House censures Rep. Paul Gosar for posting video with his face pasted on cartoon character

Paul Gosar, DDS, a Republican member of Congress from Arizona, has officially been censured by House Democrats plus GOP turncoats Cheney and Kinzinger.  He has also been stripped of his committee assignments by the Democrats plus the two turncoats.  The vote was 223 to 207, with one member voting present and three not voting at all.

On learning of the House action against Dr. Gosar, I thought of an observation by Mark Twain — and also of a Seinfeld episode.  The Twain insight is "Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."  I found it in a volume of writings from his notebook, at the time he was working on A Connecticut Yankee.  The source of the action taken against Dr. Gosar by the rabidly partisan Democrats plus their two acolytes was his irreverent depiction, by anime, of the killing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which might not have been in the best of taste, but certainly could not be construed as a threat on her life.  The Seinfeld episode was the one in which Robert Wagner denounces Seinfeld as an "anti-dentite."  Is it possible that the rabid Democrats, at least some, were gleeful about censuring Dr. Gosar because, deep down, they are anti-dentites?

The censure resolution, H. Res. 789, consisted of nine preambular paragraphs and three operative provisions.  In the opening preambular paragraph, Dr. Gosar was charged with posting, November 7, 2021, "a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden."

The third preambular paragraph stated that on November 9, 2021, Rep. Gosar "defend[ed] the video as a 'symbolic cartoon,'" adding that it spread "hateful and false rhetoric about immigrants."

The fourth preambular paragraph stated that the House Republican leadership "failed to condemn Representative Gosar's threats of violence against the President of the United States and a fellow Member of Congress."

The fifth preambular paragraph stated that the House Grand Inquisitor (my term — it actually referred to "the Speaker of the House") "made clear that threats of violence against members of Congress and the President of the United States shall not be tolerated[.]"

The sixth preambular paragraph deftly invoked the Capitol invasion last January: "Whereas depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021."

The last three preambular paragraphs took note of the harmful effects on women of the "global phenomenon" of "violence against women," citing the finding of the Inter-Parliamentary Union "that 82 percent of women parliamentarians have experienced psychological violence" with 44 percent getting death threats, "sexual violence beating, or abduction during their terms" — and the last preambular paragraphs said women in politics "made government more representative and just."

The three operative paragraphs censured Dr. Gosar, required that he stand in the well "for the pronouncement of censure" and "be censured with the public reading of this resolution by the Speaker."  By amendment to the censure resolution, H. Res. 789, Dr. Gosar was stripped of his places on the Oversight and Reform Committee and on the Natural Resources Committee.

Did the video in question threaten violence against AOC and the president so as not to be tolerated by the speaker of the House?  Stated differently, was the video a harbinger of harm or a picayune prank?  Apparently, it all depends whose ox is gored — or which party is depicted.  The rabid Democrats see Dr. Gosar as a possible violent threat; the Republicans, at worst, see him as a silly prankster.

Does either party gain from maximizing Dr. Gosar's behavior into an intolerable threat, and if so, which one?  That is to say, which party, today, has a vested interest in depicting Dr. Gosar as a nasty villain, tying AOC to train tracks and waiting behind the White House bushes to assault the president?

At present, it seems all that is needed for an excuse to censure Republicans is a slight Democrat majority in the House.  It is more likely than not that both Rep. Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene will be restored to committee assignments (Ms. Greene lost her committee seats to Democrat votes in February) should the Republicans regain a House majority a year from now.  And now that the Democrats have established a precedent on censure and loss of committee seats by a party-line vote, they had better mind their Ps and Qs, or they will find themselves "gosared" come January 3, 2023.

By the way, in researching this article, I learned that there are nine Democrats on the House Rules Committee and only four Republicans.  But the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the House is more like 6 to 5 than 9 to 4.  Mr. McCarthy, how did you get so hornswoggled on the Rules Committee?

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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