The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/20/13
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home as well for staying
with us for the next hour.
In June, a man named Dmitry Isakov stood on a street corner in his
hometown and he held up a sign. A sign said this, it said, “Being gay and
loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is criminal. That is
all the sign said. The sign did not look like we`re showing on the screen
though. In real life, it looked more like this.
Aha, because Dmitri is Russian. And the place where he held up the
sign was a street corner in the central Russian city of Kazan, which is
about 500 miles east of Moscow. Well, yesterday, a Russian court convicted
Mr. Isakov for holding up that sign, because of what the sign said, because
in Russia now, it is illegal to express that particular sentiment. It is
illegal to simply say out loud, or right on the sign, that being gay is an
OK thing and that liking gay people is a normal and OK thing. Saying that
is now illegal propaganda and so, Dmitry Isakov was convicted of that
Two other Russians were convicted and sentenced for doing something
similar two weeks ago.
MADDOW: Yesterday in Uganda, the central African nation of Uganda
that`s been a pretty close ally of United States, we have particularly
close military ties with Uganda, yesterday in Uganda, the parliament there
after years of on and off debate and years of on and off controversy and
years of off and off international attention, yesterday in Uganda, they
finally decided to pass their “kill the gays” bill.
You may remember that we had the sponsor of that bill, the guy who
wrote it, on this show for a very, very uncomfortable interview, one of the
times that he was bringing it up in parliament, but now his bill has
finally passed. The last time it looked like it was going to pass was in
President Obama called that law odious. The U.S. State Department,
other U.S. officials weighed in, in no uncertain terms, essentially telling
Uganda, don`t go there, don`t do this, do not do this to your own people.
This will change your standing among nations if you do it. But they just
did it and now that the parliament has passed the “kills the gays” law,
Uganda`s president has to decide whether or not he is going to sign.
In both Uganda and Russia, it is obviously domestic politics and
homegrown prejudice that is mostly from here, from here in the United
States, we should note that in both of these instances, in both the case of
Russian so-called propaganda law, and Uganda`s “kill the gays” bill, in
both of those cases, it was American evangelical anti-gay activists who
visited both those countries and met with members of parliament in both
those countries in official capacities to encourage them and advise them
that they ought to pass these laws. So, it`s an interesting dynamic in
terms of our relationship with other countries that are doing stuff like
this, right? Because on the one hand, I mean, there`s Hillary Clinton in
2011 giving her blockbuster speech on gay rights as human rights, giving
that speech not just as Hillary Clinton, but as the American secretary of
state defining officially a country`s treatment of its own gay citizens as
one of the factors that the United States of America will consider in our
relations with other nations around the globe.
There`s President Obama not being shy at all about weighing in against
what Russia is doing, against what Uganda has now done.
And on the other hand, at the same time, our country is the source of
virulent antigay internationalist lobbyists essentially, of virulent anti-
gay internationalist lobby that travels around the world, meeting with
parliamentarians in other countries, and leaders in other countries, trying
to get those other countries to pass super antigay laws.
So, when you are, say, Mitt Romney, and you donate money to this group
called the National Organization for Marriage because, say, maybe you want
to support their fight against gay people in California or whatever –
don`t be fooled by the word “national” being in the name National
Organization for Marriage. They really are international now.
If you are donating money to the National Organization for Marriage,
you are also supporting their fight to get guys on the street in Russia
arrested because of a sign they`re holding that says gay people are OK.
That is what the National Organization for Marriage has been spending its
American donation doing. That is what their paid staffers spend their
money on, lobbying parliamentarians in Russia to pass laws that get guys
like that arrested.
And as this is happening around the world, right in the middle of this
very complicated relationship we have with the rest of the world on these
issues, here at home, we are also undergoing some very rapid change of our
own. It was 10 years ago, 2003, when Supreme Court struck down laws that
made it essentially criminal to be gay in this country, the anti-sodomy law
decision in Lawrence v. Texas.
Conservative justice Antonin Scalia dissented from that decision,
meaning he wanted the sodomy laws kept in place, but in his dissent, he
very famously predicted that that decision, the Lawrence v. Texas decision
would lead to future Supreme Court decisions that would OK equal marriage
rights for gay people, too.
