Have Scissors, Will Commit Felony

Another wonderful tidbit from L.O. Curon’s 1899 volume of moral agitprop, Chicago, Satan’s Sanctum. The pool room in question is not for billiards. Rather, it is an illegal gambling establishment where people bet on “pools” of things — racing results, baseball games, the Yale-Harvard crewing regatta, Filipino cockfights, whatever. Curon has not so far explained how it works.

The want of an energetic police is the cause of the prevalence of such abominable offenses as hair clipping, or the severing from the heads of young girls upon the public streets their braids of hair. One of these perverts was arrested and excused himself upon the ground that it was a mania with him, and that the temptation to cut off the braids of hair from every young girl he met, was almost irresistible. If detectives, instead of lounging around their daily haunts for drinking purposes, loafing in cigar stores, and playing the pool rooms, were mingling with the crowds upon the streets, offenses of this character would be nearly impossible, although this particular weakness seems to lead its impulsive perpetrators to less crowded thoroughfares, and selects the hours of going to and returning from school, as the most favorable parts of the day for its gratification. It may be prompted by a morbid desire, but it is none the less a serious offense, which, as yet, the criminal law has not defined, and has therefore not provided a proper penalty for its punishment. No evidence, so far as it is known, has yet been adduced to show that the braids of hair are ever sold to dealers in that article, such as wig manufacturers, etc. If such evidence should be forthcoming, the ingenuity of the average criminal for the discovery of new methods of despoliation will receive additional confirmation.

The quality of our perverts has sadly declined in the last century. Maybe it’s because so many girls don’t wear their hair in braids anymore.