By W.H. Gavescon, Friday, June 21, 2013
WASHINGTON—Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX 1st District) has taken to quoting scripture lately. “Exodus 22:18,” said the Texas 1st District Representative at a rally sponsored by the Republican Study Committee (RSC), Thursday, “Suffer not a witch to live!”. Unusually forceful in his language, Rep. Gohmert was wrapping up a speech advocating a bill that called for stricter regulation of witches’ covens and other occult related organizations in several states along the Mississippi River Basin. Supported by 17 members of the House Tea Party Caucus (as well as 3 House Democrats), the bill is set to go to committee next week but is already receiving harsh criticism over First Amendment and other concerns. One of its authors, Rep. Gohmert maintains that, building on provisions of the NDAA, the bill enhances the ability of the NSA and the FBI to monitor witches and would put into place “reasonable and common sense” provisions for cracking down on some of the Mississippi Delta’s more notorious covens. (Gohmert likens these provisions to anti-gang legislation. He also claims they have precedence in the anti-sorcery statutes of Arkansas and Alabama.)
Said Gohmert, concluding his speech, “Folks, our forebears burned witches. If you believe Exodus, we ought to do the same. All we are advocating for is a superior tool for law enforcement. All we want to do is fight terror—at home, just as we do abroad.”
For recent comments having to do with ‘burning’ and ‘fire’, Rep. Gohmert has come under fire himself, according to some on the RSC. One source explained to me that, last Tuesday, on Capitol Hill, at an informal gathering of the bill’s narrow circle of supporters—known by its detractors as ‘the Pendle Hill Club’ or simply ‘the Pendlers’—Gohmert was accosted by three other members of Congress, including Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), who proceeded to rebuke the bill, calling it “idiotic” and Gohmert a “cretinous hayseed”. Capitol police were called to intervene when, at some point, a Pendler seated behind Rep. Wasserman-Schultz managed to briefly set her skirt on fire with a cigarette lighter. No arrests were made—and, according to this source, the ignition of said skirt had been meant as a joke—but the whole affair has cast a pall over Mr. Gohmert’s anti-witchcraft campaign.
About last Tuesday’s incident, the offices of both Rep. Gohmert and Rep. Wasserman-Schultz have declined to comment.
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