On a Thursday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, a friend called me up around 4 in the afternoon. She said "You're not going to believe what just happened to me". She said a sheriff's car had come up her driveway as she was preparing to go on an errand, and a deputy got out and approached. He told her he was investigating a complaint by Ron Hankins about a letter that had been written the previous week to the editor of the Glen Rose Reporter, some kind of false identity charge. (Ron Hankins was Somervell County Attorney for a number of years and is now an elected official on the Somervell County Hospital Board) Further, the deputy had been by the Glen Rose Reporter first and at some point got the real name of the pen name writer and went to her house. My friend had written the letter under a pen name, Annie McGee, with the full permission and knowledge of who she actually was of then-editor Colleen Horning. She explained this to the deputy and he asked if he could have a copy of the email between she and Colleen Horning and she supplied it. This is the letter she wrote to the paper under a pen name, again, with the full permission and knowledge of the editor. You can see that the letter is NOT threatening, etc and was not written under Ron Hankins name, ie the letter writer was NOT impersonating HIM.You see if you agree with me that what she wrote was only objectionable to someone who believes himself to be above criticism and highly thin-skinned.
Now, SHE was shaking, sitting there in her car. She couldn't imagine any circumstance in which writing a letter to the editor voicing an opinion should subject her to a police investigation. She had not asked to see the actual complaint and I also wondered, what the fool, so when we got off the phone, I drove down to the Somervell County Sheriff's office to put in an open records request for Ron Hankins's complaint. What and WHY had he used the police to bully and harrass someone like this? The writer also put in an open records request.
Got back the request the next Wednesday (ANY CITIZEN CAN ASK FOR A PUBLIC RECORD). This is only the offense summary page, and not the complaint itself because for some mind boggling reason, at that point I was told that I couldn't get a copy of the complaint because the investigation is still open. What? Why???? Once the writer supplied the evidence, which is ridiculous that she had to do in the first place, shouldn't this have been IMMEDIATELY closed as a FRIVOLOUS complaint???? Could it be at all possible that the complaint will be held open for a very long time in order to try to bury it from public view since it's ridiculous? Same thing happened to her, she also asked for her file and also was not given the full complaint.
Note the charge ONLINE IMPERSONATION. So, someone writing a letter under a pen name, NOT RON HANKINS NAME is not impersonating him, right? It's also in the printed paper, so it's not online either, but even if you consider that the GR Reporter puts its news online, that's still surely not a crime.
It wasn't good enough that in our country, which I remind is the United States of America with first amendment Freedom of Speech, people can exercise that freedom. One would also think that this would be an issue strictly between the Glen Rose Reporter and the writer. If Colleen had no problem, since she KNEW who this was, of allowing the writer to write under a pen name, why did Ron Hankins, the Bully, see it as a matter that required the police? Will he now form an Anti-Freedom of Speech unit to troll the countryside looking for anyone that gets under his skin? Heck, maybe this is in an indication he already is. And WHY did the police agree to investigate this? You'd think they would see how ridiculous this is and not waste one dang cent on police resources.
It's especially ironic because yesterday was the 4th of July, when we celebrate our freedoms, which some apparently only pay lip service to.
P.S. I'm betting a whole lot of you know who wrote this letter. Think of the kindest, most charming, intelligent Christian woman you know. She didn't deserve this and she is not only irate, but wants to make sure what Ron Hankins did is not hidden.
UPDATE: Here is what she has written and is sending out to her friends.
I wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the June 18, 2015 edition of the Reporter. Imagine my surprise when a sheriff’s deputy showed up at my door with a complaint that had been filed against me by Ron Hankins in regard to that letter. The complaint is of “online impersonation”. I certainly disagree with him on many points but since when is a disagreement on politics a cause for filing a legal complaint? He is an elected official and a lawyer. Does he do this for every letter writer with whom he disagrees? Are there other people in the community that he has tried to intimidate? The first amendment to the United States constitution prohibits abridging the freedom of speech, and infringing on the freedom of the press. It does not take a lawyer to know that.
The county attorney has closed the case but the file has not been released to me. The reasoning is that it won’t be released because the case was closed. Since I am named in the investigation it seems I should be able to see the file.
The First Amendment protects not only the citizen’s ability to have an opinion—whether we agree with it or not—but also the right to speak that opinion. The father of our constitution, James Madison, said, “A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.” We own our opinions, and more importantly, we own the ability to communicate them. This, friends, is the very basis of our right to conscience. It is my right to have faith in Christ and a belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God—just as it is the right of every citizen to agree or disagree with my views. Regardless of my views, it is my sworn duty as an elected representative of the people is to protect their right to disagree with their fellow citizens, and indeed to profess that disagreement publicly.
Note that he explicitly says, as a PUBLIC OFFICIAL, that it is the *right of every citizen to agree or disagree with my views". Seems to me a large part of this applies and that Birdwell should go help Ron Hankins understand this.
Ron Hankins needs to get a life. Apparently he doesn't have enough to do on the hospital board so he's going to pick on inoccent citizens of Glen Rose to demonstrate his power. Any credibility he might have had is lost, not because of what was written to the editor, but his cowardice reaction to public opinion.
With you, Rinda. We all don't have to agree, people GET to have different opinions. But when somebody decides to go after people who express them, particulary in a newspaper that epitomizes freedom of the press and freedom of speech, something is WRONG
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