Which must explain why the Texas Department of Criminal Justice wouldn't let death row inmate Kenneth Foster read a book on sports history that quoted Jackie Robinson, author David Zirin writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ("Are words dangerous?," Aug. 19). TDCJ informed Zirin that his book"contains material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption such as strikes or riots." Here's the offending passage from Robinson:
On Page 44, the radioactive quote in question was from that seditious revolutionary Jackie Robinson -- you know, the guy whose number is retired by all of Major League Baseball. I quoted Robinson's autobiography, I Never Had It Made, when he wrote about suffering racism early in his rookie season:
"I felt tortured and I tried to just play ball and ignore the insults. But it was really getting to me. ... For one wild and rage-crazed moment I thought, 'To hell with Mr. Rickey's "noble experiment." ... To hell with the image of the patient black freak I was supposed to create.' I could throw down my bat, stride over to that Phillies dugout, grab one of those white sons of [expletive] and smash his teeth in with my despised black fist. Then I could walk away from it all."
The other verboten passage made an historical reference to race riots in the US after Jack Johnson became the first black man to win the heavyweight boxing title.
I wonder what other titles have been denied by TDCJ on such flimsy grounds? These "Publication review/denial notification" forms sound like a good topic for an open records request, don't they? If Jackie Robinson and Jack Johnson don't make the cut, it makes me wonder what other history or ideas TDCJ thinks it's too dangerous for inmates to learn about.As mentioned previously, there's a rally in Austin at the capitol tomorrow opposing Foster's execution, which is scheduled to take place at the end of this month.