BALTIMORE, April 20 (UPI) -- Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Taylor Branch says he is intent on eliminating slot machines in Maryland to protect "foolish" people.
Branch, who earned notoriety for his biography on civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., said he chose to join the growing fight against the gambling devices to protect people from a government that is playing them for "suckers," The Baltimore Sun reported Sunday.
"To me, the first rule of the American experience is that we don't play each other for suckers," Branch said. "The government shouldn't play its own citizens for suckers -- 'We need public money, and we're going to fleece people who are foolish enough to go in and pull one-armed bandits.'"
The civil rights writer said to him the fight goes far beyond mere gambling or base politics, identifying slot machines as a potential societal evil.
"I don't even know if it's a conservative issue or a liberal issue," he told the Sun. "Slots are corrupt and anti-religious ... (but) if you're a conservative, it's better than taxes. To liberals, it's regressive, exploitative, but we need public money."