By Diane Roberts
Republicans have decided to care about etiquette. Doing things properly. Teaching young people manners.
In the state of Tennessee, they call it “decorum.”
You might recall that on March 27, three adults and three small children were shot to death at a school in Nashville. Republican politicians proffered the usual “thoughts and prayers” then went back to the vital business of protecting guns and policing drag queens.
That didn’t sit well with some of the Democrats in the Tennessee House of Representatives. They wanted to talk about gun control. They wanted to remind politicians that their constituents were getting mowed down.
The House Speaker cut off their microphones. The Democrats pulled out a bull horn. They were ruled out of order. They kept talking.
The House, controlled by a supermajority of Republicans, huffed that Reps. Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson, two young Black men, had brought “dishonor and disorder to the House of Representatives,” and kicked them out. A third lawmaker, a white woman, escaped expulsion by one vote.
The deaths of thousands of children don’t matter as much as the “honor” of the Legislature.
“You do not use the House floor to protest,” scolded Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton. “There are rules. There are policies. There are procedures.”
Decorum trumps democracy.
Republicans from Tennessee to Tallahassee to Tacoma struggle manfully to stop those rule-breakers who would keep disrupting white men’s God-ordained exercise of unchecked power.
You know the kind: gays; transgender types; students; immigrants; women; Blacks.
They’re getting uppity. They’re breaking the rules.
Just like back when Black people wanted to vote, get a decent education, and be treated as equal under the law. Or when gay people wanted to get married, just like straight people. Or back when women thought it might be more fair if they — not the church, not the government, not a man — controlled their own bodies.
Certain females are causing a lot of trouble and being downright aggressive.
A dozen activists got arrested in Tallahassee the other day for demanding reproductive rights on the sidewalk in front of City Hall. The local paper breathlessly reported that their social media showed the women came downtown to “challenge authority and knowingly to risk being taken into custody if they violated a curfew.”
The city manager revoked their protest permit and had them hauled off in handcuffs.
What’s more important, the regulations or the ability of full-grown women to have a say over their uteruses?
The part that upset many conservatives even more was the t-shirt Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried wore to get busted in. It said “Just F**K!NG VOTE.
If her shirt had a picture of an AR-15, Fried would have been fine.
And speaking of Fine — Rep. Randy Fine, scourge of the LGBTQ community and defender of the universe against drag queens — it turns out his wife Wendy appeared in a charity burlesque show in 2021 dressed (and I’m being generous here) like a stripper.
We’re talking garter belts; bustiers; black stockings; a lot of cleavage. There were actual gay people performing, too.
Did I mention this was a fundraiser for children? And that some under-18s were actually present?
But hypocrisy never cools the lust for control. Sartorial provocation has spurred Republican Legislatures to impose dress codes so no decent eyeballs will be assaulted by such vulgarity. Or any problematic body parts, either.
Here in Florida, the mandate for entering the Capitol forbids men to go sockless (it’s a known fact that the male ankle is a turn-on), and outlaws “t-shirts with writing.” Women must not indulge in leggings, low necklines, bare arms, and skirts “more than one inch above the knee.” No doubt many members will bring tape measures so they can personally adjudicate potential skirt violations and admonish these Jezebels.
Covering the body is central to maintaining order.
Just ask the Taliban. Or a Tennessee Republican.
One of those troublesome Tennessee legislators had the temerity to wear a dashiki at his swearing-in. Hissy fits were pitched. What about “tradition” and “proper attire?” The Tennessee GOP tweeted: “If you don’t like the rules, perhaps you should explore a different career opportunity that’s main purpose is not creating them.”
Aside from the lousy syntax and the middle school-level snark, these guys might recall that “proper attire” for some Volunteer State gents used to include white hoods: The Ku Klux Klan was founded in Pulaski, Tenn., in 1866.
Turns out racism and the rage for decorum are perfectly compatible.
Not that being called “racist” doesn’t hurt Republican feelings. As leaked audio of them berating the one guy who voted against expelling Gloria Johnson (the white representative) reveals, they insist they’re not racist: they’re merely trying to stop Democrats destroying “the republic and the foundation of who we are.”
Of course, who they are is a bunch of racists.
Tennessee Rep. Andrew Farmer treated his black colleagues as if they were 12: “Just because you don’t get your way, you can’t come to the well, bring your friends and throw a temper tantrum with an adolescent bullhorn.”
Rep. Sabi Kumar, an Indian American and a Republican, claimed he’d never heard a “racial slur” in America. Perhaps he’s deaf. He obviously missed the session when a white Republican suggested spicing up capital punishment by bringing back lynching.
Kumar complained that Pearson and Jones “look at everything through the lens of race.” He suggested they were lucky to be in the Tennessee Legislature: “You should join the House, become one of us.”
If only these touchy Black folks would assimilate. Maybe act more white? Become Taylor Swift fans? Take up pickleball? Justin Jones replied that Kumar, as the only non-white Republican in the Tennessee House, “put a brown face on white supremacy.”
Reps. Pearson and Jones have now been reinstated as members of the Tennessee House. No doubt the Republicans are looking for new ways to censure them for incorrect behavior, maybe for failing to put their knife and fork in the twenty-past-four position after finishing eating, or sporting brown shoes with a black suit.
The whole world watched this parade of absurdities. Maybe now the voters will demand a new order, a better decorum.
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books.
Marjory Taylor Green and Bobart can teach the Republicans all they want to know about “decorum.” At the same time, Santos can teach them about truth.
Right On Laurel! I will simply add that trump can teach them about truth, morals and how to treat women. . . also how to gracefully accept defeat.
Thank you for the story. For eons white folks especially white men, did, said, went where they wanted to go. Murdered who they wanted to murder, misbehave like little kids. Other folks were controlled by the white men. As the saying goes, do what I say and not what I do. I will not write about their demonic murderous raping burning denying history. White men are the demonic side of the human race. They are the worse. They can protest and destroy but a Black Man is expelled because he is speaking against people being murdered. A white woman maintain her position. Mostly white men storm the capitol 2020 for a destructive Republican lie. They love to control others but they can’t control themselves, 1-6-2020. Look at history and see the problems of this country, most of the time white men caused the problems. The sad thing about white men is they try to control the tolives of others but follow a lie 1-6-2020, don’t understand that. Look at all the anti gay bills and abortion bills the Republicans are passing. Most of the bills are started by white men trying to keep people under their control. To say there are no good white men in the world isn’t true. To say there are a lot of bad white men is completely true. They will continue to try to run our lives while their lives are running out of control.
I hope you will still be around when the Chinese take over this Ineptocracy we have become. You arent going to like what they do with people that look like you. You see Ive spent time in China and was very shocked to see how they treat a certain race of people. That race of people would be black people if you see where this is going. Signs in windows saying no africans allowed. They referred to Obama when he was president as the monkey man. Look it up…its true. Our media insulates us here to many of the world’s views. If you would further like to be educated…China is in the process of colonizing much of the african continent. They are becoming the new masters of africa. Low interest loans to build infrastructure that they know these african countries can never pay off. Thats their method of owning them. Look up the video of the Chinese guy having the african kids singing in Chinese “Im a little monster”….again all true…look it up. You see the Chinese view africans and black people as the lowest form of humanity and they are taking that thought process to the african continent. Maybe that will give you a new focus for all this anger and hate you feel for white people. Ive got news for you, if white people as you call them were truly like you characterize them….. I dont think you would still be around.
Lance Carroll says
Wow. This article is slanted and, as I see, geared toward further division of our citizens. I do not condone the division of our citizens; nor, do I condone those that aim to perpetuate the division that many in the middle are sick of…
Mindful folks are not swayed by rhetoric and propaganda. Weak minded folks feed their pea brains with rhetoric and propaganda. Not all of us agree and not all of us are dumb. Although, we all are charged with the responsibilities of brotherhood and relativity. This article is slanted and geared at further division of our differences. Of course, I am just another dumb*ss who notes the incorrect syntax and prose within another slanted article composed with narrow minded hypocrisy geared at further division of our citizens. Those of you on the far sides of political extremism, and the many stuck in the middle, ignore this rhetoric that further divides our citizenship and brotherhood/fellowship? We all have a duty that empowers us to get along with each other and ourselves, individually and collectively.
Unfortunately, its called “I’m white and I say so.” Observe the interaction and reaction of most “white people” when they find themselves in a location or situation where they are the only ones, even if its peaceful, or a restaurant, a business, wrong turn into a “black neighborhood”. They get an inkling of what its like to be on the other side, and it scares the daylights out of them. There biggest fear is believing they will subjected to the to the same racist, biased code they claim only exists in the minds of “black race baiters”.
Both side of the isle do all these things . It’s not just republicans. Democrats are just as guilty.
People that write these articles are doing the same thing by bringing in race and lmnop into the headlines. This situation has nothing to do with race. Media makes it a race issue. There are ways of getting business done with the government and when people don’t follow the rules they must be removed. None said anything about a few years back when a white male was removed from the Tennessee house for being disruptive….why? Because it wouldn’t get any clicks.
Whether or not media acknowledges it …racism is disappearing in this country. It’s not gone by any means but it is disappearing. And just for the record . The few white racists left aren’t the only ones. Every race on the planet has racists. Why do we only hear about the white ones? And then on top of that all other racism from all other races is swept under the rug for none to see.
Sorry…back to the story. We have rules that make up society. If we keep breaking rules then our society will break down.
My white son was just suspended from school for 2…. That’s right 2 days for putting his head on his desk because he was tired…..2 days! I told him DONT PUT YOUR HEAD SOWN YOU ARE THERE TO LEARN! WE HAVE RULES FOR A REASON.
Thank you local. . . I agree with you completely that “rules” in our society are there for a reason. I have observed the terrible break down of fundamental morality in our American culture and society. Principles and character traits such as ethics, integrity, truthfulness, respect and honesty, generally have been greatly diminished during my lifetime. The ripple effects have created everything from terrible corruption in our political practices to disrespect and chaos in the classroom.
I am especially troubled by the breakdown of moral character by those who should be setting an example for future generations. . . such as those holding legal (Clarence Thomas comes to mind) or political office, and those billionaires who do everything in their power to maximize profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Where I strongly disagree with you, however, is your opinion that Republicans and Democrats are “equally” guilty (of breaking the rules of decorum?). And, that the situations discussed in this article were not caused by actual racism. . . the media make race the issue.
First of all. . . as a mature, educated white woman it is obvious to me that “white”racism is written about more for a very simple reason. It is the “white” people in the USA who have controlled the majority of power and money since the founding of our nation. Therefore, the results of the “white” person’s racism is much more impactful on our culture and daily lives. . . especially if you happen to be a person of color.
Regarding your/FOX’s BS opinion regarding Democrats being “equally” guilty as Republicans:
1. The Jan. 6th violent and lethal treasonist insurrection= Republican
2. The Black Lives Matter Marches/Demonstrations= Democratic
3. The First Ever President to be Impeached Twice (investigation of CRIMINAL acts ongoing) = Republican
4. First Ever Media Outlet to be Successfully Sued for Defamation= Far Right Leaning FOX
5. How about those “right to life” rules? The majority of passionate “gun rights” activists are Republicans. The massive proliferation of guns in our country has contributed in a major way to mass murders of innocent children in their school rooms.
I could go on and on with examples from Republicans in Congress acting out/lying about their qualifications, Republican cops killing or brutalizing people of color, etc. etc. I could take months to statistically prove that Republicans “break the rules” more often than Democrats, but somehow I don’t have faith that you, Local, would read that analysis simply because it doesn’t fit with your (FOX’s) preconceived agenda.
FACTS MATTER. . . whether you choose to believe them or not!
We “ALL” need to do better in making our personal moral character much stronger!
I think most of us gathered your son was white when you said that racism is disappearing in America.
The Geode says
My son is black and I say the same thing…
Come on Flagler County, we need more citizen legislators to challenge the professional politicians who are the barriers to real progress in this country. 9 out of 10 of the worst states for teenage pregnancy, poverty, illiteracy, obesity, child molestation, bestiality, infant death, mothers dying during childbirth, you name the social ill — ALL RED STATES
Marjory Taylor Green, that’s one disturbed woman that has done nothing beneficial for the citizens of the US since she got into office.
I thought we advanced in our country to not discriminate, how wrong I was. There is no more Republican party it is now a party that is afraid of one person. And the new Cult party is discriminated against everyone that isn’t white. They also are allowing young children to be murdered in schools with assault weapons and not doing one thing to protect them.
Samuel: I’m sorry to say this, but the far right supporters are not rocket scientists. In fact, in authoritarian governing, the intelligentsia are the first to be persecuted. Dumbing down society is important to keep rule, hence the removal of public money from public schools, the banning of books, the banning of children’s self discovery, to ban women’s rights, to ban the right to protest peacefully, to rid us of transparency (Florida’s Sunshine Law), to take away local rights, to force one religion on us, to ignore grifting, to ignore cheating, to accept lying, to become numb to mass killings, and much, much more are important to those who are in the process of a hostile takeover of our country.