Historical Photo From Oregon, Wisconsin Allows Us To Ponder Masculinity

Hat Tip to Dan Young.

I saw a most interesting photo in my email Thursday morning from the Oregon, Wisconsin Historical Society.  I could not locate a precise time or listing of which team was pictured, but that was not required, since what struck me at once is that no contemporary photo staged this way would be now considered.  And that is rather sad.

Given the macho lingo so overused by many men today along with the derogatory use of the word ‘gay’ assures us that the grouping of Oregon athletes from the picture is one that could never now be photographed.  It reminds me of the Civil War photographs that men would often take (if they had the means) prior to going to war. Many of the pictures show close male bonds and even tender-type images with their buddy, brother, or fellow soldier from their local area. During the pre-war days, it was common for male friends to visit a photographer to show their love and loyalty towards each other.

Physical non-sexual intimacy between men was much more prevalent in the early years of our national story, as evidenced also in letters that allowed for emotional intimacy from the likes of Alexander Hamilton along with numerous examples of deep regard among elected officials in Washington.  Over the decades of reading and better understanding history one of the features of small-town America that forms a perfect mental image for me was summed up by online writers, Brett & Kate McKay. I pull this from my files today to make the case.

The photographer’s studio would have been at the center of town, well-known by everyone, and one’s neighbors would have been sitting in the waiting room just a few feet away. Because homosexuality, even if the thought of as a practice rather than an identity, was not something publicly expressed, these men were not knowingly outing themselves in these shots; their poses were common, and simply reflected the intimacy and intensity of male friendships at the time — none of these photos would have caused their contemporaries to bat an eye.

The photo that arrived in my email and prompted this post is a reminder of the limitations that men have constructed for themselves in our society.  Emotional distance with a limiting and unhealthily self-created definition of what constitutes ‘being male’ has stunted men and negatively impacted families. Years ago, I asked historian Stephen Ambrose, during one of his many visits to Borders Books on University Avenue about this form of male bonding and how it manifested itself during WWII, a time period he wrote about in numerous volumes.

I recall his speaking about late teenagers (boys really) who had known nothing other than their farms or villages and close families then walked into a completely new world of terror and unknowns, coming to soon realize that their lives depended on their fellow soldiers. With such a connection with strangers, it was easy for them to find bonds of intimacy and deep emotional regard for each other.  Those friendships and relationships made solid individuals, but such interactions should obviously not need to be confined to the war theater.

Some foolishly claim from a political perspective that men are losing their masculinity, but I would argue what society requires are men who understand the totality of being human and living the whole spectrum of their emotions.

Frank Shakespeare Dies In Dane County At 97: RKO And CBS Division Presidents, Vatican Ambassador, Roger Ailes Friend In ’68 Nixon Campaign

Frank Shakespeare, a consequential man who lived a life at the intersection of business, media, politics, and diplomacy, died Tuesday at the age of 97. He had resided in Deerfield with his family for well over a decade.

If there was any single person in Dane County who merited an oral history recorded about his work and interactions with the likes of Edward R. Murrow to Pope John Paul II, it was Frank Shakespeare. Sadly, however, that never happened.

His resume ranges from being division presidents at RKO and CBS, ambassador to Portugal and the Holy See, and Chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting, an attempt to further the call for democracy during the Cold War.

Many years ago Shakespeare sat on our front lawn in the Adirondack chairs for just a friendly summertime visit. I can honestly say the quirk of circumstances that brought him into our lives is vastly far less interesting than the life he lived.

I will never forget Shakespeare describing, both with words and mimicking, the hand movements of the chain-smoking Murrow trying to balance an ashtray on the thin arms of a chair. When I asked about Walter Cronkite the response from Frank seemed to sum up the way he viewed most of the public names we easily recognize.

“They did not awe me, they put their pants on like any other man.”

When making an inquiry about Pat Nixon, Frank said, “I only knew of her”.