And indeed, this summer in two landmark cases, his prediction came
true. The Supreme Court upheld same-sex rights specifically in the state
of California and on the same day, struck down the Clinton era, federal
anti-gay marriage law known as the Defense of Marriage act. Those twin
decisions this summer were basically an earthquake that have since shaken
all the remaining antigay laws in this country right to their foundations.
And the remaining antigay laws and policies in this country, ever
since those rulings, have been falling, one by one. First, it was New
Jersey. The state`s Supreme Court there ruling in favor of same-sex
marriage rights in late October. Day days later, New Jersey`s conservative
Governor Chris Christie withdrew the state`s appeal of the matter. That
allowed same-sex couples in New Jersey to get married just after midnight,
in the wee hours in the morning, the very next day.
Then it was Hawaii, where a marriage equality bill passed the state
legislature, signed by the governor last month, people started getting
married in Hawaii earlier this month. Then, it was Illinois, when Governor
Pat Quinn signed a bill passed by the legislature after much debate that
legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Illinois as well.
Then yesterday, New Mexico`s Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage
equality, making New Mexico the 17th state in the nation to legalize same-
But then came today. And I don`t know why this one feels different.
But this one feels different.
Today, a federal judge in Utah – yes, that Utah – struck down the
state`s ban on same-sex marriage. This was the very first federal ruling
since the Supreme Court`s landmark rulings this summer. The very first
federal judge finding that a state`s law prohibiting equal marriage rights
was unconstitutional and violated the rights of the people of Utah.
In his ruling today, which was less than two and a half weeks after he
first heard arguments in the case, the judge in this case has set himself a
self-imposed deadline that he would rule, that he would make a decision by
January 7th. It`s nowhere near January 7th and he surprised everyone when
he just went ahead and ruled today in a sweeping ruling.
He thought apparently that there was not only no rational reason to
uphold Utah`s gay marriage ban, but that, frankly, there was no reason to
wait. And so, the ruling came down, surprising everyone at 2:00 local time
in Utah and by 3:00 local time in Utah, people were getting married in that
People who probably thought they would never, ever, ever in their
entire lives ever be able to get married in Utah let alone today.
Does this Utah decision today just feel like it`s a bigger deal than
all the others because forgive me, it`s freaking Utah? Or is the fact that
this is a federal court ruling and that the reasoning of the ruling, does
that mean this is more than just the next step? That this could be a
harbinger that antigay laws around the country really are more done than we
thought they were? Are they all going to be done very soon?
Joining us now is Kenji Yoshino. He`s the Chief Justice Earl Warren
professor of constitutional at NYU Law School.
Professor Yoshino, thank you for being here tonight.
KENJI YOSHINO, NYU LAW SCHOOL: So happy to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Am I just having an emotional reaction to the word, Utah? Or
did something qualitatively different happen with this ruling today?
YOSHINO: I think something qualitatively different happened tonight.
In two regards, so one is that is if you look at the polling with these
back to which states favor same-sex marriage, Utah`s always on the bottom
five. So, same sex marriage advocates never thought they would get Utah in
the next decade.
So, for it to have it happened today is extraordinary.
The other thing goes to what you said, I remember sitting here in this
studio on June 26th of 2013. We were sitting in adjacent chairs waiting
for the Supreme Court to hand down the Windsor case, and this is the first
case to apply the Supreme Court`s ruling in the Windsor case, which was
admittedly somewhat ambiguous, what it would mean for state bans on same-
sex marriage, and this is the first time a judge has clarified that, you
know, you can debate whether Windsor was a state`s rights decision or gay
rights decision. But he says a logic of this inexorably leads me to think
of this as a gay rights.
MADDOW: Let me explain the way I understand the – what`s
qualitatively important about this today compared to other states, or at
least how it lets us think about what`s going to happen to the rest of the
states. And you tell me how it got wrong, so I`m sure it will.
