MENCKEN for Monday:"The English follow the intelligent...


May 09, 1994

MENCKEN for Monday:

"The English follow the intelligent rule that while a man accused of crime is in jeopardy -- that is to say, from the moment of his indictment until final judgment is entered -- no one shall be allowed to publish a word in favor of his guilt, not even the persons who allege that he injured them or the brave cops who tracked him down, and no one shall be allowed to publish a word in favor of his innocence, not even the man himself. An indictment having been found, the question of his guilt or innocence is for the jury alone, and any discussion of it, whether pro or con, is assumed to be an effort to influence that jury's verdict, and is promptly punished by contempt of court.

"I know a great many Englishmen, including a large number of journalists . . . but not one of them, so far as I can recall, has ever argued that a right is invaded here. . . They hold that it is one of the soundest and most effective safeguards of the liberty of the subject. No Englishman may be put in peril of his life or freedom by public hullabaloo, nor may he try to raise it in his defense. Accused of crime, he gets his day, not in the newspapers or the movie . . [screen], but in court, and the whole power of the state is concentrated on giving him an absolutely impartial hearing, with no interference from public clamor."

A5 -- H. L. Mencken in The Evening Sun, May 28, 1934


"WHEN a crime is committed, the policeman feels that he has been challenged. He bends all his efforts, if he is an honest official, to bringing the criminal to justice. And it is here that the policeman and the ordinary citizen come into conflict. The policeman wants the right man; failing that, he wants any man. If the activities of policemen were not carefully restricted by law, no man or woman would be safe."

-- Mencken in The Evening Sun, July 11, 1928

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.