THE MICHIGAN DAILY
WEDN- F'SDA , AU G. 19,19-36
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 19, 1936
Free Speech~o Your Birthright
-Thinkers Are Failures, American Politicians Think-
(Gerald W. Johnson in the Baltimore Evening Sun)
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N CONNECTION with the irrepressible ques-
tion of teachers' oaths and related matters,
someone calls attention to a passage in Mr. Jus-
tice Brandeis' dissenting opinion in Whitney vs.
California which reads:
"Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify
suppressioi of free speech and assembly. Men
feared witches and burned women. It is the
function of speech to free men from the bondage
of irrational fears."
It is a fine theory, even if it doesn't always
work. In the whole continental sweep of the re-
public, there is hardly a human being freer of
speech than Representative Tom Blanton of
Texas. Yet he is of the type of men who feared
witches and burned women. His witch is the
spirit of Communism and the women the luck-
less schoolma'ams of Washington. Blanton, be
it remembered, is the man who attacked to the
District of Columbia appropriation bill a rider
compelling every school teacher to make oath
that she has not taught Communism before she
can receive her pay check. If the spirit of Com-
munism is growing in the United States it cannot
be checked by bedeviling school teachers any
more than the powers of darkness can be
checked by burning women, but, in spite of free
speech, a great many people other than Blanton
seem to think so.
The belief in witchcraft has been pretty well
eradicated from the United States, Pennsylvania
excepted, but it was not eradicated by the rope
and the stake. What drove it out was the in-
crease of knowledge about the material world,
that is to say, the introduction of other ideas in-
compatible with the idea of witchcraft. If Com-
munism is eliminated, it will be by 'a similar pro-
cess, and it will not be eliminated in any other
The example of Blanton to the contrary not-
withstanding, Brandeis was right. Free speech,
in so far as it represents the free interchange
of ideas, does free men from the bondage of irra-
tional fears. The catch in it is that most speech
represents no idea at all, but is a mere sound
effect. It is disagreeable, annoying and of no
value. Doubtless it is sometimes pernicious. Its
suppression would be a noble achievement if it
could be effected by a process equally selective.
* * * *
Unfortunately, though, every project for the
suppression of speech is carefully designed to
suppress, not that part which is mere gabble,
but that part which may represent ideas. Not
Blanton, not the D.A.R., not even Hitler or
Mussolini has ever moved to suppress speech
about the weather, or about whose.wife is carry-
ing on with whose. husband. To repeat the
empty-headed chatter one hears all around is
fectly. safe, even under the most oppressive
government on earth. Why, in Washington it-
self, in the very presence of Blanton, even a
school teacher may safely repeat:
In fourteen hundred and ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
It is only when some school teacher says
something that had never occurred to the aver-
age Congressman that suspicion boils up with a
rush. Yet few will deny that the speeches that
have never occurred to the average Congressman
are the very ones most likely to contain ideas.
Now ideas, beyond a doubt, are dynamite. Most
rulers, and all tyrants, have every reason to
hate and fear them beyond anything else on
earth. The reason is that for the people of any
country to fear a President, or a King, or a
Fuehrer, or a Duce, is an irrational fear, and
eventually the exchange of ideas is pretty sure
to release them from the bondage of this fear.
It is precisely this, though, that your tyrant is
most anxious to avoid; keeping the people in the
bondage of irrational fear is the way he main-
tains his power.
But there is another group almost equally
afraid of the free exchange of ideas; it consists
of the fat-headed and lazy, whether in or out of
office. Their fear is the ghastly and unnerving
fear of being compelled to think. It is epidemic
among legislators of all degrees of importance.
Undoubtedly one of the reasons why Tugwell is
hated so venomously on Capitol Hill is that the
fellow is perpetually injecting new ideas into the
situation. Even when they are completely dizzy
ideas they are usually so cleverly phrased that
one has think for a minute or two to frame the
answer, and this unaccustomed exercise has had
a deplorable effect on some of our reigning
Undoubtedly, too, among the general populace
a lot of fury of the anti-Reds is due to the annoy-
ance of having to entertain unfamiliar notions
propounded by radicals. To be compelled to
celebrate in order to answer the arguments of a
long-haired delegate strikes a large proportion
of us as both insulting and injurious. It is easier
and more attractive to stop their mouths than
to think up answers.