It seems to me that when we`ve had previous rulings, it`s been state
Supreme Courts. It`s been state courts ruling on state laws, ruling on the
tenants of their own state Constitutions. Or like in New Mexico`s case,
the sort of awkward situation where some courts, some clerks are going
ahead, but there`s no state law that defines it either way.
It seems to me like we all thought that those types of rulings were
going to run out pretty quickly, because in more than 30 states across the
country, there`s always a constitutional ban that written into the state
constitution that says marriage does not include gay people. And so, I did
not know that the Windsor ruling was going to mean that those states, those
more than 30 states who got in their constitution would also see those bans
vulnerable because their constitutions are being evaluated according to the
YOSHINO: So that is amazing. Can I just start by saying I`m really
sad here because I think you`d make a lot better of a law professor than I
would make media anchor.
So, let me just start there. You were great. That was amazing.
And just to recap, you know, the bullets there, is exactly this notion
if we were running out, you know, same-sex rights, marriage advocates are
running out, because if it`s in a statutory level, then Supreme Court can
actually strike it down under state Constitution. State Supreme Courts
will be ultimate arbiters of state law, so that plays keep away from the
United States Supreme Court, which we don`t think is ready yet.
So, in so far as these were statutes, it could be struck down under
state constitutional provisions, but if they`re baked in to the state
Constitution themselves, there`s no way that a court could actually use a
state constitution to strike down a state constitutional provision.
MADDOW: So, all of those state constitutional amendments that were
passed like in 2004 when everybody thought it was a big Republican get out
the vote effort, and all those things, that was the consequence of that.
There can never be a state court ruling that gives gay people equal rights.
YOSHINO: Exactly. So what you need in those close to 30 states was
state constitutional amendment is the nuclear option of bringing a federal
constitutional claim. Where federal law clashes with state law, the
federal law wins, but the danger is if you litigate on federal
constitutional grounds. That can go up to the United States Supreme Court.
MADDOW: Is that what`s going to happen here?
YOSHINO: Possibly. I mean, there are so many after Windsor and after
Hollingsworth, the cases from last term, there have been dozens literally
of federal challenges that have filed. So, I don`t think this case could
change at calculus, you know, Ted Olsen and David Boise have already joined
a case in Virginia, so they`re betting that case will get to the Supreme
Court before certainly this one does or others will.
You know, the big deal about this case is they`ve used a nuclear
option and said we`re going to bring a federal constitutional challenge to
this. But also, we`re going to use Windsor, we`re going to use that
Windsor case and if you remember, Windsor was not about a state ban on
same-sex marriage. It was say if you were married in New York under state
law, will the federal government recognize that.
And Justice Kennedy and the majority of the court said, we`re going
strike that down, right?
YOSHINO: But that was ambiguous because on the one hand, it was like
did he do that because marriage has traditionally been a problem for the
states or so it was the state`s rights decision, or do you that because he
believes in the equal dignity of gay people.
What the judge today in Utah said was this is just the inexorable
logic of Kennedy`s opinion, is this is about the dignity of gay people.
So, it doesn`t matter whether it was a federal actor or the state actor
that is trenching on the merits of gay couples.
MADDOW: And states can infringe that no matter what their state
YOSHINO: Exactly right, and I can`t resist saying that Justice Scalia
helped us out again, because in his dissent in Windsor, he said, as he did
in this dissent in Lawrence, right? You know, this is going to lead to
marriage being struck down in all 50 states.
MADDOW: Yes. And he said it like it was a bad thing. He`s making
that case and you see what the slippery slope is, this means there`s going
to be same-sex marriage in Utah and Utah`s going, yep.
YOSHINO: You`ve got to love him. He`s like the truth teller of the
court, right. In the court asked Justice Scalia do I look fat in this
dress, he`ll say, yes. But if the court says, you know, did we just
legalize same-sex marriage under the logical of our decision in all 50
states, he will say yes.
MADDOW: He will say yes and he ends up being an unlikely gay – well,
a gay rights anti-hero in this case.
YOSHINO: Right. He`s laying out the roadmap.
MADDOW: Professor Kenji Yoshino, NYU Law School, thank you so much
for being here, Kenji. We always need you to explain these additional
steps happen. But today was a big one. Thanks.
