Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: No State Supreme Court Justice Should Be Putting Their Hands Around Anyone’s Throat
Let me say it straight out: I am no lover of Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. I think that he’s a Republican who, like many other (but not all) Republicans, has completely lost his mind. I think that he is an ideological fanatic and hack. And fanatics do not belong in the political arena, no matter how free the civil discourse or the citizenry under a plural government. Let me remind people what a fanatic is, from Wikipedia’s definition of fanaticism:
Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause or in some cases sports, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby. Philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”;according to Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” By either description the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.
In his book Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk, Neil Postman states that “the key to all fanatical beliefs is that they are self-confirming….(some beliefs are) fanatical not because they are ‘false’, but because they are expressed in such a way that they can never be shown to be false….”
The behavior of a fan with overwhelming enthusiasm for a given subject is differentiated from the behavior of a fanatic by the fanatic’s violation of prevailing social norms. Though the fan’s behavior may be judged as odd or eccentric, it does not violate such norms… A fanatic differs from a crank, in that a crank is defined as a person who holds a position or opinion which is so far from the norm as to appear ludicrous and/or probably wrong, such as a belief in a Flat Earth. In contrast, the subject of the fanatic’s obsession may be “normal”, such as an interest in religion or politics, except that the scale of the person’s involvement, devotion, or obsession with the activity or cause is abnormal or disproportionate.
This is the kind of behavior that separates an avid Los Angeles Dodger fan from the perpetrators who tried to end the life of a Giants fan not too long ago at Dodger Stadium. This is the kind of behavior that motivated the likes of Jared Lee Loughner to kill or maim Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others at a meet and greet in an Arizona suburb.
Let me tell you how I know when fanaticism abounds in this country; it is when politicians say or do any one of the following. And that is: when politicians are threatening someone or some group or each other with bodily harm; politicians openly suggesting the assassination of national leaders, including the current president; when politicians publicly call each other deadly names or curse words that are reminiscent of fights, Mafia hits or gang violence; when politicians try to portray the other side as less than human or subjects to be destroyed like vermin, or when politicians use physical violence against another or each other, in other words, try to wound or kill another.
I don’t believe Justice Bradley came after Justice Prosser “with her fists clenched.” I think this is straight bullshit coming from like-fanatics who want to excuse Justice Prosser’s actions. If women fight, they don’t always come presenting their dukes. That simply does not read right to me. I think Justice Bradley was trying to shoo, push or haul Prosser out the door; she had had it from him. Violence or physical retaliation was the last thing on her mind. She wanted him to get lost or to leave, but of course, Prosser being Prosser, he refused to budge.
Instead, Prosser put his hands on her throat and neck–purely to defend himself, he says. ‘Sconnie readers, do you truly believe that statement? Or that he only used one hand? Do you truly believe that as a defensive mechanism, his hands “accidentally” found themselves on her throat? And that he didn’t apply pressure? (What is worse is that one Republican justice and witness told Justice Bradley that she hadn’t been choked, when she felt and said that she had been. That’s like telling someone who has been lynched that the rope didn’t hurt.) Now, if you believe that statement and other statements, you are flat trying to make excuses for egregious, anti-social behavior, which is the baggage of a fanatic. This from a man who threatened Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson with destruction, and called her a bitch. Prosser has also appeared at Tea Party rallies in which he singled out his fellow justices for his particular derision. Partisanship is one thing, but people do not do these kinds of things in a community dedicated to the rule of law, and public and private civility and discourse. To me, Justice Prosser and his supporters have gone way off the rails. They’re providing leadership alright–but for a lynch mob of fanatics. People need to back up from the precipice, seriously. I swear, I have seen and heard a lot even in California politics, but I have never witnessed anything like this kind of behavior, and it is patently frightening.
Have you ever heard of Democratic lawmakers or justices threatening Republicans with death or maiming? Practically nil. But Democrats are threatened with everything including burning and stoning. The equivalent of such a time in our American history? In 1856, during the divisive slavery debate, a South Carolina Representative and pro-slavery advocate, Preston Brooks, took a cane and nearly beat Senator Charles Sumner to death after Sumner had embarrassed a lawmaker relative of his in a Senate speech rife with sexual innuendoes. He broke his cane over the senator’s head. Sumner was left permanently disabled from his injuries; he had advocated emancipation of the slaves. He later became a diehard leader of the Radical Republicans, and died in 1874.
Brooks, however, received dozens of canes, some saying “Good Job” or other encouraging words from fellow Southerners. Never mind that he very nearly murdered a man and a fellow legislator. He managed to remain in office, but died of the croup–a stronger form of bronchitis–a year after the incident. However, this event helped Northerners portray Southerners as a little less than civilized in the years leading to the Civil War. It was the nadir of civil discourse at that time. After Sumner’s attack, both sides in Congress armed themselves to the teeth with pistols, knives, swords and canes in chambers. If they were going to go down, they were going down fighting. That was the state of affairs on the eve of Secession.
And now, time has switched around who is who and what is what. Southerners now support Republicans, not Democrats. Wisconsin Republicans, taking up a favorite Southern issue, now want to allow concealed guns in the state, including in the state chambers. They’re still wrangling over whether such a thing will take place in the Capitol Building, but just imagine. Imagine a gun in the wrong lawmaker’s or justice’s hands simply because they disagree with someone. Imagine a gun in Prosser’s hands because he doesn’t agree with the chief justice or Justice Bradley on yet another issue, aided by this bill allowing for concealed weapons. Imagine that he shoots them or all of the liberal justices on the Court. What is he going to say then? That the gun jumped into his hand and fired against his will?
I say this because I believe that Justice David Prosser is unhinged and that all excuses for such behavior is staving off a reckoning that people will regret. Oh yeah, I believe in saying what other people won’t say. This guy cannot control his emotions about these two women justices. He’s always saying that he’s provoked by what they say and do. Frankly, it’s about what he says and does in response. At the very least, he hates women who oppose him, even those who do so skillfully or deftly.
No wonder that while a legislator, David Prosser mentored Scott Walker. The apple doesn’t fall short from the tree. There were a few voices in and outside of Wisconsin who urged the governor or Capitol Police to turn guns or batons against those who were participating in the February Uprising Remember that during that fake Koch brother phone call, the governor regretted that he couldn’t foment a violent denouement?
David Prosser’s hands are lethal weapons. And he believes grandiosely that he can do no wrong.
Maybe it’s time for another recall effort. David Prosser has got to go.