10 MARCH 1928, Page 27

The Morals of Youth

Thi_Revolt of Modern Youth. By Judge Ben B. Lindsey id -Wainwright Evans. (Brentanos. 12s. ad.) 4,11 accurate, we would ask, for the publishers to state tat; tips: book was first published in 1928 ? We read the beck ourselves some two years ago. Would that it had bilk ptilAished earlier in England, for it is in every way anitnportiiit and -thought-compelling book. - • Let ma hive that too mush Will not be ninde of the moral laxity which it disclose its existing among American boys and girls.

. The United States is a big country, and although Judge

• y, -in his Juvenile Court at Denver, claims to .represent

average, it is obvious that the young people coming befoie

',would be those who for one reason or another had departed. frai normal standards. Here is the problem as stated VO 11.7 NW, 0:11{ary,a beauty-of' wenty,tWo years_nidc siiiiiiknklktis and a manner that did not lack for abanraneV* She was living with young Bill Riggs. " why don't you marry him-? " asked the Judge.

" He wants me to. He is crazy about me," answered Mary, f" but I am not 'sure that I want to marry him. haven 't any too much confidence in Bill's capacity. Why, I am earning more than he is right now." Later, the Judge urged her

again to marry. .

",I am disgusted with Bill," she replied. " He is no good. He has been working a long time now, and yet he is only :Making 80 dollars a month as a soda clerk, while I am making 150 dollars a month and without much effort at that; ' -Marry him ? I guess .not. Imagine me on 80 dollars a month-i- perhaps with a -baby.' • Now Mary is not of the demi:monde, Judge Lindsey tells ,us. She is the daughter of a prosperous Denver business "the gaini-ditiighter of another Mini to diAtinginshea that his reputation it _fiatibnal . . The story ,of Mary," he continues, " teaches . a good- many things, including the fact that persons who cry that the youth of this day is marry- ing in haste don't know what they are talking about. Also that, the conspiracy _of silence is not working. Sex is simply a biological fact. It is as much so as the appetite for food. Like the, appetite for food, it is neither legal nor illegal, moral nor immoral. Sex hunger, like food hunger, should be governed and controlled not by legal fiat and moral compulsion, but by the wisdom, commonsense, self-control and good taste of the individual:" Thus judge Lindsey. He believes in marriage, but he admits that it should mean the love of one . man for one woman in a harmony of companionship7-" if I may speak personally, as perfect as that which I have always had with my own wife." The Marys whom he has had to deal with in his Juvenile Court of Denver are engaged in altering our defective marriage code for their own protection. They realize, according to the JUdge, that the marriage contract as it stands to-day is a . thing quite as likely to enslave or destroy them as to protect. They are not .rejecting Marriage, but they have a clear intention to loOk out for their own safety, and they refuse to be anybody's property. Hence the Companionate Marriage of which we hear so much in the

United States. -

The sex instinct is the . most violent that the human race knows., It has liriritless potentialities for good and evil, and it is no exaggeration to say that the situation with which we are confronted, as regards the relationship between the sexes, is new and entirely unparalleled in the history of the world. . Contraceptives have emancipated women from the penalties which have been theirs throughout the ages. How will they use this new-found freedom ? Is it a curse or a blessing ? Into the consideration of such questions we must be careful to import as little prejudice and emotion as possible. But we certainly cannot solve. the matter by shutting our eyes to the facts. ," Something is gtiing to happen to the Marriage Code," says Judge Lindsey. " I see no escape frOm

this conclusion, nor do I see any reason to believe, many do, that such a prospect sounds the doom of human society." We agree with that, at any rate. It is preposterous to suppose that any knowledge, however dangerous, can wreck us if we face the facts with faith and courage.

There is as much irresponsibility in a rigorous and hide- bound marriage code as there is in a more flexible system. Human beings cannot live without freedom. " If we can't take, a chance on the ability of the human race to survive under conditions of freedom and to accept the responsibilities Of living with no other restraints than the Voluntary ones that come fromwithin, as the fruit of an educated preference, then we had better shut up shop and move to another planet." Here we cannot go the whole way with the author, :but his opinions should be read and marked : indeed, this is one of the most remarkable contributions that have been made in recent years to the social thought of our time. It is inspired by a spirit of mercy, a discerning psychology, and an immense humanity. How far do the conditions in America correspond to those of England ? Judge Lindsey says that between 40 and 50 per cent. of all boys of high-school-age have had sex- expe- rience. That surely is not true of England. ' Let us not be puffed up, however.

The suicides, the wrecked lives, the unwanted children which the records of any police court will show prove most clearly the need for such a study as Judge Lindsey has made. Are we satisfied with our present coercions and restraints ? Are they working for better health and better morals ? We gravely doubt it. There are abysses of lawless posiihilities and unguessable heights of heroism in every man and woman. The whole book ida plea for tolerance and Christian gentleness and, above all, for common sense in dealing with sexual offences. To summarize our own views 'on such an immense subject would be impossible within the limits of a review. We shall have said enough in stating that while Judge Lindsey's theories are open to question, his practice as a magistrate is excellent, and his book one that every adult on these islands should think over; without prejudice or passion.