The Charlotte News
Tuesday, February 27, 1940
Site Ed. Note: "Threat", while pertaining to a relatively innocuous contention between the limits of Federal and state authority insofar as its effect in this instance on social rights of the respective sovereign constituencies represented, would nevertheless prove in its last paragraph an accurate harbinger of things yet to be in the streets of the 1950's and 1960's--and over matters which did directly impact the individual lives of the citizens represented. The precedent of abusing power, once set, even though innocuous at inception, perhaps has a tendency to fuel the hunger for greater expansion of its abusive use, later on down the line by subsequent office holders.
As to spitting and throwing banana peels on sidewalks, especially by cops, we think the practice horrendous ourselves and all violators, most especially cops, should be provided hard labor on the chain gang until their saliva is drawn back to the consistency of the banana peels they threw down for the unsuspecting on which to slip. Litter our streets, will ye?
Citizens Are Not Wholly To Blame, However
We see by The Charlotte News that the City Government is determined to clean up the streets downtown, to force merchants to sweep in front of their places of business before 8 A. M., and to stop the practice of spitting on the sidewalks. We hope so. Fact is that these laws have never been enforced in the past, just as the laws about turning vehicles at corners and against unnecessary sounding of automobile horns have never been enforced.
Charlotte is nearly as notable for litter on its streets as for murder. And the disgusting habit of spitting on the sidewalk is everywhere in evidence.
However, it is unfair to blame the citizenry entirely. When the cops themselves do not observe the law, it is not to be expected that the run of the populace will either. And we ourselves have often observed policemen cheerfully spitting on the sidewalk.
Moreover, one of the chief reasons for the fact that the streets are littered is that no trash cans are provided. The little conical cans hung on the lamp posts are simply ridiculous. Most people never become aware that they are there at all. And, in any case, the wind promptly blows out again anything placed in them. What is needed is large garbage cans with automatically closing tops placed at convenient intervals--and stiff penalties for failing to use them. Otherwise the citizen, faced with the choice of putting his banana peels, his used newspaper, his empty cigarette cartons, his wrapping paper, etc., in his pocket or throwing them on the street, naturally prefers the street.
Site Ed. Note: For more on Judge Mantonís case of taking bribes to fix cases before him, see "If Heís Guilty--", January 31, 1939, and editorials referenced in the associated note, as well as "Those Who Go Free", March 3, 1939.
Court Makes Short Work Of A Brassy Contention
The Supreme Court's refusal to review the appeal of Martin Thomas Manton, lately the senior judge of the U.S. District Court in New York, was almost a foregone conclusion.
Manton had not admitted his guilt of accepting bribes, but the evidence was overwhelming. And he himself had tacitly recognized as much by advancing as his main contention the proposition that:
From a broad viewpoint it serves no public policy for a high judicial officer to be convicted of a judicial crime. It tends to destroy the confidence of the people in the courts.
It amounts to saying that, no matter how guilty a judge may be, he, like kings of earlier times, should always remain sacrosanct--that he enjoys carte blanche to do as he pleases, subject only to the curb of his own conscience.
But the divine right of judges is not a doctrine which belongs in the American system. On the contrary, our whole theory of justice rightly requires that a judge who betrays his trust shall be doubly punished. In medieval times unjust judges were flayed alive.
One of the charges which will undoubtedly be brought in the case is that Manton has got off far too lightly. Many a Negro or poor white has served two years in prison--the term of his sentence--for no greater crime than stealing a few chickens.
But at least a summary refusal of the court to hear the appeal serves as a pointed rejection of the brassy theory Manton put forward--a theory which, if even tolerated, would certainly have gone far toward finally destroying the confidence of the people in the courts.
Add'l Note: We neglected to mention, incidentally, in imparting the story a year and a half back in the shadows, that the name of the salesman was Molabias B. Walong. His ma was 'Atta Boise. His pa was Wa. They were all a family of romantic idealists--in the Cartesian sense, that is. Most of the time they spent it debating Pythagorean hypotheses, with time off for good behaviour, of course, to assess whether material being is independent of the perceiver, per the spectrum of Leibniz, et al. Sorry for the omission.
