A Covert Attack on the Freedom of the Press
There is no longer any
doubt that under the pretext of suppressing anarchy, the pluto-imperialists
in Congress are aiming a blow intended to suppress 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 of the rights of the States for Congress to legislate
on the subject at all, so far as its legislation supercedes existing
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 line 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, Socialist or other independent
journal is anarchy. How the injuncting judges will decide is a foreordained