The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, June 01, 1899, Image 9
FREEDOM OP SPEECH AND OP THE PRESS 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.