Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/87

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{{rh|Needed Joke

Legislation — from

the Consumer's

Standpoint To the Editor of the Green Bag: This mature jest will be found in John Timbs, N. A., "Century of Anecdote," and its dates back many many years ago in England: A justice of the peace was holding court in a little Missouri town. One of the attending counsel held against him an old grudge. While the justice was delivering an opinion he was inter rupted by the braying of a jackass without. "What noise is that?" shouted the justice, full of suspicion that the unfriendly attorney was put ting up a job on him. "It is only the echo of the court, your honor," said the attorney, smiling. Not in the least disconcerted, the justice resumed his delivery. Soon, however, the attorney inter posed with technical objections, just as the jack brayed again. "Hold on!" retorted the retaliating justice: "one at a time, if you please." — TheGreen Bag. This also is a jest of many varieties, almost infinite : "Did youse git anything?" whispered the burglar on guard as his pal emerged from the window. "Naw, de bloke wot lives here is a lawyer," replied the other in disgust. "Dat's hard luck," said the first, "did youse lose anything?" — Ohio State Journal. I love a classic be it like ale, either new or old. W. M. R. NO ARTICLE of trade suffers more keenly from the evils of unchecked, lawless competition than the joke. As a staple article, necessarily manufactured in great quantities to meet the enormous demand of the American people for the cheapest form of aesthetic enjoyment, it is produced under conditions which afford an extreme example of laisserfaire, and in no other field of modern industry is the consumer more exposed to the dangers of adulteration and fraud. Under the common law, the rule of caveat emptor has hitherto governed this traffic, and there is no implied warranty on the part of the joker to protect pur chasers. If every joke-manufacturer could be compelled by statute to guaran tee the soundness of his product, and could be sued for attempting to pass off

worthless wares on overcredulous pur chasers, the benefit to the national digestion could hardly be overstated. The analogy of the federal Pure Food and Drugs Act suggests similar legis lation with respect to this industry. By virtue of the same authority under which it regulates the interstate traffic in food, Congress might also regulate that in jokes, compelling jesters to label each joke plainly with a statement of its ingredients and providing severe penalties for misbranding. Such legis lation would enable the public to tell just what it is getting, but as a con siderable proportion of the public is content with an adulterated product and would willingly continue to devour decayed jokes to gratify its appetite and to save its purse, a Pure Jokes Act would have to be cast in drastic form to banish deleterious commodities from the market. Personally we are in sympathy with the idea of an oppressive Pure Jokes Act, as such pampering would not injure the editorial stomach, but we do not presume to speak as the mouth piece of the less sophisticated digestions of the mass of our countrymen. As this drastic reform could hardly be ac complished in toto at a stroke, perhaps there is some hope of the feasibility of making a beginning along the lines of cold storage acts. We would not pro hibit jokes being kept in cold storage, to protect them from the decay to which everything human is rightfully heir, for stale jokes may share good staying quali ties with eggs, and may help to tide over lean seasons. But every joke has in it the seeds of mortality, and a joke of