THIS ISSUE FEATURES BOOKS AND THE CULTURE Topless in Odessa by Karen Olsson 8 Oceans 25 Will the Ector County Attorney impose Midland’s morals on Poetry by Lami, Christina Odessa’s topless dancers? Gonzalez and Joe Beck So Far From God by Michael Erard 13 Poetry’s Fate 26 In which the road-weary author sets out to down a pint with post-modern Irishman Carlos Salinas O’Gortari. Book Review by Paul Christensen Locked Out at Pacifica by Julie Hollar 21 Radioactive Pacifica 29 The Pacifica Foundation hires a Houston hitman to silence dissent at a Berkeley radio station . Book Review by Chris Garlock All the News that Fits? by Dennis Bernstein 22 The Back Page 32 Two veteran reporters from the political left no longer fit in Free Radio For Sale Pacifica’s new corporate model. DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 Killing Larry Robison by Michael King Left Field 5 Pioneer Spirit, Used Humor, Bush Beat, & God Watch Political Intelligence 16 Molly Ivins 18 Bill Archer & Bill Gates Jim Hightower 19 Corporate Confessions, Exported Labor & Hippocrates’ H.M.O. EDITORIAL Killing Larry Robison Thus far in 1999, the state of Texas has executed sixteen people. That’s a pace likely to exceed the twenty executions of last year, but short of the record thirty-seven in 1997. Another dozen executions are currently scheduled, through November, by the Texas Department of Criminal. Justice. Since resuming in 1982, the executions occur so often now litical background noise, failing to generate headlines unless the story carries some particular distinction in perpetrator or victim. A few weeks ago, for example, Canadian citizen Stanley Faulder was executed, despite protests from the Canadian government and even Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Faulder had never been accorded the consular rights due him him under, international law. The members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Governor who appoints them were unmoved. When asked about the case, George W. Bush responded solemnly, “If you come to Texas, don’t kill anybody,” later voluntarily repeating that lesson after reading aloud to a group of schoolchildren. Neither the children nor the reporters in attendance asked the Governor if he therefore believed the state of Texas is exempt from the rule of law it imposes on its citizens or whether foreign governments should henceforth feel free to ignore laws which would otherwise protect the rights of American citizens abroad. The international issue was only one of several troubling in the Faulder case, including purchased testimony and evidence that Faulder perhaps suffered from mental illness or organic brain damage. And as recently reported in the political newsletter Counterpunch, during a youthful stint in a Canadian prison, Faulder, having asked for psychiatric help, was instead subjected to experimental drug treatment with doses of LSD, under research funded by the Canadian Defense Department and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It is worth noting, of course, that even had Faulder’s attorneys been able to prove mental illness, it might not have saved his life. Despite popular legend to the contrary, the number of capital defendants who make successful claims of insanity is virtually nil. And this year the Texas Legislature rejected an attempt to ban the execution of the mentally retarded, at least partly because of the resistance of the Governor. Which brings us to the case of Larry Robison, scheduled to be executed August 17 for the brutal 1982 murder of Bruce Gardner, near Fort Worth. The evidence is abundant that Robison was completely insane at the time of Gardner’s murder. He killed four more people the same night, beheading and mutilating his roommate in a manner he believed was being dictated by the voices in his head, the clocks in his room, the apocalyptic stories of the Old Testament. He readily confessed to the killings, and the four prosecutors developing the case were willing to accept a plea of insanity and permanent confinement to a mental institution. They were overruled by the Tarrant County prosecutor, and in court, the evidence of Robison’s madness was ruled, for the most part, inadmissible the jury in both his first and second trials heard almost none of it. As Robison’s family can easily document, the deafness of the state of Texas to Larry Robison’s paranoid schizophrenia was nothing new. The Robisons spent the years preceding 1982 fighting for Larry’s sanity, and have spent the years since fighting for his life. As a teenager he began acting strangely, hearing voices, believing he had secret paranormal mental powers. He joined the Army but was discharged after only a year only much later was the family told that he was convinced he could control people and objects with his mind. It was easier for the Army to get rid of him than help him. Larry’s condition continued to deteriorate, and for four years his parents attempted to get him medical treatment, to AUGUST 6, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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