Flashback: On cracking jokes, demanding democracy, and Prossercuting the Strangler

This news bit came out today.
“State Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson says Justice David Prosser has never said he is sorry for calling her a “bitch” and threatening to destroy her three years ago, contradicting another justice’s recent claim that Prosser had “apologized right away.”

Justice Patience Roggensack, who is seeking a second 10-year term on the court, in December called Prosser’s comments inappropriate but said he had immediately apologized for them.”
SOURCE Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 06, 2013

The post below originally appeared on the blue cheddar blog July 14, 2011.

Almost every day I’ve seen a new photo by local photographer Peter Patau, known as @MadisonGuy on twitter and on flickr. When I saw the photo below, I realized that in my fixation on recall primaries, I’d overlooked the “Prosser Must Go” rally.

Last night my fella asked, “What’s going on now with Prossergate? Is he going to get Prossercuted?” and we chuckled.

Forward Against Prosser

This started me to pondering the jokes and icons we use to cope with our new world. We call Wisconsin “Fitzwalkerstan”. Friends mockingly choke each other, take pictures, and caption them with something like, “I’m being Prossered”. This blend of the gallows and play is nothing new. I played ring around the rosy in kindergarten not understanding it was about the bubonic plague.

Yet we don’t fall into cynicism. We Wisconsinites drop the jokes, pick up signs, assemble, and speak out with passion.

Tuesday’s rally of 100 people, men and women, formed around a symbol of hope and passion for our state: the statue “Forward” or “Lady Forward” as she is known to many. Lady Forward has held signs, been blindfolded, worn a Guy Fawkes mask, and held blue tape [used to afix signs to walls in the Capitol]. After Walker stripped collective bargaining rights, people lay flowers at her feet. She serves as a locus for our hope-an altar for offerings to democracy.

Forward was installed at Wisconsin’s capitol in 1895. Her creator was Jean Pond Miner who “completed her statue in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, fulfilling a commission to create art representative of her native state. Forward is an allegory of devotion and progress, qualities Miner felt Wisconsin embodied.” – from wisconsinhistory.org

Forward is a woman.

What we believe Prosser did to Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in chambers reverberates in all of us but I think it hits an alarm button in the collective psyche of women who have been the victims of violence themselves and seen their attackers get off free. We have reasonable cause to believe that this sitting supreme court justice lunged at his female colleague and proceeded to choke her. Prosser has admitted to hurling the insult “bitch” at his superior, Shirley Abrahamson, but he excused himself saying he was bullied and abused. He didn’t sound very victmized in the rest of his outburst on Feb. 10, 2010 when he slung the zinger “I will destroy you” That’s the stuff we only hear from evil supervillain cartoons. Or men who have literally tried to destroy us.

Samantha Leonard of the Madison chapter of the National Lawyers Guild spoke up at the rally, saying on the choking: it’s not “just a political act, but it’s an act of outright misogyny”-quoted in Isthmus

I can’t find incidence of a Supreme Court choking in 1895 when Miner’s Forward was installed. But that year the court choked off a married woman’s access to her own wages – and by extension control of her own destiny – when it held that “a wife could not work and enjoy her right to wages as separate property without her husband’s consent.” That supreme court was not building a civilization for women.

“Civilitas Successit Barbaruin” or “Civilization Succeeds Barbarism” was originally to be Wisconsin’s motto. Governor Dewey preferred “Forward”. I do too. It trusts us to fill in the blanks. It was created in 1851. But in 2011 I don’t think we can trust our top leaders to fill in those blanks anymore. Could we ever?

It’s up to us to bring civilization back to Wisconsin politics and government. It’s really up to you and I to take Wisconsin forward.

Dane County’s Sheriff’s department still has an open investigation on the Prosser incident. When that is concluded, a “probable cause affidavit” will be filed with Dane County’s District Attorney. D.A. Ismael Ozanne will then decide whether to prosecute or not.
Please email danecoda@da.wi.gov or phone to let D.A. Ozanne know you are watching and waiting for justice on this matter.

Wisconsin United
This is 1 of a collection of photos of Lady Forward from the 22 members of “Forward – Wisconsin Statue State Street

And if you’re still thinking about statues and women sculptors, enjoy this intriguing exhibition of womens’ sculpture I happened across. It concluded in June and was held in Pangolin London

Blogger note of explanation: I am taking it easy from blogging for about a week. You’ll be seeing flashback posts or favorite posts recycled on the blue cheddar blog during that time. 🙂


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