Something that's gotten lost in the last five days is exactly how often the House Republican leadership has changed its story in regards to why it silenced Lisa Brown and -- let's remember that there were two -- Barb Byrum. The first was that there were certain legislators who were offended by the use of the word, "Vagina."
As Teh Demas noted pretty quickly, there was a Republican representative who is so horrified by the word that he wouldn't use it in mixed company. This, from a guy who studied biology. For her part, Byrum mentioned, "vasectomy."
After it became abundantly clear that everyone over the age of 12 was laughing at them, and that it rings pretty stupid to try to regulate something that so offends you that you can't utter its name in public, they shifted. Suddenly, it was because Brown conflated physically intrusive regulations of a woman's reproductive system with the physically intrusive act of rape. This also didn't fly very far, probably because it didn't explain why they also barred Byrum from speaking.
Now they've settled on this nonsense about "temper tantrums." First of all, as we've noted around here, if you watch the video of both women, neither of them were engaged in anything resembling hystertics, let alone throwing a "temper tantrum." Secondly, anyone who's watched legislative and/or Congressional speeches for anything longer than five minutes has seen far worse behavior from across the political spectrum. That includes the two Michigan legislators who got into an actual, genuine fistfight a few years ago, neither of whom were punished or given a "time out." On this score, they've lost Bill Ballenger. When the Republicans have lost Bill Ballenger, it's time to admit defeat and move along to the next disgrace. I mean, Ballenger said that elevating the Goat Killer to national committeeman wasn't a bad sign for these people. Please, take note.
The problem is that for years, they've been able to get away with shifting the goalposts on the fly without fear of being held accountable. This isn't a novel addition from Ari Adler, who is probably mostly guilty here of working for assholes. I thought this was going to be the case here at the start of the below-embedded video from Mark Patrick Shiels, where a GOP representative prattled on about Byrum and Brown being given timeouts.
Shiels usually gets taken as a centrist, but this is mostly because he doesn't appear to have any firmly-held opinions of his own. Mostly, he just lets people onto his show to say whatever they want in an environment without fear that someone might say, "Wow, sir, you are just full of shit, aren't you?" It's pure access journalism. People go on his show, so he looks important, because they know it's safe. So, he makes it safe so everyone will go on his show. The problem is that what you hear are valueless talking points, because people know they can repeat them without having them challenged. The end result is that it normally just aids political gridlock, because everyone's point of view is treated as equal, even if someone is very clearly lying, which was the case in the below-embedded video.
At the end of the segment, however, came a small slice of lucidity from Shiels. He says that women don't like being accused of throwing temper tantrums and to be quiet. A week after this all happened, I don't know why this has yet to dawn on House Republican leadership. No one likes that, and if their plan is to make it all go away by pretending that the other side is filled with women throwing histrionics ... well, they're welcome to the outcome of that.
But, here is the real kicker. These are the same people who think it's okay to tell women what they can and can't do with their own bodies. Should it surprise anyone that they would also tell them how they're allowed to conduct themselves in public, even to the point of creating one set of rules for men and one set of rules for them? Should it surprise anyone that this all happens at the end of a half-year period that saw Rick Jones suggest that Gretchen Whitmer's opposition to his pro-bullying provisions in an anti-bullying bill was based on hysterics, or that he'd ask Joan Fabiano less than a month later on Facebook whether she was on "head meds," or call Kelly Rossman less than a month after that a "hooker; or that a fellow Republican would at the same time called Whitmer a "government hooker." Or, really, that any of this would happen at the same time that legislatures across the country are passing legislation similar to what our own tried to grease through, or that Rush Limbaugh would go on a three-day tirade against an individual woman without access to his media megaphone by calling her a prostitute and a slut and saying that women who wanted contraception covered in health insurance should post sex videos to You Tube? Or, that the teabagger House of Reprsentatives in Congress would try to repeal Lily Ledbetter protections on the grounds that they aid only lazy women.
The other day, Laura Berman wrote an incredibly unhelpful column in the News about all this. What made it unhelpful was that she led it off by denouncing the idea that this is all connected, that there is some kind of "war on women." I believe her wording was that because it's 2012, she doesn't believe in it.
It's all connected, and has at its heart a Republican Party that appears to have a problem with women. The problem is that they have a problem with everyone else, too, so I don't know if it's a matter of straight misogyny, or just the sort of profound arrogance the Republican Party has demonstrated time and time and time again since it began its rapid tilt to the right about a decade and a half ago. Please note that. It's not in the last two years, but a long time coming. The same people who told Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum to sit down and shut up last week are the same assholes who arrogantly dismissed concerns that invading Iraq without understanding the differences between Shiia and Sunni approaches to Islam might end badly. They're the same people who laugh off concerns about the possible impacts of converting solid carbon into an atmospheric gas that traps heat. They're the same people who insist that cutting taxes never has a bad side. And, they're the same assholes who say that they only want to toss off food stamps the lazy, cheating bums, who based on policies they author appears to mean that they believe everyone on food stamps is a lazy, cheating bum. And, they're the same people who, when presented with fact-based opposition, write off critics as driven by hyperemotionalism. Same shit, different group of people.
The difference here, of course, is that they've earned an emotionally-charged response. It hasn't been noted anywhere quite yet that both Democrats and Republicans want the exact same thing when it comes to abortion. Everyone agrees that abortions are very bad things. The problem is that obstinace on the issue has become a litmus test for the Republican Party, that you can't possibly take seriously the other side unless it entirely capitulates, which happens to be the litmus test imposed on its elected officials for things like taxes and global warming, too. I mean, there's a trend here at work that's pretty obvious to anyone who can connect dots. So, rather than listen and work with the other side towards a solution that tries to address everyone's concerns, they instead seek to impose their will on everyone (and religious beliefs), and that includes laying a legal claim of ownership over the body organs of others, which is a really awful thing.
The thing is that in real life when you do this, it makes you an asshole. And, if you keep on with it, you can expect the person who you continue to make decisions for to become increasingly annoyed to the point where you've make them very angry. Anyone capable of interpersonal relationships approaching the normal understands this; it's only in our politics where we have to argue as if it's socially acceptable to make decisions for others without taking their point of view into consideration.
To put it another way, the manner in which this "conversation" has taken place is like a car trip you take with another (female) person. You are the driver and tell your passenger that you plan to take the long, scenic way from A to B, which will take you into the mountains. Your passenger says that the long way means 100 miles without a place to stop to use the bathroom and will very probably inflame her tendency to car sickness. You tell her that she won't suffer from either a full bladder or car sickness and drive along the longer, scenic path. She registers complaints about what might happen, and then about half way through says she has to go to the bathroom and is becoming queasy. You ignore her, because you're certain she's making it up (she's a chick, after all). Besides, if she'd just shut up, she'd enjoy the scenery. Finally, at the end of the trip, she's mad as hell because she's covered in vomit and in pain from a full bladder and calls you an "asshole." The way House Republicans have responded to this controversy by turning their collective heads and saying, "You know, it's your own fucking fault for not taking dramamine."