Downing: Free speech breaks out in Juneau, as Rep. Gray dramatically (and ironically) makes a great pro-life case

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By SUZANNE DOWNING

On Wednesday, every Alaska House representative got to have his or her say: Did Rep. David Eastman violate the rules of decorum set forth by the body, while he spoke about child abuse in the Judiciary Committee?

Thirty-five said yes, one said no.

Eastman was allowed to stand and explain himself, but he didn’t. Instead, he referred to procedure.

He should not have to explain himself for badly communicating in a committee meeting on Feb. 20 — that is his right, protected under the First Amendment. It’s also the right of all the other legislators to say he stepped over a line.

Eastman pointed out that “we are a deliberative body, we do have a deliberative process, that is not been followed in this case.” And yet, as a deliberative body, the House as a committee of the whole has the right to also deliberate on comments made that are deliberative.

Years ago, when Eastman made comments about Native women coming to Anchorage to get abortions, he was not on the floor or in committee, but speaking to the press, which willingly spread the words far and wide. The House censured him for those remarks in 2017.

Unfortunately, no one in the House Chambers on Wednesday called a point of order on the maker of the motion to censure Eastman. Freshman Rep. Andrew Gray, who stood at his desk, and nearly yelled and cast aspersions.

Gray should have been censured for linking Eastman to the Nazis, implying that because he posted a photo of himself standing next to a quote by Adolph Hitler at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., that somehow that means he supports the extermination of people. It’s a willful misunderstanding of Eastman’s social media photo, and it impugns his character.

There was free speech breaking out all over on Wednesday in the House of Representatives. It boiled down to this: “I don’t like what you said.” “You didn’t express something the way I would have expressed it.” “You embarrassed all of us with your comments.”

That’s all in the realm of free speech, and they’ve had their say, all 36 that were present for the vote.

Ironically — and this energy expended in the House is full of irony — Rep. Gray’s words in defense of abused children could be said about the unborn, which was the point that Eastman had been trying, clumsily, to say in committee.

Gray said: “It is incumbent upon all of us to do something. We cannot allow such atrocious, indefensible language to go un-denounced. We must speak out in defense of the dignity of this body but also as a parent, I must defend the value of all those children like mine, whose lives are valuable, whose deaths are not in the best interest of the state.”

There, Gray said it better than Eastman: Lives do matter, and that is the pro-life logic that Eastman was not effective in stating in the Judiciary Committee.

Now that everyone agrees on the value of life, it’s time for the House minority caucus to stop acting like children and get back to the work of the people. If members don’t stop with this Gray histrionics, they’ll be censuring each other all day long, and that is not what we sent them to Juneau for.

If legislators would allow Must Read Alaska to suggest a topic more important than censuring Eastman, we call their attention to the 300 Alaskans in Tuluksak who are still waiting for running water at the school, which hasn’t had water since Feb. 9. It’s time for the Legislature to, as it is permitted, to step up to its role as the borough for the unorganized Bethel Census Area, which has a community that is in dire straits.

Rep. Gray, as we know from his dramatic readings at the Anchorage Assembly, can get his feelings hurt by walking out the door each morning, but there are people in Alaska that need the Legislature to convene as their borough assembly and solve a real life-and-death situation.

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Seems Gary and Eastman deserve each other.

    It is telling how the Republicans condemned Eastman, but the Democrats seem to be silent on the matter of Gray.

    Is this really the best those districts can do?

  2. Yes, the Point of Order was raised (see @31:01 below).

    It was easier to let Democrats censure a Republican for asking an honest question than to risk finding themselves in the crosshairs themselves, so they did. In what other state is a legislator censured for asking a question?

    How can you not question it when a left-wing special interest group assigns a dollar value to the life of a child? The Democrat agenda for children in Alaska is absolutely diabolical. Fight it. Always.

    As an aside, you can see Gray submitting his typed speech for publication @25:45.

    I was assured that I would be asked to address this in committee yesterday. The press even showed up to hear it. I was not.

    (‘https://www.ktoo.org/gavel/video/?clientID=2147483647&eventID=2023021228&startStreamAt=1861)

    • Really? Butt hurt again? It’s not a good look, but seems to be the only one you’ve got.

      Yes, the legislature is left of center and you’re not going to get a “fair shake”. It’s also wet in Juneau. Deal with reality.

