In a saner political world, we might not react in the same way to Alderman Michael McGee, Jr.'s comment that Leon Todd should be "hung" for supporting the effort to recall McGee. We might be willing to see it as classless, but wouldn't furiously debate whether it is "hate speech." Conservative commentators, like Jessica McBride, point out that, if a conservative said this - say Rick Esenberg wrote that "McGee should be hung, straight up, for betraying the community with his 'no snitching campaign'" - he or she would be accused of racism because of the perceived connection with lynching. Understandably, she thinks McGee, Jr. should get the same heat. Given the rules of the game, I don't blame her.
My own view is that this the political game of "find the gaffe" in which elections and control of the United States Senate can turn on an off-hand comment ("Macaca" = Harry Ried as majority leader) is a dangerous distraction. It focuses debate on what doesn't matter and on what no one really cares about.
Neither McGee nor Esenberg (had he written what he just did) want anyone to be hung (as Jessica pointed out on her show with respect to McGee) and neither meant to invoke lynching. Both are (or would be) engaging in a gauche form of hyperbole.
The thing that I find more unsettling about McGee Jr.'s comments is his assertion that Todd has "betrayed the community" as if opposing the recall is an act of racial solidarity. What is unsettling about this is that it appears that many leaders in the black community believe that - or at least think that a critical mass of their constituents will see supporting the recall as an act of racial betrayal.
What this demonstrates (again) is that, in Milwaukee, racial demagoguery is a winner. The McGees have made a political career out of baiting white people (Badger Blogger has the latest) and, while they have been doing that, they have done exactly nothing for the people they represent.