Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 36 of 61
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ized and commercialized in Texas. It is now one of the established
industries of the State. It is bold and insolent. It lifts its blatant
head above the broken bulwarks of the law. It is struggling for social
and political recognition. It is indeed a challenging day to the forces
of righteousness to know that the forces of evil are making claim to
respectability in this State.
PUNISHMENT MUST FOLLOW CRIME.
People who will not willingly obey the law, should be made to obey
it. Punishment must follow crime as night follows the day. The
genius of man has never found any better way to prevent crime than to
punish criminals. If it were not for the fear of the punishment of the
law, neither your life nor your property would be safe for one hour.
There is no way to maintain a law except to punish those who trample
it beneath their feet. The lance of truth should be hurled through
every shield that shelters crime wherever found. The government has
two functions to perform in punishing criminals: One is to purify
society and the other is to reform criminals. Society owes its first duty
PEACE OFFICERS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT.
Under our form of government, public peace officers are elected by
the people and charged with the responsibility of enforcing the law.
They are the agencies of the people. The people place their trust in
them by making them guardians of their property, their liberty and
their lives. The government as a government and the people as a people
have a right to demand of the officers that they maintain order and
uphold the law. There is no channel through which the law can be
enforced except by the authority and power vested in the officers. For
this high purpose, the resources of the State and the powers of the government
are placed at their command. Laws can only be given life by
official action. He who is charged with the enforcement of the law
should himself obey the law. The officer, a creature of the law, who
will not himself obey the law, has no right to be an officer. The officer
who keeps his eyes shut to the law and connives at its violations, should
not be permitted to receive the emoluments of office. The officer who
is not capable of enforcing the law, should resign. The officer who, for
any reason, is unwilling to enforce the law, should, by the strong arm of
the law, be immediately stripped of every official power and every insignia
of office. Peace officers cannot make laws. They cannot modify
them. Their duty is to enforce them. As in the charge of the Light
Brigade---His not to reason why: his but to do or die." The people
who elect the officers should accept nothing less at their hands. As the
citizen has no right to select what laws he will obey, so the officer has
no right to select what laws he will enforce. His oath is to enforce all
the law. Not to enforce the law is to inject poison into the arteries of
the government. When an officer fails or refuses to enforce the law,
the collective will of the people, he should be ousted from office. To
do this imperatively necessary thing, we sorely need some legislation.
Some machinery should be put in motion that will throw out of office
Here’s what’s next.
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/36/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .