Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Punishing Nothing By Punishing Everything


The House of Representatives has punished two of its GOP members, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, for what Daily Beast reporters Sam Brodey and Ursala Perano label "their own insulting moves." Now House Democrats are considering penalizing Republican Lauren Boebert of Colorado because of bigoted remarks about colleague Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota.

Yet Brodey and Perano maintain

But this time, Democrats are weighing how to respond knowing full well that very response could serve as exhibit A in the GOP case to retaliate should they, as is expected, take control of the House in 2023....

But the dynamics of taking such a step have shifted since Democrats took the rare step of doling out consequences to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) for their own insulting moves. The party voted to remove both of them from their committees and to censure Gosar.

Assuming they regain control of the House, Republican won't "respond" at all.  These are people who voted overwhelmingly against investigating an armed insurrection against the United States government, and they won't be responding. They will come after Democrats- and not only members of the "Squad"- in one of their first moves to end representative government.

Nonetheless, Alexandria Ocasi-Cortez was wrong, albeit not as naive as the reporters, when she

told The Daily Beast on Thursday she was “saddened” by Democratic leadership’s delay in calling for action. “This should not take a long time,” she said.

“We have to have even enforcement against these things, because having that consistency is what actually draws the line. When we enforce and make these actions on some of these offenses, but not others, it actually encourages an increased frequency of them trying to test this boundary,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

“Because they think that, you know, if one of every four times you can get away with it, then they’re going to roll the dice,” she added.

There is no consistency when your target is "these things." Nor can your opponents, radically hateful Republicans, be testing a boundary when your boundary is unknown.

Ocasio-Cortez has set no boundary, nor does she intend to. "When we enforce and make these actions on some of these offenses," she states, urging a Democratic response to whatever may offend. That is a whole universe of things, especially (not exclusively) for the New York congresswoman. Congress can set boundaries, of course, if it chooses to disregard her standard that whatever offends at the time is forbidden. 

Trying her hand at stand-up, Boebert ridiculed Islam and implied that a Muslim colleague was a terrorist.  Gosar threatened the life of one colleague, Greene the lives of two colleagues. There is a difference from Boebert's stand-up act, which should impel House Democrats to establish boundaries, in which some acts are within, some outside.

The importance of Democrats' establishing those boundaries is only highlighted by their disinclination to do so. If they wished to take a stand against political violence, they could do so most effectively by denouncing bigotry but recognizing that tolerance requires acceptance of speech that is reprehensible, even insensitive and biased.

By contrast, there should be consequences if members commit or encourage violence against colleagues or other elected officials.  That can be clearly distinguished from speech that is antithetical to decency and respect for others. One is awful; the other, dangerous. It shouldn't be hard to understand nor to explain to the American people. Consistency established; boundaries set.


 



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