More blood on their hands.
The Republican supermajority in the Montana House of Representatives voted yesterday to censure state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the body's first transgender woman lawmaker, on trumped up claims that she had "disrupted" House proceedings Monday by standing up silently with a nonfunctional microphone, while supporters in the gallery chanted "Let her speak!" For good measure, the accusation also claimed that by not leaving the floor when asked to do so, Zephyr had somehow "endangered" lawmakers and staff, because maybe the protesters would have run riot or something.
While the censure motion didn't formally include it, the punishment was obvious payback for comments Zephyr made last week in which she said that if her colleagues voted to prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender minors, she hoped that "the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands." Since then, Republican House Speaker Matt Regier has refused to recognize Zephyr or let her address the House.
As a result of the party-line, 68-to-32 censure vote, Zephyr will be banned from the House floor and other areas until the end of the session on May 5. She will be allowed to watch House proceedings by video and to vote remotely, but cannot participate in debates. Her ability to participate fully in the House will be restored in next year's session, at least until Republicans find a pretext to silence her again, because "decorum."
Zephyr was graciously allowed five minutes to defend herself before the vote, during which she explained — from a desk covered in bouquets of flowers from supporters — why she had to speak up for trans kids, who will suffer if SB 99, the bill banning gender- affirming care, becomes law:
"I rose up in defense of my community that day, speaking to harms that these bills bring that I have firsthand experience knowing about. I have had friends who have taken their lives because of these bills. I have fielded calls from families in Montana, including one family whose trans teenager attempted to take her life while watching a hearing on one of the anti trans bills."
She noted that when Democrats had pleaded to have some inflammatory, decidedly undecorous testimony — the usual bullshit about "mutilation" of children — excluded during that debate, the Republican chair of the Judiciary Committee simply said that "a lot of people have a lot of opinions on these things."
So when I rose up and said there is blood on your hands, I was not being hyperbolic. I was speaking to the real consequences of the votes that we as legislators take in this body.
And when the speaker asks me to apologize on behalf of decorum, what he’s really asking me to do is be silent when my community is facing bills that get us killed. He’s asking me to be complicit in this Legislature’s eradication of our community, and I refuse to do so. I will always refuse to do so.
If you use "decorum" to silence people who hold you accountable, then all you’re doing is using decorum as a tool of oppression.
The rest of the quick show trial featured alternating statements for and against censure from three Republicans and three Democrats, with the Democrats pointing out that protest and disagreement and even strong words are a normal part of democracy, and that the multiple anti-trans bills passed by the Montana Lege this term will do real harm to the LGBTQ+ community.
State Rep. SJ Howell, who is nonbinary, pointed out that were it not for the raft of bills aimed at limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ Montanans, none of this would have been an issue.
"We did not look for that fight. But when it came to us, we did what we had to do. We did our jobs. We stood up, we stood with our community. We told the truths that we live every day. We hoped you would listen."
Howell went on to say that it was "deeply unsurprising to me" that Montanans came to the House Monday to protest, because it wasn't simply that Zephyr had been silenced. "That happened after a session of debating bills that only impact some of us, and struggling for equal treatment under the law."
Republicans, on the other hand, explained again and again that there are rules of conduct and decorum, and that without those rules the Legislature can't get its job done, so the rules must be enforced. One dickweed even claimed that the real "assault on democracy" occurred Monday when Zephyr stood silently in solidarity with the protesters in the gallery, because wasn't that inciting the "disruptive antics" of the crowd? Without order and discipline, the Rs all agreed, there can be no free speech, OK? No one gets to flout the rules. (Unless they have the backing of the supermajority.)
\u201cAs I left the House chambers, I pressed my light to speak\u2014a reminder that this legislature is removing 11,000 Montanans from discussion on every bill going forward.\n\nI will always stand on behalf of my constituents, my community, and democracy itself.\u201d— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@Rep. Zooey Zephyr) 1682543578
The vote, when it came, was no surprise. Zephyr left the House floor, and later tweeted a photo showing that on the way out, she had turned on the light on her desk requesting to be recognized, since now her constituents won't be until next year.
