The Charlotte News

Wednesday, January 31, 1940


Site Ed. Note: "Scarlett's murder of the Yankee soldier is the most gruesome three seconds of realism ever filmed," says "The Wind".

Times would change, and quickly, within the two decades after the war.

And this...

Fighting Words

Fitful Flashes, Statesville Daily

Mrs. Roosevelt's voice teacher says "can't" is better than "cawnt." Pshaw--we knew that anyhow. Just like we know there is no word quite so essential at times to us Tar Heels as plain old "aint." Your "ither" and "nithers," "tomahtoes," "bawths" and "rawthers" are immaterial to us--call em whatever you choose--but when folks go to tinkering with "can't" and "aint" we're prepared to fight. They belong to the locality, there is nothing that can take their places for forceful expression at times--in short we can't get on without em and we aint going to try!

Site Ed. Note: But, where are the apostrophes?

And, seeing which may have irritated Cash to respond, Afghanistanismally, on February 4.

Seeing which makes us irritatedly respond also regarding a little write-up on our old school, a well-known one in North Carolina, upon which we ran recently.

Someone, without much regard to anyone's sensitivity, wrote that the school, which has graduated probably something well over 50,000 people in its 84 years of life, was known as "Society Hill" because of the incident that it is surrounded by "upper middle-class homes", but that, while true, said the writer-up, this condition was "tempered" by the fact that " middle- and lower-class" students also attended the school.

Our reaction was to be glad that poor white trash and slums, Jews, Catholics, and spics and niggers no doubt, probably even some musicians and magicians, artists, writers, intellectuals, and others of that ilk, still attend our old school known as "Society Hill", just as when 'twas that we attended it.

So, we felt compelled to add our two-cents plain and edit it a little. Promptly though, someone then took it out.

So, we tried again, a little less plain.

In any event, we ourselves did not see these "Society Hill" people when we attended a hundred and fifty-six years ago. Nor did we grow up in any "upper middle-class" home. Few, if any, of our close friends did either. In fact, we could usually count on a couple of hands the students out of the 2,000 or so at the school who did, though it is true that there are some nice, large homes within walking distance of the school. There are also, however, some real dinks. Most of the students were middle class, some from working class families, and probably still are.

What excites our dander is the idea that "lower class" students attend any schools anywhere in the United States.

Perhaps in Afghanistan, but not in the United States.

There are socio-economic levels within our society for sure, the socio- part of the path not always tracking the economic part of the equation.

But lower socio-economic levels do not either suggest "lower class".

"Poor white trash, spics, and niggers", and the rest of it--just say what you mean next time.

Then, we won't feel compelled to edit it.

In any event, we felt the write-up was genuinely stupid. So there.

Try going to college and reading a sociology book next time before making idiotic statements about society, high, low, or indifferent.

We didn't grow up in "society", nor on any "hill", at least not one much higher than seven feet.

So, whoever wrote that idiotic paragraph can go to Hell.

And, we hope they do.

The town, incidentally, known for its old tobacco mills, tends sometimes to attract to itself some fairly stupid people, people who arrive on a horse, thinking themselves the lordy of all, then leave in a Cadillac hearse, as most do, and think thus they have arrived in High Society.

And, they can go to Hell, too.

For it is just an old musty tobacco town, the founder of which was as dumb as a fencepost, probably dumber than most of them.

And those who still live by tobacco are dumber than that, dumber than Hell probably.

Not much society to it.

There, now. We feel much better about it all.

We can go back to singing our melody now, as we shovel the ice.

We were reading about this case argued this week before the Supreme Court of the United States, all about the Juneau, Alaska 18-year old high school student who in 2002 concocted a large banner with his friends, and, on a day when they were let from school to watch some parade go by in front of it, unfurled the banner on some public property not part of the school grounds across the street from the school, to show all who cared to read a duct-tape crafted slogan, which the student had culled from a snowboard he had once seen, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus".

The principal of the school hauled the young lad before her, though it is unclear whether the other many male and female unfurlers got any similar such treatment, and promptly slapped him with a five-day suspension from school, doubled it when he had the temerity to quote something on free speech which he attributed to Tom Jefferson.

He sued.

Two years later, his father who worked for the school district was canned, allegedly for his son having sued the school district and the principal over the suspension for the sign, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus". The son, by then attending college in Texas, had to drop out since his father could no longer pay the tuition. The lad is now 23 and teaching English abroad.

