Stephen Maseda | A Trio on the Tennessee Three

Letters to the Editor

We have the latest from the trinity of Lois Eisenberg, Thomas Oatway and Jonathan Kraut about the “Tennessee three.” 

You would think from reading these contributors that the Tennessee Three were poor helpless victims of racism by the Tennessee House of Representatives, who expelled two of them because they were Black. They conveniently ignore the actions of these three in interfering with House proceedings, using a bullhorn and joining with an unruly crowd of protesters who were staging a riot to pressure the House into passing gun control legislation they desired, rather than the legislation a majority of the representatives favored. Contrary to Mr. Kraut’s assertion, the First Amendment does not protect “heckling,” the “hecklers’ veto,” or non-peaceful protest — it protects the right of peaceful protest. As we have learned following Jan. 6, it is a crime to interfere with the proceeding of legislative bodies, and hundreds of protesters on that day have been charged with that crime. Those of us on the center right agree those charges were justified by the conduct of some. Our major concern is overcharging and denial of bail.

However, these three are insisting that we should applaud such conduct, where rioters and the three members did exactly that. The two members who were expelled had seized the floor of the House, and, using a bullhorn, had joined with the rioters in closing down the proceedings of the House. They were expelled for engaging in this disruptive conduct. The one member who was not expelled (the motion failed by one vote) defended herself on the basis that she had not engaged in disruptive conduct, but simply stood on the floor silently protesting. Having thus avoided expulsion, she had the audacity to suggest that the expulsion of the other two, but not her, was the result of racism. 

Stephen Maseda

Santa Clarita

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