THUMB AWARDS

Thumbs Down: To the people who railroaded Judge Ron Chapman into his seat on the bench of District Criminal Court No. 1. After former Judge Jerome Chamberlain announced early retirement (he lost to Chapman in the primaries), lame duck governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Chapman to fill the remainder of the term, even though it was only six weeks until the election. The resulting publicity may have given Chapman an edge in the election: He defeated Jack Hampton by 6000 votes out of 213,000. It seems the scales of justice were tipped.

Thumbs Up: To the Algur Meadows Foundation and Eugene Bonelli, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, for establishing the new Meadows Award for excellence in the arts. The annual award, $25,000 plus funding to bring the winning artists and their works to SMU, is aimed to achieve the prestige of a Nobel in the realm of the arts.

Thumbs Up: To the Dallas County Grand Jury for its subpoena of Sheriff Carl Thomas, a refreshing act of initiative on the part of a judicial institution which has traditionally been reluctant to assert its independence. Regardless of what the panel discovers in its inquiry into the sheriff’s department, the action is an assertion of constitutional checks. It’s also a reminder to an arrogant official that he is accountable to the public.

Thumbs Down: To the State Board of Education for banning Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” from Texas schoolbooks. To prevent high school students from reading a story about “violence” the board banned a fable about totalitarianism. “The Lottery” is one of the few literary works students enjoy, and there’s less violence in it than in five minutes of “Battlestar Galactica.”

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