Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Case and Comment
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Laws Against Anarchy”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: September 1901
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 4
Pagination: 184-85

“Laws Against Anarchy.” Case and Comment Sept. 1901 v8n4: pp. 184-85.
full text
McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); anarchism (dealing with); anarchism (laws against); assassination (laws against).
Named persons


Laws Against Anarchy

     “Enemies of the human race,” the name long given to pirates, has a more intense and fearful meaning when applied to anarchists. A chorus of proposals to exterminate them comes from all over the United States. Some editorials on the subject are thoughtful and discriminating; others are full of earnestness and of a demand for restrictive laws, but without any apparent conception of the principles involved. First of all, it must be clearly perceived that the acceptance and teaching of the doctrine that anarchy is an ideal condition of human life may be totally distinct from the approval and instigation of violent and incendiary methods to overthrow existing governments. Liberty to think and to speak freely under the guaranties of our constitutions are sacred rights which must not be abridged. But instigation to crime is not included within such liberty. Every enlightened American ought to stand firm against every suggestion to abandon our constitutional principles of freedom. Some of the wild and passionate utterances, natural enough, indeed, when men are under strong feelings of indignation and horror at an attempted assassination of the President, sound like words from a darker age. The laments expressed by some prominent men on account of the constitutional barriers to an effective campaign against anarchy are not creditable to their statesmanship. The safety of civilization needs no measures that are not in harmony with our constitutional guaranties. The most rigid measures against instigating or in any way counseling or encouraging assassination or other crime committed in the cause of anarchy, whether such instigation or advocacy is given by book or by speech, would not violate any constitutional rights. On the other hand, laws against believing or teaching that anarchy as a philosophical or political system is an ideal condition of things would be as obnoxious to all true principles of any desirable society as they would be to our existing constitutions.
     Effective measures to protect our President and other officers against anarchists are imperatively demanded. Proposals to exclude or deport them from the country may deserve consideration, but these alone cannot be sufficient. We need to strike at the instigation of crime by a law substantially to this effect: “Any person who shall advocate, counsel, advise, or by expressing approval encourage, any act or policy of assassination, murder, or assault upon the President of the United States or any other officer or person as a means of overthrowing or destroying the govern- [184][185] ment, or of aiding any attempt, plan, or purpose to overthrow or destroy the government, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be punished by death.”



top of page