YOSHINO: Thank you.
MADDOW: Those pictures today of Salt Lake City City Hall full of
tearful couples who raced down there in their hoodies and whatever it was
they were wearing so they could get married real quick before Utah appeals,
which they did – it`s just the kind of thing you don`t ever think you`re
going to see.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: May 1st, 1998, a bombshell story broke in the press and it
seemed at first like it might implicate the president of the United States
and the first lady in something that was maybe criminal. The story that
broke that day involved a once close associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
His name is Webster Hubbell. He was a lawyer who worked at the same law
firm as Hillary Clinton in Arkansas. He severed time in prison from
embezzling money from that law firm.
And on May 1st, 1998, the story broke that Webster Hubbell could be
heard in taped phone calls that he made from prison, sort of, kind of,
maybe implicating the Clintons, especially Hillary Clinton, in bad things,
maybe even criminal bad things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Web Hubbell, under indictment, and now on tape, phone calls
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re on a recorded phone.
REPORTER: Did he say anything damaging about his friends, the
REPORTER: In one tape released by congressional investigators, the
issue is protecting the first lady. Hubbell`s wife says he can`t sue his
old law firm over a billing dispute because that might expose Hillary, his
former law partner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By suing, it only makes it look like you really
don`t give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and that you`re opening Hillary up to all
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would not do that. I won`t raise those
allegations that might open it up to Hillary and you know that.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Congressional investigators, specifically the chair of the
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Republican Congressman Dan
Burton, had acquired 54 tapes of Web Hubbell`s phone calls from prison and
from the very carefully edited portions of those phones conversations that
Congressman Burton released to the public, it really did seem like
something fishy was going on. That Hubbell was maybe secretly trying to
protect Hillary Clinton from getting in trouble for some thing. Some bad
seeming maybe even criminal thing, and that maybe Hillary Clinton had
bought off her former close friend to keep him quiet about her misdeeds
even as he went to prison.
The tapes that Congressman Dan Burton released made it seem like there
was just a bombshell about the first lady. But then two days later, this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
LUKE RUSSERT: As you know, your office released 27 pages of
transcripts and went through them very carefully. We have obtained the
full transcript and full audio tape and there`s a major portion left out
involving Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Burton, that is rather exculpatory for Hillary Clinton and you
left it out when you released that document.
This was such a critical tape and the language and Hillary came very
next in line and your transcript just ended right there because it seemed
to be favorable towards Hillary Clinton.
THEN-REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: Well, I know what you`re getting
at and you`re trying to make it look like we`re trying to audit the tapes
or change the tapes to make it look worse than it possibly is.
RUSSERT: Tom, the 27 pages in transcript of the 54 phone
conversations left out Web Hubbell saying he was not being bought. He left
out the fact that Hillary Clinton had no idea what was going on with her
law firm`s finances. Those were two important points.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Congressman Dan Burton, head of the House Oversight
Committee, got caught. Got caught. Got caught on tape by Tim Russert,
releasing partial transcripts, transcripts that had been edited to make it
seem like Webster Hubbell was making incriminating comments about the first
But those comments were not incriminating. They were taken out of
context. They were not at all what Congressman Burton made them out to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Stung by charges that Hubbell`s prison phone calls were
edited to make the first lady look bad, Chairman Burton vows to release all
54 conversations in their entirety beginning today.
The move came after NBC`s “Meet the Press” obtained an excerpt not
previously released in which Hubbell says Hillary Clinton was not part of
any wrongdoing at their former law firm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, the whole secret prison tape story was a scandal. But
not because of anything Hillary Clinton had done, but because it was a
fraud. It was a totally debunked snow job. And when it was revealed that
Congressman Dan Burton`s office had edited those phone calls deceptively
and had released those partial transcripts and partial tapes to the public,
the congressman ultimately had to admit that quote, “mistakes and omissions
Dan Burton did not lose his job. He did not resign from his powerful
as head of the oversight committee. He did not get fired.
