Who remembers something that happened in the world of American politics fifteen months ago? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most voters can’t remember what politicians said or did back when they started reading this sentence. This forgetfulness accounts for about one hundred and twelve percent of Republicans’ electoral successes since at least 1996. It’s almost enough to–SQUIRREL!!!
Where was I?
House Republicans prohibited state Rep. Lisa Brown from speaking on the floor Thursday after she ended a speech Wednesday against a bill restricting abortions by referencing her female anatomy.
Brown, a West Bloomfield Democrat and mother of three, said a package of abortion regulation bills would violate her Jewish religious beliefs and that abortions be be allowed in cases where it is required to save the life of the mother.
“Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no,'” Brown said Wednesday.
Brown’s comment prompted a rebuke Thursday by House Republicans, who wouldn’t allow her to voice her opinion on a school employee retirement bill.
“What she said was offensive,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”
The pearl-clutching got better:
House Republicans also wouldn’t let state Rep. Barb Byrum speak on the House floor today.
Byrum, D-Onondaga, caused a disturbance on the House floor Wednesday when she wasn’t allowed to introduce an amendment to the abortion regulations bill banning men from getting a vasectomy unless the sterilization procedure was necessary to save a man’s life.
“If we truly want to make sure children are born, we would regulate vasectomies,” Byrum told reporters Thursday.
Now, to be fair, a Republican spokesperson later said the impetus for banning Rep. Brown was that she made a rape reference (“no means no”) that Republicans though breached the decorum of the House. They really should have checked with Rep. Callton before dragging that one out.
The internet, being the predictably unpredictably beast that it is, responded to Michigan Republicans’ unease over accurate medical terminology and whatnot with a barrage of VAGINA-related comments and post, to the point that the Michigan Republican Party’s Facebook page administrator had to ask for calm.
Does any of this sound familiar?
During last week’s discussion about a bill that would prohibit governments from deducting union dues from a worker’s paycheck, state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, used his time during floor debate to argue that Republicans are against regulations — except when it comes to the little guys, or serves their specific interests.
At one point Randolph suggested that his wife “incorporate her uterus” to stop Republicans from pushing measures that would restrict abortions. Republicans, after all, wouldn’t want to further regulate a Florida business.
Apparently the GOP leadership of the House didn’t like the one-liner.
They told Democrats that Randolph is not to discuss body parts on the House floor.
House GOP spokeswoman Katie Betta: “The Speaker has been clear about his expectations for conduct on the House for during debate. At one point during the debate, he mentioned to the entire House that members of both parties needed to be mindful of decorum during debate.
“Additionally, the Speaker believes it is important for all Members to be mindful of and respectful to visitors and guests, particularly the young pages and messengers who are seated in the chamber during debates. In the past, if the debate is going to contain language that would be considered inappropriate for children and other guests, the Speaker will make an announcement in advance, asking children and others who may be uncomfortable with the subject matter to leave the floor and gallery.”
Note that Florida Republicans didn’t take away Randolph’s speaking privileges entirely, only his privilege to speak about body parts. I’d be curious to see if, in subsequent days, anyone tried to sic the sergeant-at-arms on Randolph for complaining of a headache or using such prurient words as “arm” or “hippocampus.”
They were probably only concerned with the word UTERUS.
For anyone wondering what to call that area of mystery, Jezebel has a helpful list. I recommend either #9, “hermetically sealed shame basket,” or #7, [uncomfortable silence].
Photo credits: ‘Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Florida’ by BirdPhotos.com (BirdPhotos.com) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons; ‘Illu repdt female’ by National Cancer Institute [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.