Tuesday, July 24, 2007

When Words Have Consequences

A few weeks ago, a former Waukesha Freeman editor named Pete Kennedy wrote a diatribe against Milwaukee that, by any standards, was the cheapest of shots.

His theme: "Milwaukee Sucks."

There were immediate reverberations. Bill Christofferson wrote a pointed blog response, which, in fairness I will point out, the Freeman also published.

I weighed in, too (here), and one of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's community columnists has added a thoughtful op-ed piece.

Those were some of the more public responses.

Privately, I spoke to several officials or movers-and-shakers, and separately, their reactions and political analyses were relatively similar:

'Don't those people out in Waukesha understand it's Milwaukee that they want to get water from?'

Granted that Pete Kennedy is not a Waukesha city or county official, or a policy-maker.

But he is an opinion-maker, and outside of Waukesha, would be seen a credible spokesman because he has a media history and platform in that city and county's leading local daily paper.

It'll be interesting to see how long the Kennedy column continues to stir things up.

Christofferson has already referenced the original Kennedy piece again.

I wouldn't be surprised if Kennedy's slur replaced Tommy Thompson's "stick it to Milwaukee" line as permanent fighting words for Milwaukeans, which could mean political problems for Waukesha.

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