* * *
N SPAIN there is being fought the
bloodiest struggle which Europe
has known since the horrors of the World War.
The fight is critical, of course, in that it involves
the question of which of two great social orders
shall survive. It is also critical from another
and more extensive view.
The results of the Spanish conflict will react
with great force among all of the nations of Eu-
rope. That this 'is true has already been evi-
denced by the dangerous practice which more
powerful nations have adopted in sending aid to
the warring forces. France has been accused by
Italy of sending her airmen to aid rebel troops.
Italy, it has been reported has prepared her air
force for instant action, has withdrawn the
leaves of all of her fliers, and has her entire air-
fleet poised for flight. This situation has been
enough in itself to create a great deal of tension.
But two of Europe's great powers have not yet
indicated what action they intend to take.
Soviet Russia has evidenced no intentions of
aiding Spain's socialist government, yet a vic-
tory of the loyalist forces would be much to her
advantage. And Great Britain has thus far
kept hands off. Her position is precarious, for
she has to choose only between a socialist gov-
ernment or a form of fascist government in
Spain. -Neither will be easy to swallow.
While the war rages unchecked in Spain, the
powers sit nervously on their haunches, and wait
for someone to start something. Spain's problem
is the immediate concern of world interest, but
a more important question is that of what will
happen when one of the powers breaks the
leashes of diplomacy.
At Their Own Risk
By FREDERIC R. COUDERT
(Of New York, in an Address Before the Univer-
sity of Virginia Institute of Public Affairs
IT IS UNTHINKABLE that the United States
would ahandon all commerce and all transac-
tions abroad, however legal or proper, during a
war. While belligerent operations exist upon the
high seas, there is always the possibility that the
American flag might suffer injustice. The idea
of a fool-proof neutrality is the merest illusion,
and the only real question is how far we will
insist upon the rights of American ships to sail
upon the high seas and American goods of all
kinds go to neutrals. We cannot do more than
allow the trader who wishes to send contraband
or questionable goods, directly or indirectly, to
the belligerent to do so at his own risk.
In the next war, as in the past wars, the
United States will have to be governed by the
public opinion of its people as to what attitude
it will take. If public opinion is sufficiently pas-
sive, all participation in war may be averted.
This, however, reckons without the main factor:
the high spirit of the American people once
aroused, patriotism once incited, supposed Amer-
ican rights once violated, then the neutrality
state of mind may be completely changed. If so,
thme consequences are unforeseeable. Nothing
that can be done at the present time can pre-
clude such possibilities.
Music is Joan's newest discovery. "Aida" is,
today, her favorite opera. But mark my word,
next year it will be "Gotterdaemmerung."
That's the way she progresses, advances, grows.
-From an Article about Joan Crawford in Screen
As it happens, though, Americans are in for.
it because the founders of our Government based
the whole system on the theory that democracy
is safe only as long as it can bring active minds
to its support. Hence, they decreed freedom
This is the quinine-soaked lollipop, this is the
explosive cigar that the Founding Fathers hand-
ed down to their children. Some of the children
resent it extremely, but they are stuck with it,
and there is no easy way of getting rid of it.
For there are others among the children who
like it and who would put up a terrific fight
before they would permit it to be taken away.
Indeed, they are fighting now, which explains
why a certain freedom of speech obtains in
America in spite of all the anti-Red laws.
To these it seems that the Founding Fathers
were absolutely right-that democracy cannot
survive unless somebody does some thinking
from time to time. They are aware, perhaps
more keenly aware than anyone else, of the
danger that inheres in ideas, but they under-
stand one immensely important truth that con-
stantly eludes the non thinking. This is the fact
that the only way to kill an idea, to slaughter it
completely, embalm, cremate and bury it, so that
it will never be heard of again, is to attack it not
with any sort of material weapon but with an-
When Jefferson remarked that error can be
tolerated safely "while reason is free to combat
it," he misled even some of his admirers into
assuming that he saw little danger in error.
