Jammed into New Lecture Hall to hear a debate on the Barnes Bill, close to 1,000 persons roared, stamped, and cheered last night as Kirtley F. Mather, professor of Geology, keelhauled the proposed anti-Communist legislation and told the bill's author to start rounding up subversive elements with laws already on the statute books.
The crowd, obviously and enthusiastically partisan from the beginning, enjoyed Mather's attack and made the job of Attorney General Barnes difficult during later stages of the debate by frequent jeering.
The largest part of the crowd were students from the University and Radcliffe, but there was a heavy sprinkling of Faculty members, as well as small groups of interested townsfolk. Almost without exception, they joined in the general disapproval of the Barnes bill.
The two men failed to agree on Barnes' major premise that the bill is not a "thought control" measure and split thereafter on each issue as it arose-from the relative danger of teaching Communistic doctrines to their differing historical analogies.
Mather, in his main speech and a single rebuttal, scored the bill as loosely worded and essentially totalitarian. He claimed that Communistic ideologies "cannot be defeated by threats of prison terms and heavy fines."
"They cannot work where men are free to face the facts," he declared.
During the course of his main speech and two rebuttals, Barnes insisted that Communists cannot teach or speak without distorting facts and that he could see no good "in permitting a teacher of youth to one whose life is devoted to concealment and distortion of truth, whose aim is the subjugation of mankind to a ruthless dictatorship."
Asserting that "educational institutions are probably second only to labor unions as prime objectives for Communist infiltration," the Attorney General said "this bill places no prohibition against the teachings of any subject or of any doctrine . . . it merely forbids the employment of teachers who are committed to a program of lies, deceits, and treachery."