One thing that the right-wingers and their media allies lining up to take potshots at Mike Huckabee’s pardoning the guy who would go on to kill four cops in a coffee shop somehow neglect to discuss is the full story behind Wayne Dumond’s pardon — and the role of conservatives in making it happen. It’s certainly not mentioned in this piece by the Republican-owned Politico, for example.
If you’re wondering why the Cons keep talking more about Willie Horton (who has nothing to do with Mike Huckabee) instead of Wayne Dumond (who Huck actually pardoned, here’s the scoop. The short version: Wayne Dumond was pardoned because a bunch of right-wing lunatics, led by Huck’s good buddy and fellow Baptist preacher Jay Cole, started ranting without any proof whatsoever that Dumond was innocent of the crime for which he was imprisoned — namely, the violent rape of a distant relative of Bill Clinton’s.
Ah, but it gets better. You see, while then-governor Huckabee would release without question anybody who was vouched for by one of his preacher friends, especially if they’d allegedly turned to God while incarcerated, the Huckster had a very different standard for other religious converts. Barbara O’Brien of the Mahablog explains:
I wrote about Dumond and another Arkansas convict, Frankie Parker, almost two years ago in “A Tale of Two Prisoners.” For reasons explained in the earlier post, Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, was pressured by the Christian Right into pardoning Dumond.
But the Christian Right kept silence on Frankie Parker, who was executed in 1996 over the objections of Mother Theresa and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In fact, Governor Huckabee was so keen to execute Frankie Parker that he intervened to move the execution date up by six weeks so that Parker could be executed sooner. He was so keen to execute Parker that moving up the execution date was Huckabee’s first official proclamation as Governor of Arkansas. Clearly, this was an itch that Huckabee was rarin’ to scratch.
It is true that Parker was convicted of committing two murders while under the influence of drugs. He admitted he had done this. He wasn’t asking for a pardon; just life.
What made Frankie Parker’s life so untenable? In prison, he had acquired a copy of the Dhammapada, which inspired him to convert to Buddhism. He corresponded with a Zen priest and also worked with a Little Rock Buddhist group to learn the practice. He became a spiritual leader within the prison. A Buddhist spiritual leader. Can’t have that.
As Ms. O’Brien comments in a later post:
I think it is important to call the public’s attention to Frankie Parker’s story. One might assume Gov. Huckabee was just gullible, or soft. But the way he handled Frankie Parker’s request for commutation reveals something much more sinister about the governor — that he had no compunction about exercising the worst kind of religious favoritism.
If Huckabee had simply not intervened in Parker’s sentence and allowed the execution to go ahead as scheduled, it wouldn’t have been so blatant. But Huckabee took the trouble to make the execution date to six weeks sooner. And he did this even as Mother Teresa and many Buddhist monks and priests, including the Dalai Lama, wrote requesting that Parker’s sentence be commuted. I think that says something really ugly about Mike Huckabee.
I do, too.
(Crossposted at Mercury Rising.)