Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shorter Ann Althouse. Help! I'm Being Oppressed!

(Tiny woman there is Justice Bradley.)

Aw hell. I had to do research. Want to get it right.

940.203 - ANNOT.
Only a "true threat" is punishable under this section. A true threat is a statement that a speaker would reasonably foresee that a listener would reasonably interpret as a serious expression of a purpose to inflict harm, as distinguished from hyperbole, jest, innocuous talk, expressions of political views, or other similarly protected speech. It is not necessary that the speaker have the ability to carry out the threat. Jury instructions must contain a clear definition of a true threat. State v. Perkins, 2001 WI 46, 243 Wis. 2d 141, 626 N.W.2d 762, 99-1924.
940.203 Battery or threat to judge.

And the reason I am front loading this (end note? Explanation of a) criminal statute is because there's been some ruckus about some freaky deaky shit going down at the WI Supreme Court. I am not going to go long on the back story here. But in short, one justice, Prosser, a taller male, is accused of choking and/or otherwise putting his hands around the other, Bradley, a tiny female justice's, neck. Another telling of the tale says the tiny female shook her fists at him first, coming at him, seemingly, as I recall it was said (versions are blurring in my head, I confess,) after she told him to get out of her office. I presume he did not get out of her office. And legally that's a potential complication. (What is the extent of the rights one has to chase another out of their office, on state owned property in WI? I am not going to research that.)

I am saying that much up front as to my mind any defense of the male here is batshit crazy. I say it is batshit crazy because I have seen many a bar fight in my day. I was just having a conversation with a neighbor who used to tend bar, about bar fights we have seen. And here the thing. Bar fights do not start with people waving their clenched fists in the air like some cartoon character. Bar fights start either with pushing and shoving, or sometimes the good old fashioned sucker punch.

Shit. I still can't get that image out of my mind, of this tiny women shaking her fists at the larger man, like in a cartoon. In other words, I am saying that under the facts as far as I know them, now? An argument that the tiny female judge reasonably resembled a "True Threat," is disturbingly, comically insane. Put a weapon in one of her hands? Ok. But under the current fact pattern, the argument is batshit crazy.

Sorry that is a long set up. Now Ann Althouse has been all over this story. At least two journalists have referred to her posts in their own Internet postings about the matter. And she does not like it.

Maybe Althouse has something of a point there. However . . . and as said in some of my past posts about her, she does have this annoying, if not intellectually dishonest tendency to play devil's advocate. Perhaps now she will figure out on her own what I have been saying. And that is when one plays that idiotic game, one never really seems to articulate a clear position on the matter. So one should not be shocked, shocked, if one's meaning gets lost. Or if one ends up misunderstood and or misquoted, as one has not been clear about one's meaning. Actually.

And here's the part (one at least, as I see it) she seems to contest. Accusations that she's a Prosser (the larger male justice) supporter. Again, that devil's advocate garbage is certainly partially at fault for that impression. And I now redirect your attention to the comical image of the tiny female waving her little balled up fists at the larger male. And as well, I direct attention to the statute and it's requirement of a "True Threat." It should be obvious by now, but in order to clearly express my argument, here is the core of my argument. Any slack given to the larger male, under this fact pattern and under the applicable law, is batshit crazy, and likely to be viewed as supporting the larger male. Because under this fact pattern he's with out anything resembling a reasonable defense. And that's the part Althouse is missing. She was over the course of several posts quite unclear (or less than willing to be specific) about who's side she was taking. And to make matters worse, she's seeing a defense for the male here that does not really seem to be based in the ordinary reality of the world we live in. Or the facts. Or the law.

But I have to admit. Seeing her defense of her prior posts was quite entertaining. I have been trying again to ignore her here, but this was too much fun to resist.

Edit to add:

Althouse has a (I'll try to be kind) quirky thing she does, when she will take one of her minion's comments, and showcase it on the main page of the blog under it's own heading. Usually these comments are jejune, vapid, or just plain stupid. This one is just a mistatement of reality.

"Journalism has become a form of litigation. It's not about finding the truth; it's about advocating theories and presenting facts in a way that ensures that one "side" wins."

No Irene (the minion/poster.) And no, Prof. Althouse. That is not true. Litigation's got more rules. And a judge. And an appeals process. Althouse should know that. The analogy is dead on arrival merely based on that. But drilling down deeper, it would have been wiser, and closer to reality to say/argue that journalism often resembles advocacy. And that's nothing new. As long as there has been journalism, it has been used as a form of advocacy.

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