At one point I told him that anyone who knew Edward Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Richard Nixon is always welcome at our home!

James Wilson, Gregory Humphrey, and Frank Shakespeare

Sitting there that day talking with him I wished it was a decade earlier so that the sharp recollections of a man who had lived and seen so so much history could have been captured on tape.

Though he was an unassuming man, history almost begs us to better know his views and perspectives. The sharper edges he required to navigate corporate boards or be heard in a political campaign, or parry with others at the Vatican as the Cold War was at a pivotal point is part of why a deep-diving series of interviews should have been conducted. How did it all look for Shakespeare decades later in the rearview mirror?

I know who would have been an ideal interviewer, too. Me. After all, the intersections of his life are the ones that I have concentrated on with books and history for the past 40 years. Frank and I would have had a delightful dialogue. I just know it. He enjoyed my coffee-making skills, too. His request was for some sugar and cream in the cup. (I admit to taking odd contemporaneous notes.)

When he was on our Madison isthmus lawn it was not my first awareness of the man or the part he played in Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign. After all, I am a Nixon history buff. I had Joe McGinniss’ book on my shelves, The Selling Of The President 1968, which starts out with the first paragraph featuring none other than Frank Shakespeare.

McGinniss at the time was a 26-year-old former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who functioned as part of the Nixon campaign team. What he witnessed in that campaign and the strategy for winning national support was illuminating at the time his book was published and serves now as a place in history where one can see a time before the ’68 race, and a time after.

Shakespeare was a professional image shaper who surely knew full well that the line from McGinniss about Nixon in the 1960 presidential election was true. “He failed because he had no press to lie for him and did not know how to use television to lie about himself. The camera portrayed him clearly. America took its Richard Nixon straight and did not like the taste.”

Page 60 “The Selling Of The President’

Another up-and-coming voice in conservative media who played an instrumental role in Nixon’s victory was Roger Ailes, who later in life would define factless television disguised as news. In 1968, however, he produced Nixon’s TV shows which were slick staged ‘town hall meetings’ that were as prefabricated as the cheap homes then sprouting up around the nation. Over the years, I have likened those 30 minutes of hokum as being a third cousin to Col. Tom Parker placing a live electric wire under hay so fairgoers would think chickens really danced.

Shakespeare was the one, as Rick Perlstein writes in Nixonland, who brought Ailes into the fold of the campaign.

Ailes and Shakespeare well understood how Nixon would need to look, stand, be lighted, and smoothed over for an electorate who knew the candidate all too well. Teddy White offers his readers in Making Of The President 1968 the view from Shakespeare that Nixon they presented to the nation was “spontaneous, with no rehearsal, in a serious posture with a mixed bag of questioners…”

As a decades-long Richard Nixon history buff the manner that he was marketed to the public in the 1968 presidential campaign, much akin to toothpaste or ketchup, was a defining moment in the further weakening of our politics. While messaging and artifice have long been political tools–who can forget the rail-splitting image of Abraham Lincoln–I have long hoped that our elections could be elevating experiences. The 1968 Nixon campaign was the exact opposite. And, of course, the history of the Nixon Administration shows what happens when character considerations are tossed aside for the salesmanship of a candidate.

So how then would one of the architects of the ’68 Nixon effort reflect on how our national politics emerged in the presidential cycles which followed? That is what I would have truly enjoyed discovering in an oral history with Frank Shakespeare.

Frank Shakespeare surely had a deep and abiding love for our nation, just as it is fair to say the television era changed and shaped our politics in detrimental ways. It was that thumbprint on history that I wished we had the chance for him to review.

And so it goes.

Congressman Mark Pocan Signs Letter Giving Russian President Putin Voice In Progressive House Caucus

Congressman Mark Pocan

It was not what I expected as the first news story to read when I turned on my computer today. In fact, I looked to see if the story was the daily offering from Andy Borowitz. The news article, however, was from NBC News, and then I noted in my listings every major news operation was reporting on the undermining of Ukraine and its people by Progressive House Democrats. A letter from the caucus was sent to the White House on Monday (yesterday) but retracted only hours later. The damage, however, was done. Without one iota of foresight, the caucus had already allowed Russian President Putin a victory off the battlefield.

