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Summer has gone and the Beacon Hill red-hunt is on again. Like Rosie, the bloodhound with five hundred recaptured convicts to her credit, the state senators and representatives never give up the chase. Fortunately, they have not had Rosie's success.
The red-baiters tried last year with a spate of bills, all of which ended up tucked away in a committee file. But with the coming of Fall, the seasonal outcry against The Great Conspiracy forced at least two of them out in the open again. The Ober Law has gone through the House and now lies before the Senate; the Dorgon-McCarthy Bill is still in the House.
Both bills forbid teaching the overthrow of the United States in general and the Commonwealth in particular. Both involve careless investigating methods and high penalties.
However, they would not phase any espionage ring that might be operating in Massachusetts. They would not even work against the Communist Party's public mouthpieces who would use the martyr aspect of any prosecution for all it was worth.
Instead these bills would produce a long string of indictments against loyal men, who, for reasons of clear insight or unusual political views, disagree vocally with the super-patriots' orthodoxy. The freedom of speech which Massachusetts legislators extoll so floridly would become modified beyond recognition.
The Ober and Dorgon-McCarthy bills are not produced by cynics like Wisconsin's Senator McCarthy. Their authors are confused men who cannot quite figure out where the menace is coming from. All criticism looks like danger to them, and the louder the criticism the greater the danger.
There is an opposition to this line of thought in the State House. This group figures on scuttling the bills by provoking disagreements between the Senate and the House. If their plan is successful, the legislative session will end before the bickering does. This is fine strategy, but there should not be any need for it. The legislation's defects are so obvious that its defeat should be a matter of routine.