A Covert Attack on the Freedom of the Press
There is no longer any
doubt that under the pretext of suppre[s]sing anarchy, the pluto-imperialists
in Congress are aiming a blow intended to [sup]press only those
papers which oppose their plans.
A murderer of the President, or of
anybody else, deserves death, and so do his aiders and abettors.
Ample laws to this effect already exist in every State, and it is
difficult to perceive how the penalty could be increased. Besides,
it is a violation o[f] the rights of the States for Congress to
legislate on the subject at all, so far as its legislation su[p]ercedes
existing State laws.
To tell the truth about it, and as
every man of sense well knows, there is no law that can restrain
a man fanatic from assassinating a President when he has made up
his mind to it and finds an opportunity. McKinley said so; Hanna
said so; Roosevelt acts so.
Why then all this hue and cry in Congress
about Czolgosz and anarchy? Of course it is insincere, but what
is it for? It is a campaign device of the most demagogical character
and is expected to accomplish three purposes: 1. To prove the necessity
for a strong imperial government. 2. To divert attention from trust
legislation, which is to be smuggled through during the hellaballoo
[sic]. 3. To suppress the independent press.
The bill which is now looked upon
with most favor is one which creates three crimes, and provides
for their punishment. The first is assassinating or attempting to
assassinate the President and others; the second, advising and encouraging
the same; the third is creating the crime of anarchy, the punishment
of which is penitentiary imprisonment from three to ten years.
With regard to the first two crimes,
the law is well settled and there is no difficulty in defining them.
But what is anarchy? How will that be defined to bring it within
the category of crime? Every proposed change in government is a
destruction of government, or anarchy, to that extent. It is impossible
to draw a [l]ine on the overt act. It varies in degree, just as
intoxication varies in degree from the exhilaration of the first
glass to beastly drunkenness. But then anarchy is to be punished
as an expressed opinion without any overt act. This complicates
the thing immensely. But this complication is precisely what the
imperialists want. They will leave it to the judges to decide in
every particular case whether a sentence or a paragraph in a Populist,
S[o]cialist or other independent journal is anarchy. How the injuncting
judges will decide is a foreordained certainty.