Progressive House Democrats sent that letter to President Biden asking that he pair the military and financial support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a “proactive diplomatic push” that involves direct talks with Russia.  To say that letter with its weak-kneed overture to Putin was a stab in the back to worldwide efforts, that have proven to be forceful and meaningful, would be a vast understatement.  Of course, Russia would much enjoy seeing a split in the majority party of the world superpower at a critical juncture in both the military moves in Ukraine and the political timing approaching the midterm elections.  Having gained a voice in the Progressive Caucus Putin must be pleased that the united message against Russia’s war of aggression has a crack that can now be used to further his aims against a sovereign nation.

If I could talk with Mark over a cup of coffee I would encourage him to realize that stopping Putin is in America’s best interests for security reasons, and standing with our NATO alliance is essential. Putin invaded Ukraine not because he felt threatened by NATO expansion or by Western so-called pressures. He ordered his military to move because he believes that it is Russia’s divine right to rule Ukraine, to wipe out the country’s national identity, and to integrate its people into a ‘Greater Russia’. We all have had some Russian history and can recall that since the mid-1920s there was a running argument that ‘Russia was robbed’ of core territory when the Bolsheviks created the Soviet Union and established a Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. What these Progressive Democrats, who signed the letter, are just not grasping is that Putin is trying to change the historical narrative of the last hundred years, not just the years following the end of the Cold War. He wants to make Ukraine, Europe, and indeed the whole world conform to his own twisted version of history. There can not be an inch of wiggle room when it comes to what Putin gains from this act of aggression. To consider any talks with Putin at this time would be a sign of weakness and damaging to the long-term interests of the NATO alliance.

It was most disconcerting that over a week ago House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said a GOP majority would not give a “blank check” to Ukraine, indicating it would instead focus on relieving economic pain at home.  Standing on the foundations the Republican Party had firmly owned during the Ronald Reagan years, such as being tough on Russia, and aligning with core values about democracy has become ancient history for some in the GOP. But McCarthy now has a number of progressive allies in his plans for future congressional action–or not–regarding Ukraine.

Let me weigh in as a liberal Democrat. I am not pleased to see so many of those in Congress who are often right on a whole array of economic and social issues flounder so completely when it comes to an absolute need to stand firm against Putin. Sadly, and not for the first time when it comes to foreign policy issues, Pocan comes from a partisan position.

He lacked the will to offer his backing in Congress for a needed military strike against Syria in 2013 after that rouge regime used chemical weapons on its people. Now with this Russian aggression, he believes that his district, which includes liberal Dane County, must be catered to with squishy words about our continued needed resolve and support for heightened military measures, so to push Russian forces out of a sovereign nation it invaded. Too often that sentiment seems the default position of progressive Democrats. I understand politically why Pocan wishes to keep his bona fides with the Progressive Caucus but it should be of higher importance that he not turn off common sense and the moral calling that history demands of him.

We do not have the luxury simply due to our living in the 2nd Congressional District to throw our hands up to the horrible crap that happens to so many around the globe.  When Putin invaded Ukraine there was only one response the world community could give; a complete and absolute rejection of such brazen hostility. I am truly concerned that Congressman Pocan and his fellow Progressives have divorced themselves from reality about Putin and his agenda. Timid and reticent politicians are only remembered for being wrong.

Here Is Why Anthony Hamilton Is Worthy Of Your Vote For Dane County Sheriff

When it comes to public safety, I have continually opted for the course that best meets the needs of keeping society secure and follows the process of law and order. Even before the past 24 hours, or so, I was already a voter who was planning to cast a November vote for Anthony Hamilton as our next Dane County Sheriff. That decision was based on the clear need for more officers to be hired in the department, and what I consider a stodgy hiring strategy at a time when a public desire for safety increases.

