Wednesday, February 06, 2008

About An Old News Story

This was in my last week's to-do list, but I never got around to it then:

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III has been reprimanded by the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities for referring to three women of color in the Public Defender's Office as "the Supremes" and for suggesting that a defendant who wanted to replace his public defender be given an "experienced male attorney."

Boone made the comments in open court April 24, 2007.

The judicial disabilities commission concluded that Boone's comments were "undignified and disparaging," according to a notice of the reprimand printed in the Jan. 18 edition of the Maryland Register.

The Maryland Register is published every two weeks as a temporary supplement to the Code of Maryland Regulations, according to its Web site.

"I have no defense," said Boone, who called the notice of the reprimand a fair document.

Boone appeared remorseful Tuesday afternoon as he discussed his comments.

He said he holds all three attorneys to whom he was referring with the "Supremes" comment in high regard, and he said each of the women has built a solid professional reputation.

The judge acknowledged that his comments were "highly suggestive, if not indicative ... of racial and sexual bias," he said.

"I lost it that day, at that time," Boone said. "At the end of the day, I felt terrible."

Boone's initial comments are an example of the kind of incidents that some of us experience and some of us do not. If you belong to the latter group you might find the reactions on feminist blogs, say, a tad exaggerated. If you belong to the former group you know better than that.

It's not having to experience something like this once or even a few times that rankles. It's having to experience it a lot. Even if men like Boone only "lose it" once, there are enough of these guys out there to make some women the focus of a lot of vitriol over time. The men who don't act out their misogynistic or racist anger don't realize how repetitive these slurs can be in the lives of some women, especially if they "stick out" because of ambition or because of working in a male-dominated industry.