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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Which is the greater insult?

by John Brummett | February 14, 2021 at 8:43 a.m.

A state senator should not refer to a colleague as a dumb-bleep, even if it's an arguable case, at least during formal Senate proceedings.

The more common practice is for one of the better senators to despair while a lesser colleague is talking and mumble as a mere aside to a seatmate, "What a dumb-bleep."

Speaking of transgressions by state senators: Four of them shouldn't waste the Senate's time bringing up a petty, partisan and laughably inaccurate resolution spewing hateful claptrap that advances narrow partisan bias and insults all our intelligence, especially Black people's.

The name-caller offends decorum. The four senators with their resolution offend truth and decency.

Sen. Stephanie Flowers of Pine Bluff, the inimitably proud voice of a Black woman's deserved outrage, got formally censured last week by the white folks who run the Senate and everything else in these parts.

She was made to miss three days of committee meetings for peppering live debate with her audible remote reference to one of the four previously referenced senators--Trent Garner of El Dorado--as a dumb-bleep.

But neither Garner nor his co-sponsors--Bob Ballinger, Gary Stubblefield and Dan Sullivan, composing with Garner the extremism all-stars--got censured for the resolution, SCR6, to which they affixed their names shamefully.

All they got was voted down by 4-22. They were the four "aye" votes. They managed to hold their own support.

Do you have any idea how bad a right-wing resolution would have to be to lose 4-22 in this state Senate,

a veritable nest of primitive right-


It would have to say, over its 11 pages of supposed and pointless sense-of-the-Senate blather, that America has been great on racial advancement throughout its history and that some slaves even got bought as indentured servants by which they might slave their way to liberty, and that Republicans have been especially good on race throughout our nation's history, but that Democrats have been really, really bad.

The resolution accused Democrat John F. Kennedy of failing the cause of racial advancement by declining to take a certain action as president in 1960.

He became president in January 1961. He took the action in 1962.

The resolution implied that Black people voting these days by 90 percent for Democrats don't know what's good for them.

But there's reason to think that Black voters know full well that Abraham Lincoln and early Republicans were the champions of their freedom; that racists in the Democratic Party embraced Jim Crow laws early into the 20th century; that it was a Democratic president who advanced the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and that it was modern-era Republicans who implemented a cynical Southern strategy to lock down the votes of Southern white racists resentful of the modern Democratic commitment to the cause of equal rights and opportunity for Black people.

The political-party dynamic in the nation's history on race is, like a lot of things, not consistent over time.

Republicans were the good guys once but got worse. Democrats were the bad guys once but got better.

None of that ought to be exploited with quarter-truths and full lies for partisan interest in 2021 through rhetorically obscene resolutions contaminating the Arkansas Senate or any other place.

It turns out that Flowers was participating in this resolution discussion remotely because of the virus. She might not have known that she was audible when she said while Garner was speaking that he was a dumb-bleep.

Sen. Missy Irvin jumped up, Church Lady-like, and called for censure of Flowers because senators don't need to be talking nasty.

Irvin's motion passed. The next day, the Senate voted for the solution proposed by the president pro tem, Jimmy Hickey, to put Flowers on the committee bench for three days.

I wonder: How many committee meetings might Flowers get excused from if she said what she really thinks?

You might wonder where an 11-page resolution like that, filled with "whereas" this lie and "whereas" that lie, comes from. You should understand that there is a nationwide cottage industry churning out such right-wing blather.

The resolution infesting the state Senate was highly similar to one that had been filed in the South Dakota legislature.

What apparently happens is that right-wing "think tanks" come up with this nonsense and then look around for the most outrageously extreme legislators in the most politically gullible small states, less in hopes of passing anything than to advance the visibility of their flagrant history rewrites.

Flowers called them out. But, for the record, let us agree that she should not have said dumb-bleep out loud into the microphone of her laptop or tablet.

Decorum dictated that she hit "mute" first.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.


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