Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Violence in the workplace — is it ever right?

with 4 comments

Folks, it’s 2011, and I thought the answer to my title/question was always, “No” unless we were talking about something like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).  Yet now I’ve heard the wildest array of excuses made on behalf of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who may have grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley by the neck on June 13, 2011.

Here’s a link to the first story that broke in the Wisconsin area:

And here’s a link to the story regarding the two, ongoing investigations into what, exactly happened:

A relevant quote from the latter:

Two agencies are investigating a claim by Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley that Justice David Prosser put her in a chokehold earlier this month – an allegation Gov. Scott Walker on Monday called extremely serious.

Ah, but Scott Walker refused to say what, if anything, should be done just a bit further into the article:

Asked if the reports about Prosser’s behavior, if true, merited his resignation, Walker said: “I don’t even want to go down that path . . . other than to say that just based on the allegations that were made, I can’t overemphasize how serious I think the situation is there. Until we know what happened, I don’t think it’s best for anybody for me to comment on what the next step is.”

Now, I can guarantee that if the countervaling story that the Republicans have put out (that Justice Bradley somehow came at Justice Prosser and that’s why he put hands around her neck; this is the, “The victim is always to blame!” argument, in a nutshell, which I find both revolting and disgusting) is true, Gov. Walker would be calling for Bradley’s head on a platter and impeachment proceedings against her would probably already be underway in the Legislature.  But as we’re talking about another Republican here — Prosser, as we all know, was once the Republican Speaker for the Assembly (Wisconsin’s lower house) before former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed Prosser to the bench — they’re going to proceed with caution in order to keep Prosser there as long as they possibly can.

Mind, nothing has been proven yet, and Prosser is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law — but if the facts are as Bradley has alleged (that Prosser put his hands around her neck in a chokehold), then Prosser should resign and seek immediate medical treatment for his anger management problem — bare minimum, that’s what he should do.

Now, as for a little political commentary: I am astonished and disgusted that anyone, ever, would try to say that violence in the workplace could be condoned due to a “hostile work environment” — that is, the Republicans don’t like it that much of the public is angry over what’s happened since Walker took office and instituted his new unpopular program (which he didn’t campaign on and didn’t warn anyone about beforehand).   And the Wisconsin Supreme Court, though it has four Republicans/conservatives to only three Democrats/liberals, apparently feels the heat of this even though the Rs have the advantage — so apparently, because it’s such a difficult work environment, to some, what Prosser did in “defending himself” was justified, even though no one as of yet has all the facts in this case.

So, I want to ask this question: is it ever right to allow violence in the workplace?   If so, under what circumstances would you allow it?   Does political ideology really make that much of a difference to you as to whether or not someone should put hands on another inside the workplace, much less a man allegedly trying to choke a woman?  (When most men are much taller and heavier than most women?)

I’ll be interested in any logical response to this — because so far, I’ve heard absolutely nothing that makes any sense with regards to defending Prosser’s alleged conduct except the rather weak, “It’s not like you think.”  That’s just not good enough, unless we want to turn back into a nation of brutish thugs — and if that’s what you really want, as Yogi Berra once famously said, “Include me out.”

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm

4 Responses

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  1. It depends on what sort of violence you’re talking about. Shouting and horseplay are often considered “violence,” but can still be acceptable depending on the circumstances. Putting your hands around someone’s neck? That’s NEVER acceptable.

    Jefferson Wilson

    June 28, 2011 at 12:27 am

    • Thanks, Jeff . . . agreed wholeheartedly. Putting someone in a choke-hold is not forgivable IMO under any circumstances in the workplace except, perhaps, self-defense — and even there, I’d look at it askance.

      Barb Caffrey

      June 28, 2011 at 1:15 am

  2. I find it incredibly irresponsible of the republicans to place the full blame on Judge Bradley. Even if he didn’t actually “choke” anyone, his hands, both of them, were placed on her throat, which is still using male dominance over a female in a threatening move.

    Even if self defense, how does one get both hands around someone’s neck? Then it would be a wrist, or an arm, not the neck area.

    Here are the clearly disturbing comments and blog that they post for their purpose, blaming Ms. Bradley, or worse yet, painting Prosser as the true victim… That is truly disturbing. There is NOTHING Grand about this Ole Party.


    June 28, 2011 at 1:35 am

    • I agree with you, Lika. I don’t understand the “blame the victim” mentality. I also do not understand the nonsense that’s floated about the last two days about Justice Bradley supposedly being taller and heavier than Justice Prosser, so _of course_ she was the aggressor! (Shakes head in despair.)

      Look. As a tall, big beautiful woman, I think it’s absolutely absurd to blame Bradley for this attack. She was in her office. She told him to get out. He didn’t and did something threatening. We know that at bare minimum, that’s what happened because both sides agree on that — they only disagree as to the level of violence performed, or whether or not Bradley tried to defend herself, or whether or not Bradley “made the first (aggressive) move.”

      But as Dad said, even if this is exactly as the Prosser camp has described, it still looks _horrible_ for Prosser and he should be ashamed of himself. He needs medical treatment, not to be sitting on the bench; his conduct is disgraceful.

      Barb Caffrey

      June 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm

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