His case, meanwhile, has winded its way to the Supreme Court of the United States.

He wants the principal to pay damages for bonging up his life, since, obviously, it is a bit late for injunctive relief, that is reinstatement to the school to get back those ten days lost, to do him much good.

The principal is represented, for free, by Ringo K. Galaxy, who taught us all a decade ago about bong hits 4 Jesus, mon go low, and who argues that "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" is a pro-narcotic slogan and thus disruptive of school purposes, like the Navajo in his hogan, and was therefore properly subject to regulation by the school principal who made a principled salutation, and necessarily emergent decision that the school should be abortive of the lad's sign's elision, for five days' lash, a long dong silvered bit of rash, roared fees as doubled when he dared quote Tom Jefferson as being supportive of any such trash as "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" cum refer's sin.

Well, we've covered the law on all of this for you before: It boils down to whether the sign can be construed reasonably to the passive reader of it, that which is merely offered to be read, being less inclined to incite imminently than that offered as verbal speech, to convey a message which would lead a reasonable person to react violently or which advocates the immediate and violent overthrow of the government. And, it makes no earthly difference whether the sought limitation on this free speech or association or belief in religion or of the press or of the right to petition the government for redress, is by Congress, or by some state legislature, or by some local huckster operating as a local pol within a local city or towship or county chartered by the state, which, in turn, receives its blessing for being through the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, as confirmed by the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment right after the Civil War, that is that the fundamental freedoms recognized in the Bill of Rights operate with equal force as limitations also, vis à vis the citizens, on state and local governments, and their officials, including most certainly school principals, even in Juneau, Alaska, where recently the eagle became entangled in electrical lines for the dragging weight of the doe's head culled predatorily by it from the urban dumpster bin.

Even granting Ringo the notion that he appears to us crazy,--for anyone who found it worthy to study, as he did, and at substantial government welfare expense, for some seven years the rushing rapids of the Peleg waters, just trickling down to the isle, we believe would have to be as crazy as a loon in the full moon--, this case appears to us as lunatic as it gets.

We doubt it would have ever gotten to the Supreme Court of the United States except for the fact that Ringo and his ever-present entourage,--those who appear to wish to erode our freedoms to the point where they are little but a cruel joke, dispensed in Pavlovian manner to those only who provide obeisance to Ringo and his pals--, are behind it.

This individual is so utterly reprehensible in his entire cynical view of American life, we believe, that we honestly believe he should be disbarred, for having failed miserably in his basic oath to uphold the Constitution he swore to uphold when he became an attorney. He, and a lot of others of his ilk, in fact.

But he, and they, won't be of course. For he and his Minah Key ilk own the Bar in many jurisdictions, the one from which all the drunks drink blithely, and for free. And what they drink, that being Wormwood, pales to obscurity the toxicity of anything which might vaguely be interpretable from "Bong Hits 4 Jesus".

The overall point being, as we see it, that bong, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, has two meanings, the first and preferred, and the only one listed in our 1981 edition, being, "A deep ringing sound, as of a bell." Thus, we perpend that it should be plain to anyone who is reasonable and sane that what the lad meant by putting on his banner, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus", culled from the snowboard of someone else, was simply this: "Come, they told him, puh, rumpa, pum, pum..." (The lad himself proclaims the sign to be "non-sensical", says his lawyer. But, senselessness is no excuse before the law, which is often a ass bumbling, and, being such, can become overly sensitive when, once stung, sits too long, as Ringo obviously has.)

The other meaning, added later, actually is slang and thus not preferred. Moreover, the terminology proper in this context is not bong at all but rather hookah, also called "hubble-bubble" or "water pipe", which is from the Arabic huqqah, "meaning bottle of water through which tobacco smoke is drawn", that again according to our 1981 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

In Eastern countries, hookah parlors are very common, (not unlike in and around Reno and Las Vegas, maybe, judging by recent news, even Washington, D.C., in this country). These parlors are where well-known business men in business suits go to smoke their hookahs.

Now, if the young lad there in Juneau had printed on his banner the phrase, "Hookah Hits 4 Jesus", that might not have left enough to the imagination as to the instrument which he intended to be referenced. But, even then, it is merely an instrument with water in it. What is smoked through it, the hookah, is what is of consequence and significance to the hooked.

