Friday, May 04, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction: The People vs. Philip Workman

All right, let’s say you’re writing one of those TV shows about forensic investigations. For the sake of conversation, we’ll call it “CSI: Memphis”.

The draft that you hand in has a shooting victim’s entrance wound larger than his exit wound. The producer is going to hand it back to you and say “That’s not very realistic.” If you insist that it is, he’ll then hand the script off to the technical consultants on the show, who will hand it back to you and say “It doesn’t work that way. Please learn something about gunshot wounds before attempting to write again.”

But here in Tennessee, where the stakes are far greater than poorly written TV, we’re expected to believe that.

Okay, now you’re writing a police procedural drama. We’ll call it “Law & Order: Stupid Drug Addicts”.

Over the course of investigating a policeman’s killing, an eyewitness comes forward, stating that he saw the defendant shoot the victim. The “witness” didn’t turn up in the original canvass of the scene, nor did any vehicle he could have been in show up on crime scene photos. His sister says that not only was he not there, but he routinely made up false information and fed it to police so he could use reward money to feed his drug habit. Yet your script portrays him as a reliable witness.

Again, the script will be shoved back into your face and criticized as having little resemblance to reality.

You’re writing an episode of “Boston Legal”. The firm is defending a murder suspect. The policemen insist that the murder of another policeman couldn’t have been a friendly fire shooting because they never fired their guns. A witness on the scene says that he saw a policeman firing at the suspect with a shotgun. And the defendant’s medical records indicate that he had shotgun pellets removed from his backside.

But the policemen that insisted they never fired their guns are considered unimpeachable witnesses, and the jury returns a guilty verdict based on their testimony.

Airing such a story would induce a collective groan as every viewer in America vows at once never to watch the show again.

But these are the things we’re expected to believe in the Philip Workman case.

The closest thing to a form of entertainment that would try to push a story as absurd as this one would be if Rowan Atkinson filmed “Mr. Bean Goes to Trial”. Even that would be more likely to have a happy ending than the Workman case.

He has four more days unless the governor can muster the political will to prevent his senseless death. This is not the state administering a reasonable punishment--- It is a state-sanctioned hit on someone who, though he is far from a model citizen, did nothing to deserve to be killed.

And it’s happening in your name, Tennessee.


Brian said...

Um....he admitted that he killed the cop. Your "he was framed" argument is a joke.

Freedonian said...

No he didn't. Learn to read and come back.

He admitted firing one shot accidentally--- It went through the arm of Aubrey Stoddard. Survived.

Nice try.