John Krull

Five days ago,, the U.S. House voted, largely on party lines, to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona.

Gosar had posted an anime video that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York. Republicans, who long have presented themselves as the traditional values party, lined up behind Gosar.

(A question for the traditional values crowd: When did it become OK — when did it become a traditional value — for a man to threaten a woman, much less one young enough to be his daughter, with bodily harm? I’m curious about this, because my grandfather — who voted for Republicans all his life and was as staunch a traditionalist as there ever has been — told me when I was a child that he would be ashamed of me if I ever lifted my hand to a woman.)

Gosar, not surprisingly, reposted the video after the censure vote.

Then, as if to underline the fact that the threat was not neither idle nor purely metaphoric, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, said he would like to offer Kyle Rittenhouse a job as a congressional intern.

Rittenhouse, of course, was acquitted of all charges Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for shooting three people and killing two of them in 2020.

The facts that are not in dispute in Rittenhouse’s case are that, when he was 17, he illegally took his military-style weapon across the state line from his home in Illinois to Kenosha. Protests, some violent, had occurred in Kenosha after the police shooting of an unarmed Black man, who was left paralyzed.

Rittenhouse’s defenders say he went there to defend his “community,” even though he didn’t live there. They also say he acted in self-defense.

Rittenhouse’s critics say he was a young man who had a gun he shouldn’t have had and went looking for trouble, which he found. And they point out that the only people who died in the Kenosha unrest did so at Kyle Rittenhouse’s hand.

Whoever is right in the cultural battle over Rittenhouse’s actions, one fact is indisputable.

The only qualification Gaetz and other Republicans see in the young shooter is that he killed people with whom they disagree and whom they do not like.

In other words, shooting people because they don’t think the way you do is now both a line for one’s resume and a path to political advancement.

(Another question for the traditional values crowd: Matt Gaetz, who is 39, is under investigation for transporting a 17-year-old girl across state lines and having sex with her. He also is being investigated for paying for sex. When did having sex with underage girls and paying for sex become traditional values? Was it around the same time that threatening to kill people or even killing them because they disagreed with you became OK? Again, I’m curious, because I was taught that all this was wrong, too.)

These shouldn’t be partisan questions.

These are, in fact, questions of values, not political affiliations.

Decency is decency, regardless of what party label one wears. Decent people don’t threaten violence against people with whom they disagree.

And they certainly don’t celebrate shooting other human beings.

I’m not sure why or how so many Republicans now have decided that’s perfectly OK for men to threaten to kill women or shoot people to make a political statement.

But they’re wrong about that.

It’s not OK.

It never was OK.

It never will be OK.

I know this because my grandfather taught me that.

He also taught me that a man who threatened a woman with violence wasn’t just a cad. He also was a coward.

The same goes for those who condone or refuse to confront such men.

I wonder how Grandpa would feel now about the party he supported every day of his life.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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