Publication information

Southern Mercury
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “A Covert Attack on the Freedom of the Press”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Dallas, Texas
Date of publication: 2 January 1902
Volume number: 22
Issue number: 1
Pagination: 13

“A Covert Attack on the Freedom of the Press.” Southern Mercury 2 Jan. 1902 v22n1: p. 13.
full text
anarchism (government response: criticism); anarchism (laws against); the press (freedom of).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Marcus Hanna; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.

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 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 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 certainty.