Saturday, March 26, 2011

Abuse Victims Shouldn't Be Exploited

Is the GWC ad about David Prosser the worst judicial campaign ad ever? Is it worse than the Gableman campaign's ad about Rueben Mitchell?

Well, it seems to raise many of the same issues. The ad may be literally true (Prosser did not prosecute) but it implies that he failed to do so because he wanted to help the Catholic Church cover up the offending priest's activities.

This, it turns out, is not true. One of the victims has now come forward and told us that the matter was not prosecuted because of concern for the victims. He appears to believe that this was the right decision based on the information available to Prosser at the time. The other victim (his brother) apparently agrees. The truth or falsity of an ad's implicit message was an issue with the Mitchell ad as well.

The ad also arguably misstates the role of a prosecutor which is not to charge every case that is brought to him. He or she should consider the emotional toll on the victim, the nature of the available evidence and the probability of future harm. That Prosser made the right - or at least a reasonable - call - at the time based on the information available to him - is reflected in the victim's statement of support. He has said that the ad is "offensive" and "inaccurate" and takes what happened "out of context." He has objected to being used as a "political tool."

Of course, the ad was prepared by the always nasty GWC and not the Kloppenburg campaign. Why it went forward - whether out of incompetence or cynicism - is a topic for another post. She can't coordinate with them and they don't have to pull the ad simply because she asks them to pull it.

But she still should have called upon them to pull it. To say, as she did, that they have the right to free speech is a non sequitur. Of course, they do. But that doesn't mean that the ad ought to have been run. That doesn't require the rest of us to be nonjudgmental about it.

For those of you who recall that there were some nasty ads exploiting awful cases in 2008, so do I. I recall, for example, criticizing an ad (run against Louis Butler) that showed a crime scene photo of a murdered young women even though (as far as I know) her family never objected.

Even if Ms. Kloppenburg did not want to ask the GWC to pull the ad, she might have condemned it as I and other conservatives condemned the Mitchell ad. We all get pushed out of our comfort zone in hard fought political campaigns. But to remain silent as an abuse victim is exploited and objects to that exploitation is disappointing.


Dad29 said...

I, too, was a bit surprised that she didn't at least express disapproval.

A Nonymouse said...

Saying that the GWC has the right to publish the ad is thanking them for publishing the ad.

Anonymous said...

as I and other conservatives condemned the Mitchell ad

Did Gableman? Oh, yeah, it was his campaign's ad.

LawGirl said...

This ad turned my stomach before I even knew the victims disapproved of it. It prays on the ignorance of some sectors of our population as to issues like prosecutorial discretion, available evidence, and effect on sex abuse victims of being forced to testify. Not to mention the differences in attitude among jury pools of 30 years ago vs. 2004 as to priest sex abuse (it likely would not have been believed by all just members back then, absent concrete evidence).

The fact is, the ad makes a lot of unwarranted assumptions and asks the electorate to draw conclusions that aren't warranted by the scant "evidence" contained in it - which is precisely what an ad for a judge or justice should avoid.

LawGirl said...

*all jury members.

Darned autocorrect. <_<

Display Name said...

So how are we to interpret the 2008 statements of the victim?

Anonymous said...

If you provide a link to your condemnation's of Gableman's race-baiting ads (which were aired by his campaign and not a third party), I might take you seriously.

George Mitchell said...

I recall multiple times when Rick criticized the Gableman ads.

Dad29 said...

Rick definitely criticized those ads.

Adam Seaman said...


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Rick Esenberg said...

Anon 6:48

I'll look for a link later but my criticism of the ad was cited in the Rob Henak's brief seeking to recuse Gableman. Charlie Sykes criticized the ad as well and Rob also cited his criticism.

Display Name said...

And Esenberg called Gableman's ad "despicable" and demanded that Gableman renounce it.

Anonymous said...

How does a self-proclaimed upstanding Catholic like dad29 toss victims of clergy abuse under the bus to score political points? It'd be interesting to know whether he purchased the indulgences up front, or is just waiting til after the election to repent.

Anonymous said...

LawGirl's comment turned my stomach before I even got to the poor grammar and poorer logic. There's nothing like a lawyer decrying the "ignorance" of others while putting her own on display; I'd like to think "prays" was a clever pun on LawGirl's part but I'm pretty sure it wasn't. Is LawGirl seriously implying that she has some remarkable insight into the behavior of an Outagamie County jury from three decades ago? Sadly, the answer seems to be, "yes". Also, what a jury might or might not believe should be at the bottom of the list when deciding whether to prosecute and shouldn't even make the list for deciding whether to investigate. Assuming LawGirl isn't ignorant about prosecutorial discretion perhaps she can explain how that discretion would justify the lack of any investigation. If someone says a murder took place, is it within the prosecutor's wheelhouse not to investigate?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:09 "I'd like to think "

So far, you haven't convinced anyone you can. But, we're rooting for you!

Anonymous said...

The "I'd like to think . . . ." was sarcasm which I'm not "rmblam" picked up on.

If he or she would care to reason through why Justice Prosser felt no duty as a prosecutor to investigate the allegations of abuse, in other words, to back up LawGirl's implications that nothing improper took place, I'm sure we'd all love to read it.