Pubdate: Sun, 07 Sep 2003
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Alton E. McQueen
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)


The movement to free the Tulia residents convicted of drug offenses in 1999
finally played out, not as the promised judicial drama, but as political

What happened to the Court of Criminal Appeals which, according to the
Globe-News, was expected to exonerate the 35? As a guess, the court which
initiated the unprecedented hearing to discredit the key prosecution witness
was unwilling to do even more damage to the rule of law by exonerating the
27 people who pleaded guilty. In any case, don't expect your local guardians
of the First Amendment to tell the story.

So the friends of the convicted persons had to settle for pardons, which
imply forgiveness rather than exoneration. Even so, the legislators who
voted to free these people and the governor who signed the pardons didn't
seem enthusiastic about it.

In his June 15 column, editorial page editor John Kanelis scolded our
Panhandle legislators for not jumping on the propaganda bandwagon when the
Legislature authorized these prisoners' release.

If I had been Sen. Bob Duncan or Rep. Warren Chisum, who both represent
Swisher County, I would have interpreted Kanelis' column as a warning to
support the propaganda - regardless of how my constituents might feel - or
face adverse press coverage in the next election.

Much has been made of Tom Coleman's credibility. A great many people in
prison were put there by witnesses far less credible than Coleman. Police
informers are often criminals who give information on the criminal
activities of others in exchange for leniency or immunity regarding their
own crimes, or they are criminals who, when caught, testify against their
colleagues. Traditionally the credibility of such witnesses is determined by

No jury for Tom Coleman but a hearing some might consider a judicial

Of particular interest is Coleman's indictment for perjury. It was clear at
first that the indictment was the result of testimony about his difficulties
in Cochran County unrelated to the Tulia sting. That important qualification
was soon forgotten, and reports on the case in the Globe-News and on
national television were followed by, "The undercover agent has been
indicted for perjury." That is a sly but persuasive propaganda trick. In the
opposite context, the convicted and now-pardoned sting arrestees always have
been referred to as defendants or victims.

The movement to free these individuals originated outside Texas. Solely on
the basis of skin color, it was incorporated into the race propaganda
promoted in New York by the moguls who control mass media in the United
States. This origin from afar was a central concern of Kanelis in his June
15 column. In his final paragraph, he wrote, "The force for redress of this
particular issue should be emanating from the Panhandle, not from some
distant place."

Releasing black people convicted of selling illegal drugs from prison in the
interest of racial justice is nonsense. Law-abiding black people stand to
suffer most, but even if that were not so, it would have nothing to do with
racial justice.

We should consider the possibility that racial justice and harmony are not
objectives of our national brain laundry.

Alton E. McQueen of Amarillo is a frequent contributor to the Other Opinion
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