Thursday, November 9, 2017

#TXLEGE: Yeah, about that Daily Beast article....

"However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her."
2 Samuel 13:14

By now, we suspect you've seen the Daily Beast report that came out Tuesday about grotesque acts of sexual harassment in the Texas legislature:
For years before the document existed online, this type of information “just kind of lived in whisper circles,” said Rebecca*, who started the list in the fall of 2016.

Rebecca told The Daily Beast that she worked in Texas politics for about two years before giving up and leaving the state because the political environment was “toxic and horrible.”

Sexism in the Texas state legislature is well-documented, in both vague and explicit terms.
You really should read the entire thing.  Furthermore, you should also read this primer from four years ago.  We warn you that you'll want to take a shower when you're done.

To be honest, we've been thinking about this topic ever since the original Texas Observer report in 2013.  We've been tempted to make it a priority to expose this garbage, but have never done so because it felt salacious and tawdry.  The public policy that comes out of the legislature (especially on the house side) tends to be so awful that there's plenty of room to go after these assholes on substance without turning to personal conduct.

In our personal experience, we've never seen anything we would characterize as worse than 'tacky.'  The worst thing we've ever experienced happened in 2015 when Charlie Geren told us a grotesquely sexualized joke about a well known female conservative pundit.  Geren refused to apologize when we mentioned that we were friends with the media figure in question...and her husband.

But we hear a lot of rumors around the Capitol.  And we believe almost all of them.  Even if we can't prove anything, committee chairmen often have the worst reputations.

With an open race for Speaker, now is actually a good time to raise the profile of this issue.  The next speaker needs to eliminate this behavior, and we have every right to demand they present a plan to do so before the vote next session.  Furthermore, all parties should agree that any sort of past behavior along these lines should be an absolute dealbraker for the next speaker.

It might also be a good idea to amend house rules next session to create sanctions for members who engage in this sort of behavior.  Specific sanctions could include anything from loss of committee chairmanships to expulsion from the legislature.  The biggest challenge would be to create a system with enough due process that people don't make false accusations for political purposed.

Furthermore, this shouldn't be political.  For as horrific as their respective stories might be, the one silver lining of having both the Baylor university AND the Harvey Weinstein stories come out in the past year is that we can safely put to rest the notion that any set of political beliefs is exempt from this sort of depravity.  It's pretty much impossible to find two institutions that have more different political beliefs than Baylor university and Harvey Weinstein's organizations, yet it happened in both places.

Bottom Line: This must stop.  We've open to suggestion over how that can be most effectively achieved.  But enough is enough....

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