This is, of course, preposterous, but it is a com-
mon attitude. Today, if an American contends
for the right of a Communist to make a Com-
munistic speech, it is commonly assumed that
the American must either cherish a secret sym-
pathy with Communism or regard it as relatively
harmless. To such people, Frandeis' remark
that even "fear of serious injury" cannot justify
suppression of free speech is completely incom-
Yet what is mysterious about it? Every man
who submits to the surgeon's knife incurs a
small risk to avoid a greater one. There is. noth-
ing strange or unusual in that. Granting that
the Communists are putting out a great deal of
silly and some poisonous stuff, if they have made
any of us think they have served a purpose
straight in line with the desires of the men who
framed the Constitution. Such confidence had
they in their work that they deliberately put
it up to be shot at by decreeing freedom of
speech. A less courageous generation shames
them when it fears that free speech will ever
bring the Constitution down.
Capitlism Purging Itself?
(Fro the New York Times)
N HIS West Virginia speech last
week Colonel Knox struck what
was, for him, a comparatively new
note. He avowed himself a believer,
to a certain extent, in the doctrines
of "share the wealth." He is con-
vinced, that is to say, that there i
should be a wider and fairer distri-
bution of the profits of industry and
business. He is in favor of shorter
hours and higher wages. He also
admits that modern capitalism, great
as have been the benefits which it
brought to the world, has developed
certain incidental wrongs and evils
which ought to be removed.
At this point Colonel Knox parts
company with the methods and pro-
posals of the New Deal. He is per-
suaded that capitalism is able and
willing to cure itself. Already it hasj
rid itself of some of its worst vices. I
If let alone by the government, it will
proceed gradually to adopt better and
more socially minded processes, thus
continuing to the end of the path up-
on which it has long been advancing.
Some of the reasons which Colonel
Knox gives for holding that there is
a self-curative spirit in great corpora-.
tions today seem open to question.
One of his arguments is that large
companies have proceeded to distri-
bute their stock much more widely It
is said that on the eve of the depre§-
sion there were 12,000,000 small stock-4
holders in American chartered organ-
izations. The implication of Colonel
Knox was that they had a distinct
voice in the election of directors and
control of the business. It is well,<
however, that corporate managementc
is usually able to perpetuate itself by1
the vote of much less than a ma-1
jority of the stock. The small hold-
ers count but little in such a matter,
though it may be that their interest
in a given company may make them
anxious to protect it against unwise
or confiscatory legislation. This was
shown to be the case in the vast pro-
test which was made at Washington
by small owners of securities when
the bills affecting the utilities were
pending. In that instance it was not
stocks but bonds that counted. Many
millions of the latter had been bought
by small and honest investors with-
out any thought of speculation, and
they, naturally, were alarmed when
they saw that the interest on their
savings was in danger of being wiped
out by hasty and oppressive laws.
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LOST AND FOUND
LOST: Polyphase slide rule. D. C.
Mills inside case. Call 2-2918 after
LANSING, Aug. 18.-(1P)-The State
Liquor Control Commission modified
today in accordance with the wishes
of Governor Fitzgerald its rule gov-
erning licensees cashing paychecks.
The commission's original regulation
said: "Licensees holding licenses to
sell alcoholic beverages by the glass
are prohibited from cashing pay-
checks of customers." An amend-
ment to the regulation adopted by
the commission today reads: "This
rule is not intended to apply to li-
censees operating under hotel and
BI NG CROSBY
" RHYTHM ON THE
WANTED: Trmnsportanon to eastern
Kansas. Strawn. Phone 6528.
WANTED: Woman passenger to New
Castle, Pa., or nearby, August 22.
