Megaphones get you expelled from Congress, moving your mouth doesn't
The dumbest excuse of 2023 to defend why white women can protest but black men can't
Writer’s note: On Monday, April 10, local officials voted to reinstate Rep. Justin Jones.
That’s how many people have died by gun violence in 2023. And by the time I press “publish,” this number will be outdated. U.S. voters will often ask local-level politicians, state-level politicians, federal-level politicians and even the president to do something about people being killed by gun violence in massive numbers. And Tennessee’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives showed exactly what happens for politicians who dare do so.
Three lawmakers (Rep. Gloria Johnson, a white woman; Rep. Justin Jones, a Filipino and black man; and Rep. Justin Pearson, a black man)—nicknamed the “Tennessee Three”—participated in a seven-hour protest on the House floor on Thursday, March 30. All demonstrators at the Capitol called on lawmakers to take action against gun violence, the latest of which was a shooting that left six dead at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, three days before the protest.
Instead of Congress focusing on the purpose of their protest (or at the very least the three 9-year-olds who died with a principal, a substitute teacher and a janitor), they voted to expel these three House reps from office for protesting against gun violence. The result of the expulsion vote:
Rep. Justin Jones 72-25 (split along party lines)
Rep. Justin Pearson 69-26
Rep. Gloria Johnson 65-30
The only thing that surprised me about Johnson’s vote was that she got any "yay” votes to expel her at all. But I was curious how someone could justify three members of Congress in the exact same protest for the exact same cause on the exact same day at the exact same time.
So why did some people vote not to expel Johnson?
One member of Congress, Rep. Lowell Russell (R-Vonore), explained it away as she “did not participate to the extent that Jones and Pearson did.”
What did she do differently? She didn’t have a megaphone.
You’re welcome to use a search engine to see Rep. Russell, but you already know what he looks like. And yes, Rep. Johnson looks exactly how you’re assuming she looks too. We can humor ourselves into believing that a megaphone is the only reason she managed to stay in Congress while Rep. Pearson and Rep. Jones were kicked out.