But one of Dan Burton`s employees, his top investigator, a man by the
name of David Bossie, did get fired. Congressman Burton blamed the whole
thing on David Bossie and fired him.
If the name David Bossie sounds familiar to you, interesting side
note, David Bossie ends up returning to prominence years later as the head
of Citizens United, which led a lot of rich guys waste a lot of their own
personal money on the last election when it got rid of most of the
country`s meaningful campaign finance laws on the way toward clearing the
way for David Bossie to air his “I still hate Hillary Clinton” fake
documentary during the 2008 election.
Things worked out fine for David Bossie and his Supreme Court
His legacy, though, it turns out lives on in the different way besides
just the Supreme Court. Because the partial transcript trick he pioneered
under Dan Burton in the 1990s, it`s now happening again. It`s now
happening again in this Congress. Just this week on Tuesday night, we did
a report on this show on the legacy of Dan Burton and the guy who inherited
his job as chairman of the oversight committee in the Republican controlled
A report you might remember was titled putting the civ back in civil
servant, which sounds better than it looks. It`s more of a homophone joke.
The idea was that the new chair of the oversight committee, the new
guy who has that job now, has the power to subpoena documents, so he can
get his hands on all sorts of private stuff that nobody else can get
access. And I`m sure it`s very exciting to have that power if you are a
member of Congress.
But it has national consequences for us as a country. If the guy who
has that power in Congress to get all of those private and sensitive
documents also leaks everything he gets his hands on as soon as he gets his
hands on it and Darrell Issa really is a human sieve. We`re at the point
where executive agencies and the federal government are refusing to give
him documents that he otherwise would be entitled to get on his committee,
because the stuff he wants the stuff that for security reasons really
shouldn`t ever be publicly leaked.
And they pretty much can guarantee that Darrell Issa will leak
everything that he gets his hands on because that`s how he has behaved
since he has been chairman. That was the report on Tuesday. Darrell Issa,
human sieve, he leaks everything.
Two days later, ding, ding, ding. He leaks something else. Last
night, it turns out there was a private transcribed interview before
Darrell Issa`s committee and somehow, somehow, ABC News exclusively
obtained that testimony, which was supposed to be private and just for the
committee, but it was Darrell Issa`s committee, and so now, of course, it`s
on the news.
But the way that it`s on the news is like Webster Hubbell all over
again, because Darrell Issa likes to leak stuff to the press. He likes to
make this stuff, this private stuff go public.
But his favorite way to do it is with partial transcripts, just like
So last night, he told ABC News and ABC News just published it, he
told ABC News last night that the federal government admits they know, they
told him that Healthcare.gov has huge security vulnerabilities.
Really? Can we see the full transcript of that? No? Just the parts
you want us to see? OK. Should we publish this?
Democrats on the committee say if you could see the whole transcript,
you could see the whole testimony instead of just the parts he has
excerpted, if you could see the whole thing, you could see what the
testimony actually was, was that security vulnerabilities had been
identified early in the development process of healthcare.gov, but they had
been fixed. The whole transcript would show that.
But, of course, Darrell Issa won`t release the whole transcript. It`s
just the carefully leaked partial transcripts.
Same goes with his partial transcript leak a couple of weeks ago on
another issue related to health reform, where the subject of the leak
himself, the guy who Darrell Issa was supposedly quoting in his bombshell
leaked partial transcripts said himself that those partial transcripts were
not an accurate characterization of his remarks.
But in that case, it was CBS news that ran with it any way, because
Darrell Issa fed it to them and they swallowed it whole.
Darrell Issa did the same in June on the IRS issue. Again, partial
transcripts, which he says show political bombshell testimony, but he won`t
release the whole transcripts to the testimony, so it`s impossible to know
whether the Darrell Issa version is what we should believe or whether he
has leaked it selectively to specific journalists, because he has a
narrative to tell and he doesn`t care whether or not the partial
transcripts actually reflect what the witness said.
I mean, the easy way to check these things is to look at the full
transcript of what the IRS witnesses said, right, CNN? But Darrell Issa
wouldn`t release the full transcript. He said it would be reckless to do
that. He just likes to leak little pieces out of context that tell the
story he wants to be told.