Following news reports this week of a search warrant process that was not carried out in a fashion that we must demand from law enforcement, was just additional evidence as to why a change at the top of the Dane County Sheriff’s Department must take place at the ballot box.

Going into this election I have heard and talked with officers who have spoken about the feeling of being stretched thin with overtime and fewer fellow deputies to meet, at times, the needs of the county. That to me is the central and core issue of this race, and the topic that meets the voters at their home or their place of business.  The citizenry has a rightful expectation to know that law enforcement is staffed to meet the current array of problems that might require their involvement.

We know this summer that Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett stated the staffing situation is such that the department is short 40 deputies.  Though safety reasons were the leading cause for the closing of part of the outdated jail there was also a shortage of staff that aided in making that decision. While arguments can be made about the ways to recruit and hire new deputies, the fact there is such a shortage in the first place is enough concern to drive a voter to make a change in the leadership of the sheriff’s office.

Then the news from yesterday landed with a most embarrassing thud for the county.

Republican Dane County sheriff’s candidate and detective Anthony Hamilton has sued the Sheriff’s Office in federal court alleging that officials conspired to remove him from the SWAT team for raising concerns about a search at a hotel in March 2021 he considered illegal.

Hamilton’s removal from the SWAT team stemmed from an armed standoff at the Magnuson Grand Hotel in Madison where Hamilton and other law enforcement agents searched a hotel room, the lawsuit said. During the search, Hamilton voiced concerns that the search was probably illegal, the lawsuit said.

Sheriff’s officials later lied in their reports about the incident, with Sgt. Mark Schroeder, who participated in the search, saying that he had ordered Hamilton to obtain a warrant, according to the lawsuit.

Law enforcement at the scene first said they had received permission from the hotel’s manager to search the room because no one had been living there. In an interview on Tuesday, Hamilton said he later learned that the hotel had been renting the room off the books, which technically made the search illegal.

The reason this finds me exercised today is that over and over on this blog I have pressed how the process of governing needs to be transparent, and made clear for those who follow the proceedings, so that win or lose, all can state honestly that the rules were known and applied.  The process must not be tainted or altered to get the desired end. From the antics of my local neighborhood association to the pure lunacy of the Donald Trump White House, there is no escaping that process matters. As it was required to do so with the law enforcement matter in which Hamilton was engaged.  What we are again witnessing is a fact. When an established process is tossed aside for expediency it makes for harsh consequences.

For the record, I have not met or talked with either of the contenders for the sheriff’s office this fall.  But I am aware of the distrust that falls upon the shoulders of the men and women who wear the law enforcement uniform, and how that translates into our politics and social tensions.  Dane County simply must have a rational hiring process so a full department can be ready to serve the public, and once hired officers must go about their business of not only serving and protecting, but also burnishing a better image for the public.  I believe our sheriff’s department must do better but can only achieve what is desired with new leadership. 

A new sheriff. 

Anthony Hamilton.

Dane County Fairgrounds Dark At 9 P.M. With Clear Skies

Friday night was a perfect example of summer.  At 9 P.M. it was 76 degrees, winds were calm, and the sky was mostly clear.  It is the weekend of the Dane County Fair.  Teenage couples should have been planning a few trips around the top of the Ferris Wheel, and delighted youngsters ready to show off a prized item in the crafts or animal barn to grandparents who surely would then see the wisdom of buying some cotton candy for a job well done.

But as I drove along Rimrock Road the lights of the rides were off, the cars in the massive parking area were mostly cleared out, there were no sounds of laughter and light-heartedness, and no carnival scents of corn dogs hung in the air.

It was truly disheartening to see what the lowest common denominators in our area achieved.

Last year at the fair—and on a Friday night–about 100 youth brawled in the parking lot that required deputies to step in and respond. It was so out-of-hand that Town of Madison police was called in for assistance. Multiple physical and verbal altercations started between a crowd of minors who gathered in the parking lot. By 9:30 P.M. deputies and fair security began to break up a large crowd of more than 50 people.