Now, Republicans who wanted to silence a troublesome Democrat have once more created a national figure, as this Google Trends screenshot of searches for "Zooey Zephyr" in the last 30 days suggests. Zephyr appeared on MSNBC last night with briefly expelled Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones and rising Democratic congressional star Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Florida). Jones offered this succinct evaluation of the political mood, saying that American fascists are now "in the Find Out portion of our movement."
In the midst of this ugly fight to save democracy, the spirit of solidarity is inspiring. If that isn't a Nice Time, I don't know what is.
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They're still attacking Rep. Zooey Zephyr.
Montana Republicans will vote this afternoon on taking disciplinary action against state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) because she stood at her desk Monday and held a nonfunctioning microphone in the air while a crowd of supporters in the House gallery chanted "Let her speak!" The protest ended with seven protesters being arrested as state police cleared the gallery.
Monday's protest followed last week's refusal by House Speaker Matt Regier (R) to recognize Zephyr during debate on a bill that removed transgender people from more than 40 areas of Montana law, including protections against discrimination, and which eliminated the option for trans people to change the gender markers on any official documents like birth certificates, drivers licenses, and even death certificates.
Regier's silencing of Zephyr was punishment for a speech she had made earlier in the week against another bill that banned gender-affirming care for trans kids. In that speech, Zephyr noted that ending treatments like puberty blockers and hormone therapy would force trans youth to undergo puberty, which was "tantamount to torture" and said the House "should be ashamed." She followed that by saying that if Republicans voted for the bill, "I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands."
Regier has said that he will only allow Zephyr to participate in debate again during the current legislative session if she apologizes for the remarks, because decorum. Republicans in the Montana Freedom Caucus called for Zephyr's censure, claiming the Legislature must have "civil discourse" and condemning Zephyr's supposedly "hateful rhetoric" while deliberately misgendering Zephyr in the announcement.
So that's how we got to Monday and the protest, in which Zephyr apparently did an insurrection by standing at her desk and holding up that microphone. Here's video from CBS Mornings. Note the efficiency with which the one trooper — at about the 9-second mark — uses a club around the neck of one protester to just take them right down to the floor.
After the protests Monday, the Montana House cancelled its scheduled floor session Tuesday, because people had been loud and disruptive.
We haven't yet seen any Montana Republicans claim it was exactly like January 6, 2021, or worse (minus any deaths, assaults on police, feces-smearing, or attempts to overturn an election). House GOP leadership said in a statement that the protest had been a "riot by far-left agitators," and vowed to "stand firm in our commitment to decorum, safety, and order. We will uphold the people’s will that sent 68 Republicans to Helena," a subtle reminder that Montana Republicans have a supermajority and will do what they want.
Regier himself held a 35-second press conference Tuesday, in which he took no questions and complained that the media hadn't told the true truth, because he hadn't silenced Zephyr, she had, by breaking rules and not apologizing.
\u201c#mtpol #mtleg\n\nSpeaker did not take questions, went into his office and closed the door after\u201d— Holly Michels (@Holly Michels) 1682444737
"This is also a disappointing day for Montana media,” he said. “The entire story was not told. Headlines that have happened over the last week stating that the Montana House leadership or GOP has silenced anyone is false. Currently, all representatives are free to participate in House debate while following the House rules. The choice to not follow House rules is one that Rep. Zephyr has made. The only person silencing Rep. Zephyr is Rep. Zephyr. The Montana House will not be bullied."
If only Zooey Zephyr would stop bullying the Republican supermajority with all that accurate explanation of why forcing trans kids off their medications will be torture.
House Minority Leader Kim Abbott (D) issued a statement saying Democrats will be united in opposition to any disciplinary measure, for all the good it may do:
"The Republicans are doubling down on their agenda of running roughshod over Montanans' rights — to free expression, to peaceful protest, to equal justice under the law. Montana Democrats will hold them accountable for every step they take in escalating their anti-democratic agenda."
Abbott also told the Helena Independent Record, "I think this is the most extreme action that I've seen a Speaker take against a member in the 20 years I've been around this building,"
It's not clear yet whether the House Republicans intend to pursue censure or expulsion of Zephyr later today; a letter sent to Zephyr yesterday said that she had violated the "rules, collective rights, safety, dignity, integrity, or decorum of the House," and referenced the section of the Montana state constitution giving them the power to punish members or expel them with a two-thirds majority vote.