For instance, if it is merely steam being smoked, well, who could object to that? It would be tantamount to objecting to a common vaporizer filled with Vick's Vaporub for the common cold, after all.

Would the lad have been suspended for printing on his banner: "Vix Hits 4 Jesus"?

How about: "B'reshit for Jesus"? being an obvious reference to the transliterated Hebrew for "Genesis". Would that pass muster at your ideal high school, Ringo? (The only flaw we might find in that, incidentally, would be if the banner were actively endorsed by the principal, in which case you would clearly have an establishment clause violation. Right, Ringo? Or, didn't they teach you all about that at the B'reshit law school you attended? (Ourselves, we learnt it quite alright, down in our little Br'erpatch law school, twelves miles away.))

Moreover, we can tell you, Ringo, from direct experience and observation within our own generation that it is quite as often as not that the student who listens to and views virtually everything, that considered banal and that considered profane and that considered salutary, conducts nevertheless his or her life quite in exemplary fashion, free from drugs, alcohol, or any other substance of the kind. And, it is as often as not, that little prigs such as yourself, whose easy listening and viewing habits are obviously insufferable, come out as drunks and addicts of all stripes. It is only the case that many who get themselves hooked on something, such as investigating others' underwear and blue dresses for Peleg stains, don't wish to take individual responsibility for it and so look to suckahs like you to get them off the hook by seeking to blame a sign, or a record, or a movie, or what-not, the Devil, as the true culprit, when it is only their own individual choice and responsibility which has taken the errant turn of misinterpretation of symbols. Quashing the symbol itself is the first step in the sure road to Fascism. The symbol educates. That is all it does or can do. It is both deaf and dumb in the forest, of itself. It is the perceiver and interpreter of it which activates the symbol for good or ill. Got it?

Parenthetically, we note that Ringo was anointed back around 1994 by some deaf and dumb tobacco interests, some of whom originated in Chesterfield-King, those disgusted with the Clinton Administration, wanting to sell their cigarettes legally to Iraq, rather than having, as they did, to sell them illegally. And so, enter Ringo, stage right, to go after it, this sin-tell thing, this hookah thing.

Now, examining that facet of the whole matter a little, we find that nicotine is a drug, though the Chesterfield-King Alaskan gnomes got into some trouble for denying it under penalty of perjury--and so if one were to smoke nicotine through a hookah, why one would naturally be said to be ingesting drugs, wouldn't one? And Chesterfields were known for their absence of a filter--and were even seen to be advertised for such absence and purity of flavor, and even at one time by a once and future King of this whole nay-land.

But, stick a filter on the suckah, and wrap it in white papah, and why you have what they fashion to be a sassy little cigarette of your Bosses, don't you now, Ringo?

Well, that said, let's look again at this "Bong Hits 4 Jesus". To us, that could mean many things, but primarily it means simply ringing the bell or beating the bongo drum, for the love of Jesus in the Yardbird Blow-up thing. That is clearly what the lad intended. The lad was just playing the drums and the bells.

For it would make no sense at all to smoke narcotics, through a hookah or any other damned thing, for Jesus, obviously.

If that fact and its converse imperative, logically traversed from it, threatens Ringo's Government, then we do understand at least from where he is coming. Ringo, in our opinion, needs to get his head out of the sewah, and realize that kids is just kids and we's all been 'em, and neither Ringo nor his one-man Legislature, nor Jesse Helms, nor all his little sin-tell minions, even those little lorties in and around Chesterfield-King, nor all the Pharoahs in the world, are going to turn our democracy around into some sort of Starr-gram.

In consequence of all of which, our banner reads: "Go to Hell, Ringo K. Galaxy. You a Suckah, Man."

All said, what bothers us most about this situation is that this silly, stupid case and this silly, stupid high school principal, who was under no compulsion emergently, as contended, to issue a summary order of suspension, and who in our opinion should be fired by the school board forthwith and made to pass a test in reading the English language, as well the rudiments of the Constitution, before being rehired, made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, when this silly, stupid case is sui generis on its facts and thus impacts no one but the hubble-bubbler Starr-gram people specifically involved, but is nevertheless one of about 250 cases or so being heard this year, while, meanwhile, the planet is in danger of a Flood, and we have this silly, stupid war continuing on which no one much supports anymore.

Why is that, when probably you or we, even if we got our heads broken open, couldn't get the time of day from the Supreme Court of the United States these days?