The outrageous behavior forced fair officials last year to move up its closing time for its last two nights and mandated minors be accompanied by adults.

That is where we still stand in 2022.

It is pathetic that those with no goals in life other than creating mayhem can throw one of the great traditional events of summer almost out of existence.  There is so much revenue lost to vendors and those who work at the fairs.  It truly hurt inside to see the dark quiet on a Friday night at the fairgrounds.

I grew up in rural Wisconsin where it was a real treat to walk the midway as a boy with the dazzling, flickering, and beckoning lights. Life was not always big and brassy, so when the fair arrived it was truly a big deal. You just always prayed for no rain that weekend! The Saturday night grandstand show would always feature some country artist.  We would meet every year some extended family and it was an event all in its own way in the bleachers. 

Corny?  No. Just living life.  And we did year after year.

When I became an uncle and my small nephews and nieces were not sure about the Scrambler and Tilt-a-Whirl, and some of the adults were not wanting to get light-headed, I was the one who made sure there were fair memories made for a lifetime.

So, yeah, it ticks me off to know that Madison and Dane County kids who would enjoy some of their own traditions and excitements at the fair as the sun sets and the glow of the midway takes over are denied that pleasure due to losers who had to brawl last year.  And did so to such an extent the impact has lasted for a year.

The list of the lowest common denominators among us seems to grow each year. Add those who turned the county fair into a darkened parking lot at 9 P.M. on a grand summer night in Madison.

Let Kids Read…Whatever They Find Interesting

I read a column this week in the Los Angeles Times that again called our attention to banned books. The column also raised a memory from my childhood that strikes at the heart of this issue.

David Ulin composed a tightly written and fast read about the place we find ourselves with the latest pushes for banning books in places all over the nation. We might like to believe that such behavior is located only in red counties and conservative states. But that would be very much mistaken.

In 2018 the Monona Grove School District in Dane County was considering whether it should continue teaching To Kill a Mockingbird after a parent complained that the racially charged language in the novel is inappropriate.  That would suggest some in our area have no more ability to digest and discuss thought-provoking books than people we now argue with about banning James Baldwin. In the end, the school board continued the use of the book in the classroom.

That episode crossed my mind as I read Ulin’s opinion article.

The house where I was raised had an open shelf rule. This meant my brother and I were allowed to read anything, no matter how inappropriate or beyond our years. We never had to ask.

I spent hours of my childhood perusing the volumes on my father’s bookcases at will, trial and error. Histories, thrillers, science fiction, books on politics and culture — all of it was available to me.

I keep thinking about this as more and more school districts participate in what is shaping up to look like an open war against reading. According to “Banned in the USA,” a report issued by the writers’ organization PEN America in April, nearly 1,600 individual books were banned in 26 states between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

Among the titles challenged or removed are Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” Elizabeth Acevedo’s “The Poet X,” Roxane Gay’s “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” and Robin Benway’s “Far From the Tree.” All are works of abiding literary merit that address issues of identity and race and family — in other words, exactly the kinds of books students should be reading now.

Although the challenging of books and curriculum is hardly new in the United States, what we’re facing now is somewhat different. Of the current bans, PEN notes, “41% (644 individual bans) are tied to directives from state officials or elected lawmakers to investigate or remove books in schools.” It is not parents or even school boards driving many of these challenges. It is the power of the state.

I have a visceral reaction when the topic of banning books is raised. To place constraints on an individual as to what can be read and learned and what ideas can be entertained is just unacceptable. Books are a gateway to new concepts and allow for a higher level of reasoning.

My memory of attempted censorship took place when I was in grade school, the 6th grade.

“Do your parents know you are reading this book?”

That question from Mrs. Tunks, a schoolteacher of mine, was as close as book censorship ever came my way.  I still recall the stair steps in the old schoolhouse where she pointed at my copy of The Throne Of Saturn by Allen Drury, and while looking at it sounded her prudish alarm, though for what reason I could never understand. 