Call room 305, Betsy Barbour
House, 10-11 a.m. or 5-6 p.m. Wed-
WANTED: Someone to share ex-
penses for ride to Dubuque, Iowa or
points north. Can take one. Leav-
ing 4:00 a.m. Thursday. Call 4555.
ROOMS for girls for balance of
summer, large shady yard, garage;
1511 Washtenaw. Tel, 3851.
FOR RENT. 4 or 5-room furnished
apartment. Lockers. Oil burner.
Electric refrigerator. 209 N. Ingalls.
Phone 3403. 39
LAUNDRY 2-1044. Sox darned.
Careful work at low price. Ix
LAUNDRY WANTED: Student Co-
ed. Men's shirts 10c. Silks, wools,
our specialty. All bundles done sep-
arately. No markings. Personal sat-
isfaction guaranteed. Call for and
deliver. Phone 5594 any time until
7 o'clock. Silver Laundry, 607 E.
NOW THRU FRIDAY!
LATEST NEWS EVENTS
Rather horsey is this comedy drama, which.
tries for three acts to make up its mind whether
it is laughing atthe third sex or railing at the
retrogressive stereotypy which it conceives to be
the keynote of present day secondary education.
"Chalk Dust," written by Harold A. Clarke and
Maxwell Nurnberg, reminds us of many things:
of "She Loves Me Not," for example, with its
two-story six-stage set; of "Both Your Houses,"
with its impassioned denunciation of politics and
spoils; of Gulliver's adventures in Lilliput; of
other things, all whipped into one palatable
but wholly nopdescript mess.
Of course, "Chalk Dust" satirizes the school
teacher, and for that reason is highly amusing
to a summer school group largely composed of
such people (no offense-I'm one too) ; it goes
further, however, in that its main theme is a sa-
tire on that type of school organization whose
head has a plaster of paris brain, and whose op-
eration resembles that of a threshing machine.
It presents an uninspired, dried-up, selfish group
of old maids of both sexes, whose whole life is
routine, and whose pupils resultantly suffer. In
this play, a - young man teacher, whose ideas
are decidedly liberated anyway, blunders into
the ladies' rest room in the school, and thus in-
volves himself and a lady colleague in a spe-
cious scandal which eventually ruins them. The
laughable insignificance of this basis for a plot
is, of course, quite sound for purposes of satirical
As drama, its quality is questionable. As en-
tertainment, it is good, except for a drag toward
Thoughts for Today
"We can't build warships and things like that
unless you people pay up more cheerfully," said
Alderman Barber in dealing with 56 income-tax
defaulters at Wood Green Court today-From
a news item in The Edinburgh Evening Dispatch.
"I always feel better when I go to church," he
(Governor Landon) said one day. Like many
American family men, however, he has often
been inclined to stay at home on Sunday and
let his wife go to church. He cannot be pictured
as a stern, narrow church man.-News item in
The Chicago Tribune.
"Nowhere in the world can you find men as
warm, natural, romantic and gallant as those
who live in the South of the United States,"
said Mr. Boles. "In some respects they are very
like the French and Italians in their approach to
a woman. . IlIt
"But with this difference. They do not kiss
the hands of the ladies they admire or shower
them with exaggerated compliments. Which is
to their advantage. Hand-kissing, etc., is usually
a blind for what is in the European mind."-
From a syndicated interview with Mr. Joh~n Boles
the motion-picture actor.
Putting vacations with pay into a national
Constitution is going rather far. It suggests
propaganda more than Constitution.-From
"Topics of the Times," in The New York Times.
middle-aged spinster head of the English de-
partment with an unholy flare for detail. Charles
T. Harrell, as insurgent Mr. Rogers, fell some-
Did you ever see a. man carrying a billboard under his arm
Did you ever see- a.handbill on the= family reading, table?
Did you ever see a picture of the new hat or pair of shoes
you wanted to buy come into your home via radio?
Did you ever see a live newspaper thrown into the waste-
basket without being read?
That is why advertising in the
Michigan Daily brings results.