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Source: Wilshire’s Monthly Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “O’tis Insignificant”
Author(s): Wilshire, H. Gaylord
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 41
Pagination: 11-12

Wilshire, H. Gaylord. “O’tis Insignificant.” Wilshire’s Monthly Magazine Nov. 1901 n41: pp. 11-12.
full text
Harrison Gray Otis; Los Angeles Times; McKinley assassination (news coverage: criticism); the press (criticism); McKinley assassination (personal response).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; William Randolph Hearst; William McKinley; H. Gaylord Wilshire.
The editorial’s title plays on the name of Los Angeles Times editor Harrison Gray Otis.

Authorship of the editorial (below) is not credited in the magazine, but the editorial’s content implies the author is H. Gaylord Wilshire.


O’tis Insignificant

     I know that a man is often prone to exaggerate the importance of his own particular environment. However, I wish to distinctly declare that my residence in Los Angeles has not made me so provincial that I have ever been unaware of the exceeding insignificance of the editor of the Los Angeles Times. I forget his name for the moment. It would enlighten no one anyway. Of late years he has seemingly been running his paper for the one and particular object of vilifying Wilshire and his views. Ordinarily such a course might be passed over without comment. In fact it might be regarded as a species of bastard advertising having considerable value.
     However, the assassination of the President has led him into such extreme language that I feel called upon to point out the danger of allowing such unrestrained liberty of the press. Liberty is not license.
     The Times has long felt that almost any means of suppressing my views should be adopted.
     After the President was shot it could not resist displaying, with its professional weeping and wailing, its exultation that the foul deed would prove a means toward suppressing me.
     Let me quote from its editorial:

     “Some terrible shock was needed, perhaps, to restore the public mind and the public conscience to a normal appreciation and understanding of the true significance of these crimes of society and our system of government.
     “The fateful blow has been delivered, and the whole nation is weeping and shuddering at the horror of it. If it shall serve to stir the public conscience to normal and wholesome action, even this supreme and pitiful sacrifice will not have been wholly in vain.”

     This is simply a parallel of the workings of the diseased brain of Czolgosz that led to the assassination of the President.
     The anarchist looks over society and he, like the editor of the Times, sees a dreadful state of affairs. They both say to themselves “some terrible shock is needed to restore the public mind and public conscience.” The only difference between them is that the editor of the Times talks and the anarchist acts.
     The Times now says, in order no doubt to divert attention from itself on the “stop thief” theory:

     “While we have laws all too complex and too stringent regulating the conduct of citizens in certain directions, we have seemingly been blind to the dangers arising from the wanton, systematic and outrageous abuse of the privileges of free speech and a free press.”

     All this is quite true, but it is of course hard to determine exactly when such men as the editor of the Times and his kidney should be transferred from the editorial office to the rock pile. Possibly a safe rule would be when a jury decides that they have not only attempted to hold a man up to public scorn and hatred by false allegations, but did so knowing that the allegations were false at the time of utterance.
     I reproduce in this issue two cartoons from the Times that have appeared since the assassination, which would probably land the editor behind the bars if a law of this nature was now in force. It will be noticed that he classifies Socialists, with convicts, anarchists and the insane. All know the feeling in this country, and it is perfectly well founded and justified, against anarchists. They are a pestilential nuisance and nobody more than the Socialist wishes them out of the way. When now the Times classifies Socialists with such outcasts it is maliciously and deliberately endeavoring to incite the ignorant to acts of violence against Socialists. I say maliciously because, although the editor of the Times is ignorant of most things, still he has been informed repeatedly to my own personal knowledge as to the aims of Socialists and he himself is allowed the privilege of a personal acquaintance of a number of men of wealth and position like myself who are avowed Socialists. It is readily admitted that the effect of his cartoons and editorials is just opposite that intended, inasmuch as the animus is too apparent, but the intent is there just the [11][12] same and it is the intent that is to be considered.
     When an editor deliberately, repeatedly and maliciously endeavors to incite his readers to acts of violence against men whom he knows represent the intelligence and morality of his own community, there may be a certain truth in his contention that the liberty of the press is being abused.
     No one to-day is howling more than the Times against Mr. Hearst, alleging that the cartoons in his paper led to the assassination of McKinley. I would like to know what the editor of the Times would say in justification of himself if some weak-minded person should be led by his own cartoons to assassinate a Socialist? Of course the editor would be glad of it, but he would no more dare to say so than do the avowed anarchist editors dare rejoice at the assassination of McKinley.
     If Hearst can be blamed for inciting to assassination then the editor of the Times can also be equally blamed.
     If there is one paper in this country worthy of suppression it is the Los Angeles Times. A paper that not only finds comfort in the assassination of McKinley for the reason that “perhaps some terrible shock was needed,” but that has ever since that event repeatedly approved of the tactics of the anarchists by actions speaking far louder than words.



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