Page 4


Civil Service: A Need Forgotten Too Long Too long the Texas Public Employees’ Assn. has shortshrifted its own members by failing to demand that the state’s 26,000 employees be protected by a civil service system. When we asked W. P. Watts, executive director of TPEA, why his association has not advocated such a reform, he “You take at the post office … public servants slam the window in your face. You know there is the lack of interest that ordinary civil servants have in their constituents., When you set in the civil service, the person says at 5 o’clock he’s supposed to quit and that’s it. That’s a little bit harsh to us people in the South, who are used to government employees walking that extra mile, you know.” This is precisely the kind of thinking which deprives public employees in Texas of the job protection and the vigorous advocacy of their interests in pay raises and other benefits. Civil service would be a first step toward fairer treatment of state workers. fams =44 Civil Liberties: Attenuation We would submit that the area in which civil liberties are now most gravely endangered is the criminal law, not only barbaric, outmoded, or inconsistent penalties, not only the blurry ethical notions upon which many severe punitive laws are based, but also the arrogance of the police authority, occasional perhaps, but more serious than any ordinary arrogance because we have placed the weapons of coercion in their hands. In no other single area has the legislature been more slovenly, careless, patchy, indifferent, negligent. Capital Punishment Capital punishmentmurder by societyserves no effective preventive function a n d makes us all murderers. A Huntsville reporter believes he has watched half a dozen innocent men electrocuted. A Dallas Morning . News reporter has pleaded with the people to realize the brutality of killing of any kind. Texas AFL-CIO advocates the abolition of capital punishment. We are struck by the ethical appeal of the idea of replacing such societal murder with imprisonment at labor, the wages therefrom being assigned to the surviving victims of the crime the prisoner has committed. How much less pontifical, more rehabilitative, more genuinely compensatory such an arrangement than the irrevocable act of life-taking! \(See “Bring Public Defenders The Observer, now joined by the Houston Post, advocates a state law authorizing local areas to establish public defenders. Such defenders should be provided enough funds to hire public investigators. If we are devoted to the achievement of justice, society should finance, not only the prosecution of the accused, but also their defense if they are indigent. As it is now, money buys justice, and poverty is the handmaiden to harshness. “The thief had thrown away the bread, but his arm was still bleeding.” Police Brutality The state needs a law estab lishing special penalties for offenses against the dignity of the person by policemen. Consider a few cases noted at random: Last week a Houston man was beaten by police, after which he confessed. In late 1958, a deputy sheriff in Marshall, an indictment accuses, handcuffed to a tree a man he suspected of stealing a saw and beat him with an elm club. Clifford Henry Hughes, being held last year on the minor charge of discharging firearms in the city limits of Houston, died of a ruptured gall bladder after he was struck by a city jailer. Policemen must be made to understand that they carry guns, sticks, and jail keys only on extremely conditional tolerance. The Houston jail has instituted a system of television surveillance of prisoners. Not only a violation of some intangible aspect of the dignity of man., this constitutes cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the U. S. Constitution and should be outlawed. The 51 Texas Rangers are a logically superfluous branch of the state police. Governors, by “suggesting” they be dispatched here or there,. can use them as politically-oriented police. Some of them even in this day and age are reputed to be physically tough on suspects. Legislators should balonce in their minds these considerations against the values of the Ranger force as a tourist attraction. ‘Equal ‘Penalties’ A 11 Texas criminal laws should be compared as to penalties. In fact the state needs to convoke a conference on the philosophy and application of its criminal lawsa conference for lawyers, criminologists, psychologists, ethicists, legislators. Are we to approach the wrongdoer as a devil’s agent or an unfortunate needing understanding and help? For what reason \(as the Austin dollars or ten days” kind of sentence be tolerated punishing poverty with imprisonment? Why should courts be denied the right to exercise leniency in hardship cases in connection with the now mandatory six-months’ loss of drivers’ licenses for DWI? The criminal laws have “just growed” over the years. Joe Dokes of Sulphur Drop thinks this is worth about 20 years of a man’s life; ten years later, Bill Jones of Dripping Willow thinks something else is worth about five to fifteen. What anarchic indifference to the value of a man’s only life to himself and his family! An effort must be made to establish “equal penalties”that is, a system of punishments in some reasonable proportion to the severity of various offenses against society. Encouraging Murder As Lewis Nordyke has writ ten, the Texas law courts murder by an outmoded law permitting almost anyone to obtain a gun and by the jury tradition of lionizing rather than incarcerating men who have shot down men who paid court to their wives, regardless of who made the first coy gestures. \(“M u r de r, Anyone?” should be discouraged. Law, Sin, & Behavior There is an area of “Law, Sin, and Private Behavior” \(The bears little relationship to the accepted ethical dispositions of the society. The law has no right to intrude on private adult behavior. We quote from Graham Hughes, visiting assistant professor at Yale Law School: “Where is the social harm of artificial insemination, which brings maternity to those who want it and who might otherwise be unable to achieve it; of voluntary sterilization or contraception which avoid maternity for those who are ill able to bear it; or of euthanasia which brings death to those in agony who earnestly de,. sire