Thursday, August 17, 2023

TheTwo Justins of the Tennessee Three get their own fashion shoot for the cover of Bazaar.


by Rod Williams, August 17, 2023- Wow! The two Justin's of the Tennessee Three just keep reaping the benefits of their expulsion from the Tennessee House of Representatives. 

As everyone who pays any attention to the news knows, the two Justins and one other legislator were expelled from the House back in April for disrupting the proceedings of a House session and leading a demonstration from the floor of the House with a bullhorn. The demonstration was to demand the legislature take action on gun reform following the Covenant School shootings. 

At the time, I opposed the expulsion, not because I do not think decorum is important and what they did was wrong, but because I predicted it would make them martyrs.  Here is what I said: 

Leading a mob in chants with a bullhorn from the floor of the chamber should never be acceptable behavior from a member of the body; the House should be a deliberative body. There should be an expected level of decorum. However, ousting is a drastic step and less severe measures should be taken first. The Speaker should call attention to the behavior of Jones and his colleagues from the podium and admonish them and warn that a repeat of such behavior will result in more drastic action.  

I know Jones is an activist and does not respect decorum. I was once at a Marsha Blackburn event where he disrupted the meeting during the prayer and had to be physically removed from the room. Then there was the time when a House Representative was engaged in dialog with protestors and Justin Jones threw a cup on hot coffee on the Representative.  I understand that the leopard is unlikely to change his spots with a mere warring and admonition from the speaker. 

Still, I would support something less drastic than ouster. To oust him will make him a martyr and a hero to the left. He may become an in-demand radical like Al Sharpton and get his own show on MSNTV and a teaching job at TSU.  I would support a resolution censuring the three and stripping Jones of his committee assignments. 

Of course, I have not had to serve with Jones and legislators may be at the end of their rope in dealing with him.  If in the opinion of fellow House members, he is beyond redemption, then it may be appropriate to oust him. 

If Jones was the only one who used the bullhorn and was the leader of the three and the House determines he must be ousted, maybe only he should be ousted and the other two simply admonished. 

The House should be calmly deliberative before taking action. 

I was right beyond my wildest dream about them becoming martyrs. They were hosted by President Biden at the White House, the Vice President came to Nashville to have her picture made with them, the story of their expulsion made news around the world, and they were on all the important Sunday news shows and numerous other TV news cast and talk shows.  Chuck Todd of Meet the Press dropped all pretense of objectivity and fawned over them and could hardly contain his giddy admiration. It was embarrassing. Chuck Todd was not the only member of the press to treat them as saints beyond reproach. I don't think Mother Teresa ever got such loving treatment from the press. Celebrities from former President Barack Obama to singer Sheryl Crow voiced their support and admiration for the three. 

After they did become loved political celebrities I wrote, "Republicans acted emotionally rather than rationally and handed Democrats a win. Republicans shot themselves in the foot. Maybe Republicans in the House needs some anger management training." 

Of course, the expulsion accomplished nothing. In Nashville, the Metro Council voted unanimously to return Justin Jones to the House to fill the vacant seat created by his ouster and then in a special election he was reelected to the seat by an overwhelming margin. Justin Pearson was also returned to his seat in like fashion. Also, both of the Justins raised over a million dollars in campaign contributions, most of it coming from beyond Tennessee.

I know that celebrity status can be hard to explain. I still don't understand people who are famous for just being famous. I don't get social media "influencers." I don't get the Kardashians. I think the fawning of the liberal press over the Justins in weird, but it is within the context of relevant news. But Bazarr? Bazaar is a fashion magazine. It is devoted to fashion, beauty, and celebrity, and it features advertisers like Cartier and the most expensive of skin care products and other offerings of things for the rich and shallow. It just seems bizarre that the two Justins would be on the cover of Bazaar. 

Here is an excerpt from the article where Justin Jones explains his sense of fashion.

I don’t look like the other elected officials in the building. In fact, I was told that I should cut my hair and assimilate. But I know that we have to represent a new model of what legislators can look like. Someone who does not assimilate or accommodate white supremacy and these “norms” of what we’re supposed to be and who we’re supposed to appeal to and how we’re supposed to curtail our identities in order to be accepted in a space. We represent a new South.

I’m Black, but I’m also Filipino and Indigenous, and I bring all those identities with me into this legislature every day.

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