After the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida – the most deadly in United States history – Democrats in the House of Representatives famously staged a sit-in when the House Republicans refused to give them a vote on gun control. It was completely embarrassing to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who completely lost control of his chamber. Clearly this is a spectacle that stuck in the craw of the House GOP, so the first thing they did during the new session of Congress was to pass rules that would prohibit the Democrats from doing what they did during that sit-in, and live streaming the whole thing via social media such as Periscope and Facebook Live.
Now, the House GOP introduced a set of rules that would prohibit photos, videos, and other forms of documentation via the internet on the House floor. Now, this is a rule that has been in place for years and has routinely been ignored by Republicans and Democrats alike. During big, celebratory events, the members of the House have always snapped photos, taken videos, posted to Facebook, and tweeted. However, this set just may include actual punishment, such as fines. The first offense results in a $500 fine, taken from the rule-breaking lawmaker’s earnings. After that, it’s $2500 a pop. The rules passed 234-193, with just three Republicans voting against the ridiculous measures that are clearly aimed at punishing Democrats for embarrassing Paul Ryan.
After the rules were passed, Democrats made fun of what the House Republicans had done, via twitter. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) was the ring leader and snapped the shot with Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and John Lewis (Ga.) with the caption:
“Exercising freedom of expression on House flr before draconian GOP rules change goes into effect.”
— Jared Huffman (@JaredHuffman) January 3, 2017
The bigger issue here, though, is this: this is supposed to be the people’s House. When something big – like that sit-in- is going down, we are SUPPOSED to know what is happening. This is Paul Ryan and his House GOP thugs trampling all over the First Amendment and trying to keep the American people from knowing what is going on in their own House. They are just as draconian, corrupt, and authoritarian as the buffoonish wannabe dictator that they just got elected. This is why we must #RESIST.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images
Shannon Barber is a self- described queer feminist and activist for racial equality, LGBT rights, women’s rights, and secular rights in America. She is a lifelong lover of words, though her educational background is in computer science. She currently writes for 2 liberal websites, and keeps her own humor blog for lesbians. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time.