In Calaveras County we have a record for high turn-out on election day. People take their politics seriously. As far as I know, competitors have treated each other with civility during the thirty-four years I’ve lived here.
Problems do develop and a recall effort against Calaveras County Supervisor Darren Spellman fell short of the signature requirement on Monday and a verbal spat ensued between Spellman and Bill Crane, a prominent recall supporter. The Elections Clerk, Madalaine Krska, called the Sherriff’s Department to settle things after it got pretty heated. Spellman claims he was threatened, and Crane claims he walked over and shook Spellmans hand but later called him a liar because Spellman made derogatory cracks about his wife.
I think of the violent rhetoric we have in the news every day, supposedly mature Senators and Representatives, and all of their related public spokespersons using character assassination as readily as immature school kids. Bullying, condoning violence, violent rhetoric unworthy of our suspected leaders. Somehow, I thought this was a modern phenomena, but, not so.
Senator Charles Sumner, gave a fiery anti-slavery speech in 1856. He condemned several states for even considering taking the “harlot slavery” as a law in individual states. In fact, those tumultuous years produced enough violence in Kansas, that the state was nearly divided into two separated states.
Southerner, Preston Brooks, a member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina, was particularly incensed with Sumner’s speech. Not only had the fiery Sumner ridiculed his home state, but Brooks was the nephew of Andrew Butler, one of Sumner’s targets.
In the mind of Brooks, Sumner had violated some code of honor which should be avenged by fighting a duel. But Brooks felt that Sumner, by attacking Butler when he was home recuperating and not present in the Senate, had shown himself not to be a gentlemen deserving of the honor of dueling. Brooks thus reasoned that the proper response was for Sumner to be beaten, with a whip or a cane.
On May 22, Brooks entered the building and walked into the Senate chamber. Sumner sat at his desk, writing letters. He waited until several women present in the Senate gallery left, then he walked up to Sumner’s desk and said: “You have libeled my state and slandered my relations, who is aged and absent. And I feel it to be my duty to punish you.”
With that, Brooks struck the seated Sumner across the head with his heavy cane. Sumner, who was quite tall, could not get to his feet as his legs were trapped under his Senate desk, which was bolted to the floor. Brooks continued raining blows with the cane upon Sumner, who tried to fend them off with his arms. Sumner finally was able to break the desk free with his thighs, and staggered down the aisle of the Senate.
Brooks followed him, breaking the cane over Sumner’s head and continuing to strike him with pieces of the cane. Brooks was later arrested on a charge of assault and quickly released on bail.
Good thing they didn’t solve their problems in those days with a gun like they do now. Sumner was attended by a doctor, who administered stitches to close wounds on his head.
Brooks was soon arrested on a charge of assault, and was quickly released on bail. He was expelled from the House of Representatives, and in the criminal courts he was fined $300 for assault. He returned to South Carolina, where banquets were held in his honor and more canes were presented to him. The voters returned him to Congress, a hero.
Sounds just like the current news, the worse they get, the more they are revered by somebody. In case you haven’t noticed, most violence and crime is committed by men. Incarcerated men outnumber women, (I’m guessing) by at least twenty to one. We women pay an unfair amount of taxes for violence. I think the cure is a violence tax. Tax those violent actions and rhetoric and we could clean up politics or else solve the national debt.