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This Week in Schadenfreude: Paging Barbara Streisand

For this item, let's talk about a story brought to our attention by reader S.K. in Los Angeles. It is no secret that we are not fans of the maneuvering undertaken by Tennessee Republican legislators against their Democratic colleagues. And so, we see a lot of schadenfreude in the various ways that the fiasco is now blowing up the the Republicans' face.

The two Black men who were expelled from the legislature, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, are both officially back on the job. Jones was chosen as his own replacement over the weekend and was sworn back in on Monday. Pearson was also chosen as his own replacement, on Wednesday in his case, and was sworn back in yesterday. That means that, between the two legislators, they missed a total of 3 days of work.

One consequence of this foolishness has been to leave Tennessee Republicans with egg on their faces. A second consequence has been to focus a magnifying glass on specific Republican members, like House Speaker Cameron Sexton, likely to those Republicans' detriment. And a third consequence has to make rock stars out of the two Justins. Two weeks ago, nobody outside Tennessee had ever heard of them, and even most people in the state would have had no idea who they were. Now, they are as famous as, say, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D) in Michigan, who was also the victim of GOP nastiness, and whose response to that nastiness made her a Democratic favorite and a likely candidate for the governor's mansion once Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D-MI) term is up.

The Justins plan to make full use of their fame. The reason they were expelled in the first place was their vocal support for gun-control legislation. And now that they are back in the job, they plan to introduce a bill on the subject. And then another and another. By the rules of the state legislature, new members (and that includes the "newly" elected Justins) can only introduce 15 bills per term. Jones has already made clear he's going to use up his entire allotment, and every one of those will be gun-control bills. And Pearson has hinted that he'll follow suit. If so, that would be 30 gun-control bills in the next couple of months.

It is extremely improbable that a Southern state like Tennessee will actually adopt any new gun-control measures. But you never know; don't forget that the most outspoken gun-control president of the last half century was the very conservative Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile, who knows where this might lead for the Justins, as they are now very probably the most famous Democrats in the state. Whatever the Republicans were trying to achieve by expelling them, we can't think of a much better example of the Streisand Effect than what's happened since. (Z)

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