The House Judiciary Committee, on which Zephyr sits, cancelled its scheduled meeting this morning, and the GOP leadership's letter to Zephyr noted that the House gallery would be closed for today's floor session, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. "Mountain Time," or 3 p.m. Eastern. You can watch the Republicans take a billy club to democracy here at the Montana Legislature's website, and maybe we will do a livebloog too.
Update: Erin Reed reports that the gallery will remain closed not only today, but for the remainder of the session, which is likely to last another week or so. Can't have the public nosing around the People's business.
In related news, the Montana Free Press reports today that David Gianforte, the son of Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, has lobbied his dad to ask him to not sign anti-LGBTQ legislation, including three of the worst bills:
David, 32, sat down in the governor’s office on March 27 with a prepared statement about legislation affecting transgender Montanans and the LGBTQ+ community generally, to which David says he belongs. He wanted to talk about Senate Bill 99, a ban on gender-affirming health care for minors; Senate Bill 458, a bill to define sex as strictly binary in Montana code; and House Bill 359, a ban on drag performances in many public spaces.
David, who is nonbinary and uses both he and they pronouns, read a statement telling their father that the bills would harm their transgender friends, and called the bills "immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights.”
It's not yet clear whether Montana Republicans will also vote on whether to expel the younger Gianforte from his family.
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Also had a fun idea for giving trans folks F-35s and tanks. We say why not?
REMEMBER WHEN! We will be spending much of the day throwing at your face some of our favorite old Tucker Carlson posts, or at least the ones Evan linked to yesterday, because that is a nice cheat sheet to start with. This post was originally published March 24, 2023.
Tucker Carlson wanted to talk about guns last night. Tucker has well-known masculinity issues and feels very threatened by LGBTQ+ people.
Mix those together in a bucket, why dontcha! And Tucker did. Good LORD.
His monologue was about how "The Democratic Party believes owning a gun is too much autonomy for you." (LOL.)
He sprinkled in other shit too, of course. He said people who support Ukraine are just conformists who think they specialize in "Eastern European border disputes." (By the way, that was the eighth sentence of his monologue. That's how long it took him to lick Vladimir Putin's taint and spread Russian propaganda in a monologue that wasn't even about Russia and Ukraine. He got back to Ukraine at the end. Handy bookends! Wonder if that's by design.)
And of course he claimed early and often that Democrats want to take your guns, just because they'd like to maybe ban the AR-15s that every white mass shooter seems to be able to get out of a vending machine. Gotta keep the white supremacist viewers scared!
But then it took a turn. A real weird turn.
It turns out that because of the disturbing rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hatred and violence — helpfully nudged on by people like Tucker and the sort of vile trash he invites on his show — LGBTQ+ people are arming themselves more, for protection. He heard about it on NPR. And he thinks there's a double standard here, because on one side, the libs are COMIN' TO GRAB YER PERNIS GUNS! But also LGBTQ+ people are arming themselves against morons who both hate LGBTQ+ people and also think the libs are COMIN' TO GRAB YER PERNIS GUNS!
"Guns are bad except in the hands of trans people. Wow!" said Tucker. He continued:
"The world is dangerous. You have to be dangerous back." Is that a quote from an FBI indictment of the Proud Boys? No, it's from an NPR segment. At this point, it's hard to tell the difference, and the lip-smacking NPR reporters just say it without any sense of self-awareness at all.
Oh yes, it's NPR that doesn't have self-awareness. Go on.
What is going on here? Well, you know what's going on here is that NPR has decided that guns are bad, except when the enforcers of its ideology have guns. You can't have guns, but faithful servants of the Democratic Party can. That makes sense because like all totalitarians, they want a monopoly on force, right? So, debate ends at that point when one side has all the firearms. You don't have to argue. You say, well, you can't change your sex. "Shut up, bigot. Bang, bang!"
Cool, he's telling his excitable pantshitting white supremacist viewers that trans people are going to murder them once they have all the guns. Does claiming trans people are going to kill his viewers count as inciting violence? We are just curious.
And look: We know Tucker willingly and knowingly lies to his viewers, because we've read it in texts and emails released from that Dominion lawsuit. But his viewers are dumbasses who don't know that. That's why he gets away with lying to them.