And you can`t get these transcripts from anybody from him. And
without the full transcripts, you can`t check to see if the excerpts are
true or if they make sense in context. That`s why he leaks it that way
and CNN fell for it on the IRS story in June and CBS fell for it on the
first health reform story two weeks ago, and then ABC fell for it last
night with a new health reform story.
With every one of them, it`s the same trick. It`s the Webster Hubbell
trick. And they all read it as oh, exclusive access, a scoop. Why do you
think he`s giving you the scoop? If Darrell Issa was leaking the
transcript to the Gettysburg address, it would be a bombshell about how
four men and conceived and gave birth. And now, the world shall perish.
True, those words are excerpts from the text, Darrell Issa.
But shame on anyone who takes your word for it, not after all these
MADDOW: You know, I`ll be honest. There`s been a lot of news today,
especially for Friday in December. We have changed the show at least half
a dozen times already because of the changing news today, but throughout
the day, one thing in the show has remained steadfast. The one project we
have begun and reviewed and screwed up and started over and fixed and then
I think finally perfected is how to transform a super boring arrow like
this one into an exciting, alluring arrow with an eerie pulsing yellow
It turns out this is very important for understanding today` news. I
personally think we nailed it. It took all day and I`ll show it to you in
action in just a moment.
MADDOW: My nominee for the strangest politics story we covered all
year in 2013 was the story we did last month about Idaho.
In Idaho, in southwest Boise last year, the voters of district 15
elected a new state representative. It was Ron Paul guy in Idaho, staunch
conservative. He had the endorsement of the high profile Tea Party
Republican Congressman Raul Labrador.
But soon after Mark Patterson was elected, things seemed off kilter.
It turns out he had said in his campaign materials that he had gone to the
University of Southern California. He went to USC. In reality, he never
went to USC.
His campaign materials also said he was a petroleum engineer. He was
not actually an engineer at all, petroleum or otherwise.
His campaign material said he had been a professional bicyclist, but
the local press in Boise soon figured out that he had never had a
professional cycling license.
He does own a loom company. He did get elected last year. This
picture shows him having some sugary snacks.
There are a number of verifiable things that have been verified, but
there was a lot about him also that just seems made up.
And then came the part about the rape charges. Turns out that
Republican State Rep Mark Patterson in Idaho had twice been arrested and
charged with forcible rape. The second time was in Ohio and he was
acquitted of those charges.
But the first time in Florida, he pled guilty. He was initially
charged with forcible rape. He pled guilty for assault and intent to
commit rape. And he did sometime in jail and sometime on prohibition.
Years later, after moving to Idaho, Mark Patterson, before he run for
state rep, applied for a concealed carry permit for a handgun. Now, under
Idaho law and pretty much everywhere, you cannot get a permit to carry a
gun if you have committed a violent felony, like say assault with intent to
commit rape, to which this guy pled guilty, but he did not admit that on
his application for his gun permit, which means he lied on his gun permit
application. And when the sheriff to whom he had applied for the permit
found out about the lie, the sheriff revoked the guy`s permit.
And then, then, then comes the part of the story that makes it the
single strangest politics story we covered all year long. I mean, it is
one thing for the citizens of Boise to know they just elected this guy with
a violent felony conviction related to rape and, OK, he lied on his permit
application about it, and OK, he got his gun permit revoked because of it.
The amazing part of the story is that actually, once the “Idaho Statesman”
put this all together and reported this bombshell story last month, the
bottom line of the story was that the guy didn`t actually get his gun
The guy got his gun back, because the laws that say you can`t have a
gun if you`re a violent felon or a rapist, those laws don`t apply to you in
Idaho if you are also an elected official in Idaho. Dude got his gun back
because he is a state legislator, and the laws about who gets gun permits
and who doesn`t in Idaho don`t apply to elected officials.
So, thank you, Idaho, you`re like a self-esteem boost for all the
other states, because other states may have ridiculous stuff on the books.
But as far as I know, nobody else has a special law on the books just to
make sure that their elected officials who are rapists can have all the
guns they want. With that, you guys make all the other states feel normal.
