In a form of silent protest against Wednesday’s lobby day for Planned Parenthood, a health care provider that also provides abortion services, Texas Right to Life came to the Capitol to hand out some customized name signs, recognizing pro-life legislators as “Former Fetuses.” And so, for a few hours, a handful of Republican lawmakers put their elected titles aside to stand in solitude with the seven billion other “former fetuses” of this world.
It was all fun and games for a while. The days tend to drag a bit at this point in the session and changing up the decor adds a little excitement to an otherwise sedate Wednesday at the state capitol. But somebody always has to take it too far and ruin things for everyone, and in this case, that somebody was Jonathan Stickland – a Republican state representative from Bedford.
Stickland was so tickled by the prank name plaque that he decided to use it to cover the actual name plaque outside his office. Instead of keeping this confined to the halls of the Capitol, he uploaded a picture of it on Facebook with a post that made it very clear he doesn’t want any of the pesky Planned Parenthood lobbyists coming near his door.
While it’s normal and sometimes encouraged for high school students to adorn their lockers with signs, or for dorm hall residents to personalize their doors with cute decorations, this kind of activity is prohibited inside a historical state building. To maintain the integrity of the storied Capitol halls, representative Charlie Geren, a Republican from Fort Worth, removed Stickland’s paper sign from his name plaque.
Simply removing the sign from Stickland’s plaque is within Geren’s rights as someone who chairs the House Administration Committee. But Stickland claims Geren didn’t just remove the sign—he ripped it from the wall and threw it in a staffer’s face!
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) March 11, 2015
Geren says he did not, in fact, mean to intimidate any of Stickland’s staffers, nor did he “rip” the sign from the wall. He was just maintaining order in the workplace.
Signs are not allowed to be posted in the walls of the building they were removed and placed in the office of the members
— Charlie Geren (@charliegeren) March 11, 2015
Geren further explained his actions on the House floor on Thursday. The Capitol is “not a college dormitory,” Geren said, according to the Texas Tribune. “The halls of this building are sacred to all of us, and we should treat them this way.”
Even after Stickland’s sign was removed, Twitter users showed support by posting tweets in which they identify themselves as #FormerFetuses too. It’s worth nothing, for anyone who may have forgotten, that technically all human beings were once fetuses, so this seems like kind of a mixed message. But perhaps the best (dark) quip of the day came from a Texas Tribune commenter, who wrote, “guess the Texas Funeral Directors Assn could distribute ‘Future Corpse’ signs.”
(Photos courtesy of Jonathan Stickland’s Facebook page.)