Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE
PART TWENTY-TWO: After a two-part examination of the newest Fool Killer Letter (CLICK HERE ) and the revelation of the vigilante’s activities in Texas in December of 1899 it’s back to looking at the 1919-1929 Fool-Killer presented by THE James Larkin Pearson.
The targets of the Fool Killer (I prefer no hyphen) in the January, 1920 issue:
*** Major newspapers which chided American Labor for bringing attention to the unscrupulous activities of the bloated rich pigs who ran the management side of America’s industries.
It’s reminiscent of today’s battles with the Robber Barons of Silicon Valley, like Mark “Skippy” Zuckerberg, Jack “White Male Privilege” Dorsey and their fellow corporate fascists at Google and elsewhere. (And check out the documentary The Creepy Line which exposes Silicon Valley fascists at their worst.)
*** Ever since aircraft were proven to be workable the fictional Fool Killer seemed to have moderated his instinctive assumptions that people trumpeting scientific breakthroughs were fools and/or liars. By 1920 if an inventor or tinkerer boasted about their amazing discoveries or devices the homicidal vigilante had shifted to a policy of investigating the claimant and their scientific breakthrough.
If the claims held up to the Fool Killer’s scrutiny he took no action. But if the claims seemed ridiculously wrong OR like a con or scam to trick people out of their money the folk figure unleashed his weaponry on the “fool” …
*** The Fool Killer investigated a recent claim from “a young feller up north in New York” (no name given) that he invented a “gas vaporizer” to replace carburetors. The young inventor claimed that his device would let your car get “ninety miles per gallon.” Since no such device ever hit the market it would seem the claimant was a con artist and was subjected to the Fool Killer’s usual brand of summary “justice.”
*** In Kansas City the roaming vigilante looked into another inventor’s claim that he had invented “an all-new type of engine” that was “sixty percent more efficient” than the engines currently in use. This, too, seems to have been a scam and the self-proclaimed inventor was dealt with.
*** The Fool Killer looked into a third and even more outrageous claim. An inventor named “Smith” (riiiiight) was boasting that he had invented magnetic motors that could run cars, trucks, street cars, trains, lighting and heating plants, etc. “Smith” claimed his technology was so easy to master that everyone would be able to produce their own power without any type of fuel.
Smith was already boasting that he had turned down an offer of ONE … MILLION … DOLLARS for his magnetic technology. He wanted more money than that. The Fool Killer launched his inquiry but – as so often with these Fool Killer items – the “hero’s” role and attitude was difficult to classify since it was equal parts reactionary AND forward-thinking.
Pearson’s Fool Killer stated he would welcome such technology IF IT WAS REAL because he saw it as part of God’s plan (yaaaawwwn) and part of the “New Millenium” in which the scientific ideas that God put in humanity’s mind could lead to a near paradise. He warned scientists not to get hubristic and think that they alone created their technological marvels.
Pearson’s Fool Killer hoped science could usher in greater safety for laborers and also make scientific comforts affordable to everyone, not just the “plutes.”
NOTE: We got no closure on this investigation. It’s tantalizing to think how this setup could have been treated if written as a story in its own right. Were the people who offered Smith $1,000,000 interested in using his technology or were they oil or coal barons or auto industry magnates trying to buy up the invention to keep it off the market and thus ensure their own businesses remained profitable? Did the magnetic motors (in this fictional context) really work or was it a ripoff?
*** The Fool Killer called out a Professor Nick Butler of Columbia for – in Pearson’s view – implying that laborers were “un-American” or “Bolshevik” for wanting better working conditions and wages. Or for complaining about management’s underhanded tactics.
*** The Fool Killer targeted religious authorities who let themselves be co-opted by politicians and the wealthy instead of standing up to politicians and the wealthy on behalf of the suffering poor.
I’ve stated in the past that Pearson’s religious attitudes annoy an atheist like me, but for once I agree with part of his religious sentiment. The Fool Killer targeted Preachers who pal’ed around with the rich and the powerful. He praised “holy men” (LMAO) who risked prison by not letting their places of worship be used to validate the actions of politicians and “plutes” as this incarnation of the Fool Killer called plutocrats.
*** As always, a LOT of space went to covering Pearson’s debates with other Christians – some socialists like him, others not – about scriptural matters that I’m neither qualified to cover nor interested in. Readers who may be religious-minded might enjoy studying those aspects of J.L. Pearson’s presentation of the Fool Killer, though.
FOR PART TWENTY-THREE CLICK HERE
I WILL EXAMINE MORE FOOL KILLER LORE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
FOR MY LOOK AT JOE MAGARAC, THE STEEL MILL VERSION OF JOHN HENRY AND PAUL BUNYAN, CLICK HERE
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