Commentary

It Wasn’t Her Jewishness But Her Vulgarity That Brought The Gavel Down On Mich. Rep. Lisa Brown

By Rabbi Aryeh Spero | June 20, 2012 | 11:56am EDT

Lisa Brown, a suburban Detroit state representative in Michigan’s State House, was gaveled-down after remarks she made at the Chamber’s microphone.

She later suggested she was not allowed to speak further because of “her being Jewish.”

I listened to the video, and it is clear that it was not her Jewishness that caused the problem but her vulgar phraseology on the House floor while speaking.

In speaking about her displeasure with a piece of abortion legislation, she ended by saying: “I know you are interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’”

That type of unnecessary and provocative language was demeaning to all listening and very crude.

In her remarks, she spoke about her Jewish observance and interpretations of Jewish law and should have conducted herself, therefore, in a manner more cultivated as befits one who follows Jewish law. In Judaism, we call speaking with dignity, derech eretz.

I’ve never agreed with those who cry racism or Islamophobia when asked to simply conduct themselves with respect for others and act decently.

Similarly, I can’t accept someone charging anti-Semitism when the issue is not their Jewishness but their conduct, a standard of conduct expected of all, and for colleagues, regardless of one’s ethnic identity.

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