The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, June 01, 1899, Image 9

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laugh, and the American who is at a loss for something to laugh
at need only to subscribe for Puck, Judge or Life, or read " In
nocents Abroad."
When impersonal material is lacking we often have well-known
individuals and institutions appearing in the caricatures and car
toons of our magazines. The people must laugh at something,
and often the things, which should be thought of only with re
spect and pride, are so represented and described that the public
mind thinks and speaks lightly or even disrepectfully of them.
The cartoon is a deadly weapon. Its victim cannot defend him
self; he can have no redress and appears only more humble and
ludicrous in the public eye by raising a protest to the unspoken
slander which can thus be declared against him. The people can
very well sacrifice the entertainment of the cartoon and the good
that sometimes comes from it because its use is abused, and is often
a source of evil to the individual and the country. Bills to forbid
the publication of newspaper portraits have been introduced into
the legislatures of several states. The legislature of California
has prohibited the printing of any portrait of a citizen of Califor
nia, except a public official, without his consent. The publication
of any caricature which purposely reflects on the honor, dignity,
or political motives of the original, or holds him up to public
hatred, ridicule, or contempt is also prohibited. This action is
very timely for the newspapers of every state are filled with slan
derous cartoons. The public should realize that the humorous
department of the press has gone too far. For
" Laughter, though never censured yet as sin,
Is half immoral, be it much indulged;
By venting spleen or dissipating thought
It shows a scorner, or it makes a fool,
And sins, as hurting others or ourselves."
The recent recital of " Hoch, der Kaiser " at a New York
gathering by the Commander of the Cruiser Raleigh, has attracted
much attention in Europe as well as in the United States. After
a hearty laugh, the thoughtful American must appreciate the fact
that the government cannot tolerate our expression of humor and
ridicule if victims enough cannot be found in our own land. It is our
disposition to laugh when men or things appear ridiculous, and
we are apt to say very plainly what we think. But the public
demonstration of our mirth is to be condemned when for a hearty
laugh we would arouse the enmity of a friendly foreign power.