At first when I heard about the recall signatures being posted online, I gave little consideration to the matter. I mean, many of us have bumper stickers and yard signs. Many of us speak freely about our stance on the issue. So, what is the harm, I thought – I am proud for having had signed.
But then I remembered that we don’t live in marshmallow land. I remembered that people can be evil and dangerous and really quite vindictive. I remembered the soda cans being thrown at protesters. I remembered an SUV trying to back over a petition circulator. I remembered anti-recall activists calling strangers at night in hopes to intimidate them. And that is when I came to my senses.
With 1.9 million signatures, I thought it to be a colossal waste of time and money to check every name. I mean, the chances of invalidating enough signatures to stop the recall would be near impossible. But, to avoid lengthy legal battles and endless denial – go ahead, check them.
But when it comes to putting the names and addresses online, that is nothing short of negligent and retaliatory. I think about the domestic abuse victim who has attempted to avoid her abuser. I think about the victims of stalking who go out of their way to make their addresses private. I think about the prison guards who may have dangerous criminals with an ax to grind. I think about employers who will use this database when choosing whom to hire.
In this country, our votes are private. We have that protection every time we step up to that booth. A recall should be treated no differently. Being validated by the powers that be is one thing and there can be arguments made for those policies. But for the private political choices of individuals to be made public in a time of such hostility and precarious possibilities, it is simply irresponsible and could have disastrous consequences.
And while the fear mongering on the right is often something that annoys me to exasperation, my fears about this are not unfounded. And I would think that Senator Van Wanggaard, being an ex-officer, would know better.
A mere three days ago there was a Facebook page called I Will Be Getting Your Info Off the Recall Petition which was deleted from the site after complaints were made. Prior to their ban, screen shots were taken. Their profile picture was a house surrounded in flames. One of the first posts stated the following,
”You know who you are. WE know who you are. This is gonna get FUN!!” The poster goes on to say, “I’m sure as hell going to inform my employer about co-workers names that show up. He is a true Walker supporter. He was looking to let go of a couple of workers…now that decision is made that much easier.”
Here on Patch, commenter Steve says, “Can't wait for the first person to apply for a job, I search the signatures and pull up their name. Sorry, position has been filled. Payback bidges.”
A few months ago, a Milwaukee business owner (giving his full name) said the same – he would not hire anyone he knew to have signed the recall petitions. I have read this many times over the past months. I have also heard several threats of violence; even correlating the new conceal carry law with petitioners coming to their door.
I believe it is flawed and should not legally be made public. There are those who use CCAP to make decisions which affect the lives of others. Yet, the information on CCAP is not enough to form a complete decision. Not only that, but CCAP also commits someone to a life sentence. Once their dues are paid, they should be allowed to live as any other citizen without the scrutiny of opinions based on very limited information.
A matter of public record is one thing. If someone wants to take the time to file an open records request and pay for a background check, then so be it. But for there to be a searchable database available for the sole purpose of public judgment – that is simply wrong. This goes for CCAP and for these online recall petitions.
There is now a Patch blogger calling for her “comrades” to form some sort of coffee clatch with the intention to look up each signer on CCAP to prove whether or not they are a felon in attempts to invalidate their eligibility to sign a petition. Visions of a coven circling a virtual cauldron come to mind.
Perhaps we should gather volunteers to search the Delinquent Tax Payer website to see if any of the $12 million in donations to Walker were made by evaders. Perhaps we should scour CCAP with the names of locally known Republican, tea party or conservative group members to see if they are in a position to judge and validate.
Fact is, our state has lost its damn mind. We are out of control and seem to be wading through a jungle free from common sense or civility. The name calling, threats and vicious attacks are worse than any school yard I have seen. What are we becoming? How can anyone be proud to call themselves a respectable adult yet act in this manner? What are we teaching our children?
I used to write pieces which were often humor based. Dave Barry and Andy Borowitz were literary influences of mine. I laughed a lot and enjoyed making others laugh. This past year, I have had a hard time finding humor in much of anything. Our vicious climate has changed me. I do not like what I am becoming. I do not like what we are becoming. This is indeed a very sad time for humanity in Wisconsin.