So, now, this story has a new choose your own adventure ending for
Idaho because now, finally this week, Representative Mark Patterson has
decided to resign from the state legislature. Southwest Boise will have to
choose his replacement.
And that means he will no longer be an elected official in Idaho,
which means at least technically, that he should lose his gun permit now.
The sheriff wanted the revoke it for his felony and lying on his
application. He was protected from that because he was a state legislator.
But now he`s quitting, the legislature, will Idaho take away his guns?
Idaho has a decision to make on that. Idaho also has to make a decision
about whether it wants to keep on the books, its law that says if you`re an
elected official, laws don`t apply to you anymore like they do everyone
else in this state.
More ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAYSON ROBINSON, ARAPAHOE COUNTY, CO SHERIFF: The threat was the
result of a – what I believe to be an appropriate disciplinary action
related to the debate team. Again, the shooter was not removed from the
debate team and the teacher that was responsible for that disciplinary
action was his, was the shooter`s main target. We still have to visit with
a variety of people to determine what the outcome or interaction relative
to the threat was.
REPORTER: Sheriff, are you prepared to release the suspect`s date of
ROBINSON: We will release the date of birth within the next day or
so. I will tell you that he`s 18 years old. He was 18 years old.
But I will also tell you and this is a bit of an editorial comment on
my part. This is my personal perspective followed by my professional
responsibility. I will share his date of birth, but I will tell you that I
am no longer inclined nor will I speak his name in public.
He is someone who victimized an innocent young lady by an act of evil
and in my opinion, deserves no notoriety and certainly no celebrity. He
deserves no recognition.
The issue here is the victimization of Claire Davis, and the
victimization of this community and this school.
So, it is my professional and my personal perspective that although I
realize your responsibilities, I also understand my perspective on life and
I choose never to use his name again in public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Arapahoe County, Colorado, Sheriff Grayson Robinson,
briefing the media the morning after the Arapahoe high school shooting,
which took place in Colorado last week on the eve of the anniversary of the
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The focus in Arapahoe since the shooting there last week, the focus
has deliberately been on the victim of that shooting, who was grievously
wounded. The sheriff`s commitment as you just heard that, to not deliver
notoriety or recognition to the gunman who perpetrated the crime and then
killed himself, the sheriff`s refusal to speak the gunman`s name, that
turns out to be catching on.
In “The New York Times” today, some survivors of mass shootings and
victim`s family members are advancing the argument that gunmen in this
incidents should as much as possible just be written out of the coverage of
David Cullen, who`s been a guest on this show before, he`s done some
of the definitive long-term reporting on what happened at Columbine, he
says that from his research, he feels like disappearing the perpetrators
from the news coverage, it may be helpful. It may take away the whole
point of the crime for the perpetrator who`s looking for recognition. He`s
essentially committing the crime as a public performance, so he will be
So maybe never mentioning the perpetrator or anything about them are
showing their picture could be deterrents. Maybe changing the way we cover
shootings and respond to them is a good idea. It`s a small idea, but maybe
it`s an important one and one that`s a little bit outside the box.
And little outside the box ideas like that that may be important
ideas, they are being advanced around the country now, especially in the
past year since Newtown and they`re being led in many cases, by mass
shooting survivors and their families and by victim`s families. At Sandy
Hook last December, the two classrooms where the 20 kids were killed where
first grade classrooms.
When the shooting started, a second grade teacher at the school
thought that the pop, pop, pop she was hearing were some folding chairs
stuck in the hall falling over, she looked down the hallway and saw that
wasn`t what it was. She saw the janitor sprinting toward the front of the
building and then she realized that what she was hearing was gunfire.
Now, in addition to the janitor, there were also two kids in the
hallway, because they were walking the attendants down to the main office.
I used to try to get that job when I was in elementary school, too. When
she saw those kids in the hallway and realized they were in danger, she
pulled them into her classroom to hide them and save them. Locked the
door, read them stories and sang Christmas carols to muffle the sound and
to try to keep everyone couple.
