The good Professor has a nice, long takedown of a sleazy Madison, WI “journalist” that you should read in full. But below you’ll find the appetizer portion.
Althouse’s analysis seems to rest to some degree on the notion that the lefty bloggers are operating on chivalry/reverse sexism, and somehow expected Prosser to block alleged blows from Justice Bradley (or, perhaps, not block them at all!) without touching the female Justice’s neck.
This, published at channel3000, is so lame I hate to send it any traffic, but I want you to see the kind of thing that passes for mainstream media commentary in this town:
In one narrative, Bradley rushed Prosser with her fists up and Prosser managed to touch her neck while defending himself. It is, my colleagues in the press now say, a classic “he said/she said” controversy. No, it’s not. It is a controversy only if Prosser’s hands were nowhere near Bradley’s neck. I mean, come on!
There follows a tirade about what we teach our sons about violence against women, as if, in a face to face physical encounter, the man is always wrong. So, as a woman in the work place, can I get right up in any man’s face, get as angry as I want, shake his fist right by his big old glasses, and the moment he flinches, if his hand touches me, I get to shout “violence against women” and he’s the one who’s screwed? As a feminist, I would just love to have power like that. That’s sarcasm, I hope you’re not too far gone to realize.
What I want, and what I think good feminists should want, is to be treated as an equal in a sane workplace, where nobody gets in anybody’s face, and nobody thinks they can taunt or threaten or hit — or choke! — anybody. Ironically, Wineke is spouting sexism. If men and women are really governed by such different standards, that would be sex discrimination. And on the whole, it would hurt the advancement of women in the workplace. We are not fragile flowers in need of old-school chivalry. If we were, it would justify discrimination.
You would tell your own son that if his hands touched the neck of a girl — no matter what the cause — he would be in big, big trouble. Big, big trouble.
He’s right that the boy would be in trouble, but that doesn’t make it obvious that the boy would always be wrong. In fact, most men are so familiar with that form of trouble that they resist responding physically to any physical aggression by a woman. It’s one thing to warn a man in advance that he’d better be aware of the trouble that may follow if he’s laid hands on a woman, quite another to enthuse over punishing any man who is accused. What matters is the truth.
And if your son’s defense was that he wasn’t trying to choke the woman but just defending himself by putting his hands around her neck? You know what you would say.
Of course, that’s not what everyone says.
For example, Professor Ann Althouse, of the University of Wisconsin Law School, a distinguished, tenured, named professor on the Madison campus, published a blog entry over the weekend suggesting the real culprit here is the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism for publishing the story in the first place and for not discovering the alternative narrative.
In fact, she says, it may be Bradley who should be investigated, perhaps arrested, perhaps thrown off the bench.
He doesn’t link to the post or quote it. Not surprising, considering how much he distorts it. (When did I say Bradley should be “perhaps arrested”?!) (Here‘s the post he didn’t bother to represent with any precision. Here‘s my follow-up post which he also might be referring to.)
Notice the sleazy sleight of hand in that question above. He’s got “your son’s… hands around her neck” — not merely making contact with the neck of a woman who thrust herself into the place where he’d flung his hands defensively. Wineke is assuming a set of facts — hands around her neck — and saying in that situation, you wouldn’t defend your son. Actually, there are some situations in which you clearly would defend your son, even if his hands were “around” her neck. Picture a woman larger than your son, pinning him down, choking him.
But of course, this isn’t all a gender-relations issue, because if Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin had charged someone with their fists raised, there would not be this notion that the blows must be blocked without making contact with the woman’s neck at all. (And the idea that one can defend oneself against strikes without touching the assailant’s neck is honestly bizarre anyway.)
Some of this, in short, has less to do with the male-female double standard than it has to do with the liberal-conservative double standard.
This is, by the way, the fullest account we have of what actually happened:
Prosser thought he had an agreement with liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson to delay release of the opinion until Tuesday of the following week.
As Monday arrived, there was no word from Abrahamson on whether the decision would be issued the next day. At 5:30 p.m., Prosser and the other conservative justices marched around the chambers, looking for Abrahamson, who was found in Justice Bradley’s office. Prosser stood outside Bradley’s door, talking to the justices in Bradley’s office. The discussion got heated, with Prosser expressing his lack of faith in Abrahamson’s ability to lead the Court.
According to one witness, Bradley charged toward Prosser, shaking her clenched fist in his face. Another source says they were “literally nose to nose.” Prosser then put his hands up to push her away. As one source pointed out, if a man wants to push a woman who is facing him, he wouldn’t push her in the chest (unless he wants to face an entirely different criminal charge). Consequently, Prosser put his hands on Bradley’s shoulders to push her away, and in doing so, made contact with her neck.
At that moment, another justice approached Bradley from behind and pulled her away from Prosser, saying, “Stop it, Ann, this isn’t like you.” Bradley then shouted, “I was choked!” Another justice present replied, “You were not choked.” In a statement following the incident, Bradley maintained Prosser “put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold.”