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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/134

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

sarily persons devoid of all high motives, and hardly to be distinguished from the criminal population. But if a minority in the State is to be respected so long as it is law-abiding, its opinions are also to be respected; and to seize hold of the school-machinery of the State to inculcate opinions that are not accepted by the minority, and that tend to set the minority in a very unfavorable light, is not right or just. If every triumphant party were to seize the public schools for the inculcation of doctrines favorable to its own party interests, there would soon be an end of our public-school system. It would always be easy to invoke the name of science. If it were desired to rear a race of protectionists, it would only be necessary to claim that you were teaching the truths of political economy. The proper text-books would be prepared, and teachers, on pain of dismissal, would have to enunciate the doctrines of Henry C, Carey and Horace Greeley. And so in the days of slavery the science of ethnology might have been invoked either on the side of abolition or in defense of the slave system, according to the leaning of the majority. At this moment we have the president of a New England college recommending the majority in the several States to use their power to enforce the teaching of certain specific views of New Testament history which he is pleased to declare all competent critics have accepted.

"But," say the advocates of the teaching to which we refer, "we only wish to inculcate the real results of scientific research in regard to alcohol." To which we rejoin that, in a community like this, it is too soon to inculcate the truth, supposing you have it, if the issue is still practically open, and if large numbers of your fellow-citizens are not persuaded that what you call the truth is the truth. Minorities have their rights even when they are in the wrong, and to use a school system which the minority support to teach opinions which the latter do not believe to be true is unfair.

But there is another view of the matter. Are the advocates of such instruction prepared to have it communicated in a thoroughly non-partisan spirit? Are they prepared to have the whole truth taught, or do they want only that part of the truth which is favorable to the specific end they have in view? Are they prepared, for example, to give any fair representation to the views of those who consider that alcohol has its important uses, dietetic and social? A few years ago the "Contemporary Review" opened its columns to a discussion of the alcohol question; and we are safe in saying that there was a preponderance of opinion among the many eminent men who joined in the discussion, in favor of a moderate use of alcoholic beverages. In the August number of the "North American Review" a well known physician of this city enters a plea against the indiscriminate condemnation of narcotics and stimulants. Is all this opinion to go unrepresented when the alcohol question is introduced into the schools? Of course it must, or the specific object of the teaching would be ruined. We say, therefore, that this is not teaching science; it is harnessing science to the "temperance" cart, and driving her under instructions from "temperance" headquarters.

We need not, however, confine ourselves to general speculations as to what is likely to happen when science is made subservient to the propagation of special views, for we have an example—and a striking one—of what does happen in such a case. In a recent number of the "Boston Medical and Surgical Journal," Dr. Joseph W. Warren, assistant in physiology in the Medical School of Harvard University, gives an account of a pamphlet on the subject of "Alcoholic Liquids as Therapeutic Agents," issued by the Women's Temperance Publication Association of Chicago. This pamphlet, it is true, consists of a chapter from a larger work