“Shreck!” – Former Detroit City Council Member Monica Conyers at a Council meeting
“Nigger!” – Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at the 2008 State of the City Address
“Vagina!” – State Representative Lisa Brown addressing the Michigan House
“Vasectomy!” – State Representative Barbara Byum’s outburst on the floor of the Michigan House
“Stop having sex with us, gentlemen. Find somebody else to do it with.” – State Representative Rashida Tlaib addressing Republican lawmakers from the floor of the Michigan House
What do all these Democratic politicians have in common? – oops — I think I just gave away the answer.
As part of this ongoing pattern, this past week has been a bad one for Michigan Democrats. Even if they don’t realize it.
First, as Robert Laurie explains it at Henry Payne’s The Michigan View (“Laurie: Another Embarrassing Week for Detroit”):
We started the week with an out of control attorney. In an inconceivable display that carried all the political weight of a child's foot stamping tantrum, Detroit's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, filed a lawsuit to block the consent agreement between the city and the state.
The consent agreement is literally the only thing standing between bankruptcy and payless paydays in Detroit on the one hand, and the appointment of an emergency financial manager by the governor on the other – a fate Detroit’s black movers and shakers consider nothing less than the reinstitution of antebellum chattel slavery. Governor Snyder, who doesn’t intend to let a foundering Detroit pull the whole state down with it, made it plain that he wasn’t sending any more state aid if the lawsuit wasn’t dropped. After asking Crittendon, “pretty please,” to drop the lawsuit, Mayor Bing hired a law firm “to take on his city's own legal department.”
A circuit judge tossed out Crittendon’s suit, but it was near-run thing, judges these days being what they are. Writes Laurie:
So, those who want to see the consent agreement move forward have scored a victory. The council, which has stalled the process at every turn, will now be force to implement the deal and will be dragged, kicking and screaming, to a brighter future for Detroit.
Yet, for some reason, they couldn't do this without giving the city one last black eye by making themselves, and Detroit, look foolish in the extreme. Once again, the eyes of the nation fell upon Motown, and once again, we emerged a laughing stock.
Meanwhile, in Lansing, outstate Democrats were misbehaving in the state legislature, after losing a fight over a bill to put some minor restrictions on abortion.
On the House floor . . . the rhetoric from female legislators on both sides of the divisive issue was emotional and personal.
"I'm flattered that you're all interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no,'" said state Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield.
State Rep. Margaret O'Brien, R-Portage, dismissed claims that the bill is a "war on women."
"This bill is not an assault on women," O'Brien said. "Rather it's an important protection to ensure women are not forced into abortion, that women aren't given substandard health care."
State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, called for women statewide to boycott having sex until Republican lawmakers reconsider the bills.
"Stop having sex with us, gentlemen," Tlaib said. "Find somebody else to do it with." (“Abortion bill passes House on mostly party line vote”).
Reporter Chad Livengood says the rhetoric was “emotional and personal on both sides,” but from what he writes it’s clear that’s not so. Rep. O’Brien is obviously talking about about the substance of the bill, while Reps. Brown and Tlaib are clearly talking about, respectively, Rep. Brown’s vagina, and Rep. Tlaib’s decision to stop saying “yes” to what sounds like her extensive active sexual activity with Republican lawmakers until they change their minds about this bill.
Not wanting to miss out on all-this high-minded fun, Rep. Barbara Byrum “shouted 'vasectomy!' after not being allowed to speak about a proposed amendment.”
In the face of these undisciplined outbursts, House Speaker Jase Bolger temporarily suspended both Brown and Byrum’s privilege to speak.
In response to being appropriately silenced for violating decorum, (not for saying the word “vagina”), Brown stooped even lower. Brown told the media on Thursday that she was most likely “’banned for being Jewish and rightfully pointing out that HB 5711 was forcing contradictory religious beliefs upon me and my religion,’.” Unless her religion requires her to dispose of her terminated fetuses by throwing them in a Dumpster, or requires her to get an abortion only in places that aren’t licensed to perform surgery, the bill shouldn’t clash with her faith.
In the wake of what should have been a hugely embarrassing display by the abortion caucus of the Michigan House this week, Laura Berman and other media folks are playing along with the pretense that they’ve never heard of the concept of legislative decorum before. The only thing that could explain why House leaders have temporarily silenced two misfit Democrat lawmakers is “an unwritten rule that Michigan legislators can't utter the word ‘vagina.’”
To finish out a perfect week, on Saturday Detroit hosted “SlutWalk,” a protest against “rape culture” that, from what I can make out, stands for the proposition that women who dress provocatively in public are constitutionally entitled to a before-the-fact guarantee of the quality of man they provoke, and the exact limits of his provocation. The protest includes an equally irrational message denouncing “victim-blaming” for women who’ve suffered sexual assaults, but that message made little sense to me. The epitome of blame-the-victim defenses in rape cases is to, in effect, call the victim a slut. These women are calling themselves sluts.
You figure it out, if you want.
Anyway, I was struck by the pictures of women carrying signs that prominently featured the word “VAGINA,” apparently explaining that it’s not a dirty word. Events of the last week have taught me that Republicans and conservatives have a mortal terror of the word “vagina.” (Full disclosure: the more times I put the word “vagina” in an online post the more hits I get.)
Like most of the things liberals think about me and my kind, I have no idea what they’re talking about. The fact is, each morning I ask God to bless all the vaginas in the world. I don’t think I ever miss a day when I don’t ask female co-workers how their vaginas are doing, or if there’s anything new with their vaginas. Just the other day I asked a grandmother how her college-age granddaughter’s afflicted vagina were coming along, and commiserated with her that there aren’t more TV shows that focus on life with a vagina.
Vagina, vagina, vagina, that’s what I say.
Now can we move on already?