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Sunday, November 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 47.0° F  Light Rain Fog/Mist
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Madison liberals have no interest in opposing viewpoints
Plugging up their ears
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"Blaska is not fit to live among decent people," thundered an online reader when this right-wing wretch began blogging on the Isthmus website four years ago. It was the first of many attempts to purge TheDailyPage.com of his heresy.

Your scribe is a conservative in a town that made up its collective (ahem) mind sometime during Paul Soglin's first term. It is settled doctrine: Government workers are victims, teachers unions are all about kids first, higher taxes create prosperity, the aging baby boomer bulge won't affect Social Security, successful people stole your money, corporations cause war, racism causes crime, and Mark Pocan is a centrist.

I understand the comfort level of being a Madison liberal (or progressive, if you prefer). You're on the same solidarity songbook page - no need to stress-test your ideology. The blue fist of anger decorates government offices, your neighbors' picture windows and every Prius on Monroe Street.

Recalling Gov. Walker merits disrupting the Special Olympics. As Russ Feingold says, it's not over till we win. (Not that Russ will risk another defeat in next year's elections, of course.)

For being the seat of state, county and municipal government and home to a great university, Madison is intellectually less curious than a Mad Rollin' Dolls roller derby.

Losing elections? Conjure boogeymen to delegitimize the results: hanging chads in Florida, black boxes in Ohio, Kathy Nickolaus in Brookfield.

The Capital Times on Aug. 1 blamed "unseen puppet masters." (You can't see them, Virginia, but they're real just the same.) Think about that. Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, the Fitzgerald brothers are nothing but unwilling marionettes, Stepford wives, Manchurian candidates - forced to act against their better angels because of "a cabal" of Koch brothers, WMC, "plus more shadowy figures" pulling their strings. As Count Floyd used to say, scary stuff, boys and girls!

Here's another prog-lib meme: Conservatives are so stupid they couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel, as LBJ would say.

On these very pages, Bill Lueders proclaimed the Republican sweep of Nov. 2 as "The Triumph of Stupidity." ("The answer I've been looking for.") Capital Times columnist Bill Berry castigated the majority of voters as "restive, frightened and easily manipulated."

When sophistry fails, plug your ears and make repetitive noises lest your fragile sensibilities be corrupted. Bang on plastic buckets, blow horns and stalk Sen. Grothman. Is that really what democracy looks (or sounds) like?

Let's face it, the February-March Siege of the Capitol was all about intimidation and nothing about persuasion. When conservatives asked for one day to conduct their own rally, liberals invoked the heckler's veto. They tried to drown out Sarah Palin (okay, I'll give you that one) and spewed obscenities at the 14-year-old girl who preceded her. Not one Democratic elder cried shame.

Much of the cannon fodder for this assault on civility poured down State Street from the UW-Madison campus, where the tax-supported Havens Center just concluded its series of lectures, "Renewing Socialism for the 21st Century." Stanford has the conservative Hoover Institution. Where is ours?

UW political science professor Donald Downs quotes a student in his 2005 book, Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus: "When somebody expresses an idea that we disagree with, we are not taught by the status quo of this university to respond with reasoned debate."

Young Republican chairman Sara Mikolajczak required police security in response to death and rape threats after she brought apostate leftist David Horowitz, now a conservative, to speak on campus in 2007. "I realized they have to come up with name calling because they can't defend their own ideas," the Waukesha County native told me.

Why does the left hate free speech? Blogger and UW-Madison law professor Ann Althouse answered her own question: "Because they don't know how to talk about the substantive merits when they are challenged. Having submerged themselves in disciplining each other by denouncing any heretics in their midst, they find themselves overwhelmed.... When they failed to win over the American people, and when in fact the speech from their opponents seemed too successful, they switched to the repression of speech, because the end was never freedom."

Civil discourse does exist hereabouts, but you have to go to Fitchburg.

After meeting informally, conservatives Scott and Carole Grabins of Verona and near-east-side Madison liberals Ron and Katie Songer formed Reach Out Wisconsin, dedicated to "promoting a more respectful attitude toward people with opposing viewpoints." The group held its first meet-up last month at Benvenuto's restaurant in Fitchburg. About 30 people met to discuss concealed carry of firearms.

Abortion is the topic at 6 p.m. on Sept. 20. No vuvuzelas, please.


David Blaska blogs about politics at Blaska's Blog.

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