Michigan seems hell bent on becoming the latest state desperate to step into the Way Back Machine and live life like it was the 50s again.
Two Michigan State Representatives--Lisa Brown and Barb Bynum--were blocked from speaking on the House floor because they dared to use the words ‘vagina’ and 'vasectomy' while opposing a proposed anti-abortion bill the day before.
See, you can't mention vaginas in the Michigan Statehouse; and vasectomy just makes the menfolk so twitchy that the word is also banned.
Lisa Brown, a Democrat, was told that she was not allowed participate in the anti-abortion debate because of her earlier ‘offensive comments’ and ‘unprofessional conduct’, while Barb Byrum, another Democrat, was also prohibited from speaking for using the word 'vasectomy' during the argument.
Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that the Michigan Statehouse, for the time being, is under GOP control, and we all know how the GOP feels about women, discussing women's issues.
I mean, aren't there cookies for these women to bake, or floors to scrub?
|Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum|
During the debate, Lisa Brown, who is Jewish, spoke against a proposed bill to further regulate abortions: "Wherever there’s a question of the life of the mother, or that of the unborn child, Jewish law rules in favor of preserving the life of the mother. The status of the fetus as human life does not equal that of the mother. I have not asked you to adapt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adapt to yours?"
Seems like a straightforward question, only it involve hotbed issues like religion and abortion, but what sent the GOP over the edge was what Brown said in closing: "And finally, Mr. Speaker,’ she said. ‘I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but no means no."
While some applauded Brown's statements, others were just all verklempt, like Republican of course, Mike Calton, who said, "What she said was offensive. I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”
Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina Vagina
But even worse than having some Neanderthal upset by Brown’s mention of the V-word, is that another Republican, of course, but a woman, Lisa Lyons, was also offended: “As a woman and mother, I was personally offended by Rep. Lisa Brown's disgraceful actions during Wednesday's floor debate.”
Seriously, the Way Back Machine is nearly full.
Michigan House Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, a Republican, sigh, of course, said the decision to ban Brown from speaking was not because she said vagina but because of her conduct.
Her conduct is saying the word vagina.
Brown, being a rational human being, and a grown person, defends her use of vagina: “If I can't say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas? What language should I use? We're all adults here.”
Well, not really. Vagina.
Now on to Barb Bynum, who, during the same debate on abortion, tried to introduce an amendment that would regulate vasectomies. She was not allowed to speak on vasectomies, and when she protested that decision she was declared “out of order.”
House Speaker spokesman Ari Adler says, “There were actions by Representative Byrum on the floor involving shouting in the chamber that also failed to maintain decorum.”
I guess you can say vasectomy in a whisper.
Bynum says, “It's my impression that I'm being banned from speaking as a result of my use of the term vasectomy - a medical procedure. Neither of us has been contacted by Republican leadership as to why or how long we've been banned. Talk about disrespectful, that they don’t have the common decency to tell us themselves.”
Perhaps because they are stuck in the 50s and don’t know how to respond in 2012.
Now, onto other Michigan Madness.
In 2009, Julea Ward was dismissed from a counseling program at Eastern Michigan University after she refused to counsel a gay student because she said it was against her Christian beliefs.
She was reprimanded by the university and refused to even work with them to resolve the issue.
Well, that Vagina-fearin’, Vasectomy-frightened, Michigan GOP-controlled statehouse passed a bill last week to prohibit the state's public universities from taking such action in the future.
The so-called Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act would forbid public colleges and universities from discriminating against or disciplining students participating in counseling, social work and psychology programs "because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student, if the student refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services."
The legislation has the support of the Michigan Family Forum and Michigan’s Attorney General, but has also attracted a diverse coalition opposing the bill.
Equality Michigan says the bill "threatens clients seeking counseling with rejection based on their race, relationship status, and faith, or, yes, because of their sexual orientation" and "sends the message that medical decisions can be based on religious and personal beliefs and not on what’s in the best interest of the patient."
Because, you know, it’s not about the patient or client, it’s about the counselor or doctor.
Carlos and I were discussing these latest rightwingnut actions in states like Tennessee and North Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and now Michigan, and we both understand that the pendulum has reached the far right and will soon be swinging back toward the middle.
And then to the left.
But what people need to realize, is that when the pendulum does swing back to a more liberal bent, you can bet that the left will never reprimand women for discussing women’s issues, or women’s right to choose. The left will never reprimand a person’s choice of using a medical term in discussing medical procedures.
And the left will never tell an LGBT counselor, who may or may not be an atheist, a Jew, a Muslim a fill in the blank, that they can deny services to a Christian because of their own personal beliefs.
No, that sense of self-entitlement, that sense of my way is the only way, that sense of censorship of bigotry and intolerance, seems firmly rooted in the right.
And that’s wrong.