      The first step in dealing with a problem is to be smart. Since I don’t know you personally I can’t speak to that, but your public persona is one of a butt hurt grandstanding buffoon.

      The Democrats don’t like you. The Republicans don’t like you. Yet your response is to wrap yourself up in sanctimonious nonsense and pretend you and only you are right.

      Far as I can tell, you are the Alaska equivalent of AOC. Great at stupid rhetoric, short on actually accomplishing anything. And proud of it.

      I don’t think you’re flat out stupid. You know you’re not gonna be given a chance to explain yourself. You know Gray will get a pass because he’s a Democrat and they probably like him better than you.

      You know this, yet you fall into it. Because it suits you to be the king of the butt hurt.

      You got a West Point education. Use if. Pick your battles. Know when you’re weak and shore yourself up. Know when to hold your powder.
      Fight smart, not stupid.

      If you can, which I doubt.

    • Rep. Eastman, although I don’t live in your district, for what it’s worth, I’m with you 100%. Thank you for having the courage to stand up for your values, even when those supposed “conservatives” around you refuse to help. Also, I think it’s hilarious that you are wearing a crash helmet in your avatar! Ha ha ha ha ha! – M. john

  3. It is time for everyone to stop playing the victim. Are we victims or victors over our own decisions and reactions? Stop being or PLAYING the victim. We all need to all become strong in our hearts, minds and convictions. Insulting each other for attention is not working, sit down like adults and work on the issues and PUT YOUR STUPID FEELINGS ASIDE. Be self disciplined enough to allow others their time to talk and stop putting malice into every word you hear from each other. You are all there to listen to each other and discuss options. If you are busy crying about your feelings, you are not doing state business.
    Ask yourself if you should really be in the job you are in if you cannot even be adult enough to discuss facts.
    We have two ears and one mouth so that we will listen twice as much as we talk. Try it. Open those ears and listen to each other, stop wasting time on personality clashes. Give each other the time to speak and if someone has a word salad moment, do not pounce on each and every word, we all do it. In other words, knock it off kids….

  4. Well yes the first amendment applies to everyone, but in times like this when a statement is made, you must be prepared to defend yourself. I try to do that everyday on here and if I don’t do it successfully the wolves come howling at the door. A poor choice of words is nothing to be proud of, but a history of using poor choices can be undoing. If anyone believes the words that they speak, then that’s great, you don’t have to defend yourself. There are consequences though.

  5. “Gray should have been censured for linking Eastman to the Nazis, implying that because he posted a photo of himself standing next to a quote by Adolph Hitler at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., that somehow that means he supports the extermination of people.”
    .
    First thought. Gray should not have linked Eastman to anything based on a photo. That was nothing but ridiculing someone because of a different political stance at best, or because of personal animosity at worst.
    Next thought. Gray got away with it because of political affiliation. First axiom of politics is always in play. Those on the left can say/do anything with little fear of reprisals.
    Final thought. We, all people, need to calm the F down. There is no right to “never being offended” nor is it possible to say/write something that someone, somewhere, cannot possibly be offended by. Where is the test of reasonableness? That disappeared about the same time we started giving out participation trophies.
    .
    Everyone is a crybully these days. It is the new way to assert power without actually having any power.

  6. Well said Suzanne, and I’m agree with the “victim” posturing. We raised our children constantly reminding them at different junctures in their lives, “you can be a Victor or a Victim – that choice is always yours.” As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so aptly demonstrated, even under great despair and abuse, one can choose and rise to be the Victor. Right now, …….. the world needs more Aleksandrs

  7. Again, are these two really the best their districts can go?

    If so, speakers more poorly of the districts than those who represent them.

  8. Speaking of photos, haven’t seen anything looking like Gray since I cornered an angry possum in my youth. What a fun bunch down there.

  9. These liberal cowards in the Alaska State Legislature (and yes, that means some of the Conservative Republicans too) feel the need to beat up and bully this man just to show that they belong to “the club.” Rather than come to his defense on a First Amendment basis, and defend his right, it’s easier to appease the Left and feel good about themselves as “real players” in Juneau. What a bunch of self-aggrandizing, feckless cowards. Eastman gets to laugh at them, knowing the Constitution is on his side.

  10. Was Gray an abused child? He has that look of contempt for anyone who disagrees with him. The House needs a full-time clinical psychiatrist on standby just to deal with people like gray.

