Infringing Upon Freemasonry
The reader will see under Imitative Societies certain observations with regard to these organizations that in some ways resemble the Craft. As imitation is said to be a sincere form of flattery, such resemblances may be deemed a compliment to the reputation and the character of the Masonic Institution. Where the features maintained in common by the imitator and the imitated are employed innocently and perhaps for an object thoroughly devoid of any purpose to defame or in any particular to injure the Masonic Institution, the infringing organization is on an entirely distinct and different foundation than if it were guilty of the theft and misuse of a good name. So identified is that name with a recognized and highly respected Institution that any who attempt to take unauthorized liberties with the exclusive use of it do so at some risk of at least a rebuke and a refusal of legal permission to proceed. An instance is afforded in the case of the American Masonic Federation, which will be found concisely explained elsewhere in this work (see Clandestine). Another case where a Charter was sought to use a couple of significant words in combination with the name of a proposed organization is mentioned briefly here.
Brother Thomas G. Price, Past Potentate of Mecca Temple, New York City, contributed to the Meccan, September, 1921, a decision handed down on August 5 of that year by Justice Gannon of the Part II, Supreme Court of New York, to the effect that the words Masonic Rite are the property of the established Masonic Order and are not to be encroached upon by other organizations of any kind. Such a decision reserves to the Masonic Fraternity the right to the use of the word Masonic in connection with Rite and denies its use elsewhere no matter how it may be qualified by other words. Brother Price wrote that so far as he was able to ascertain, Justice Gannon was not a member of the Craft and in making this decision he was guided solely by the law and not by any personal bias. While the decision is given here to show the trend of judicial thought and not because of any claim for its value in law as a general precedent, it should have some influence on the activities of organizations claiming to be Masonic. The decision reads as follows:
In regard to Masonic Adriatic Rite--Certain citizens have presented a proposed Certificate, under Section 41 of the Membership Corporation Law, for my approval. The objects stated are patriotic and entirely laudable but the name presents an objection that I am not able to overcome. The title, Masonic Adriatic Rile, containing two words suggestive of a very ancient and familiar organization, cannot but lead to the conclusion that the proposed corporation is connected with and duly sanctioned by Masonic authority. The organizers concede that this is not the case and they contend that the qualifying word Adriatic removes this apparent identity I cannot subscribe to this view. A title containing the words Masonic and Rite, however separated, cannot blot be objectionable to the Masonic Order with which they have been connected from time immemorial, and it is not fitting that these objections should be challenged Thousands of words descriptive and arbitrary are available. The organizers must upon reflection see the reasonableness of these observations. Approval of the Certificate under the present title is withheld.
A few references are given here to show the ten deney of court decisions, and incidentally, against the unauthorized use of emblems: The term " Freemasons" includes all members of any regular Body of the Fraternity known as "Free and Accepted Masons" or "Ancient Free and Accepted Masons." They have a peculiar system of jurisprudence which in determining legal questions concerning them, is considered and applied by the courts.
Smith v. Smith. 3 Desaus (S. C.), 566. Connelly v Masonic Mutual Benefit Assn. (Conn.), 18 Am. St. Rep., 296. It is almost the exclusive province of an Order like Freemasons to impose its own terms of membership, and the courts avid not interfere to compel recognition as a member of a Masonic Lodge of one who affiliates with a Rite of Masonry different from that recognized by the Grand Lodge. Burt v. Grand Lodge. 66 Mich., 85. Lawson v. Hewell, 188 Cal., 613. Seceders have no particular rights which the courts are required to recognize. Washington v. White, 27 Pittsburgh Legal Journal, New Style 338. Curien v. Sam Tini, 16 La. Ann., 27. Polar Star Lodge No. 1 v. Polar Star Lodge No. 1, 16 La. Ann., 53. Smith v. Smith, 3 Desaus (S. C.), 357. It is now universally held that the expulsion of a Freemason from a Blue Lodge will effect a like result as regards his membership in any of the higher Bodies in which he may belong. Commonwealth v. O'Donnell, 188 pa. St., 14. In eases involving the examination of ceremonies and rituals of the Masonie Order, members are allowed to state their opinions on the points involved without being obliged to discuss any of the secrets of Freemasonry. Smith v. Smith, 3 Desaus (S. C.), 563. The acts of the defendants and those under whom they hold in assuming to adopt the name, insignia, badges, etc., claimed by petitioners and those with whom they are associated, are contrary to the public policy of the State of Georgia on the subject of counterfeiting. as disclosed by Section 1989, et seq., Civil Code, and Sections 254-8 of the Criminal Code. Creswill v. Knights of Pswthias 133 Ga., 837. Lane v. Evening Star Society, 120 Ga., 355. The Good Samaritans and Sons of Samaria Case, 139 Ga., 423. The Odd Fellows Case, 140 It is also contrary to the whole spirit of the age on the subject of counterfeiting. See 3 Ann. Cases 32, and note. Hammer v. State 21 Ann. Cases 1034. (See also Clandestine, and Square.)
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