MARCH 24, 1941
WASHINGTON, Sunday—Hidden away on the middle pages of the New York Times this morning were two items which I feel should be brought to the attention of as many people as possible in this country.
One, a very small item on an inside page, told us that Mr. Hugh H. Bennett, Chief of the Soil Conservation Service, estimated that because of soil erosion 45 percent of our water supply now conserved by dams, would be completely wiped out in a hundred years. A hundred years may seem a long time, but it passes quickly.
However, it does give us an opportunity to prevent anything of this kind happening in this country. Every person should watch soil erosion in his vicinity and insist that it be prevented by a government project. Our water supply must be preserved for future generations. Industrial and agricultural development depend on it. When we have progressed to the point of knowing what we should do, it will be nothing short of criminal if we do not do it.
The second item was given a somewhat more prominent position, and perhaps everyone was as shocked by it as I was, but it may be that they did not read the full story. The time has passed, I think, when in any prison in our nation, whether controlled by local, state or federal government, any crime should be punished by lashes given by the warden on the prisoner's bare back. It savors too much of concentration camps in countries which we do not wish to use an an example. This lashing was done in the presence of 75 people and the press reported how each man took it.
I felt as though I was reading about the days of Henry VIII, in England, when people went to public whippings and hangings. The men were to serve a five year term in any case for the crime or theft which they had committed.
Not just the prisoners are affected by lashings. I remember walking around a state prison in another state with a man who carried a long horse whip. All the time, as I looked at him, I shuddered at the thought that he should have control over any other human being. Complete power over others is not good for any of us, but with the right to use a whip it is almost sure to degrade. Let us look into the laws of our communities to find out what they are, because such laws as this do not serve to rehabilitate prisoners or prepare them for a return to society as better men.
Another beautiful day and a ride this morning. Just being out makes one thankful to be alive.