Is this a free speech issue? (Update)
A Kansas Representative, Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City , is being investigated by the Kansas Legislature for using inflammatory language during a education-committee debate on House Bill 2139, which would make revoke tuition reimbursement for illegal immigrants (presumably Dreamers).
“I have dreaded this day because this is a racist, sexist, fear-mongering bill that I would like first to apologize to the progressively-minded people of Kansas who are appalled that we are turning back the hands of time…um…regarding to, and I am going to use strong language, Jim Crow tactics, and once again making Kansas a laughingstock.”
Quoting the paper LJ-World.com posting:
At that point, Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene, interrupted to object, saying: “She just referred to this committee as racist.”
“I said supporters,” Winn replied. “I am not saying anything, but you know what, you can do anything you want, but I am going to say what I have to say because if the shoe fits, if the shoe fits, it fits. But this is an example of institutional racism, not individual racist, institutional racism because it deals with societal structural changes.”
Winn, a black woman, could face expulsion from the legislature; only the fourth time in the Kansas House’s history that they’ve conducted such an investigation. Talking Points Memo details the consequences she faces and the stacking of the committee running the hearing.
So what do you think:
1. If the Kansas House censures or expels Winn, is that a violation of her free speech?
2. Should she have been more delicate in her phrasing?
3. Would there have been any way to point out institutional racism that would have been well received by the majority of Republicans?
I should note that the bill in question has been tabled; so perhaps Winn’s inflammatory remarks hit their target.
Update: On June 19 (that’s yesterday,) the same original reporter, Peter Hancock, reports on Winn’s upcoming hearing, Kansas representative faces hearing over ‘racist’ remarks. The hearing is 8:30 in the morning on June 26; the last day of the legislature, so they would only recommend an action, which would be taken up by the next legislature. Such a recommendation would require a majority of the committee, made of three Republicans and three Democrats.