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Assault Awareness & Prevention

A Bit More on D.A. Chisholm, Investigations, and Election Results

Yesterday I linked to a story from Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel about Milwaukee D.A. John Chisholm’s proposed investigation:  Milwaukee DA John Chisholm calls for a statewide review of Catholic Church abuse files.  In an email last night, a reader sent along a detailed assessment of what an investigation would require, and I replied privately to…

Immoral (and Unnecessary) Compromises

There’s a certain kind of Republican who rationalizes Trump’s many vices because, well, Trump has nominated some conservative judges. (Hugh Hewitt, who’ll rationalize anything to keep a job on the Salem talk radio network comes to mind. See It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.) If there’s an equivalent of this, it’s a certain kind of Democrat…

Sanders Says He Was ‘A Little Bit Busy’

Sydney Ember and Katie Benner report Sexism Claims from Bernie Sanders’s 2016 Run: Paid Less, Treated Worse: In February 2016, Giulianna Di Lauro, a Latino outreach strategist for Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential operation, complained to her supervisor that she had been harassed by a campaign surrogate whom she drove to events ahead of the Democratic primary…

The Broad Outlines of 2019

For many years, I would begin the year with predictions for the twelve months ahead.  Events since 2016 have made predictions harder,  but one can still discern some short-term developments for the city.  These prospects, of course, form an online of topics to ponder, and about which to write (often requiring that one return to the…

Updated Post: Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation

I’ve added a few additional questions to a post, Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation, first published here on 9.17.18. These questions are surely not comprehensive, and they are process & policy-oriented, so they implicate mainly the institutional response to individual injuries.  As policy, however, the university or…

The Limits of an Institutional Deal

Yesterday, UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced that she was resigning her position as of 12.31.18.  Later in the day, the UW System publicly announced that Kopper would be on leave at her former salary for eight months, and then in the fall have the option of returning to UW-Whitewater’s Psychology Department as a professor.  See…

Kopper Resigns, Whitewater Remains

One reads that Beverly Kopper, UW-Whitewater chancellor, has resigned her position effective 12.31.18.  Her resignation was generally expected for at least the last few weeks, and was, more importantly, necessary.  This was a public matter involving a spouse appointed to a public position accused of sexual harassment by at least five women while the appointing chancellor kept…

0, 448, 476, 84

0 Number of published words from Chancellor Beverly Kopper in support of five complainants alleging sexual assault or harassment from her publicly appointed assistant-to-the-chancellor spouse. 448 Number of published words from Chancellor Beverly Kopper in reply to one remark from a single sportscaster during a single Packers preseason game. (It’s not that one shouldn’t reply…

A Defense That’s Worse Than Nothing

Retired UW-Whitewater professor Brian Kevin Beck contends that Kopper shouldn’t leave [the] Chancellor post. (Candidly, there’s a chance that his defense is so bad that it’s an intentional parody of a defense. It’s hard to believe anyone who served on a worthy faculty could reason so poorly.) Beck argues that (1) misconduct involving Kopper’s public…

Another ‘Advisory Council’ Isn’t What Whitewater Needs

Whitewater has a same-ten-people problem, derived from a few people living behind (metaphorically) a narrow and high perimeter fence, with those few often producing mediocre work, while the city’s economy stagnates. And yet, and yet – one reads that even during the third investigation for sexual harassment & assault concerning the relative she appointed, supervised,…

Act Utilitarianism Isn’t Merely a National Scourge

Trump justifies his treatment of Christine Blasey Ford by the outcome of the Kavanaugh hearings: “It doesn’t matter. We won.”

One wouldn’t have to go to Washington, or wait for Trump to speak, to find this sort of act utilitarianism. Long before Trump’s 2016 campaign, officials and self-described community leaders in small towns across America shared a similar calculus. For the sake of some imagined overall gain, individual injuries and injustices have been swept aside.

And so, and so — officials justify financial and personal injuries to individuals on behalf of the supposed greater good of being ‘community-minded,’ of defending the ‘university family,’ or some such collective claim.

Trump’s act utilitarianism did not begin with Trump: it grew in cities and towns in which factions decided they’d take what they want, and conveniently sweep aside others by use of nebulous ‘community’ principles. (In the video above, Trump betrays his amorality early on, as he shrugs his shoulders when part of Christine Blasey Ford’s injury is recounted to him.)

In most of these cases of supposed collective gain, of course, it turns out to be a particular politician, particular businessman, or particular university official who reaps the most at the expense of ordinary individuals, but these community leaders would prefer one didn’t look too closely into that selfish benefit, thank you kindly.

Whether a highly-placed person’s selfish gain, or community’s supposed overall gain, the disregard for individual rights reveals a dark, calculating amorality.

Resolution & Defiance

Historian Blair L.M. Kelley describes What Civil Rights History Can Teach Kavanaugh’s Critics:

People watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on monitors in an overflow room in the Dirksen Senate Building during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings last month. Credit Damon Winter/New York Times

But in the end, these turn-of-the-20th-century African-American activists [in Richmond and dozens of other southern cities in 1904] could not stop Jim Crow’s advance. Their suits, sit-ins, letter-writing campaigns, boycotts, marches and impassioned pleas to lawmakers failed to make a difference when legislators were determined to segregate no matter the costs. Segregation or exclusion became the law of the land in the American South, and remained so for many years, separating black and white Southerners not only on trains and streetcars but also in schools, neighborhoods, libraries, parks and pools.

Progressives, liberals and sexual assault survivors and all those who desire a more just and decent America and who feel they lost when Kavanaugh was confirmed despite their protest should remember Mitchell, Plessy, Walker and Wells, along with Elizabeth Jennings, James Pennington, Lola Houck, Louis A. Martinet, Rodolphe Desdunes, P.B.S. Pinchback, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Church Terrell, J. Max Barber and many others, including those whose names we do not know. All of these men and women were on the side of justice and lost. None of these people, who fought for full and equal public access as free citizens on trains and streetcars, stopped fighting. None abandoned what they knew was right. They all tried again. Most would not live to see things made right, but they continued.

Those who see Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a lost battle in the larger war for gender equality and dignity for women — and sexual assault survivors, specifically — should emulate the activists of generations past. They should keep organizing, connect with like-minded people, volunteer for organizations that advocate for survivors, consider running for office, and work on the campaigns of those they believe in. A week after his confirmation, a reminder is in order: Movements are about more than moments; they are about thoughtful networks of dissent built over time.

My scholarship has taught me that activism requires a certain resilience, and the willingness to be long-suffering in pursuit of the cause. I hope people remember this. I hope they keep going.




An Example of Old Whitewater’s Deficient Reasoning

Old Whitewater – a state of mind rather than a person or a person’s age – seldom speaks except to reveal its deficient reasoning (and to reveal, in fact, that it doesn’t even know what good reasoning might look like).  Before going further, a reminder: FREE WHITEWATER is the work of one person, writing without…