The XX Factor

A Kansas State Rep Faces Censure Because She Called a Bill Racist

 House of Representatives chamber of the Kansas State Capitol bu, House of Representatives chamber of the Kansas State Capitol building
House of Representatives chamber of the Kansas State Capitol building pictured on July 23, 2014, in Topeka, Kansas.

Photo by Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

Conservative efforts to create a taboo around ever suggesting that a person or act is racist—unless the racism is directed against white people—hit a new low this week on Fox News, where commentators bent over backward to avoid acknowledging the racism that drove the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. But the Kansas state Legislature is doing its part, too. Tierney Sneed at Talking Points Memo reports that the Legislature has scheduled a disciplinary hearing on June 26 for state Rep. Valdenia Winn. At stake: whether or not Winn will be censured or ejected for daring to suggest that proposed anti-immigration legislation might be rooted in racism. 


During a March committee meeting considering the legislation, which would have repealed in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants, Winn called the proposal “a racist, sexist, fear-mongering bill,” according to the Lawrence Journal-World.


“I want to apologize to the students and parents whose lives are being hijacked by the racist bigots who support this bill, because this bill is an act,” she said, before being interrupted by Rep. John Barker (R). 

“She just referred to this committee as racist,” he objected.

According to the spokeswoman for the state’s Democratic caucus, this is only the fourth time in the Legislature’s history that this kind of hearing has been called. Pedro Irigonegaray, Winn’s lawyer, pointed out that in 2011, state Rep. Virgil Peck “jokingly” suggested that hunting human beings and killing them would be a solution “to our illegal immigration problem.” In 2012, House Speaker Mike O’Neal sent an email reading in part, “I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president”; the prayer in question was Psalm 109:8, which asks God to kill your enemies.

However, neither Peck nor O’Neal called anybody a racist, which, to judge from this evidence, is apparently a fate worse than death.