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To every one of the infinite variety of organizations that submerged their differences and pooled their resources in the common cause of repealing the Teachers' Oath Law, Governor Hurley's veto comes as a bitter disappointment. But the appalling thing about the defeat is not so much the Governor's action, which might have been expected, but the message which he sent back to the General Court along with the unsigned repeal. It is appalling as a revelation of the state of mind of the governor of the Commonwealth.
Everything that could possibly be dragged out and hauled into the discussion has been said in connection with the Oath. On occasions both sides have displayed quiet and mature judgment and scholarly interpretation, as for instance Professor Morison's testimony before the legislative committee; and at other times the dead cats have been sailing across the Gardner Auditorium with passion and fury. Nothing more can be added in either direction.
But despite his genuine sympathy with the cause of teaching, Governor Hurley has fallen victim to the benighted belief that the clammy hand of authority can root out radical thinking. No authority under the sun possess the power to root out any thinking, whether it be radical or reactionary. Authorities in the Middle Ages tried to root out heresy, only to see it spread like wildfire. The sole force that can root out erroneous thinking is the ultra-violet ray of truth. For "the vicious minorities whose motives are inimical to. . . the principles on which the Republic was founded" will never be shackled by a teachers' oath. These minorities are the heretics of today. And the Governor has decreed that we are afraid of heresy. It is an appalling state of mind.
Repeal is dead for a year at least. Many thoughtful people would prefer to let the law stand, rather than suffer the baptism by fire of the public debate. This is an unnecessary retreat, however, directed by considerations of the moment. A number of the legislators who led the fight against repeal last year no longer live on the public payroll. And it is to be hoped that those who fought the good fight will carry on, and let the next assault go over the top to trimuph.
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