10.01.2008 0

Fabricated Apology Not Enough

  • On: 10/09/2008 17:00:17
  • In: Big Labor

  • “No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.” — Jack London (as channeled by Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton)

    Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton fancies herself as quite the humanitarian.

    In fact, in the glowing tribute to herself she had placed on her official, taxpayer-funded website, she has her ghostwriter say:

    “Her unique expertise –developed in community leadership as a founder of the Greater Green Bay Area Community Foundation and the Multicultural Center, as advisor to Entrepreneurs of Color, in service on various Boards, including that of the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Foundation, and as consultant to businesses expanding internationally— informs the work of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and enriches the administration’s vision for a vital economy supporting healthy families in every region of the state.”

    Leaving aside the fact that Ms Lawton needs a new ghostwriter – one more adept at modern prose and less enthralled with Elizabethan effluvia – the fact of the matter is that the Lieutenant Governor is really not that concerned with “healthy families in every region of the state,” at all.

    In fact, if she had her way, she would prefer to see some very unhealthy families in the region of the state around the Kewaunee Fabrication factory. And, if the health of those families became impaired because of a little Lawton-incited union violence, well, that was all the better – until she got exposed by the Wisconsin media, that is.

    According to the Wisconsin press, Ms. Lawton journeyed out to the Kewaunee plant early last week to lead striking workers in harassing those who took the jobs the union members abandoned on May 12. With the union bosses urging her on, the Lieutenant Governor seized the opportunity to whip the placard- waving strikers into a frenzy.

    Over and over again, with mounting emotion, the six-foot Ms. Lawton called the cowed replacement workers huddled inside the plant “scabs” — making it clear to all that apparently she, like yellow journalist of old Jack London, feels that “Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with scabs” (their “healthy families” notwithstanding).

    Now, it’s true that once Ms. Lawton’s intemperate remarks were picked up by the Wisconsin press, she muttered a hasty, albeit brief, apology of sorts, saying she had made “an absolutely inexcusable mistake.” Though, it is not clear whether she considered calling her constituents “scabs,” or saying it within earshot of reporters was the “inexcusable mistake.”

    So, for Ms Lawton’s sake (as well for the sake of those she maligned), let’s set the record straight: Calling anyone a “scab” is not merely a “mistake,” it is an egregious act tantamount to inciting a riot or conspiring to inflict bodily damage. An overstatement? Not according to the facts at hand:

    “Since 1975, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has collected more than 9,000 reports of union violence. These incidents are recorded and electronically maintained in the Institute’s Violent Event Data File.

    “From some of the strikes chronicled here, it is also clear that the actual extent of the violence perpetrated by union militants far exceeds the small number of incidents reported in the Institute’s Data File. In some of the strikes of which the Institute recorded, police and company reports indicate that the actual number of assaults, threats and property damage is tens of times greater than the news reports collected by the Institute.”

    So, it would seem that the last thing angry mobs of striking union members need is for the Lieutenant Governor of the state to grab the megaphone and urge them on to vent their violent emotions against innocent replacement workers. In fact, if Ms Lawson really wants to show she is sorry for her “inexcusable mistake,” she ought to journey back out to the Kewaunee Fabrication factory, put on a hardhat, saddle up to a lathe, and show her solidarity with those whose “healthy families” she put at risk.

    That’s what a real humanitarian would do.

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