Doc Hocking Fails To Make A Very Old Distinction
Doc Hocking of Harvard patiently explained that John Locke and Tom Paine and Jean Jacques Russeau and Tom Jefferson were not scientists. But the Doc himself is only tentatively a scientist, being a psychiatrist--for psychiatry is as yet about as foggy a business as was chemistry in the time of Roger Bacon.
Nevertheless, the Doc presumed, in addressing the American Orthopsychiatric Association, Inc., at Boston, to say that science is dead against democracy, and that the founders of democracy, with their "rights of man," were no more than silly sentimentalists.
What he apparently meant is that science recognizes that there are biological and psychic differences between men--that one is an athlete or a genius, another a hunchback or a dolt.
But democracy has never seriously contended anything else. The equality it had talked about was its equality before the law and genuine equality of opportunity. "The rights of man" it has championed right up to now are the rights: (1) of every human creature to have a decent opportunity in the world to realize his potentialities without having the cards hopelessly stacked against him; (2) the right of every sane individual to have a voice in those actions of government which inevitably determine his fate; (3) the right of every individual to say and think and (so far as it is compatible with the social order) to do what he likes; and (4) the right of the common man to a share in the common product which will enable him to live in some reasonable comfort by the standards of the time.
And none of these is exploded as the Doc says, none of them is incompatible with the picture of human nature afforded by science.
This Mainly Aids Politicoes, And Not The Unhappy Finns
Apparently the $20,000,000 loan to Finland will pass the House by a safe majority. And since it has already passed the Senate, will need only the President's signature, which will probably be forthcoming.
But as the terms of the thing are drawn, it is little more than a cruel mockery. Quite possibly, indeed, it may serve no purpose save to fall into the hands of the Russians, who of course will never repay it. Which would jolly well serve us right.
The sickly sentimentality of our pious legislators and their determination to play politics even with life and death, was never more clearly exhibited than in the provision that none of the money may be used for the very thing that Finland needs most--arms.
She can buy scrap iron or non-scrap iron, steel, the brass to make cartridges, copper for shell cases, the ingredients of gunpowder, motors, and so on through the whole catalog of everything that it takes to make war materials, but she can't buy finished shells, guns, airplanes, tanks, etc. And--Finland has no factories to process these things. Meantime, however, we busily ship all these commodities that go to make war materials to Russia, which does have the factories to process them.
What it all amounts to is an attempt to play both ends against the middle--to placate the great mass of people who demand that we give Finland aid, without offending the vote which knows only how to chant that aid to Finland means war.
A State Governor Sticks His Neck Far Out
If Governor Leon C. Phillips is quite serious about it, he is on perilous ground.
He says he'll use the Oklahoma militia to keep the Grand River Dam Authority from opening the Grand River Dam Reservoir, until and unless Oklahoma is paid $869,000 for the roads and bridges which would be destroyed by the flooding of the reservoir area.
To understand that, you must know that the reservoir is a project undertaken by PWA for the sole benefit of Oklahoma at the urgent request of the Oklahoma State Government. The agency has spent nearly $20,000,000 there. Moreover, it has offered Oklahoma $300,000 to pay for the bridges and roads. But now, Oklahoma will name its own figure. What we have here, in short, is an effort of a great beneficiary of the Federal Government to hijack the Federal Treasury even further.
And to do it with the threat of using troops whose bayonets and guns, etc., are the property of the United States Government, and who are themselves a part of the national army!
It amounts simply to an assertion that the authority of the State Government is superior to that of the Federal Government. Andrew Jackson was supposed to have settled that question long ago when South Carolina attempted Nullification. But from the fact that threats and even actions like this on the part of governors are becoming common again, it may be that the country will have to have it settled all over again before long.
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