Today, in "are you fucking kidding me," Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has sparked outrage by comparing the civil rights of minorities to the civil rights of animals.
Gohmert made the remarks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a Republican-sponsored anti-regulatory bill which Democrats have criticized, as it could potentially be used to stifle individual discrimination lawsuits by allowing third parties to intervene in federal regulatory actions. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) offered an amendment that would prevent third parties from doing exactly this in order to block regulation to curtail discrimination based on race, sex, or nationality. In response, Louis Gohmert had this to say:
There is nobody in this chamber who is more appreciative than I am for the gentleman from Tennessee and my friend from Michigan standing up for the rights of race, religion, national religion of the Delta Smelt, the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects who would want someone standing for their religion, their race, their national origin and I think that’s wonderful.
Ha, ha! Good one, Louie! It seems like you spent a while rehearsing that bizarre litany of creatures that occur in the wild (seriously — no one is going to pull "Delta Smelt" out of thin air). Really effective point, sir. You nailed it.
Oh, wait, though, one thing — the civil rights of minorities are, and have historically been, blatantly disregarded and infringed on by those in power. It's hugely important to protect those rights, lest we perpetuate a culture of systemic racism. In fact, the fact that someone could publicly insinuate that the very pressing concerns of minorities are as significant as the concerns of a 2-inch long freshwater fish shows how very necessary Cohen's amendment is.
As Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) put it: "This is not a snail darter’s amendment, it is not an environmental amendment, it is a civil rights amendment, and we’re talking about the civil rights of people — the civil rights of people that have been violated egregiously for generations in this country.”
In the end, the amendment was defeated 16-13, along party lines.