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Against the "Tennessee Three"
Rules for thee but not for me.
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The recent shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville by a trans individual presented a conundrum for the mainstream media, which usually has no problem tying a mass shooting to racism or sexism or gun control or some other progressive cause. This time, however, the shooting wasn’t very helpful to the preferred narrative. The press covered the kids and staff who were shot and killed, but there was no narrative-building around the shooter and motives other than a chorus of grotesque claims that the “trans community” was feeling newly threatened and was therefore the real casualty of the event.
Then, in a development that generated much excitement and ballyhoo from the Left, the media discovered the real victims of the Nashville shooting and its aftermath: a pair of African-American politicians, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, expelled from the Tennessee legislature who could be relied upon to loudly spout off all the approved lines about white supremacy and disenfranchisement and the fascist GOP. Just like that, a story about a trans individual shooting up a Christian school became a story about racism, the backwards South, and the “authoritarian behavior” of the Right.
Why were Jones and Pearson expelled? Because they’re instigative spotlight whores. They, along with a third colleague, Gloria Johnson, who was not expelled because she was more of a hanger-on,1 staged a protest in support of gun control in the Tennessee House, leading a mob into the chambers and disrupting the proceedings with a bullhorn, which they used to egg on the agitators. A clear betrayal of their institution and their colleagues and a violation of the rules.
Now, I’ve been reliably informed that anti-democratic mob behavior and the disruption of democratic proceedings are among the gravest ills that might be visited upon these United States of America and must be roundly condemned. But the same Democrats and journalists who’ve obsessed over January 6 have reversed course in recent days, either valorizing the incident at the Tennessee State Capitol that disrupted the legislature or simply looking past it.
CBS News anchor John Dickerson warned that the move to expel Pearson and Jones was a “maximalist” reaction and could lead to violence. He apparently had no qualms about the protestors, who were chanting “Fuck you, fascists!” and were so “peaceful” that state troopers had to shoulder through their ranks and wrestle others out of the way in order for lawmakers to simply use the restroom.
Meanwhile, on MSNBC, hosts and guests invoked Easter and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ when discussing the lawmakers’ expulsions.
The Reverend Mark Thompson appeared on The ReidOut and said, “for these Republicans in Tennessee to do this, and for them to be so evangelical and as Bible-thumping as they are, to not realize the irony in trying to expel three today on the eve of the day when tomorrow, when three were crucified, simply for standing up for what is right and trying to end gun violence in this country.”
Joy Reid, never one to miss out on an opportunity to remind people why her viewership numbers are abysmal, added, “I will just close on his behalf by saying it is apostasy to call yourself a Christian and claim you believe in God and Jesus when what you believe is in death, what you believe in is distributing as much death as possible to as many people as possible, even your own children, because you don’t love them like you love firearms. You don’t love them like you love the NRA.”
While discussing the expulsions as guest host of MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber, Jason Johnson brought up the proximity of Easter and the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to suggest “this is a time of year we have to remember that governments have a tendency to kill Black men who stand up against oppression and violence on behalf of the underprivileged and underserved.”
The notorious AOC, who maintains an unfortunate taste for hysterical rhethoric, couldn’t help herself from weighing in on Twitter: “Republicans may think they won today in Tennessee, but their fascism is only further radicalizing and awakening an earthquake of young people, both in the South and across the nation. If you thought youth organizing was strong, just wait for what’s coming. Gen Z don’t play.”
Gen Z don’t play. What is this, 4Chan? My God, AOC. It will never cease to amaze me the lengths this prima-donna will go to show people how cringe she is. She’s a fitting example of the sort of person who should be subject to a firm and neurologically imperative 30-minute daily limit on Twitter.
National Review’s Charles Cooke notes one of the more egregious examples of the mainstream media’s treatment of this incident. In the New York Times, Thomas Edsall just flat-out lies about what happened:
At the same time, Republican leaders are showing a growing willingness to disempower both Democratic officials and cities run by Democrats if they defy Republican-endorsed policies on matters as diverse as immigration, abortion and gun control.
