Before today, Missouri state Rep. Bill Lant, the leader of the state’s House Republicans, was most famous for mocking a former high school classmate’s sagging breasts. Now, he can also be famous for stopping a black man from talking.
The Kansas City Star reports that yesterday, Lant—as you can see in the video above—cut off the microphone of Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel, as Chapel was in the middle of testifying against a proposed bill that would make it harder to prove employment discrimination in the state. As Chapel begins speaking about racial problems in Ferguson and at the University of Missouri, Lant interjects, “Thank you for your testimony, sir.”
“I’m not done,” Chapel says. A Democratic representative at the hearing also objects, but Lant says “I asked the man to speak on the subject, he’s not speaking on the subject.”
(Of course—how might racism in the state of Missouri be considered relevant to the subject of discrimination law in the state of Missouri?)
“I am speaking on the subject,” says Chapel. But Lant just ignores him: “Is there another witness that would like to speak? If there is no witness who would like to speak I will cancel this hearing.” Chapel’s microphone is turned off, and he has no choice but to pick up his things and leave. The Democratic representative then asks if she can ask Chapel questions. “No ma’am you may not,” replies Lant.
Sure, this makes Lant look like a racist jackass, but let’s keep things in perspective: does it make him look like more of a jackass than the time in 2014 when he wrote on his personal blog about attending his 50th high school reunion and introducing his wife to the girl he had a crush on in high school, saying “[she] came running over and gave me a big hug and I thought she must have been one of the teachers. Wow! Time has not been kind to that girl! What was stretching the cardigan 50 years ago is now bumping the belt.” Ho ho ho, thank you, esteemed state representative Bill Lant.
So it’s all relative.