Dorgan's Red Bill

Thomas Dorgan, Superior Civil Court Clerk, and State Senator Paul McCarthy, those relentless patriots, are at it again. Since 1949, they have pleaded with increasing vigor for a bill to safeguard Massachusetts' colleges from the threat of Communism. Their hopes renewed with the coming of spring, they are now sponsoring Senate Bill 1820, which differs little from their former efforts.

The 1953 version of the old bill declares hazily that presidents of universities and college should find and expell Communists and Communist sympathizers. There is no mention of the two inevitable difficulties--what constitutes a Red or a Pink, and, that decided, how to find him.

Strictly enforced, the sweeping terms of the bill could well lead to Gestapo-like investigations of all professed liberals. And when the implication points ultimately to the presidents, as leaders, not only the individual suspect, but the whole institution, suffers.

Since police state investigations have not yet found wide spread approval in America, the bill seems designed only to satisfy the political consciences of its sponsors. If it passes, the legislators can sit back on their haunches, content that their state, at least, does not legally harbor Communism. But "I Told You So" legislation, satisfying as it is to its backers, has little positive value.

Now before the Constitutional Laws Committee, the bill must pass from there to the Rules Committee, and then to the Senate floor. A hearing before the Constitutional Committee, and another in open forum have pushed Senate Bill 1820 no nearer Rules. Once there it will meet stiff opposition, for, in the past, Rules has served as a gigantic circular file for anti-subversive legislation. Although its chance of passing is unpredictable, there is no doubt about its effects.