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(Original essay by Albert Jay Nock...)

"While in Europe last year I read the newspaper account of a rather commonplace and squalid drama of passion that ended in tragedy. A petty nobleman's young mistress had become difficult and exacting; he discarded her; she tried to force herself into his house for an interview that he had refused her; his servants called the police; she barricaded herself in a room and opened fire; the police returned the fire and she was killed.

What first would strike the American eye was that the nobleman did not appear in the incident at all, even as a material witness. The second striking thing was the extremely matter-of-fact way that the incident was reported by the press. There was no "slant" implying any moral rebuke of the relations between the two principals involved in the affair. The papers spoke of the young lady as the nobleman's amie with no more play to a sensitive public sentiment than if she were his housemaid, his niece, or his grandmother. They simply registered the fact of her status ad hoc as impersonally as if they had been listing the particulars of a tax report. Nor did they imply by any indulgence in what we call sob-stuff that the lady had gained any rights over the nobleman. in virtue of their peculiar relationship, or that the nobleman had lost any rights. In the hundreds of newspaper items that I have read concerning incidents where irregular sex-relations figured I have never yet encountered one that deviated from this pattern.

We all know what would have happened in the United States in a case like the one I have cited. We know what our press would have made of it. If instead of running amuck the lady had sought the courts, we know what the courts would have made of it; also what an uneasy and prurient "moral sentiment," appropriately stimulated, would have made of it. Barring an inconceivably rank and stupid mismanagement of her advantage, she would have been set up for life, what with offers of marriage, movie contracts, magazine rights and book-rights to the story of her life, and so on. The casual reading of our daily press must indeed suggest to any reflective person that about the surest way for a personable young woman to reach wealth and distinction in America is by such judicious adulteries and fornications as may best give substance to blackmail..."


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