Port: You don’t have to choose a side


MINOT, N.D. — What I’m about to write is anathema in professional politics. But, at risk of being reported to the Guild of Pundits* for perpetrating excommunicable heresies and apostasies, I’m going to write it anyway.

When some new folderol is making headlines, and the politicians and talking heads and online influencers are slinging hot takes, you’re not obliged to pick a side.

Consider, as a case in point, the recent events in Tennessee, where the Republican-controlled state Legislature just expelled two young Black lawmakers who were members of the Democratic caucus in that chamber.

The two Democrats (along with an older, white, and female colleague who wasn’t expelled), incensed by the school shooting in Nashville, led a disruptive protest in the legislative chambers. They took over the rostrum. They used bullhorns when their microphones were cut off.

Article II, Section 12 of Tennessee’s state constitution allows each chamber of their Legislature to “expel a member” for “disorderly conduct.” The current rules for the state’s House of Representatives ask the speaker of the House to “preserve order and decorum” and state that members wishing to address the chamber to “rise, and respectfully address the chair and await the notice of the speaker.”

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