Post by Barb May
The Civility Pledge
* will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
* will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
* will stand against incivility when I see it.
Blogress Ann Althouse, a university of Wisconsin law professor, is half
of the husband-and-wife team that has done a better job than any
journalist of reporting on the skirmish in Wisconsin over government
union privileges. Yesterday she posted a link to a bizarre threat
against her and hubby Laurence Meade that was posted on Scirbd.com:
We will hang up wanted posters of you everywhere you like
to go. We will picket on public property as close to your
house as we can every day. We will harrass the ever loving
sh--out of you all the time. . . . Because we aren't
anti-social, life-denying, world-sterilizing pieces of human
garbage like the two of you. WE WILL F--- YOU UP.
It goes on at much greater length, but that gives a taste. It's
threatening, eliminationist and unhinged, and it includes what appears
to be Althouse and Meade's home address.
BigGovernment.com's Dan Riehl managed to snag an "exclusive interview"
with the author, who sounds (and looks--the photo is quite something!)
considerably less threatening than his rant:
Shankman is currently unemployed, claims to not be a member
of a union and says he most often works as a dishwasher when
employed. He insists that he does not advocate for violence
and in some ways sought to distance himself from his
"manifesto," while also acknowledging authorship. He says
he's done with the issue and was simply giving voice to
thoughts and rhetoric he "regularly hears in the street."
"I'm done with it," said Shankman, adding that he intends
to pull back some from social media. However, he did not
back away from the manifesto, claiming he wanted to elevate
the idea and that if others in Madison wanted to embrace it,
then so much the better.
So he's a passive-aggressive twerp, an uncredentialed Brian Leiter.
To judge by his Facebook profile, he is a sort of Big Labor groupie: a
"volunteer" for both the AFL-CIO and WEAC, the Wisconsin teachers union,
along with Ian's Pizza, a Madison parlor that cashed in on the
controversy by delivering pies to protesters and thugs at the Capitol,
paid for by "supporters from all 50 states--as well as Bosnia, China,
Egypt, France and 20 other countries," according to the New York Times.
(Incidentally, do labor unions really use "volunteers"? That seems a bit
exploitive and hypocritical.)
Althouse herself does not seem to feel threatened, and she notes that
Shankman has hurt himself more than her. "I really do feel sorry for
these young people who screw up their internet reputation," she wrote
People, take a lesson from what you've seen on this blog
in the last month. There have been 2 incidents of young
men--relatively young men--writing on the internet,
threatening me. If I post about it, even if I don't put
their names in the post, but it comes out in the comments,
anyone Googling their names is going to stumble into the
ugly thing they wrote.
Even if you have no human kindness at all and care only
about yourself, how can a moment of passion be worth all
the damage you do to your reputation? Do you think a
potential employer who reads something like what we
discussed here and here would consider hiring you?
You may think you are really just a harmless guy with "good
politics," having some fun, and you may not care at all
whether you scare me or not, but you are hurting yourself.
Out of self-interest alone, you need to stop.
But this is far from the only threat to come from government unions and
their supporters in recent weeks. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports
that "the office of Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) said the senator has
been subjected to damage of personal property and has received
threatening statements in the wake of mass protests in recent weeks over
Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill."
Vickie McKenna, a Wisconsin talk-show hostess, posts on her Facebook
page a threatening letter to a man named Randy, apparently a private
citizen who supports Gov. Walker:
I will be making a visit. When I show up, you can tell me
that you are an a--h--- and am [sic] sorry what you did.
Or, you can continue to spew your hate, and I will mess
you up and leave you lying in a pool of your own blood. . . .
This will not be a random act of violence.
The writer of the note claims to have a criminal record and certainly
seems more menacing than Shankman. BigGovernment.com has a compilation
of "20 days worth of the death threats, vandalism, and intimidation
practiced by pro-union thugs" in Wisconsin.
"Why isn't the mainstream media talking about the death threats against
Republican politicians in Wisconsin?" asks Lee Stranahan, a
self-described "pro-choice, pro-single payer, anti-war, pro-gay rights
independent liberal" who has also worked with conservative publisher and
provocateur Andrew Breitbart.
Indeed, it was less than three months ago that the attempted murder of
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords prompted the New York Times and others to
lecture the country about the dangers of "incivility" on the right--even
after it was known that the suspect had no recognizable ideological
motivation. To quote the infamous Times editorial:
It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular
madman's act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members.
But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly
their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for
the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of
these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right
have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political
power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or
bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that
the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the
Here is the concluding line from another Times editorial, published one
month ago today, denouncing Gov. Walker for proposing to curtail
government union privileges:
The unions should make their voices heard and push back hard
against this misguided plan.
"Push back hard" is not literally a call for violence, but it's not much
of a stretch to say that Jim Shankman and the others were following the
Times's exhortation. Not only does the Times act with disregard for the
truth, it does not even follow the standard of civility it falsely
accuses conservative media figures of violating.
"If Barack Obama isn't careful, he will become the Jimmy Carter of the