Other than the fact the book was 600 pages, and ‘kids’ were not supposed to read anything other than the Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys series–which I blew through in the 4th grade, provides no real explanation for her remark. 

The fact my parents encouraged me to read, as it kept me interested in all sorts of things, did not seem to settle her skeptical mind as to why that book would intrigue me.  A space adventure between the United States and the Soviet Union was high drama for my 6th-grade mind, and I guess for lots of adult readers as well, or it would never have been published.  I finished that book and kept Allen Drury as a writer I have long enjoyed into my adult years.

And when the book was finished dad drove me to our little local library to get another one to read. Those drives were a Friday evening ritual.

Today the hard copy edition of that book sets on my shelf as not only a reminder of a good read but also to underscore a long-held belief of mine.  No one should be censoring reading material for inquisitive minds.

Let young people be exposed to books and ideas!

Pandemic Is Not Over, Regardless Of What People Wish To Believe

Friday night I walked the railroad track that runs alongside McPike Park in Madison as the La Fête De Marquette drew thousands to the large band stage as music wafted over the neighborhood and the aroma of festival food lingered in the humid air. It was as close as I ventured to an event that had been a part of my summer routine since moving to our home on the isthmus in 2007.

Though James and I sit for dinner at outside tables and enjoy the laughter and wide-ranging conversations at cookouts and backyard gatherings I have forgone the big-screen movie magic this summer of Elvis. We wear a mask when grocery shopping or a quick hardware store run, and certainly would not wade into the throngs of closely packed people at a festival. As I looked at the dense crowd I thought of the statistic I read this week reporting only a third of the American population has received at least one booster shot.

COVID is still a real health care concern in the nation. Omicron subvariant BA.5 is racing about and infecting millions in the United States. I understand that many are simply tired of the virus and have made a conscious decision to go about their lives as if the chapter has ended. As I walked past the festival and then onwards for a longer trek in the neighborhood I thought about what might happen should another virulent variant start to spread around the nation.

The concern the public needs to be aware of is the growing number of cases of this latest variant attacking those who previously had contracted COVID. The need to mask up in buildings and movie theatres is not hard to reason, while the slow pacing of more concrete and strict orders from the CDC and governmental units is hard to fathom.

A neighbor who is a believer in science contacted public health offices in Madison and Dane County asking when they might be more vocal about the need to again mask up. It was reported the offices replied they certainly advise awareness of the virus, but would not at this time be more active in their statements.

One does have to ask, given the current fast-spreading variant, what lessons were learned over the past two years about how to deal with and stem an outbreak of disease? This past week the World Health Organization made it quite clear when stating “the virus is running freely”. While it is obvious that large percentages of the population have opted to think the virus is no longer a factor in how they conduct their lives, governments must be mindful of the mission at hand.

While many viruses tend to weaken as they mutate, others do not. Medical professionals have urged governments to be prepared regarding COVID for the “expected wave in the autumn and winter seasons”.

We need to make sure Congress understands that more funding is required so to further study COVID and ensure that the needed medical stockpiles for further outbreaks will be adequate to the needs of the nation. This year President Biden requested $22.5 billion for COVID funding, but due to partisan sniping, our elected officials were only able to appropriate half of the request.

Readers to this little place on the internet highway fully know my resolve in seeing Russian aggression pushed out of Ukraine. The massive amounts of funding to accomplish that end is a bill this nation, along with our international allies, must pay. And Congress, for the most part, has anted up. And quickly.

But that same stridency for missiles and armaments for the Eastern European war must be employed in the fight against the variants of COVID, and whatever future medical mysteries confront our people.

The festival crowd may not know or care that this pandemic continues. Our local, state, and national governments, however, must not only know about the dangers, but act accordingly for the citizens they have a responsibility to protect.

Laws And Decency Matter, Even When Headlines Make For Anger

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.