The expulsion of two Black state representatives by the Republican majority in Tennessee received widespread publicity this past week (one has already been reinstated by local officials and the other may be soon). But their expulsion, as spectacular as it was, is just the most recent development in a pattern of attempts by Republicans to fire or limit the powers of elected Democrats in Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and elsewhere, including Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision in August 2022 to suspend Andrew H. Warren, the elected Democratic state attorney of Hillsborough County, who had signed a statement saying he would not prosecute those who seek or provide abortions.2
Jones and Pearson weren’t expelled for choosing to “defy Republican-endorsed policies.” They were expelled because they hijacked the Tennessee House floor — the first time in history that this was done — and shut down proceedings with the help of a mob, trying to intimidate their peers into passing their preferred policy solutions.
Edsall’s dishonesty was echoed by the rest of the media, which relied on euphemisms to downplay what happened. Politico described the incident as “a boisterous protest.” NPR described it as “a raucous protest.” The Washington Post, ABC, and CBS claimed the issue was that the legislators were “participating in a gun control protest.” The New York Times reported that the Tennessee three “took to the floor” to “rally for stricter gun control.” CNN said they “staged a demonstration.”
There’s a reason the press has covered the incident in this way. It’s the same reason coverage of the Floyd riots was grossly whitewashed. They know that if they were to tell the truth, it would make those they’re defending far less sympathetic.
Being expelled from the Tennessee House was the best thing that could have happened to Pearson and Jones. They’ve been lionized. By sheer repetition and force of will, outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post have succeeded in turning the anti-democratic actions of two disruptive lawmakers into a tale of honor, bravery, and moral fortitude. This is now the accepted Narrative™. The story arc is complete.
Without the expulsion, no one would’ve ever heard of them. Now, however, they’re being paraded around on the national stage as a pair of courageous victims of “racism and disenfranchisement,” which confers the moral prestige of being stalwart racial justice champions without any of the downsides of actual oppression. They’ve appeared on all of the Sunday shows and have received shoutouts from every major elected Democrat and profuse praise from the White House, which has used the opportunity to demagogue about alleged GOP racism and extremism.3
Doubtless, both Pearson and Jones4 will ink lucrative book and speaking deals and run for Congress. But Pearson in particular has seized upon his new fame, transforming into Larper Luther King and emoting so hard as to be unbearably cringe-worthy. Both these clips are worth watching:
What an absolute joke. A bullshit artist of the first order who is being treated like the second coming of Christ by the Left.
Imagine, if you will, what kind of treatment would be forthcoming from the media if a pair of Republican state legislators were expelled for doing precisely the same thing as Pearson and Jones. Imagine also what the reaction would be if Republicans took over the well of a legislative assembly and refused to leave when commanded by the sergeant at arms to do so.
We’ve been told for two years that our government institutions are sacred, and that efforts to interrupt legislative proceedings violate democracy. But just like when progressive activists stormed the state legislatures of Wisconsin and Texas and shut down the proceedings, these two individuals in Tennessee, who led a mob into the state legislature and shut down the proceedings, are being lauded by the media and the Left. When Democrats do it, it’s a protest; when Republicans do it, it’s an “insurrection.”
And while all the fanfare surrounding the expelled legislatures was going on, the Tennessee House debated and passed a strongly bipartisan school safety bill that will go a long way toward preventing a repeat of the Nashville shooting. Of the 99 voting members, only four voted against this consensus legislation. Three of those four were Justin Pearson, Justin Jones, and Gloria Johnson.
She also apologized and said “her emotions got the best of her,” while Pearson and Jones refused to apologize and doubled down on their quest for martyrdom.
Edsall lies about what happened in Florida, too. Andrew Warren wasn’t suspended as part of “a pattern of attempts by Republicans to fire or limit the powers of elected Democrats in Florida.” He was suspended because he was a state attorney who refused to enforce state law. As DeSantis explained at the time, “State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda.” The Florida Constitution empowers the governor to remove state officials who are guilty of “neglect of duty.”
It is absolutely disgraceful that the two cops who dropped the Nashville school shooter haven’t been invited to the White House to be honored, but Pearson and Jones have. It is even more disgraceful that Kamala Harris visited Nashville not to visit the families of those killed in the school shooting, but to “praise the courage” of the two ousted Democrats.