Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Time, context matter

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Waukesha Freeman March 10, 2016 Page A6 Opinion

Time, context matter

Bradley should be forgiven for college comments

It’s impossible not to be frustrated with the revelations that state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote some awful anti-homosexual remarks in the student newspaper at Marquette 24 years ago. Even in 1992, 24 years ago when she was a college student, the comments were awful and never should have been published.

Did I mention that the comments were written in college, and they are from 24 years ago?

One of my favorite maxims is, “children should be seen and not heard.” I was once asked by former Waukesha Freeman columnist Pete Kennedy if I really believed that applied to an 18-year-old that decided to get involved in school funding issues. I said at the time, “Somebody that age rarely has the maturity, or the understanding of the larger picture, to be involved on an advocacy level.”

Unfortunately, we often give children of college age forums for them to express themselves. They often lack the experience or the knowledge to address public affairs in a responsible manner. Worse, they often lack the restraint or the awareness to express themselves responsibly. At that age, it’s often more about attracting attention than it is making a calm, reasoned argument.

What better way is there to get attention than shock value? We see that behavior in older people who should know better, from “shock jocks” to comedians to a certain presidential candidate. What better way is there for the monkey at the zoo to get attention than to fling monkey poo?

We see it on college campuses now. Students are spending more time complaining about how their little feelings are getting hurt than attending classes. They’re demanding “safe spaces” rather than have their insulated worlds challenged by speech that might actually say something unpleasant about the world.

That’s not to say that youth is entirely wasted on the young. There are exceptions, and exceptional young men and women, who demonstrate a sense of public service that would be impressive at any age. We find many of them in our armed forces, like my nephew who is a Marine, that make us proud to know them.

But for the most part, who among us doesn’t look back at the college-age person that we were and think, “Wow, what an idiot”? I know I do. I sometimes wonder how I lived through my college-age years, let alone escaped them without doing or saying something that I regret to this day.

It’s worth considering the context of the times when The Marquette Tribune ran Bradley’s op-ed and letters to the editor. AIDS was the big scary disease that at any moment was going to spread to the heterosexual community at epidemic levels, or so we were told. There was a real debate at how much and what kind of “AIDS education” was appropriate, and certainly this was true on Marquette, which was once a Catholic university.

Homosexuality did not have the acceptance it has now. This was before former President Bill Clinton ordered “don’t ask, don’t tell,” for the military. It was certainly before Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which was a federal effort to try to stop the courts from imposing gay marriage on the states. It was before President Barack Obama said he was opposed to gay marriage, and before his “growth” on the issue in 2012 and his sudden support for gay marriage.

It was at that time that a college kid tried to attract a little attention by throwing around language that today would have caused a near riot on campus. It was all but forgotten until it was dug up by an organization led by a political hatchet man who recently referred to a female reporter former governor* as a “racist anus.”

Yet Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now will still be a trusted source by the media while Bradley’s apology for something she said 24 years ago as a college student will fall on deaf, moralizing ears. Clinton can grow, and his many offenses against women will be ignored. Obama can grow and instantly be forgiven. Bradley, however, is a conservative, which apparently means no matter the age of the offense there is no growth allowed for you.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

Thursday, 03/10/2016 Pag.A06 Copyright © 2016 Conley Group. All rights reserved 3/10/2016

* Note: Homer nods. Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now, the dark money leftist group with the fascist-sounding name, classlessly referred to former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as, “a racist anus,” and did not refer to former Milwaukee area reporter Contessa Brewer as, “a racist anus.” Scot Ross remains a political hatchet man. I regret confusing the Brewers.

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