Page images

Super-pure; Super-wise


H. H. Broach

A short talk made before a Central
labor union.

Since you have asked my view about the proposals just discussed by your legislative committee, let me briefly say this: All peanut souls in the world, all preachers who have forgotten their Master's immortal example, all old maids who never felt young love's emotion, seem to be rushing to state legislatures to slam upon the statute books obnoxious laws regulating not only private conduct, but private thought and private emotion. To see these silly and comical old women scramble to the lawmakers with their eyes averted from life, and life's stern facts, were to be overcome with amusement, if they weren't so dangerous. But the spasm of regulation of private lives is not new. It has been tried before, and always with poor results. Regulating people in the way mentioned here, has never succeeded and never will succeed. It is senseless, cruel, and debasing. It marks off the vale of petty souls and trifling minds. It seeks to make the rule of fear supreme. You simply cannot, it should be known, force people to accept your code of conduct or to think your way; but you can make liars and hypocrites and law breakers by the millions.

Regulation of private morals by law has a parallel in the labor world in regulation by injunction, which is not law at all. Each is an effort to elevate individual prejudice, individual motive, individual misinformation to the level of universal law. And the pity, of course, is that all this mania for regulating the conduct of people is not done out of a belief in human nature, but out of a hatred and contempt for it. It is sponsored by men and women who, looking within their own minds, have found so much that is base, and mean, and rotten, that they are afraid of themselves. They are like the tough guy, who doesn't dare live with himself. This, to be sure, they do not admit. To the world, they are not only super-wise but super-pure. They would create a race of toy men to live in sanitary, airtight show-cases. They in reality hate human beings, as they are aspiring and erring, desirous and frail. They don't trust men and women to learn by experience, because they can't trust themselves.

So we have the pitiable spectacle of an Arkansas legislature enacting a law making it possible to imprison a teacher who tells her pupils a disagreeable truth about American history. So in Utah we find a drastic smoking-in-public-law. The New York legislature has been asked to consider a "clean book bill" designed to eliminate all books that do not suit the taste of Tom, Dick, and Harry, Mrs. Grundy, or George F. Babbitt. All of us know to what silly lengths the movie censors are going in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania and other states. In Ohio, a board of censors would not let the International News Service say of Debs : "Leaving the White House after telling President Harding he has not changed his mind.” And in Kentucky, as in other states, there is an effort to keep the facts of science from school children by passing anti-evolution laws.

Of course these super-wise and super-pure would-be dictators of the universe pretend that their campaign is for the protection of the young, but why don't they allow the parents to do that? It's like an old maid trying to tell a mother how to rear her children.

Such regulation has never succeeded, and never can succeed, for it is a disease like measles, a symptom of a prevalent fear psychology born when a ruling class feels itself slipping. It is likely to mark a spell of darkness before dawn!

Injunction Mad


H. H. Broach

From an address given before a public
mass meeting.

What, I may first ask, could be considered a more complete mockery of justice than one man—a judge-ordaining what other men shall and shall not do, not as regards crimes, but as regards their own lives—this in spite of the fact that the labor injunction is not law, it is not an instrument of the people, it not taken out of the books wherein are written the enactments of lawmaking bodies.

An injunction is simply and only judge-made law--simply an order issued by a judge forbidding you to do the things which you have a lawful right to do, and directing you to do other things which you have a lawful right to refuse to do. And if you refuse to respect the command of the judge, which is the modern equivalent of the command of a king, you are held for contempt of court, and the judge, the same as the kings of old, says what your punishment shall be and then sees that his sentence is executed all of this in spite of the fact that when the judge issues his injunction, he himself is in contempt of the constitution which was drafted to protect you against one-man law, judge-made law.

Some twenty-five hundred years ago there was a king, known as Darius, who ruled over the Medes and Persians. Darius was clothed with absolute power, the same as our present day American judges. He claimed, as all kings claimed, that his right to rule was a divine right. All the people under him were slaves. What he said was law, just as we now find that what a judge says is law. Darius could and did imprison at will, and the same is now true of the injunction judges of America. There is absolutely no difference, not the slightest. If you marry, visit, write or talk to your sweetheart when the judge tells you not to, you go to jail, as was demonstrated a few days ago over in Kentucky. If you walk down certain streets, you go to jail. If you even speak to certain people, you go to jail. If you discuss certain grievances with members of your own family in your own home, you go to jail. If you send food or money at certain times to your blood brother and his family, you go to jail. If you are a barber and refuse to shave strike breakers, no matter how vulgar or dirty they may be, you go to jail. In short, matters are now so arranged that if you are a wage worker and do anything but merely exist, you go to jailif you are caught.

