A Texas congressman told a constituent to “shut up” in a heated moment caught on video. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was holding a town hall last weekend in the city of Frost, the Dallas Morning News reported, when a man confronted him about his voting record pertaining to violence against women.
“Given your voting record opposing protecting women from violence, will you make a commitment to us today — make a promise — that you will reach out to Congresswoman Jackie Speier and work with her to see this bill successfully though Congress?” the man asked, drawing applause from the crowd.
Speier, a Democrat, recently introduced a bill that would prohibit military service members from sharing intimate photos without the subject’s permission. The bill was introduced in response to the Marines United scandal, in which a private Facebook group made up of Marines was being used to share nude photos of servicewomen.
Referring to a previous bill he had voted against, Barton said, “I voted against it because I think that’s a state issue, not a federal issue.”
In the video, some in the crowd in the conservative state applaud Barton, while others jeer him.
“It’s violence against women, that’s a national issue. That is an issue that impacts everyone, everywhere — not only in this country, but everywhere,” one man says.
“It’s civil rights,” another adds.
The simplest comment is what set Barton off. A man calls out, “You represent Texas first.”
“You,” Barton says, pointing to the man, who is not seen on camera, “you, sir, shut up.”
Many in the crowd seem bewildered, and a man can be heard saying, “What is that? You don’t tell anybody to shut up. You work for us!” as the video ends.
The video spread across the web on Tuesday, becoming the latest in an ongoing series of viral moments sparked by Republican House members’ town halls. In the aftermath of Democrats’ wide-ranging 2016 losses, critical constituents have flooded many GOP town hall events.
A spokesman for Barton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday addressing the incident, Barton skirted his volatile reaction to his constituent and instead reiterated his state’s rights. “My opinion is that there are some issues that are totally federal issues and there are some issues that the proper jurisdiction is at the state level,” he said.
“Most laws with domestic violence are state issues and handled by the state of Texas,” he continued. “We had the Navarro County district attorney in the audience, and I don’t believe you caught that on your — what you just showed, but I asked him did he prosecute the domestic violence cases in Navarro County every year, and the answer was, obviously, he did. So, the fact that somebody wants to make it a federal issue — that’s one of the problems, in my opinion, that too many times, we’re now looking to the federal government and making it a federal issue.”
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