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The Remedy For Rebecca Bradley’s Hate Speech

March 8, 2016

Last weekend, before the hateful writings from Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Bradley were reported, I had a phone conversation with an aunt who is in her early 70’s.  We talked about more elk coming to Jackson County and how fast they can run, and how the Decorah eagles are once again sitting on their eggs.  We opined on seed catalogs and traded tidbits about our family.  As is always the case when we get on the phone there was never a time when silence registered on the line.

She follows news and politics but is not what anyone would term a politico. In other words she is very much an average voter.  So it probably comes as no surprise that the conversation only turned to the presidential election as a result of a question I asked her about the tone of the race.  With her usual soft-toned candor she spoke about how there was never a time when candidates acted in the fashion now seen and heard about every day.  How could such rude and crude behavior be a winning formula this campaign season?  What happened to self-respect?

I too have felt after watching the daily campaign news there was really no more that could make me wince or look twice in disbelief.   Had we not seen just about everything when in a presidential debate Donald Trump talked about the size of his body parts.   When I hear parents talking about their kids running around the house yelling for others to look at the size of their hands it is clear that all news is not fit for young people.

But when it came to wincing the worst was yet to come.

This week we learned that Rebecca Bradley wrote that human beings with AIDS were “degenerates”,  gay people were “queers”, AIDS was a “politically-correct” disease, and Bill Clinton was a “queer-loving” president.  I will leave out of this post whether she is able to prove anywhere near the level of objectivity that is required to fulfill the job as a member of the state’s high court.   I will not even venture into the moral wasteland of her soul for my attempt at rebuking her remarks.    As a former employee of AIDS Network in Madison I could easily clip her written words into bits and add them to history’s trash bin.

But instead I want to focus on who we are as an electorate, and what we have to say with the power of a ballot.

I think most voters want to be treated with respect.  They want their candidates to be mature.  Voters know that everyone has done something in their past that has no doubt been embarrassing.   But there is a huge difference with youthful indiscretions such as under age drinking or streaking in a mall compared to the person who willfully puts hate-filled words down on paper that is intended to hurt another and then be published.    Acting out in ways that are part of the growing up process like smoking dope at the local rock quarry is far different than penning hate-filled rants that I suggest speaks to a most troubled foundation.

Voters have a need to respond to the way we have been treated from those who seek our vote.  It is not enough just to ascertain what a presidential candidates’ tax plan is or how ones judicial philosophy shapes their views when hearing a court case.  Voters also have a right to ask how they were viewed by the candidates during the election.

Did the candidate consider that when they coarsen our political dialogue it lasts longer then just for the duration of the campaign?  Do candidates understand when hateful or unwarranted and over-the-top rhetoric is spewed about it undermines the social fabric of our state and nation?   A candidate needs to know how they conduct themselves impacts us all regardless of whether they win or lose.   A candidate may not know it but the election is not all about him or her.

On Election Day voters can say how they feel about the tone of the election as much as they can over the issues.  The best way to let Bradley know her hate and bitterness is not the stuff that makes for Wisconsin values is to simply not vote for her.  Cast a ballot for someone else, or no one in the race.   Let your voice be front and center for how we want our candidates to behave as they ask us for the responsibility to lead.

If they can not respect us during the campaign what hope do we have after they are elected?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2016 7:06 PM

    What Tom fails to grasp is that since Bradley has declined to give her views on issues then it is most relevant to turn to these types of writings to get a better understanding of how she thinks. Granted it is a dirty mess in her writing to wade through but since she was not properly vetted by Walker and Company it now falls on the rest of us to do the job. And we will.

  2. March 11, 2016 12:29 PM

    Peter, are you moving? We need your vote!

  3. March 9, 2016 11:24 AM

    Never once did I say anything about Bradley not having the right to pen hate. I would take issue with a publication that would allow such things to be published as I think there are and must be standards. But voters have a desire to see their candidates conduct themselves in a way that brings honor to the office they seek. Voters have also have a right to say that benchmark was not reached.

  4. orlin sellers permalink
    March 9, 2016 10:37 AM

    You would deny someone the right of free speech? Only speech you agree with should be allowed?

  5. tom permalink
    March 9, 2016 9:05 AM

    LOL! Too funny. While Bradley’s views were disturbing in the past, there is no reason to believe they were any different than those of the president who for twenty years sat in one of the most racist and homophobic churches in the nation. Because it is politically convenient, you choose to accept Obama’s “evolution” but not Bradley’s? We might note that Bradley has volunteered for organizations which treat children with AIDS and has presided over the adoptions of children by gay parents, but Obama simply did what was politically expedient and ordered the White House staff to throw some colored tints over the lighting one night.

    The left needs to decide if it really gives a crap about any of this stuff. If they did, they would not have one set of standards for Dems and one for Repubs.

  6. March 9, 2016 8:48 AM

    How did our formerly enlightened state become such an ultra-right-wing sewer? If Bradley had a shred of character, she’d resign and remove herself from the ballot. But she won’t, because she works for Boss Walker and we know how much character he has.

    This is no different than my childhood in the South when voters were expected to wink at the fact that some candidates were members of the Klan. Except this is the North, 16 years into the 21st century.

    I can’t wait to get out of this backwards cesspool of bigotry.

  7. Solly permalink
    March 8, 2016 10:57 PM

    If “the gays” want respect from Bradley, when they come before her as a judge they can simply come up with a $1 million contribution. Just like WMC does or Joint Finance Chairs Alberta Dumpling and John Nygren who are having a fundraiser for her at the Madison Club. Hear that lobbyists? The people who decide which partisan political favors are granted are getting the contribution vacuum out for the Beckster. And before tom, or others of his ilk point out they were just “college years” writings and irrelevant now, Bradley apparently referenced a college paper on the resume she submitted for her judge application. That wasn’t irrelevant apparently. I’m sure now that she has a world view, some of her best friends are “queers and stupid Democratic voters.”

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