Dear politicians: The people may not be as stupid as you think.
AND THE DOUBLE STANDARD continues in the political world, this time in Madison.
Just hours before NBC announced it had fired popular Today show host Matt Lauer, the top Republican and the top Democrat in the Wisconsin Assembly - Republican Speaker Robin Vos and Democrat Minority Leader Gordon Hintz - stood shoulder-to-shoulder to announce they would not release any information on behavioral investigations involving Assembly legislators or their staffers. The Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have been seeking such documents under the Public Records Law. Legislative leaders have denied document requests - including in the case of former Republican Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer, who was convicted in 2014 for fourth-degree sexual assault.
The politicians' reasoning? They say they want to protect victims and that public release of information about investigations might discourage other victims from coming forward.
THERE THEY GO AGAIN, assuming the folks out here in the real world are too stupid to see through that batch of horse hockey.
In the first place, the only victimization secrecy might prevent is how the voters might victimize politicians or top staff accused of bad behavior if the information got out.
Secondly, plenty of victims may want the stories told because doing so would discourage abusers from thinking they could get away with it in the future.
Finally, consider: Would a victim be more likely to come forward if they knew their story would be taken seriously and openly, or if they believe the powerful person they felt mistreated them could keep it all hush-hush with the support of the rest of the legislature?
Likewise, we find this interesting. Republicans and Democrats in Madison couldn't agree the sun rises in the east each morning, but they can get into lockstep over keeping bad behavior secret.
IN REPORTING BY the Journal Sentinel, Jennifer Drobac - a law professor at Indiana University and author of a law school textbook on sexual harassment - said secrecy "put more women at risk" from powerful men. "It makes women vulnerable when we keep these histories secret," she said. "Sunlight is still the best disinfectant."
Keep in mind, Speaker Vos - along with Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - was behind the sneaky attempt to gut Wisconsin's Public Records Law over the July Fourth weekend a couple years ago.
Keep in mind, too, that Minority Leader Hintz in 2011 was swept up as part of a prostitution sting at an Appleton massage parlor.
The secrecy ploy is so clearly self-serving the so-called reasons can't be taken seriously. The public interest in knowing when powerful legislators or their staffers are accused of acting abusively is starkly obvious. When there are legitimate privacy interests, the law recognizes redaction - blacking out victims' names - as the proper way to address the situation. For that matter, it is common media practice to protect the identities of sexual abuse victims unless individuals choose to go on the record.
Thus, there can be no other conclusion: This is a bipartisan cover-your-butt operation.