‘Decorum’ Means Quietly Letting Bullies Bully*

6 min readMay 1
Photo by Danny Lines on Unsplash

In the U.S., plain and direct speech in dissent, the clearly protected kind, has become a ‘trigger’ for retaliation by the fascist-minded who hold power. See A Sinister New Page in the Republican Playbook. Taking a page from Tennessee, the Montana legislature is the latest to bring national attention on itself — and the shame it sought to avoid — by barring one of its members from the House chamber. Her sin? Defending democratic principles while pointing out the supermajority’s ignorance and bigotry in further marginalizing the transgender community, a discrete and insular minority.

Zooey Zephyr, a Democratic member of the Montana House, gave an impassioned speech against a bill that purports to define gender as binary. The bill would also ban transgender care for minors. Speaking from personal experience in the starkest of terms, Zephyr said denying such care would be “tantamount to torture” for members of the gender dysphoric community. Zephyr said she was not hyperbolic. Given the suicide and suicide risk among transgender populations, I believe her. She added, “If you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.” Montana Legislature Shames Itself.

Watercolor, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**

“I Hope You See The Blood On Your Hands,” a concept that contributed to the Tennessee House’s expulsion of two young, Black legislators, should be the flashing sign, in bright blood-red lights, that greets certain legislatures and the U.S. Congress for discounting human lives in favor of blood money from the NRA and gun lobby. This time, at least, the insulted Montana Freedom Caucus didn’t resort to an AR-15 — a fad that’s growing in popularity in the U.S. for addressing minor inconveniences, insults, and disagreements. And, of course, protecting small pieces of turf from threat of someone standing or driving on it.

Montana, as many other states, has joined the latest culture war to try to silence the transgender community by defining them out of existence. Bullies in Montana’s supermajority didn’t appreciate a member of the targeted community calling out their…


Exercising my right not to remain silent. Criminal defense and First Amendment attorney.