“But this is riciulous," some of you citizens may say. But it is all too true the facts have been burned into our hearts; we know, we have felt, and we have suffered, and we have learned that there is apparently no field of human activity in which the injunction cannot be used, and is being used, to destroy and set aside guaranteed rights—rights that the statutes of the land say that we have.

Of course it is utterly impossible to enforce many of these silly and senseless, but frequently vicious orders of judges, and they often defeat their own purpose, but the intent is therethe overhanging danger, the increasing danger is always there. And never was the injunction craze so general. Never was it applied in so many varying and vicious ways to labor unions as it is being applied today, and never did labor find itself at the mercy of so much judge-made law as today. The moment fair play and conference fail, an obliging judge can always be found who is willing to step in with his sweeping injunction to achieve the object that unscrupulous employers cannot accomplish on the economic battlefield. The injunction has been a union-wrecking agency since 1830, and at present a more ridiculous spectacle can not be imagined than the federal judges of the country, with a few striking exceptions, being lined up as they are, like a rank of loyal soldiers falling over themselves issuing injunctions against, and jailing the railroad workers and others in a mad struggle to uphold "law and order.” Many of these willing tools, as in the case of Judge Skinner at Augusta, Georgia, wrote out their decisions even before holding any hearings and before the presentation of any evidence whatsoever in the case. This in free America.

Now I do not want the impression to prevail that we ask immunity for any man who may be guilty of any unlawful or criminal act; but what we do insist upon is that when a working man is charged with unlawful conduct, he be tried by due process of law and before a jury of his peers, the same as any other citizen of our country—not by a prejudiced, whimsical and malicious judge who assumes the role of judge, jury, and executioner at the one and same time—a judge who is an appointee of a political boss, and who, prior to reaching the bench, was for years the trusted and highly paid representative of the railroads, the banks, the corporations and privileged interests.

And let me briefly show you how it all works out: a judge hands down a decision; a man dares criticize or disregard it; he is hauled before the judge for "contempt of court”; he is tried, not by a jury, but by the judge himself; the judge is the “aggrieved" party. It is his "honor and dignity" that have been offended; it is his decision that has been criticised and violated. The judge is human, his feelings have been aroused, his vanity has been wounded. He now has a keen personal interest in the case, because his judgment and fairness have been questioned, which personal interest makes it practically impossible for him to be impartial. You might just as well allow the victim of a thug to try, convict and sentence his attacker. So it is no wonder that the judge has his helpless victim hauled away to jail for "contempt of court"; and it is this disgraceful, most infamous and damnable practice that we union people so bitterly condemn. You may say that our language is too strong, but I want to tell you that I am at a loss for language to express my genuine contempt for all such brutal, conceited, and corporation-owned judges.

The root of the matter is simply this: practically all judges are corporation lawyers in fact or by aspiration-corporation lawyers before becoming judges, corporation lawyers while they remain judges, and hoping to be corporation lawyers when they cease to be judges. And nowhere is the power given them, either in the constitution or by any statute of the land—to send anyone to jail without a trial and conviction by a jury. They have simply usurped and stolen the power to do so, the same as their colleagues on the supreme bench have usurped and stolen the power to declare all laws "unconstitutional" which are not in accord with their political or economic views. The proposal, therefore, that has been made here today to investigate the record of, and impeach the judge that has handed down the present injunction, is all poppy-cock. It would do no good. Another one would simply take his place. There are hundreds of other judges of the same breed with corporation-worshipping souls. The thing to do and the only thing—is to cease regarding “our” judges as sacred cows, to ignore as much as possible their vicious and liberty-destroying injunctions, and carry on a campaign to have congress enact legislation that will positively strip them of the stolen powers they now wield like ignorant, merciless and drunken aristocrats.

If this is not done, if we are going to allow these irresponsible, labor-hating judges to go right on violating the laws of the land and stealing our boasted, "guaranteed” rights, then let's be honest about it and admit that the theory of the American government—that it is a government by law of the people is all wrong. And let's burn all the law books, forget every fundamental right, custom and guarantee, and make every policeman a process-server for the injunction judges and be done with it.

« PreviousContinue »