Congressman Paul Gosar cartoon murder video, charlie rangel censure

The House of Representatives Is Considering Censoring Paul Gosar over Violent Video.

For the first time in almost a decade, the Democratic-led House is expected to formally reprimand the Arizona Republican.

House Democrats will vote Wednesday to condemn Arizona Republican Representative Paul Gosar and remove him from committee assignments for uploading an animated video depicting him assassinating a Democratic member of Congress and assaulting Vice President Biden.

The House of Representatives' vote to censure, the most severe sanction available short of expulsion, comes a week after Mr. Gosar used his official social media accounts to distribute the video clip, which was taken from a popular anime series. The video was edited to depict a figure bearing Mr. Gosar's face slashing the throat of another figure bearing the face of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swinging swords at Mr. Biden.

Democrats will also seek to remove Mr. Gosar from his positions on the House Oversight and Natural Resources Committees, thereby depriving him of any power over legislation or oversight in Congress.

The censure would be the chamber's first since 2010 when Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, was found guilty of tax evasion and other ethical offenses following a months-long Ethics Committee inquiry.

Congressman Paul Gosar cartoon murder video, charlie rangel censure
Democrats in the House intend to schedule a vote on censure and removal of Arizona Republican Representative Paul Gosar from the Oversight and Natural Resources Committees.

However, there was one significant difference: the action was conducted against a prominent and influential Democratic member by a Democratic House. Mr. Gosar is a minority party backbencher, and Republicans have declined to publicly censure or sanction him for his behavior.

While a censure is one of the worst sanctions the House may levy, it is primarily a symbolic act intended to publicly humiliate the listed legislator. It requires a simple majority vote and that the offending member stand before his peers on the House floor to receive a verbal reprimand and recitation of his transgression.

Historically, House leaders have refrained from using censure to discipline members; fewer than two dozen members have been censured since the early nineteenth century.

However, the move to censure Mr. Gosar reflects Democrats' deep outrage at what they perceive to be an incitement to violence against a political adversary, at a time when mainstream Republicans have grown increasingly tolerant of menacing statements and their core supporters appear poised to act on such language, as some did during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

"Is there no longer any decorum in this place?" Is there no decency?" inquired Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat. "Attacks on members of Congress are increasing. We cannot sit back and accept such activities as the new normal."

On Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol that Mr. Gosar's behavior constituted a "emergency" that the House must address.

Mr. Gosar, who has long promoted conspiracy theories and other weird content from the far-right regions of the internet, has made no apology for posting the video, instead attempting to downplay its relevance. He said in a statement that it was merely a "symbolic depiction of a fight over immigration policy" and that he would not "espouse violence or harm towards any member of Congress." He has privately attributed the posting to aides.

Mr. Gosar stated in a statement, "It is a symbolic cartoon." "This is not reality."

In practice, Mr. Gosar may be more impacted by the decision to remove him from committee assignments — particularly his position on the Natural Resources panel, a critical perch for an Arizona legislator.

Nonetheless, after Democrats unilaterally removed Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, from her committee assignments for social media posts made prior to her election in which she endorsed violence against Democrats in Congress, hard-right voters rallied to her defense, and she set a new fundraising record.

Certain Republicans have warned that when they achieve majority status — which might occur as early as 2023 — they will not hesitate to use the precedents established by Democrats to wield their authority against individual members of the opposition party.

"In future years, this precedent might be exploited to grant the majority veto power over the minority's committee assignments," Oklahoma Republican Representative Tom Cole said. "That is a perilous, dark path for the institution to go."

During the republic's early years, condemnation was significantly more prevalent, and its application frequently reflected the age. Representative William Stanbery received the first censure in 1842 for criticizing the speaker.

Then came the run-up to and prosecution of the Civil War: Joshua Giddings was censured in 1842 for introducing a series of anti-slavery resolutions that violated a House gag rule prohibiting even discussing slavery; Laurence M. Keitt was censured in 1856 for assisting in the infamous caning of an abolitionist senator by a pro-slavery House member; and then two members were censured in 1864 for encouraging and supporting the

Between 1866 and 1875, 11 members were censured for physical violence – Lovell H. Rouseau for using a cane to assault Representative Josiah Grinnell — corruption (such as selling military academy appointments), and "unparliamentary language."

Censure fell out of favor during the twentieth century, and the bar was significantly raised. Representative Charles H. Diggs was censured in 1978 after being convicted of 11 charges of mail fraud and 18 counts of making false statements during an inquiry into payroll fraud.

Representatives Gerry E. Studds and Daniel B. Crane were both censured on the same day in 1983 for having sex with 17-year-old congressional pages, criminal charges that would almost certainly elicit a considerably more dramatic response today than a public humiliation on the House floor.

Mr. Rangel, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was censured in 2010 after an Ethics Commission found him guilty of 11 infractions.

Tags