Tucker talked about a trans person WHO SHOT A COP before they took their own life, and he quoted some "research" from grifter troll Andy Ngo to suggest there really isn't any problem with violence against trans people. (You can google that. But that's yet another thing his viewers are too stupid to do.)
Then he got back to the trans people who are arming themselves, specifically a group in New England that's trying to protect itself from a neo-Nazi group that targets trans people.
TUCKER: What you're watching here is not the exercise of the Second Amendment. What you're watching here is political hysteria, fear ginned up on purpose with maximum dishonesty in order to get people in a state of agitation, armed people in a state of agitation — doesn't matter if they're trans or not, whatever that is.
How is that different from the exercise of the Second Amendment practiced by the NRA and the Republicans who spend their lives in backrooms giving it head? Oh wait, is it somehow just fine when it's white supremacist conservative dudes who at least present in public as heterosexuals getting ginned up and agitated? Is Tucker fine with that?
TUCKER: It's the same template always: Scare the crap out of your voters, tell them that their lives are at risk, encourage them to get guns. How do you think that ends?
And what was Tucker saying about NPR's lack of self-awareness?
TUCKER: But by the way, if we're following the logic here, and why not, that's in short supply in this country, you have to kind of wonder, like, what's the limit to this?
Russian propaganda bookend incoming.
TUCKER: So, if trans people are in fear for their lives in every region of the country, including New England, which apparently is crawling with Nazis now, why wouldn't we be arming them as we are, say, Ukraine's trans army?
Ukraine's trans army.
TUCKER: There are famously trans people in Ukraine's army. They're very, very proud of that. So, why stop with AR-15s? I mean, why not F-35s or tanks?
Yeah! Could be cool!
So anyway, that is how Tucker incited his pantshitting bigot viewers last night.
He ended his monologue by dead-naming trans Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine, because of course he did, and by saying there's "some weird affirmative action program going on" and oh fuck it, go read the rest if you want to.
It's so goddamned demented.
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GOODNIGHT. Surprise, Tucker Using Colorado Springs Gay Club Massacre To Incite More Anti-LGBT Hatred
It's almost like he's fixated.
REMEMBER WHEN! We will be spending much of the day throwing at your face some of our favorite old Tucker Carlson posts, or at least the ones Evan linked to yesterday, because that is a nice cheat sheet to start with. This post was originally published Nov. 22, 2022.
The secretary of Transportation had something to say last night.
The way this story is going, it's looking like there will be a lot of blood on a lot of people's hands by the time we know all the details, and the "deja vu all over again" sensation will only grow for LGBTQ people.
The authorities are starting to fill in the official blanks on the mass murder at a gay club in Colorado Springs on Saturday night and the bias that appears to have motivated it, although we still don't have a ton of details. We know the charges the suspect is being held on include charges for bias-motivated crimes. But the way America's most vicious purveyors of anti-LGBTQ hate are reacting, and have been reacting pretty much since the headlines started, you'd think we had a manifesto that includes their pictures and love notes written to them on construction paper with glitter.
Tucker Carlson's show last night was a breathtaking example of the genre, which is to be expected from somebody who's spent as much time as he has demonizing and inciting hatred against LGBTQ people, working his viewers into frothing lathers of ignorance over healthcare they don't understand for children they hate. This is a person whose college yearbook listed him as a member of the "Dan White Society," a club that doesn't appear to exist but is named after the man who murdered out gay San Francisco public official Harvey Milk. This is a man who has for years bragged about that time he beat up a gay guy in the bathroom for allegedly looking at him funny.
How resentfully he complained to his viewers last night that he and they might be accused of any wrongdoing here. And he did it under the guise of his fake "stop sexualizing kids" campaign, which has absolutely nothing to do with anyone sexualizing kids, but has everything to do with inciting hatred against LGBTQ people, including LGBTQ kids.
Tucker complained in the clip above that people would make assumptions and guesses about the motive for these murders based on information we don't have yet, saying it "would dishonor the memory" of those murdered. From a journalistic perspective, he's exactly right. We all know what a stickler Tucker is for best journalism practices, and for making sure you don't dishonor the memory of dead LGBTQ people. (Just to put Tucker being correct about How To Journalism in a little bit of context.)
