Independent candidates for Wisconsin's state assembly are allotted five words on the ballot to explain themselves. Milwaukee's Ieshuh Griffin went with the classic, "NOT the 'whiteman's bitch.'" (They're so focus-grouped, these days.) Why would the state election board reject this?

Griffin's statement — as seen on her delightful '97 Microsoft Word Art-crafted flyer — sparked a robust debate among state election officials.

That statement, Griffin says, sums up her political philosophy, which is all about empowering the low-income residents of north Milwaukee.

"It's a term the constituents identify with," she said.

But "whiteman's bitch" is also a term the GAB staff decided was offensive and defamatory, a finding that several board members questioned.

"I disagree with the staff's recommendations," Thomas Cane said. "I didn't find it particularly offensive. I didn't find it necessarily derogatory."

"Who does it defame?" Gordon Myse, chairman, asked. "Isn't she really saying, 'I'm not under the white man's influence'?"

"I didn't interpret it as racist," Thomas Barland said.

At first, the board staff ruled that the slogan wouldn't be allowed. After the appeal hearing, though, the board voted in favor of her being allowed to keep the wording, 3-2, but state law requires four votes to overturn the original decision.

Ieshuh Griffin wants to take her case to the Supreme Court, but that probably won't happen. Because c'mon, now.

But check out her testimony and decide for yourself! Is this statement "offensive"?

[There was a video here]

[Image via The Milwaukee Drum; video via Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]