Page 2 columnist
Editor's note: Sports are about passion -- but all passion is not about sports. On a weekend when most of our readers were consumed with Shaq and Kobe and Super Mario and A.J. Burnett, Page 2 columnist Hunter S. Thompson could not get Lisl Auman out of his mind. In fact, the good doctor is so outraged by Auman's case -- she's a 24-year-old Denver resident whom some observers believe was wrongfully convicted of felony murder -- that he helped organize a rally Monday in Denver on Auman's behalf.Auman was convicted in 1998 of felony murder, which means in this case she was a participant in a robbery and attempted flight that resulted in murder. In this case, the murder was of a pursuing Denver policeman by another robbery suspect, who then committed suicide. The crux of her guilt or innocence is the debate over whether the items were stolen or were in fact hers, whether she was a participant in the flight or a hostage, and whether she handed the rifle to the shooter or was a victim of fabricated evidence. Though Page 2's editors aren't making a judgment about the case one way or the other, we believe strongly in indulging passion -- especially a passion for justice. And so, though this is a sports site -- first, foremost and almost always -- today we are sharing our columnist's political passion with our readers.
I am a rabid basketball fan and a veteran sportswriter, but on Monday I had serious business to do. I am a Warrior, and the time had come to Rumble. Many things have happened since last week -- many weird things, radical things, Savage 180-degree swings between totally opposite poles like Joy and Fear, Wild passions and violent rages, sudden Love and sudden hate. ... I have known them all, and I fear I have come to like them too much. I am an Addictive Personality, they say, a natural slave to passion -- and many Doctors have warned me against it. I am a High-risk Patient. But not all of those doctors are still alive today. Two committed suicide, and two others had their Medical licenses lifted for abusing Hospital drugs. Another misdiagnosed his own wife's Cancer case and was forced to retire from Medicine. After that, he went into the psychiatric business and destroyed the mental health of a whole family by convincing all of them, one at a time, that they were fatally Dysfunctional and probably Insane. Their only hope, he said, was to have each other committed to long-term, fearfully Harsh and impossibly Expensive private Insane Asylums. ... The children got the most painful sentences. One spent two years in the lockdown ward of the Menninger Clinic in Kansas; another was put in a straitjacket and turned over to the notoriously cruel Cocaine Addict Wing at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where "Isolation Therapy" is mandatory for the first nine months. Quacks are a part of our culture, and we all fall prey to them. Who among us can say, for sure, that even our own personal physicians are honest and competent? Ho ho. Don't bet on it, Bubba. But not Monday. No. On Monday, I was a main speaker at the "Free Lisl Auman" rally in Denver, which drew thousands of people and attracted widespread Media attention. Pictures of me, and Warren Zevon, and Benicio Del Toro have been all over the Denver TV news in recent days. The National Committee to Free Lisl Auman has been joined by hundreds, even thousands, of very high-end professionals and volunteers. A Defense Fund has been legally established. Hollywood people have joined up. A famous micro-brewery has offered its hospitality to speakers and guests of the Lisl rally -- (Whoops. I almost wrote "Riot" there, instead of Rally. But I caught myself just in time. No doubt it was a Freudian slip of some kind, or maybe just an old habit) ... No! We were not going to have a riot in Denver. It was out of the question. We hired uniformed State Troopers to drop a wire net on any freaks or booze-addled Crazies who got out of control. We are a finely-organized Team now -- and we were, after all, standing on the white-marble steps of the Colorado State Capitol, with its gold-plated Dome looming just above us. It was a majestic scene, and it was decidedly Not dull. I Guaranteed that. Warren Zevon opened the hour-long rally with a few inflammatory words about the Free Lisl Auman crusade and why he is part of it --- and then he turned up the amplifiers and burst into his famous song: "Lawyers, Guns and Money"... Five thousand Criminal lawyers were also in town for the Rally. Monday was the day when the two (2) formal Defense Appeal Briefs were formally Filed with the Colorado Supreme Court. One, by Lisl's public defender, and the other by an elite Team of Appeals Attorneys from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which decided in March to join our team, pro bono, and file a solemn, intimidating Amicus Brief in Lisl Auman's defense. ... We opened our Rally with a finely-honed speech by Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Presidential Historian from the University of New Orleans and author of many distinguished books -- most recently, "Rosa Parks," the legendary black woman who touched off the whole Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties, when she refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. I was a part of that, incidentally, and I have been proud of it all my life. Many of those who stood on the Capitol steps Monday were veteran warriors from the Civil Rights Movement. It was good training for the even More brutal confrontations we would face later. ... It is very important to learn, early in life, that you can beat City Hall, and that You can change the System. You might be beaten and gassed by Police a few times, before you succeed -- but that stuff goes with the territory. And you will be proud of it later, just as you will make many smart friends who will stand with you all your life. Lisl Auman, a 20 year-old girl with no criminal record, was convicted of Felony Murder in Denver for a crime that occurred while she was handcuffed and chained in a Police car. She is the only person ever Convicted in the history of Colorado for murder while she was in official police Custody -- and then she was sentenced to spend the rest of her Life in state prison, without any possibility of Parole. That is what this case is about, and why we had this major Protest Rally at the State Capitol on Monday. We are making the people of Denver (and the Colorado Supreme Court Justices) aware that the original Auman trial was a shameful farce and a disgraceful mockery of the whole "Criminal Justice System." The Lisl Auman drama has been played out on a painfully unequal surface, so far. Victory -- getting her out of Prison immediately and overturning the savage and unnatural Felony Murder statute -- seemed 95 percent impossible at first, even to me. ... But no longer. Now I believe we will win. The playing field got leveled out in a hurry when the NACDL came in. That was back on Super Bowl Sunday, when the Lawyers gathered here for the game. Of course. Remember that story -- when my house was hit by Lightning? Yes sir. That was when the worm turned. The first signal of change was the massive response to my "Hey, Rube" column by 100,000 loyal ESPN.com readers in ten (10) days. ... Hot damn! I want to Thank all of you very sincerely. You made a huge Difference. Abe Lincoln would be proud of us today and so would Bobby Kennedy. If it is true, as Edmund Burke said, that "The only thing necessary for the triumph of Evil is for good men to do Nothing" (and I have always believed that is true), then we are sure as hell not doing Nothing. I salute You. Justice is expensive in America. There are no Free Passes. ... You might want to remember this, the next time you get careless and blow off a few Parking Tickets. They will come back to haunt you the next time you see a Cop car in your rear-view mirror. Or if you notice your teenage daughter hanging out with a rotten-looking Skinhead. ... There is no such thing as Paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment. ... What happened to Lisl Auman can happen to Anybody in America, and when it does, you will sure as hell need Friends. ... Take my word for it, folks. I have Been There, and it ain't Fun. Thanks again for your help on this. It is good Karma and also very wise. Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.
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