Could it be because the 9th Circuit wisely held in favor of the lad's right to freedom of speech, and that Ringo is the lead counsel of the opposition, promulgated by the Niyonians for nigh on four decades, nay, for the better part of five and a half, to that very concept, that is freedom under our Constitution? Could that be the issue, Ringo? You and your Chesterfield-Kings? You and your Pharoahs and sheiks?

We reiterate: "Go to Hell, Ringo K. Galaxy. You a Suckah, Man." You disgrace the law; you disgrace the bench upon which you once sat. You are a disgrace to democracy. You sing only in a Minah Key. Get yo'se'f a new song, boy. Yo' a one-Hit wunda. You ain't no Staw. You a suckah, in need of the hook, from stage left. In fact, we not so suah you nawt a hookah, man, a bong, in fact.

Well, as we say, we be goin' on back now to our snow-shovel.

And we be bongin' our bells, and our bongo drums in the Yad, too, meanwhile.

Just for whom the bells bong, we shall leave to your imagination.

It's called, Ringo, freedom of Spitch. Take the stick out, suckah, and get you some, free spitch that is.

You don't like it, boy? Then, go somewhere else and leave us all the hell alone.

We don't like you as you aw. You a Suckah, not a staw.

Once, 'twas said somewhere, probably by someone wise, though view it as you like it:

It is my only suit,
Provided that you weed your better judgments
Of all opinion that grows rank in them
That I am wise. I must have liberty
Withal, as large a charter as the wind,
To blow on whom I please; for so fools have:
And they that are most galled with my folly,
They most must laugh. And why, sir, must they so?
The 'why' is plain as way to parish church:
He that a fool doth very wisely hit
Doth very foolishly, although he smart,
Not to seem senseless of the bob; if not,
The wise man's folly is anatomiz'd
Even by the squandering glances of the fool.
Invest me in my motley; give me leave
To speak my mind, and I will through and through
Cleanse the foul body of the infected world,
If they will patiently receive my medicine.

In The Street

But Nature Seems To Have Fooled These Singers

There was a sound of strange music, a kind not often heard in the business district because it was made by Negro laborers singing at work. There wasn't any chorus of voices. Each man raised his own chant. No melody, no recognizable tune, not much rhythm. A snatch of song in an unhurried minor, and the slow scrape of a shovel. A colored man singing to himself and his Lord.

For a week they have been shoveling snow off the streets and clearing the sidewalks. Now they are even blocking the walks from night pedestrians while they chisel ice from ledges of high buildings, ice that might slide off into daytime disaster. The city hired 300 extra men to do these things and they have become a familiar sight all over town. But these were the first we had heard singing. It might have been because, as they were clearing away the last of the uptown ice and slush, it was snowing hard, though it turned out a false alarm.

Site Ed. Note: Just why it was that there was no relation back to the original statute as it was written in 1936 when the alleged offending conduct occurred, we don't know. Under application of normal legal principles, as long as the statute of limitations was not offended, there should have been, and regardless of subsequent amendments to the law by the Legislature. The law at the time of the offense is typically the law to be applied, at least in most jurisdictions. But, we weren't there, and we haven't researched the particulars of the law in North Carolina in 1940.


Some Light Is Cast On How Our Laws Are Cooked Up

It was a curious point of law which freed the two men charged with running down and killing Policeman C. P. Nichols in 1936, and with hit-and-run driving.

The court does not seem to have thought that there was evidence enough of carelessness to justify a count of manslaughter, and so a nolle pross was taken on the charge. But there was no doubt that the two had hit the policeman and then run away, concealing their identity so successfully it was only a few months ago that they were finally discovered.

But the Legislature had changed the law in 1937, making hit-and-run a misdemeanor instead of a felony. It had changed it again last year indeed, restoring the felony status to the crime. But the Constitution of the United States and North Carolina both say that no one shall be tried under ex post facto laws. And the old law had expired. So there was nothing for it but to rule that these two cannot be tried at all.

It is an illustration of how slipshod and whimsical is the making of our laws. Why hit-and-run should ever have been reduced to the status of a misdemeanor is a mystery. For it is plain that the doing of justice in these automobile cases hinges primarily upon forcing the driver of the death car to reveal his identity at once. The Legislature seems to have known that prior to 1937, to have known it again in 1939. But apparently not in 1937. Figure it out yourself.


