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Legal attempts to reduce human affairs to the common denominator of justice are commendable in principle but occasionally laughable in practice. In a neighboring state, the Attorney Ceneral prosecuting a liquor case rhetorically asks, "Who is stronger, the bootleg ring or the state of Rhode Island?" only to have the jury return a verdict of not guilty. And to pitch the question on a more adventurous plane, even now a governmental quibble arises concerning payment of duty on pictures taken by Byrd at the North Pole. Thus does the energy and initiative of aerial explorers whittle down to $12 due the customs authorities.
If the North Pole by virtue of two hasty visits a quarter century apart is American territory, the photographs will be admitted free of charge. On the other hand if ice and snow are rather too elusive to be land, the top of the world may not be exempt from a republican tariff. Although these questions agitate men who have probably never seen an iceberg, the polar bears may no doubt be permitted a yawn. That a sliding scale of import duties can have a vital effect on denizens of the slippery north seems unlikely. Even the Eskimos do not appear to be lobbying in congressional haunts.
While lawyers wrangle over past romances, adventurous spirits still persist in creating complications. If precedent be followed, the Wilkins expedition will cause a dispute over the ownership of further frigid patches of the Arctic ocean.
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