Expulsions just making a point
When Rep. Justin Jones, a Black state lawmaker, was reinstated Monday, four days after the Republican supermajority expelled him for breaching the "decorum" of the House with a gun control protest, it reminded me of comedian Jerry Seinfeld's joke about some men's efforts to attract women:
"Honking the car horn amazes me! This is gotta be just the last living brain cell in this guy's skull that comes up with this idea. She's on the street, he's in the car. Beep-beep. I think I made my point."
The GOP's expulsion of Jones and another Black representative, Justin J. Pearson, was intended to ensure that decorum trumped any advocacy for legislation that could possibly prevent another deadly shooting that claimed the lives of three adults and three children at the Covenant school in Nashville. In other words, they just wanted to make a point.
(State Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, who joined the protest, was not expelled and suggested that was because she was a white woman.)
There is no doubt — none — that GOP House legislators, including those in Hamilton County's legislative delegation, knew their expulsion of Jones and Pearson would not stand. They just didn't care.
Tyranny allows only one point of view
Our Founding Fathers envisioned a democratic government in which opposing points of view are discussed openly, believing that the process would produce good government. They presumed that those elected by the people would recognize their duties to all their constituents, regardless of party or point of view, and would conduct themselves with respect for their opponents and their opponent's constituents.
The Republicans in the Tennessee legislature embody none of those ideals and have substituted, instead, a win-at-all costs mentality, a demonization of all with whom they disagree, an obsession with the exercise of power, and a disregard of the democratic process.
John Cavett Jr.
Legislators 'bought and sold' over guns
I testified in a Tennessee Senate hearing on gun legislation in March of 2020. I was stunned not a single senator even looked at me as I gave testimony.
As a citizen, I was shocked at the disrespect they displayed. As a counselor who has worked with many clients who exhibited high levels of shame, I could see it on their faces. No eye contact was made. They looked like they were staring into space. As I spoke, I felt frustration about the lack of interest in honest dialogue about this crucial issue. Frankly, if a bullhorn had been nearby, I would have used it to startle them out of the trance that seemed to have a hold on them.
Tragically, too many of our legislators are bought and sold by the gun rights interest groups. Although this angers me, I also pity these legislators who have succumbed to financial temptations and are terrified of radical elements in their support base.
I can only imagine the amount of courage it would take for them to confront these powerful forces.
For now, we can make our voices heard. We can let them know we will have their backs should they stand up for decency and declare that our children are worth more than the childish obsession that some of their voters have with unsafe types of guns.
The "Tennessee 3" have shown what braveness and solidarity look like, and they provide an example for all of us.
I stand with them.