it? Let those whose religion condemns such practices always be protected in. their liberty to abstain from them but also let the living mores of the majority prevail over the dead hand of sacerdotal casuistry … “… Acts of homosexuality committed in private between consenting adults should no longer be criminal …. In Britain contraception is at least legal, and adultery and fornication are not crimes Years may pass before Dr. Kinsey’s findings recondition the law in these areas, but the changes called for by the true concensus of the customs will be accomplished or the laws ignored. Electronic Intrusions What Justice Douglas calls “The Right To Be Let Alone” is also endangered by the development of the wiretapping industry. The matter has been documented in the Reporter Magazine. Washington testimony in the Shafer labor rackets case established that Texas Rangers use wiretaps, and do not scruple to play them for the public, while the Cox bribe case in 1957 illustrates the possibility of setting electronic traps in political life. Or consider this item: “A wiretapping expert with $125,000 in complicated equipment has set up shop in Houston. ‘There are so many uses for this type operation,’ said Jack N. Holcomb. His pride is a small mike and transmitter that fit into a package that has been emptied of cigarettes. He has disguised wiretapping trucks with windows he can see out of and you can’t see into.” So far the main. effort against wiretapping and other electronic intrusions on .privacy has been to keep them out of trial evidence. The state should illegalize all such affronts to the privacy of personal life as criminal acts on the same level as theft, assault, and breaking and entering. The ‘Loyalty Oath’ Under the terms of H. B. 837 of the 51st, McCarthyism-dominated legislature, every faculty member, upon every renewal of his contract, and every student, on the occasion of every registration, in every Texas college or university, must sign a “loyalty oath.” This oath requires affirmation of noncommunism, fidelity to the country in time of war, and .so on, and also a vow that “I believe in and approve the Constitution of the United States and the principles of government therein contained,” which can be fairly construed to bar from Texas universities people who believe, say, in a unicameral Congress, public school segregation, or the direct election of Supreme Court judges. This oath is an insult to every citizen , who passes through our institutions of higher learning, simply because it means that there is a doubt about each one’s loyalty to his country until he swears he is loyal. It is also a stupid law, given its ostensible intent. Any card-carrying communist, sworn to violence if need be, will glibly lie about loyalty, so the law serves no conceivable purpose. H. B. 837 should be repealedas many a fretting registrar would declare but for the coercive symbols involved. 111111111111111111111111111111111111111111M111111111111111151111111111111M111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111M UUUUU NUMMI. Our Fifth Year The Texas Observer, now in its fifth year of publication, circulates in 239 of the 254 Texas counties, in forty states, and in many foreign countries. The Observer’s journalistic initiative and editorial independence have been commended in Harper’s Magazine, Time, Coronet, Look, The Nation, The New Republic, The Progressive. Stories and editorials from the Observer have been used in congressional and legislative debates and reprinted in many newspapers and magazines. Our readers include practically all of the leaders of political opinion of the various styles in Texas and many leaders in the national congress, political parties, and public opinion media. Present and former staff writers on the Observer place articles now and then in the domestic magazines, mostly because there are not many Texas newspapermen imbued with the liberal perspectives which are commonplace in the United States outside the South. The Observer has never yielded to the temptations \(and they are aid and subscriptions which appear now and then in the national liberal journals, which somehow manage to scrape through every time nearly. Our subscribers read the Observer because they want to, not, we hope, because they feel they owe it to their principles. Over the years we have been pleased to believe that they have confidence in our fair mindedness, although we have often given them cause to doubt our infallibility. This 12-page edition, on the issues in Texas may not more than provoke many of our readers; but to Goodwyn and Dugger, and to the Observer people not here now, Brammer, Bray, Jones, Morris, to our correspondents, to Franklin Jones, Don Bartlett, Minnie Fisher Cunningham, and also to the people whose role has been less conspicuous and more important, Mrs. Randolph, Sarah Payne, Mark Adams, it may perhaps approach a satisfying meaning for these four years of our various lives. Perhaps some of our readers will want to order extra copies of this issue. If the programs here advocated won’t do anything else, they’ll at least break up a few tiresome friendships. So we have computed issue of this date: Ten copies, $1; 25 copies, $2; 50 copies, $3.75; 100 copies, $7; 500 copies, $30; 1,000 copies, $50. We will need to receive orders by Jan. 31 for these rates to apply. If yor’re a government professor we’ll accept your order anyway. If this is the first time you have seen the Observer, permit us to explain that it is usually an eight-page paper, the first three pages devoted to state events and special news features; the middle two pages to editorials and opinion columns on the state and our wayward servants’ workings on the nation; and the last three pages to subjects of some import for our ways of life, our faiths, follies, fancies, and our arts and letters. We invite you to subscribe, or to subscribe for a friend. 111111111111111111111111111111111111M1111111M111111111111111111111111111MNIIMIIIM1111111111111111111111111111111111111111 Name Address City, State $4 Enclosed Bill me wassma……rnawassummaammimaseatasamasam..1 Name Address City, State $4 Enclosed Bill me rnms……….mpammememmummommuslummessmi Send to 504 West 24th St., Austin THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 8 Jan. 16, 1959