As the state’s political tensions turn to a boil, it’s important that everyone’s right to express political views is respected by both sides of the aisle.
On March 15, a custodian at Whitewater High School was sent home because of complaints from faculty that she had a bumper sticker on her car supporting Gov. Scott Walker. Mary Taylor refused to take off the bumper sticker after being asked to remove it by her supervisor. Taylor said it was within her rights to refuse to remove the bumper sticker.
Despite Taylor pointing out that some of the school faculty have “Recall Walker” signage on their cars, she was eventually fired for refusing to remove her bumper sticker. Taylor went public with her story. Mark Belling of 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee mentioned the story on his program and Taylor was soon given her job back in a different district. Taylor’s story is just one in a plethora of accounts of signage being destroyed or removed by others on both sides of the recall election in Wisconsin.
As every Wisconsinite and American should know by now, we have the right to express our opinions without fear of persecution. We have the right to slap a “Recall Walker” bumper sticker on our car, just as much as our neighbors have the right to stick a “Stand with Walker” sign in their front yards.
Regardless of what side somebody is on, they shouldn’t be angry by seeing signage that is different than what they personally believe. Do people really expect that everyone should think the same as they do? America wouldn’t work if we all thought in the same way.
While the GOP and Democrats have been gnashing their teeth at one another more ferociously than usual the past few years, that doesn’t mean we as civilians should disrupt one another’s First Amendment right — one of the most sacred and loved by every American: the freedom of speech.
It isn’t just pro-Walker supporters who have had signage vandalized. In Sheboygan, there have been multiple reports of signs being vandalized by both sides. While both Republican and Democratic Party members have publicly said they don’t condone such behavior, the trend continues. A music teacher in Sheboygan had a homemade sign promoting the recall election against Walker torn down.
The political climate in Wisconsin is slowly turning from intense to venomous. People aren’t just passionate, they are malicious. Of course, those who are stomping on the rights of their fellow Wisconsinites only make up a very small percentage of those who support each side.That doesn’t make it any less revolting. We should be able to respect people, and even like people, despite what their political preferences are.
There isn’t anything wrong with being passionate about supporting Walker or wanting him recalled. There are fundamental differences in opinion between Wisconsinites on his leadership. Passionate and intense protests or support are inevitable. Many people are angry and that’s OK too.
What isn’t OK is that fellow Wisconsinites are having their most basic rights as Americans silenced. What isn’t OK is that political disagreement is sparking hatred.
The national spotlight is on Wisconsin because the result of this recall election may dictate whether or not other states try similar approaches towards balancing the budget and collective bargaining.
While the rest of the country is watching, let’s not set a bad example of what Wisconsin is like. Show them you are passionate about what you believe in, not hateful that other people think differently than you.