Monday, June 6, 2016

Would Legalize Lynching: October 29, 1901

Today's article comes to us through the pages of The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah) dated October 29, 1901:


PROBABLY THE MOST unique and startling remedy that has been suggested for the lynching evil in the south is one which appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Its author is one Edwin Lehman Johnson, a Memphis merchant, who would do well to devote all his time to buying and selling goods instead of perplexing his brain with questions of social reform.

Mr. Johnson's plan of campaign against the evils of lynching is to make lynching legal. He would "enact a lynch law which will permit to be done legally, in a modified form, with certain safeguards and without barbaric accompaniment and degrading publicity," just what is now performed by mobs. Then, and then alone, he says, will the state be able to escape the disgrace of the unlawful and brutalizing conduct of mobs.

He fears, however, that the state constitution might make such a law invalid, but he adds that this could be easily remedied by changing the constitution. If the federal constitution still stands in the way, he would have that fixed up also.

Mr. Johnson's proposition is important only as showing the vagaries of the human mind when it is driven into new channels of thought. Probably in the matter of buying and selling goods Mr. Johnson would display as hard sense as anyone, but he certainly isn't equipped with a mental apparatus that warrants him in taking up the study of social reform.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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