I was quite taken aback when the promotion for a local television newscast this weekend stated an attack had occurred at an anti-choice office in Madison.
I was also troubled when it was reported recently that a person was arrested outside a county courtroom after making threats to the district attorney.
Early on Sunday someone vandalized and threw two Molotov cocktails into the office of Wisconsin Family Action, located on Madison’s Northeast side. The office suffered fire damage, though it was reported the lobbed ‘cocktails’ did not explode.
Meanwhile, Kenyairra Gadson was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a judge stood firm to the law and measured the shooting and killing of Donivan Lemons with the need for society to have such behavior penalized. It was after that decision Jessica Williams, a victim’s advocate and organizer to not have Gadson serve a prison term, made the threat to Dane County District Attorney Ismael.
Like millions of others nationwide, I am roiled and deeply concerned over the draft opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito as it strives to undo precedent, and alter the relationship privacy has under the decisions of the Court. We know that marriage equality in this nation is the next shot to be fired by conservatives. Such dangerous moves by the conservative element on the Court about Roe v. Wade will have long-lasting and detrimental outcomes on our society.
But knowing that I would never learn how to construct a Molotov cocktail or set my alarm clock to get me to an office that lobbies against abortion at an early hour to so to blow it up. If my arguments were so weak that it took violence for me to demonstrate them I would take up a new cause that centered on using crayons.
Whoever was responsible for the damage of property Sunday will be apprehended, that I have no doubt, and justice will be attained through the legal process. But the larger damage to how we interact with others, even when tensions are extremely high, is not something that will soon be healed.
We do lose something intangible in a democracy when violence replaces spirited dialogue and reasoned debate.
Freedom, Inc. and other advocates were seeking their version of justice regarding Gadson and had every allowance to assemble and speak freely in the weeks leading up to sentencing. They had demanded Dane County Circuit Court Judge Chris Taylor only sentence Gadson to the time she already served over the course of the case.
But when that vocal dissent against the norms of the justice system turned into a person threatening harassment and intimidation an arrest was correctly made.
Part of the larger problem in society is not that we exist in a highly politically polarized nation, but that the skills of too large a section of the nation are severely limited in debating and being able to effectively communicate. It seems to some that tossing a ‘cocktail’ is easier than reaching countless readers via a Letter to The Editor in the local newspaper. It seems that protesting at the private homes of people serving in government is smarter than pouring their energy into the upcoming mid-term elections.
Politics is often filled with raw emotion but it is the reasoned and logical presentation of issues that moves discussions and makes for the movement in the arc of history. The anger that turns to violence is recalled by history as shameful occurrences, not worthy of anything but scorn.
As we move forward in this frothy time of national angst do we wish to be recalled as a mover of historical events akin to the civil rights advocates of the 1960s, or to Bull Conner and his angry pack of dogs?
We all have a choice.
And so it goes.