Our view: Fair and impartial? Clinkscales must go

November 7, 2013 11:12:40 AM

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In her role as municipal court judge for the City of Columbus, Nicole Clinkscales is expected to perform her duties without bias or prejudice. By either word or conduct, she should not display bias or prejudice on the basis of race or any number of public issues. 

 

This is not a mere expectation or a standard to strive for. It is an absolute requirement.  

 

A judge who cannot or will not abide by this requirement is unfit for the considerable responsibility entrusted to him or her. 

 

Based on recently exposed comments Clinkscales has made through her Facebook account, it is clear beyond all doubt she has proven herself unfit to sit as a city judge. 

 

She should resign or be removed from her position. 

 

Last week, The Dispatch reported Clinkscales, in her criticism of Columbus Municipal School District board member Aubra Turner, suggested Turner was guilty of "tom" foolery, a thinly-veiled accusation that Turner, who like Clinkscales is black, was an "Uncle Tom." 

 

The use of quotation marks around only the "tom" part of the word "tomfoolery," is a clear reference to the Uncle Tom euphemism used to describe a black person who serves the interest of white people who are in a position of authority.  

 

While some have argued that the use of the word is too ambiguous to discern Ms. Clinkscales attitude on race, a more thorough examination of her Facebook posts remove any ambiguity. 

 

In her posts, Clinkscales makes repeated references to "us vs. them" and other comments leave little doubt as to who the "us" and "them" are. 

 

Just a few samples are enough to make it clear: 

 

  • "If my people don't wake up and walk in the authority God has given, you can very well look up and be right back in bondage. And just as before -- they will shove their will down your throat and never give it a second thought! Stop pandering and apologizing and RULE!" 

     

  • "I am simply amazed that those who created and established the very institutions and systems that those who were still in the cotton fields during their inception now operate in are complaining about how those systems...are playing out?...It's a classic case of separate and unequal. In other news, "it ain't no fun when the rabbit got the gun!"  

     

  • "...Don't misunderstand me. I have an unabashed love for my people. I know the power we have and it's time to walk in that privilege!" 

     

  • "Prayer must come first. Then we have to move! We've sat by too long and allowed them to manipulate and desecrate our community. Enough is enough!" 

     

    We are saddened by the views expressed in these posts and remain confident that the good people of Columbus, both white and black, are able to see through and reject the sort of open racial conflict Clinkscales seems to advocate. 

     

    While it is unfortunate these views exist among some residents of our community, its goes far beyond unfortunate when those views are espoused by a judge. 

     

    When a judge shows a clear inclination to view her community in an us-vs.-them/black-vs.-white context, it severely erodes public confidence in a fair and impartial justice system, one of the bedrocks of our American society. A judge who displays this attitude makes a mockery of the judiciary. 

     

    Municipal judges are appointed by the city council, which has both the right and obligation to remove a judge when that judge has proven unfit for the bench. 

     

    To date, the city council has taken no action. There is a belief that the council will defer the matter to the Mississippi Commission of Judicial Performance. 

     

    That is unfortunate. To abdicate its responsibility in this matter, the council will demonstrate a moral weakness and lack of leadership that further erodes public trust in its leaders.  

     

    Among all her inflammatory rants, we do agree with one point Clinkscales made on her Facebook page. 

     

    Enough is enough. 

     

    For the good of the community, the city council should perform its duty and remove Clinkscales from her position as municipal court judge.