SWFL reps vote against censuring Gosar for murder video

In his anime video, Rep. Paul Gosar (cartoon figure on the left, holding swords) approaches a cartoon Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (larger figure, right) to attack her. (Image: YouTube)

Nov. 18, 2021 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives yesterday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-4-Ariz.) by a vote of 223 to 207.

All of Southwest Florida’s members of the House, Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.), voted along with the rest of the Republican caucus not to censure Gosar.

Two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-at large-Wy.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-16-Ill.), voted for the censure. “The glorification of the suggestion of the killing of a colleague is completely unacceptable. And I think that it’s a clear violation of House rules. I think it’s a sad day,” Cheney said to reporters. “But I think that it’s really important for us to be very clear that violence has no place in our political discourse.”

Gosar was censured for posting a Japanese-style anime video showing him attacking and killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-14-NY) and President Joe Biden.

An animated Rep. Paul Gosar (figure on right) prepares to attack Pres. Joe Biden with swords in Gosar’s anime video. (Image: YouTube)

While not explaining his Gosar vote, Donalds posted an altered photo of his own on his Twitter feed blaming Biden for high gas prices: “If the WH is wondering why gas prices aren’t going down, all they have to do is look in the mirror,” it states. The photo purports to show Biden looking in a mirror.

Rep. Byron Donalds’ altered photo of Pres. Joe Biden looking in a mirror. (Photo: Office of Rep. Byron Donalds)

Steube and Diaz-Balart did not issue statements explaining their votes.

Following the vote on House Resolution 789, Gosar was required to stand in the Well of the House while the censure resolution was read to him. He was stripped of his assignments on the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a committee of which Donalds is also a member. (The full text of the resolution is at the end of this article.)

In a statement on the floor of the House, Gosar said that he took down the video and “self-censored” himself when he realized it offended members. (The video remains accessible on a variety of platforms.) He compared himself to Alexander Hamilton, who also faced a censure vote. (The Hamilton censure was defeated.)

“President Trump called me his ‘warrior’ for a reason,” Gosar said in a subsequent statement. “My team created a short anime video that depicts, in literary form, the plague of open borders and the people who promote and support it. It is done in a superhero format with good guys and bad guys. It flies through the air. It moves fast. But it does not incite violence. It does not promote violence.”

Prior to the vote Ocasio-Cortez delivered a powerful, 5-minute speech decrying Gosar’s behavior and a defense of it by Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23-Calif.).

“This vote is not as complex as, perhaps, the Republican leader would like to make folks believe. It is pretty cut and dry: Does anyone in this Chamber find this behavior acceptable? Would you allow depictions of violence against women, against colleagues, in your home? Do you think this should happen on a school board, in a city council, in a church? If it is not acceptable there, why should it be accepted here?” she said.

“So, Madam Speaker, the question I pose to this body in response is: Will we live up to the promises we make our children, that this is a place where we will defend one another, regardless of belief, that our core human dignity matters?  If you believe that this behavior is acceptable, go ahead, vote ‘no.’ But if you believe that this behavior should not be accepted, then vote ‘yes.’ It is really that simple.”

There has been violence and even killing among members of Congress in the past. In 1856 Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina savagely attacked Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts at his desk on the floor of the Senate for a speech he gave denouncing slavery. In 1859 anti-slavery Sen. David Broderick of California was killed in a duel with pro-slavery California Chief Justice David Terry.


Censuring Representative Paul Gosar.

Whereas, on November 7, 2021, Representative Paul Gosar posted a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden;

Whereas the video was posted on Representative Gosar’s official Instagram account and used the resources of the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials;

Whereas Representative Gosar issued a statement on November 9, 2021, defending the video as a “symbolic cartoon” and spreading hateful and false rhetoric about immigrants;

Whereas the leadership of the Republican Party has failed to condemn Representative Gosar’s threats of violence against the President of the United States and a fellow Member of Congress;

Whereas the Speaker of the House made clear that threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States should not be tolerated and called on the Committee on Ethics of the House and law enforcement to investigate the video;

Whereas depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021;

Whereas violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted;

Whereas a 2016 survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union found that 82 percent of women parliamentarians have experienced psychological violence and 44 percent received threats of death, sexual violence, beatings, or abduction during their term; and

Whereas the participation of women in politics makes our government more representative and just: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That—

(1) Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona be censured;

(2) Representative Paul Gosar forthwith present himself in the well of the House of Representatives for the pronouncement of censure; and

(3) Representative Paul Gosar be censured with the public reading of this resolution by the Speaker.

House Resolution 789

Liberty lives in light

(c) 2021 by David Silverberg