The Unfortunate Czolgosz
A Cleveland dispatch says that Michael
Czolgosz, the brother of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President
McKinley, visited a Cleveland newspaper office the other day and
threatened to slaughter the city editor and the entire staff of
reporters unless the paper refrained from continually putting him
in the limelight as the brother of an assassin. There is nothing
in the records to show that Michael Czolgosz is not a decent, reputable
citizen. It was his great misfortune, and by no means his fault,
that his brother was an assassin.
It must be said that he adopted a
violent method of expressing his disapproval of the publicity given
him. It is a method that usually results in more publicity, for
the average newspaper man is so accustomed to demonstrations of
that kind that he pays no attention whatever to them. But some allowance
must be made for Czolgosz’s exasperation. Wholly without fault on
his part, if we read the record right, he was being subjected to
what can only be described as persecution by the newspaper he visited.
Czolgosz should have made his request in a more reasonable manner,
but for all we know he has made reasonable protests.
He is without recourse in law. If
a newspaper wants to mention his name every day, and to say every
day that he is the brother of a man who was electrocuted for assassinating
a president of the United States, he cannot sue the paper for libel,
for the statement is true. The man’s very helplessness should appeal
to the newspapers. Should he be made a vicarious sacrifice for his
brother’s crime, especially as the brother long since paid the penalty?
We think not.
The old, old law, says that the sins
of the fathers shall be visited upon the children, and it is just
as true that when one member of a family becomes a criminal all
the members of his family, however innocent, are doomed to suffer.
Michael Czolgosz is one of these innocent victims. In common decency
he ought to be left to suffer, as suffer he always must, outside
of the fierce light of publicity. As long as he is obedient to the
laws of the land, as long as he remains a decent citizen, he is
at least entitled to the rights usually accorded to other citizens.