Boo! Scariest Things in Whitewater, 2021

Here’s the fifteenth annual FREE WHITEWATER list of the scariest things in Whitewater. (The 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 20142015, 20162017, 20182019, and 2020 editions are available for comparison.)

The list runs in reverse order, from mildly scary to truly frightening.

10. Feedin’ Wildlife.  I didn’t know — but local officials claim to know — that there’s a problem with residents feeding wildlife. It’s so great a problem that they propose to pass an ordinance against the feeding of feral creatures. These officials must believe that, in a city of low-wage workers and high child poverty, there are residents who have so much time and money that they’re feedin’ WILD, WILD, WILD! animals all day.

Now I walk through our beautiful city daily, and not once have I seen the shocking feeding of wild animals by BAD, BAD, BAD! people.

I would offer that there needs to be a BIG, BIG, BIG! reason for Whitewater to spend even a moment on this proposal. If this city can show, for example, that the Beast of Bray Road or a Sasquatch is enjoying resident-provided meals, well, then perhaps it’s worth considering a few, narrowly-tailored restrictions…

Otherwise, we have enough ordinances — and real problems that no ordinances could address — to last a lifetime.

A first reading of the proposal will take place this November.

9. Climate. We are only one small city, and climate change is a global problem, but our weather (expressed over a long period as climate) does seem to have changed in Whitewater over the last generation. Even small efforts at mitigation are a worthy exercise.

8. Herbicide How ’bout, as a lakes restoration plan, the City of Whitewater dumps artificial herbicide into those very lakes that flow into a creek through the city and beyond, simply to speed that process up a bit?  The original plan  — part ludicrous and part lazy — has been abandoned. It never should have been a plan. See Reporting About Artificial Herbicides in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

7. Passivity. Officeholders running for re-election who let opponents beat the stuffing out of them without reply shouldn’t be officeholders. 

6. Cat’s Got Their Tongues. When there’s repeated institutional failure at UW-Whitewater or the UW System, the very men paid to talk suddenly turn mute. See From UW-Whitewater’s Administration, Too Many and Too Few Words (“There is a oft-asserted contention that during litigation an institutional defendant should prudently make ‘no comment.’ That’s false, although it’s often what non-lawyers speciously contend lawyers should do. On the contrary, there is a range of replies (in word and deed) that an institution, its spokesmen, and its lawyers can make when faced with serious claims of abusive and unethical behavior. ‘No comment’ is what those who are indolent or indifferent say.”)

5. Speech Restrictions. The populists want government to ban speech they don’t like, and to require private publishers to carry speech they do like. No.

4. Personal Responsibility. See Jane Jacobs with Useful Advice on Responsibility (for Whitewater, Richmond Township, Delavan, Etc.)(“In Whitewater and other small towns, bold and brash populists sometimes talk about private liberty only moments later to insist that public institutions owe them and their children the teaching of virtues and habits (hard work, personal responsibility, fortitude) these very parents have sadly left untaught.”) and The ‘Personal Responsibility’ Crowd Wants a Handout (“These WISGOP men talk about individual liberty, but they’re not prepared to accept the consequences of choice in a free society. Instead, these able-bodied, populist men want a government handout from others while exercising free choice.  That’s not liberty; it’s state-subsidized dependency. These populists, Trumpists one and all, talk about personal responsibility but will not accept the consequences of employers’ decisions on workplace protocols.”)

3. Toxic Positivity.  Worse than last year.  Hundreds of Facebook posts on how the district is doing AWESOME! WOW! but an annual state of the district presentation that discussed not a single major measure of academic performance.  

2. Gaslighting. An expression derived from the 1944 film Gaslight, about a man who tries to convince his wife that what she sees plainly isn’t really happening. While one may be a booster, and others may be toxically positive, it’s more brazen still to tell people that what they see and read isn’t, in fact, seen and read. As bad a boosterism is, and as bad as toxic positivity is, gaslighting — contending reality isn’t reality, so to speak — is worse.

When a school district, for example, tells you that what you read isn’t what you read, and what their district did isn’t what it did, they’ve issued a challenge against truth itself.  See Whitewater Schools Use Pandemic Funds for Artificial Turf.

If there’s a school board member or superintendent who’d like to deceive in this way, well, this isn’t the district, and this isn’t the city, in which to make those claims with impunity. Somewhere else, perhaps, but not here.

1. The Empty Chair. As was true last year, still true this year: “Sad more than scary, truly. Whitewater still awaits what she most needs:  ‘Whitewater needs her own version of Dorothy Day – someone committed to a lifetime of charitable work on behalf of this community without flinching or favoritism. Someone here, who will hold fast come what may, unyielding, beginning and ending each day in the place of her devoted efforts.’ See Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day

There’s talk about doing what one can, where one can. Few cities need those devoted efforts more than we do. All the elected officials, appointed officials, town notables, and libertarian bloggers together offer less than one charitable person who would devote her compassion to this city.

As always, best wishes for a Happy Halloween.

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