Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Those Commies at the UW

I feel just horrible.

One of the politicians up there under the big top says I’m responsible for the fact that there are unions – we’re talking organized labor unions here, not the kind that house the Rathskeller and offer the beautiful terrace – on the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin.

You see, I am a member of the Wisconsin Alumni Association (#G0990249466, in case you want to check – and you’ll find I haven’t paid this year’s dues yet….er, the check’s in the mail, Paula…), and Senator Grothman holds the alumni association responsible for these…these….unions. And, further disclosure, I am a card-carrying LIFETIME member of the Wisconsin Union. (That means I can take my pals to the Union Terrace to swill beer and talk smart, at will.)

Our learned politician from West Bend, who, coincidentally is also a member of the UW Alumni Association of Washington County, and holds a Juris Doctor degree from UW-Madison, said in a news escape last week that the mentality of a union is inconsistent with the free thought and respect for minorities that is supposed to go on at all universities.

Hunh? Say what?

Grothman is all wound up about some bill up there that says funds taken from employee salaries can’t be used to discourage people from joining a union. The esteemed senator from the home stomping grounds of our notorious gut-check judge on the state Supreme Court, Madame Justice Zeigler, says this bill was introduced by RADICAL LEFTISTS (his actual words) Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee and Mark Pocan of Madison.

Grothman goes on to say “Hatred for the free exchange of ideas has always been a priority of the hard Left (sic).” That’s the sort of language that must go over big at the Moose Lodge and the Early Risers Kiwanis over there in West Bend.

Mr. Senator Grothman claims to be appalled that the alumni associations and the professors themselves have not been more active in fighting this heinous bill. He writes (or, some doofus on his staff writes) “As long as they have a nice house in Maple Bluff or tickets at Camp Randall, I guess they wouldn’t mind if the freedom to speak conservatively on our campus would be akin to that in Venezuela or Iran”.

Closing this news escape, Grothman exhorts alums, faculty, and students to get off their butts and fight for free speech, noting “there are more important things going on at the UW-System than the size of professors’ salaries and the record of the UW football team”.

Has Athletic Director Alvarez been apprised of this pithy political assessment?

I guess we get the sort of politicians we deserve. And I’m sure Mr. Grothman is quite popular in West Bend.


  1. The Radical Right will never get it. That's what makes them so much fun to watch. They're like free cable. The West Bend Gadfly serves his community by showing them how the Right seems to always manage to get it wrong:

    Unions gave us the Middle Class, they gave us the 40-hour week, they gave us the weekend and employer-supported health insurance and vacations and holidays off and overtime pay and sick leave and the American Dream. The list goes on. But unions, in my lifelong journalistic experience, are not good at telling their story. This is in contrast to corporate management, which has the resources to hire spin doctors and is not reticent about painting unions as evil bogeymen. If unions ever figure that out, the playing field will level.

    But that's not the real hoot in this commentary. It is, IMHO, herr Grothman's utter lack of understanding of the theory of political relativity.

    I commend to your attention to his amusing reference: "...the freedom to speak conservatively on our campus would be akin to that in Venezuela or Iran." The context seems to be that "liberal" unions will not brook free speech if it contradicts their point of view. Wait a minute ...

    Go to everyman's dictionary, Google. Type in: define conservative.
    Here's the first definition you'll see: "Resistant to change."

    Now type in: define liberal
    Here's the top of the lsit: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; tolerant of change, having political or social views favoring reform and progress; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition.

    Now, really, which would you rather be viewed as?

    Don't like those definitions (Communist China's leadership probably would agree with you). So drill down. Alas, that's what the words, in American English, seem to actually mean.

    Now for the political relativity part. With the political definitions in mind, let's put Grothman der Politik's wacky views into perspective:

    From West Bend, Hugo Chavez looks like a leftist. That's GOP code for liberal. But let's go to Caracas. If Grothman went there and spoke against El Preisendente's politics, Chavez might be "resistant to change." That would make Chavez a conservative and Grothman a liberal.

    The same thing would likely happen in Iran. The mad mullahs who control that country are as religiously conservative as they come. If the political genius Grothman turned up in Tehran and spoke against the hardline ways of Iran's leadership, he would also be the liberal in the house. (He would also be in jail unless he was lucky enough to simply be booted out.)

    Political labels are a slippery rock, aren't they, senator? Why, Mr. Grothman, you seem to have fallen into the mud puddle you created. Here, let us help you dry off your "Conservative" card. The flag printed on it is beginning to get blurry.

  2. The last figures I saw, West Bend has an unemployment rate of 13.9%. I'm glad Grothman has his priorities straight.