds in charge of grown-up bodies is a thousand times more foolish.

And the law's test here--the ability to tell right from wrong--simply goes to prove Mr. Bumble's celebrated, "The law is a ass, an idiot." There is no such thing as a human being, not completely idiotic and over the age of two, who does not have some notion of "right" and "wrong."

Let us execute them if we must, but in the name of our own self-respect let us kill them frankly for the reason that it is necessary to our safety, and quit driveling about moral vengeance.

We Keep $2

After Considering A Letter In The Light Of Facts

The Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds favors us with a form letter which addresses us as "My Dear Fellow North Carolinian" and invites us to join the American Vindicators and kick in with two smackers to aid in the great campaign to save us from the aliens. It says in part:

"Fortunately, we in North Carolina have but few aliens and Communists... However, unless we stop at once the influx of thousands upon thousands of aliens and refugees into America, North Carolina is bound to absorb some of this alien horde, some of these radicals and Communists. Many other states, particularly the New England and Western states, have already been filled with aliens and refugees who are taking jobs which belong to Americans."

It is an excellent example of untrue propaganda. Observe first the linking of "aliens and Communists" and "this alien horde... these radicals and Communists." It is a linking designed to create the impression that all or most of the aliens are "radicals and Communists." It happens to be a gross falsehood. Not ten per cent of them are open to the charge, under any view of the matter.

Observe next that it is flatly inferred that there is an "influx of thousands upon thousands of aliens" to these shores. This is an appeal (1) to the fear of immigration in general, and (2) to the fear of persons suffering with anti-Semitic phobias that great masses of Jewish refugees are pouring into the United States from Greater Germany.

Both appeals are demonstrably untrue. According to the figures of the United States Bureau of Immigration, during the six-year period, July 1, 1932, through June 30, 1938, a total of 241,962 immigrants were admitted into United States for permanent residence. But--in the same six years, 246,449 immigrants previously admitted to the United States for permanent residence left the country for good. That is, there were 4,487 fewer immigrants in the country at the beginning of the period than at the end.

It is interesting to note also that the 241,962 who entered the country in that period represented only 26 per cent of the 922,644 who were legally admissible under the quota law.

As for Germany (plus Austria) there were only 17,199 admissions from that country from July 1, 1937, to June 30, 1938. And the total gain in German immigrants of all sorts from July 1, 1932, to June 30, 1938, was only 43,042--a yearly average of just 6,622 to be absorbed by 130,000,000 people.

Brother Earl

Greedy As Huey, He Lacks That Rascal's Audacity

The present Governor of Louisiana, Earl K. Long, has not the iron heel his Brother Huey had. This is shown by Earl's disposition to try to placate the forces which would throw him out, a sign of weakness that Huey would have disdained.

If they had been after Huey as they are after Earl, it may be that the Legislature would have been called into extraordinary session. But to pass custom-made laws, impudently submitted by Huey, to give his crowd tighter control over the election machinery, to frustrate his opponents and to punish those anywhere who dared to call him.

And not, as in the case of Earl's call of a special session, to modify certain high-handed laws, to cut local politicians in on some of the spoils and to attempt to appease the people of that Long-ridden state.

In only one particular does Earl's agenda sound like Huey, and that is a proposal to appropriate, in a hurry, a million dollars for lunch money for needy schoolchildren, another million for social work, and funds in addition for unspecified "public purposes." Neither of these Longs ever hesitated to pay personal campaign expenses out of the State's treasury.

Site Ed. Note: "Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come..."

Italian Move

Mussolini Seeks Closer Ties With The Japanese

Italy's action in recognizing the Japanese puppet government of Wang Ching-wei, the renegade Chinese general, is of direct concern to our own Government.

In the first place, it constitutes a new violation of the Nine-Power Treaty and the Kellogg Pact. Under the first instrument, Italy entered into a solemn agreement with us not to recognize or countenance any conquest in China, under the second not to recognize or countenance any conquests made by force anywhere.

But that is largely theoretical. Italy long ago made ridiculous her promises under the Kellogg Pact. And we ourselves have flatly refused to live up to our sworn obligation to resist the conquest of China.

What is more important is that it indicates that Mussolini is fishing for closer ties with Japan, perhaps an outright alliance. It has been too easily assumed that because the present Red alliance of Hitlerism makes it dangerous for him to cling too closely to the Axis, the Fascist chieftain was bound to flop over on the side of the Allies. But that by no means is certain. For it would inevitably involve the surrender of his own radical ambitions, quite as voracious as those of Hitler himself.

And he is likely to do that only if it becomes plain that the Allies are going to win decisively. In case of the Nazi victory, he is apt to be found yelling his head off for Hitler at the finish. And in case of a stalemate, he undoubtedly hopes to reap rich advantages on his own account.

The fellow is wholly treacherous. At the same time he is wholly an opportunist. And if Nazism should win this war, an Italian-Japanese alliance might be very dangerous. For it is certain that in such a case, it would be definitely anti-British and anti-American; and it is far from unlikely that it would probably form a new combine with the Hitlerites for the destruction of what remained of Western civilization.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i>--</i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.