    • I’m actually making “rounds” in Juneau next week. Any legislator that feels suicidal or cast into deep depression can get a diagnosis at my special Session rate. My Anchorage office has full service for advanced treatment.

    • Howdy Hetero. Unfortunately the Clinical Psychiatrist is most likely a Flaming Liberal, backed by Flaming Liberal Judges.

      • Sarge,
        They all know how to contact me. Some already have. Some are long time patients. Some need to be. Group therapy offers lower rates and a chance for them to connect their inner feelings with each other.
        I control the gavel.

        • Dr Dan, why not put all 60 of these nobodies, who think they are somebodys, into group therapy and lock them down for the remainder of the Session? Governor Dunleavy would pay you handsomely. We the People would vote you as the Psychiatrist of the Year.

    • I wondered about that too, AK Patriot.
      .
      Regardless, this whole stupid story is about nothing but political posturing, virtue-signaling, and the bullying of a legislator who refuses to automatically go along with the crowd.

    • When someone says such a thing like kids are better off dead, if you’re a politician, run for the hills, put yourself as far away from that rhetoric as possible. Support behind closed doors is one thing but jumping up on a stump slapping a person on the back is totally different. It’s called longevity, a politician has to look out for a number uno.

  11. Twisting and shouting is merely lying. Dear Dan Gray how are you going to get potable water to that village without having your feelings veing hurt. If you won’t do it I want you to be censored for only speaking about yourself.

  12. ?, keep Tulukasak out of this conversation. It’s not the Legislatures problem they don’t have running water at the school.

    That would be the School Boards problem and I would have to ask them, what happened to the $10’s of millions in stimulus they received?? What did they spend it on? What’s your BSA spent on.

    The Legislatures job is too consolidate all these School Districts and demand accountability.

    As far as Rep Eastman, another bad gaffe, but….. let me list the quotes from…. nevermind, we’re subjected to stupid quotes daily.

    • Yes it is the legislature’s problem. We have several districts and there is this thing called parity. Anchorage sucked a bunch of it in previous years and will again. It is the will of the people to gradually but surely improve the lives of Alaskan contemporary residents no matter where they are. A globalist might go there. You never know. Typically we would like them to have basics. You might enjoy life in East Palestine, Ohio at this time.

  13. They’d all be greatly improved if they all had
    experirence serving others. They’d be quieter and diligently working too busy to pay attention to the pea-brain gossip and drama.

  14. I always like it when “they” are done. The guy from Kenai made them get the budget done in ninety days. He was great.

  15. Eastman’s passion is commendable. What he really needs is a keeper. Maybe even a good speech writer. Maybe a guy that snaps a rubber band on his wrist every time he’s about to open his mouth and insert his foot. It’s one thing to be passionate about certain things but when you turn off your audience by your choice of rhetoric, really how effective are you? It does everything to destroy your agenda. I would recommend for Eastman to pause and take a couple of steps back and reflect on his choice of verbage and see what he can do to improve his communication skills so that he doesn’t isolate himself any further.

  16. What is the point of keeping a fetus to term no matter the viability, if you are not going to take care of the disabled baby? Pro life advocates claim you can not put a $price on a fetus, but Eastman has.

    • If everyone with a disabled baby aborted him, then we’d have no Special Olympics. You pro-death people can’t have it both ways- kill babies still expect your schools and programs remain full..

  17. Bravo Suzanne.
    Rep. Eastman seems to assume the role of an old testament prophet – which most everyone despises.

  18. Tuliksak is the most dysfunctional village out of the more than 20 Native villages I worked in. The school had an operable water and wastewater plant when I was there, but likely stopped running it to save $$$$ when VSW put in a force account watrer and wastewater system. Many Village homes were surrounded by standing water and open cesspool pits, and there were littered soda cans and candywrappers extending from the community center that had empy trash barrels. The road to the open garbage dump was littered with waste filled plastic bags. The community was recently without power as the City opted out of AVEC. Tuluksak like many villages relies on the school when the S””T hits the fan. Especially when the local village corporation and City are both incompetent. That is why restoring education funding is so important as schools are the backbone of rural communities.

  19. Andrew Gray is a LIAR.
    He stood in the Same Room where the state STOLE my firearm, and proclaimed “we aren’t coming for your guns!”
    LIAR!

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