The Pit interview
It's the voters, stupid
It takes more than a wet nose, wagging tail and warm handshake to get
By GEOFF DAVIDIAN
Putnam Pit editor
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- In the history of the United States,
the civil rights movement stands out as a defining political moment.
Yet today we find petty bureaucrats and small-time politicians
abusing what little authority they have to further personal ends,
with little or no regard for the rights of those they supposedly
Carthage civil rights lawyer Richard Brooks discussed the problem
of official incompetence, and voter incompetence. Here are
- "What we have in the small, rural counties is a 'plantation
mentality.' Why do you think Gone with the Wind is so
popular in the South? The county is Tara. These people are
captured by the bounds of their counties."
- "We give people who are not qualified a gun and a badge.
Police enforce laws they don't understand. When police rough up a
suspect or officials violate civil rights, it is not the violation
of the law that causes the illegal official response -- it's the
questioning of their authority that angers them. It's 'I'm Bubba,
you can't ask me anything.' Some places you don't need to be a
lawyer to be a judge. There should be some minimum requirement for
- "I have faith in the judiciary. There are some good judges.
[General Sessions Judge] Nolan Goolsby is good. [Former] Federal
Judge [L. Clure] Morton was honest. They ran him out of Nashville
[for his school bussing decision] but he did what he knew he had
to. Then there's [Circuit Judge]John Turnbull. He did the right
thing in the Chris Tatrow murder case. But watch. They're going to
try to vote him out of office.
- Regarding the ticketing of dozens of motorcycle riders for
not wearing helmets in Horton Swift's funeral procession: "I
wonder if they have ever stopped a Christmas parade and pulled the
Shriners out for not wearing helmets? This is not equal protection
if you're going to apply the law to some groups but not to
- How effective would it be to have a recall election?
"I'm always interested in raising a stink. But we already have a
recall election, it's called an election, and voters keep putting
the same people in office. People want to give up their civil
rights to take care of the bums out there. But Bubba will still be
there. And one day they'll wake up and all their rights will be
gone. With the plantation mentality, you don't want to rock the
boat. The straw boss calls the shots. They want somebody in their
they know. Tara lives in the plantation mentality. And it's
permitted to live."