1917 May 12
Editorial in the Arkansas Democrat criticizing parts of the 1917 Espionage Bill for threatening the freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
THE ADMINISTRATION IS DEFEATED.
Public opinion throughout the United States, crystalizing
rapidly since the house of representatives rejected the orginal
press censorship provision of the administration's spy bill, reached
a climax Saturday in the Senate when the entire censorship pro-
vision was stricken out and efforts to amend the bill to allow even
a moderate throttling of the press of the nation was killed.
As was said by certain of the senators, it was not a fight to
grant special privileges to newspapers, but it was a battle being
waged for the protection of the people of the nation who were
tguaranteed by the constitution of the United States a free press
and the right of free speech.
The animosity of certain senators and representatives in
Congress toward the newspapers of the country is easily under-
stood. The newspapers have had the courage to show up the lit-
tleness and the pig headedness of these small calibre politicians.
Seeking revenge, these politicians are trying to throttle the press
so that no criticism of their actions can be published.
If the administration at Washington or any of the officials
working under the administration provide impure food for the
soldiers to eat, if they send the American troops to merciless
slaughter, if any other acts of the administration leaders or their
subordinates result in injury to the lives or property of Amer-
icans, the American people are entitled to know it.
Incompetency should be criticised during times of war even
more than during times of peace. Incompetency in power in war
also grows into oppression in times of peace.
The people of the country are also entitled to such news as
does not amount to information of actual military value to an
Seeing that they were losing their fight to throttle the news-
papers of the country by a censorship, certain administration
leaders have now put into Congress a heavy tax provision aimed
at the newspapers of the country.
They propose to tax the newspapers 5 per cent on all their
advertising collectionws, which would force many of the papers of
the country out of business.
Why didn't the administration leaders place the same tax
on magazines? The big magazines of the country make enor-
mous profits. Yet they were kindly overlooked by the politicians
in their war tax bill. Why? Probably because the magazines
have not been giving the politicians any trouble.
The administration plunges a sword into the hearts of the
newspapers and at the same time smilingly asks the newspapers
to kindly co-coperate.
The newspapers are going to do all they can to help the na-
tions, as they have done in the past, they are willing to stand
their part of a reasonable tax.
But if the administration at Washington succeeds in putting
the newspapers out of business, either by censorship oroppressive
taxation, the newspapers will go out fighting for the constitution-
al rights of the people.
World War I, 1914-1918; Freedom of speech; Sedition
MFILM NEWS 000432 Roll 85
Newspaper microfilm collection
Arkansas State Archives
"The Administration is Defeated," Arkansas Democrat, May 12, 1917, Newspaper microfilm collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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