I am not surprised but mildly saddened that Chuck Turner headed off to prison dripping vitriol. He'll have three years to:
- Reinforce and practice his shtick, or
- Emerge more positive and ready to use his considerable virtues while dropping his substantial flaws.
While out of town, I could not go to his final public event here, his martyr fest. As reported in today's Herald, he spoke on his (as he would have it) cruel, unfair and impassable suffering at the Framing the Innocent evening at Northeastern. Over at the South End Patch, Christopher Treacy delivers the best brag-and-whine coverage.
Predictably and unfortunately, Turner made his last public oration in Boston into a conspiracy melodrama, dredging up a vote he led in City Council to oppose U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. That was not surprising from a fabulous loudmouth. For four decades, he has spoken or shouted about many wrongs, mostly by government from local to the feds. Often the noise has meant to make life better for his neighborhood, for others of color, for the poor, and for Boston in general.
Therein lies the current problem with Chuck Turner.
He is such a drama queen and so vain that he muddles and befuddles. Turner tends to mix some verifiable history with reasonable analysis with interpretation ranging from clear to crazy to totally untrue. He dual intent always seems to be to protect and advance various underclasses, while promoting (ta da) Chuck Turner.
I agree with his that the US Attorney and FBI unfairly targeted and entrapped him. He has said much, and among his more lucid and reasonable, judgments, that his investigators had little to no reason to set him up for a sting — no history of corruption to justify literally pressing a bribe into his palm. What he has pretty much ignored is the huge issue of why the feds are tricking people into corrupt acts. They should be about doing real police work and catching the long-term, regular corruption officials.
I view the FBI operation as akin to picking a 65MPH highway, planting a 25MPH sign around a curve, and putting troopers there to ticket drivers. There are plenty of speeding reckless drivers to catch without dirty tricks.
Real v. Imagined
Unfortunately, when Turner broadcasts one wild conspiracy theory after another, he blows his chance to catalyze confronting and removing serious problems. Too many of us will toss Turner into the bowl of mixed nuts instead of getting exercised about serious abuse and injustice by the feds. We listen to his self-important bluster of unprovable conspiracies when he should be describing systemic issues that don't all center on his magnificent and brilliant personage.
I suspect Turner will not be deeply introspective and bent on clarifying his mind in his three years in Morgantown. He's likely to return thinner of body but no less thick of head.
The underlying issue of the clumsy entrapment of guilty and beguiled alike needs fixing. Turner is not going to be in a place, physically or emotionally, to lead that effort. That's a pity, as he'll have three years with plenty of spare time to work on this serious problem.
The burden will then fall to other loudmouths, including me and other political bloggers, as well as progressive pols and organizations. This country need not be about the business of ruining hardworking city councilors and others with a lazy and dishonorable entrapment methodology.
The President, DOJ, MA's federal and state pols need to hear what's right. Too many have said nothing. Turner has made the matter messy, but only temporarily.
What happened to him was wrong, but not because the racist feds hated the black man who spoke up. Instead, the tools and procedures the US Attorney's and FBI's offices have used for too long are un-American. Finding ways to lure the innocent into illegal acts should not be acceptable to any of us. We need to speak up about that.
Tags: massmarrier, Chuck Turner, Boston, corruption, prison, stings, FBI, US Attorney