He bitched and moaned that Joe Biden mentioned gun control against the backdrop of America's Next Top Gun Massacre, and then focused on how his and his viewers' free speech was being censored:
TUCKER CARLSON: So these horrifying murders in Colorado over the weekend quickly became a pretext for yet more censorship of your speech. You are responsible for this, they told you, because you said the wrong things. You are guilty of stochastic terrorism, inspiring violence by your beliefs. Anderson Lee Aldrich committed mass murder because you complained about the sexualizing of children. Every time you object to drag time story hour for fifth graders or point out that genital mutilation is being committed on minors — which it is — every time you say that, you are putting people's lives at risk.
Whenever Tucker emphasizes that something is true, whenever he feels the need to stop in the middle of a sentence and say something like "which it is" or "this is just true," it's a tell that he's not telling the truth. It's like a nervous tic.
Does that mean Tucker knows he is actively lying to his viewers when he says that rampant "genital mutilation" is happening to children in America's hospitals, or when he lies to the white supremacist country time windsocks who watch him about what happens at drag shows? Only he and his god know.
Tucker played a clip of NBC reporter Brandy Zadrozny, who has done some of the best reporting on the American rightwing's violence incitement campaign against LGBTQ people, and then continued:
When you point out the truth, indisputably ...
There's that tic again. Once you notice it, you never miss it again. If we ever have an opportunity to play poker with this dude, we will end up with all his unearned fish stick riches.
and the truth is
that some adults in this country, apparently a growing number,
A growing number, huh?
have a deeply unhealthy fixation on the sexuality of children — when you say that out loud, you get people killed. That is what Brandy Zadrozny is saying. And by saying that, Brandy Zadrozny and the many people like her are effectively defending that same deeply unhealthy fixation on the sexuality of children.
Here is an extended thread with many videos of Tucker Carlson talking about children's genitals. Who has the deeply unhealthy fixation?
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5 Tucker Carlson just started his show by telling his audience that "violence and cruelty should always horrify us," referring to the CO Springs shooting this weekend.\n\nTucker also conveniently ignored his important role in stirring up violent and anti-LGBT rhetoric:\u201d— Kat Abu (@Kat Abu) 1669079153
By the way, it's absolutely real.
You're not imagining that.
The evidence is everywhere.
After that Tucker talked more about the Children's Hospital in Boston, where they've already dealt with bomb threats incited by pigs like Tucker and the vile scum person who runs the Libs of TikTok Twitter account, over and over again accusing the hospital of "sexually mutilating kids" and saying it's "very common."
But of course Tucker says this isn't an attack on gay people. No, that's when he and the Critical Race Theory liar guy do their song-and-dance about drag queens.
So that's what last night's Tucker show was like.
Of course, all that being said, what people really ought to read today, and during this week where Americans often pay lip service to giving thanks, is about the people whose lives were taken, and about the heroes who fought back in that club and prevented the massacre from being worse.
The New York Times interviews retired Army Major Richard Fierro, who was at the club with his wife and daughter and daughter's boyfriend, and who fought off the gunman, beating him with the gunman's own gun. They were there for the drag show, and just for a night out. He had never seen a drag show before. He thought it was fun. His daughter's boyfriend was one of those murdered.
“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Mr. Fierro said.
As he held the man down and slammed the pistol down on his skull, Mr. Fierro started barking orders. He yelled for another club patron, using a string of expletives, to grab the rifle then told the patron to start kicking the gunman in the face. A drag dancer was passing by, and Mr. Fierro said he ordered her to stomp the attacker with her high heels. The whole time, Mr. Fierro said, he kept pummeling the shooter with the pistol while screaming obscenities.
CNN talked to him too.
These are the real people whose lives were ended or forever altered after they went out on Saturday night in Colorado Springs.
Like the secretary of Transportation said, if you're a public figure who's spent one second demonizing LGBTQ people for whatever reasons, political or personal, cynical or sincere, religious or otherwise, don't you dare.
Ain't nobody foolin' anybody here.
Ben Collins is another reporter doing incredibly important work exposing these rightwing campaigns, and he said something important on the news this morning. We'll let him close out this post.
\u201cI talked this morning about an inflection point in this country right now, specifically for reporters:\n\nWhat are you more afraid of? Being on Breitbart for saying that trans people deserve to be alive?\n\nOr are you more afraid of waking up to the news of more dead people?\u201d— Ben Collins (@Ben Collins) 1669123703
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