Tom Barrett is the Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has been a political fixture in Southeastern Wisconsin for many years, having served previously in the State Senate and in the United States House of Representatives. On many, if not most issues, he and I would most likely find ourselves on opposite sides of the political aisle, but he has long been recognized, even by his political opponents, as a good and decent human being, with whom one could dialogue, and reasonably disagree.
Last Saturday evening, Mayor Barrett was attending the Wisconsin State Fair -- a tremendously fun annual event which draws hundreds of thousands of participants over its 11 day run. He was attending, not in his role of Mayor, but rather as a citizen out for an evening of family fun. He was accompanied by his sister, his niece, and two daughters.
As the family was leaving the Fair, about 10:45 last Saturday evening, the Mayor's attention was attracted by a woman screaming and crying for help. He sent his daughters off with his sister, while his niece called 911. Mayor Barrett rushed to assist the individual crying for help. When he arrived on the scene, he saw a grandmother, trying to protect an infant, while both were being menaced by a man who turned out to be the infant's father, estranged from the mother's family. When the Mayor tried to calm the situation down, he was punched in the gut, knocked to the ground, and when he arose, was severely beaten with a weapons-grade collapsible police baton. He had teeth smashed out, his hand was shattered, and he was hit so hard in the face and head, that he required plastic surgery.
The grandmother and the infant were unharmed. The Mayor took the beating instead. Greater love, etc.
Fortunately, the Mayor will be okay. The perpetrator is in custody. Not surprisingly, the thug had a history with the local police.
Today, the Mayor made his first public statement after the incident and after being released from the hospital. His comment?
"I can't think of a situation like this when people would not have responded as I did,"
I'd like to think that the Mayor is right.
The late Science Fiction author Robert A. Heinlein used to note that a society in which the basic rule "Women and Children First" was lost, was a society doomed to fail. I think that Heinlein would have been proud of Mayor Barrett.
I know that I am.
God bless you, Mr. Mayor, and may you make a full and speedy recovery.