Mr. Hitler Has Good Cause To Hesitate Over This

Adolf Hitler may be just warming up, but his air raids against Britain give the distinct impression of a man playing with an idea but unable to make up his mind really to adopt it in thorough-going fashion.

And if that is the case, hesitation is quite understandable, even in a man so headlong as Adolf.

No man will ever have assumed such responsibility to the German people as he will have if he ever begins his wholesale bombing attack.

Immediate retaliation is certain. And from the standpoint of bases the British will have the best of it, since their planes will be able to leap off from the French border directly to Germany. The price of bombing London and Paris will certainly be the prompt destruction of the Rhine cities, and Berlin also will pay.

But that is not the worst of it. Already rumors are coming out of Paris that France, growing grimmer as the war wears on, is prepared to demand of Britain that Germany be "Balkanized" if she loses the war. Bavaria would be attached to Austria--a more natural arrangement than her present domination by Prussia. France would take the Rhineland and clear the Germans out of it. Poland would begin in East Prussia. And Germany would be left as a third-rate power.

And certainly, if Hitler launches his wholesale air attack, some such objective is likely to be adopted in real earnest, however dubious it may be from the standpoint of permanent peace. If he takes the course he now appears to be on the eve of taking, Hitler must win or bear the responsibility for having undone the work of Bismarck.


This Frothing Only Serves To Point His Indecision

All the indecision noted above was plainly on view in the surprise speech at Berlin yesterday. The man simply frothed.

Someday perhaps, when the tragedy is forgotten, men will be able to laugh at the comic aspects of the thing. "Germany's first soldier rode swiftly through the darkened streets"--that's the Associated Press. Germany's first soldier who has yet to risk his precious hide to gunfire, who boasts of having crossed the French border so inconspicuously that the French didn't even bother to shoot at him! It is the perfect reductio ad absurdum of the futile boasting he indulged in.

Ironic, too, was his clowning mimicry of Mr. Chamberlain's pious sounds, his denunciations of him as a hypocrite. For it was made the leaping-off point for a hypocrisy which makes Mr. Chamberlain's look like the most forthright frankness--for snuffling over the wickedness of the Versailles Treaty and for grotesque claims that Nazism represents a new civilized order for the world.

The statement that the Versailles Treaty ruined Germany is a falsehood out of the whole cloth. And as for civilization and a new order--the world observes what is happening in Poland. Call the old men of Versailles the "terrible old men" if you like, they never dreamed of one-tenth of the brutality this fellow and his gang have already indulged in. And his attempt to portray himself as merely one who wants decency and right is an insult to the intelligence of mankind.

He gives his whole hand away. The one reason that he does not strike in England as he struck in Poland is that he knows that if he loses the penalty will be the most terrible ever exacted from a modern nation.

But he convinces no one with his snuffling. The sole damage he can hope to reap from it is to whip his people into a mood for the last fateful venture.

The Wind

Notes Concerning Something You Have Heard About

Feeling that the Versailles Palace was neither large enough nor grand enough for a French king, the boys in the moving picture "Marie Antoinette," built the Versailles sets up to Hollywood standards with considerably more space and elegance than Louis XIV gave to the original, though Louis himself was so appalled by his own extravagance in building the place that he destroyed the bills for it. Which makes us wonder just a little what Tara and Twelve Oaks would have really looked like.

Vivian Leigh must have come from the South of England. She could hardly have picked up that accent without having come from the part of the island where they say, "won't you all come ovah heah for tea aftah the cricket, vicah?"

The red earth of Georgia, in person infuriating as either mud or dust, is highly photogenic.

Scarlett's murder of the Yankee soldier is the most gruesome three seconds of realism ever filmed.

Some of the ladies will be thinking Rhett Butler was played by the Angel Gable.

On the whole the producers were pretty tactful and diplomatic about it all. Nobody left the theater to stop only to kiss his sweetheart goodbye before grabbing his musket to dash off and fight the Yankees all over again.

It's a pretty good picture. No, it's two pretty good pictures.

Site Ed. Note: Well, we'll take our temporary leave now from 1940, and head back around the horn to March, 1941, to complete the seven days of The News we left incomplete two years ago.

Why did we do that? you probably won't ask.

We have no idea, we probably won't answer.

As we have said and insisted before: simply, it is.

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