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TN Politics: When Politicians' 'Free Speech' Needs Solitary Confinement


From a U.S. lawmaker's violent video to a Memphis councilmember's unhinged rant, political analyst Otis Sanford says it's time to double down on decorum.

Republican U.S. Representative Paul Gosar faced an unusual house censure this week for promoting and then declining to repudiate a video that superimposed his face over anime figures physically attacking progressive representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden.

Political analyst Otis Sanford says that depicting violence against individuals should not be tolerated as politicians' "free speech," but particularly in light of the the Jan. 6 insurrection, which confirmed fears that a large number of Americans are willing to translate extreme political rhetoric into violence against lawmakers.

But a lack of decorum is not just a Washington problem. Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford, Sr. provoked backlash after a tirade at Tuesday's meeting. His ire, aimed first at Mayor Lee Harris, quickly transformed into a finger-wagging diatribe peppered with personal threats and bigotry against the government employees appearing before the council.

Memphis City Council Member Ford Insults, Threatens County Employees, Calls Pronouns "Irrelevant"

Political analyst Otis Sanford says Ford's outbursts previously resulted in new rules for decorum on the council, which were not observed on Tuesday.

Sanford calls Ford "an embarrassment," and questions why voters in his district continue to give him a public forum.

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher's favorite haunt is the intersection of history and cultural change. He is WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.