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Apr 29, 201504:57 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Madison can smell Baltimore’s smoke

(page 1 of 2)

Baltimore has lessons for Madison.

1) First is the value of parenting. Mother of the year goes to the woman who slapped her teenage son silly for throwing rocks at the police. If Barack Obama wants to send a clear message of social responsibility, he should invite the lady to the White House and give her a medal of some sort. Bring the boy along. The young man has a real chance to grow up and be something. Or, at least, to grow up.

“He’s my only son. At the end of the day, I won’t want him to be another Freddie Gray,” she said, in reference to the 25-year-old killed in police custody. (CNN’s video here.) Think about that. Obey the law as a survival strategy.

2) The second lesson stems from the first. The raw fuel for disorders in Baltimore, as in Madison, comes down to teenage boys. The troubles started in Baltimore after the high schools let out Monday. Most of the victims –– whether in Baltimore, Madison, or Ferguson –– have been troubled young males. Boys looking to be men challenge authority –– the father figure. That is part of the initiation rite, no matter the species. The purpose of the adult is to keep order. Didn’t we read about a world ruled by teenaged boys in Lord of the Flies?

A while back, gamekeepers noted young bull elephants were wantonly killing rhinos. They captured and introduced into the rogue band a couple mature elephants from another herd. The rhino killing ceased. In this most violent year of race relations since LBJ, police substitute for the father figures –– the upholders of order –– for so many fatherless young men.

In Madison, the April 13 daylong shutdown of East Washington Avenue was in large part the work of truant high schoolers.

3) The third lesson is to not abdicate that authority just because it is challenged in the name of some bogus altruism. You protest the death of Freddie Gray by burning down a drug store and senior citizen housing? Stealing the Stoly?

The president is correct to call the riots the work of “criminals and thugs.” Baltimore’s mayor said the same, but some of her words were (perhaps understandably) misinterpreted. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she worked with the police, “to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act, because, while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”

At first blush, it sounded that the mayor was giving free rein to the rioters. What she meant was that ordering police to stand back for the purpose of allowing peaceful demonstration gave an unintended opening to lawless instigators.  

The indispensible James Taranto, of The Wall Street Journal, writes that Baltimore “failed in the delicate balancing act of safeguarding both free expression and public order. As the latter deteriorated, the former inevitably suffered as well: It’s hard to protest when bricks are flying and buildings are burning.”

Allowing Madison kids to close down a major thoroughfare during rush-hour traffic is that kind of opening.


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Apr 29, 2015 06:49 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Once again Blaska puts forth yet another falsehood. His repetitive lack of truthiness should bother readers with any sense of reality. With the prevailing winds Madisonians will never smell smoke from Baltimore.

Apr 30, 2015 08:03 am
 Posted by  madisonexpat

Madison pays people to be idle, aggrieved and entitled. You will be rewarded if you use drugs, sleep on benches, panhandle and/or protest. You may make the public spaces unsafe and unsanitary. Your government will provide goods and services as gunfire punctuates your neighborhood.
Elsewhere it is understood that YOU are responsible for the quality of your life. If your life sucks, that's on you. Change it.
If it continues to suck..... own it.

Apr 30, 2015 09:31 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Yeah, I've got nothing other than this has made for some great television. White Madison, the civilization you created is at stake. Call your alders. Call the Mayor-for-Life. Tell them you won't tolerate this dysfunction in Madison. It is coming. It will happen, absent a massive police/military response.

- "Citizen Dave's Remington 700"

Apr 30, 2015 10:15 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Anonymous at 8:49 inadvertently stumbles upon the truth. Of course, the tirade begins with the usual unsupported assertion of 'falsehood.' But then, by saying 'lack of truthiness' the commenter is onto something. "Truthiness" is a quality characterizing a "truth" that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively "from the gut" or because it "feels right" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts - as defined by Steven Colbert whom the Left love so well. Then to close the statement with "Madisonians will never smell smoke from Baltimore" is telling. A lot of Madisonians would deny the stench even if it came their own homes.

Apr 30, 2015 11:58 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Count me as another progressive who agrees almost 100% with Blaska on this matter.

Apr 30, 2015 12:36 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Forgive us if we roll our eyes at thoughts on Baltimore from a Madison west side conservative blogger who quotes a paper literally named after Wall Street. The reasons for Baltimore's current crisis are rooted in the drug war, which allowed Baltimore cops to literally beat the snot out of young, black men at their own discretion. Look it up for yourself (start here: You're not likely to find it in the Wall Street Journal or on Fox News. Also try interviews with David Simon, who created "The Wire," an indispensable portrait of urban Baltimore after working as a homicide reporter there. His co-creator is a former cop/teacher. Taranto doesn't really measure up to those two when it comes to understanding Baltimore's problems.

Apr 30, 2015 12:38 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

"Madison pays people to be idle, aggrieved and entitled."

Really? Who? I'd like a single example. Other than retired state employees like the person writing this blog.

Apr 30, 2015 12:50 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Are you serious? Madison--Madison!--becoming another Baltimore?! That's as preposterous as Madison becoming another Fergus-- Never mind ....

Apr 30, 2015 01:57 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Attention APR 30, 2015 12:36 PM: “The Wire Creator Blames Martin O’Malley for Baltimore Police Problems”—headline,, April 29

Apr 30, 2015 02:29 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

And another Progressive who, albeit painfully, agrees with Blaska on this.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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