That teacher`s name, Abbey Clements. Her daughter Sarah is now part
of Newtown Action Alliance. Her outside the box thinking has led her to
try to start a whole new wing of the gun reform anti-gun violence movement.
It`s the junior NNA, the junior Newtown Action Alliance.
The first major gun prevention group in the U.S. to start its own
The mother of one of those two kids with Sarah`s mom pulled into that
classroom at Sandy Hook is the group`s adult adviser. Think about what
this might mean. How would the reform movement change? How much power and
talent and infrastructure would it build for the long run if there were
student chapters of that organization and others like it in high schools
across the country?
If kids everywhere, if kids in high school, kids in college, could
join it just like you join 4-H or Boy Scouts or the junior NRA.
Joining us now is Sarah Clements. She`s a senior at Newtown High
School. She`s Founder of the Junior Newtown Action Alliance.
Sarah, thank very much for being here.
SARAH CLEMENTS, JUNIOR NEWTOWN ACTION ALLIANCE: Thank you so much for
MADDOW: Why did you want to form a junior version, a student version
of the group?
CLEMENTS: So, right after we founded Newtown Action Alliance, about
two months after what happened in our town, I was the youngest member of
Newtown Action Alliance and I saw over the a few weeks that my peers and my
neighbors, especially in the high school and in the middle school, also
wanted to do something right after it happen, we got millions and millions
of donations, whether monetary or whether you know, hundreds of thousands
of teddy bears.
But that didn`t exempt people in Newtown. We also had to do
CLEMENTS: So I founded the junior branch not knowing that like you
said, it was the first major gun prevention group with a student branch.
It was just to give students a voice because I found that the best thing
for me right after the tragedy was just to tell my story. Right after
about two or three months after, we had – Newtown Action Alliance hosted
sort of panel discussion to discuss sort of what`s next in terms of gun
And one of the panelists is now my good friend Cullen Goddard who
survived Virginia Tech, and afterwards he told me something that I will
never forget and that really changed the course of – the rest of the year
for me. Which is, don`t let anybody tell you that your story doesn`t
matter, because your story is what makes you unique.
And it might sound cliche in a way but it really is not to us because,
you know, anybody can look up these facts. Anybody can read statistics and
reports but what makes this a real issue is students voices and adults`
voices and moms and dads, and faith leaders who have had to go to hundreds
and hundreds of funerals for their, you know, congregation members in just
the span of a year because of gun violence.
You know, those are the voices that we have been projecting for the
last year and those are the voices that are really going to change this
MADDOW: One of the things that I have heard people, especially from
the community of Newtown say, in a way that sort of feels more grounded and
solid than when I`ve heard other people say it is that the kind of change
that we need as a country to lessen gun violence, especially the kind that
results in these crazy, mass shootings, is the kind of change that will
take longer than any of our lives, than any of our activist careers, than
any individual legislator`s time in office and that we need to be thinking
long run about big-term change.
You are much younger than me and younger than the people who I have
heard articulate that. Do you feel that way, too, or do you feel a sense
of urgency that`s maybe different than adults who are sort of settling for
the long haul?
CLEMENTS: I think it`s both. I`m absolutely in this for the long
run. I feel like – you know, it`s not – the tragedy doesn`t define who I
am but it`s part of my story now and part of the last year for me has been
moving forward and trying to honor those that we lost with action.
But I think there also is a sense of urgency, especially in the youth
community. You know, one of the big initiatives that junior Newtown Action
Alliance has been working on, especially in the coming months that we`re
really excited about is bringing together urban students and suburban
We – you know, sometimes I kick myself when I`m doing this work
because I realize that all of these incidents happened, whether it was in
the town next to me that experiences urban gun violence or whether it was
the Aurora shooting that happened five months before. I remember those
shootings happening. I remember hearing about them but I didn`t do
anything and I think, you know, now that my eyes have been opened and now
that we are trying to open other students` eyes, we`re starting to see that
if we can bring together young people with different background and, like I
said, when I was talking about our stories, with different stories, we
still want the same things to come from our tragedies.
We experience different types of gun violence, but that doesn`t mean
that we don`t want common sense legislation passed in order of those that
we lost. It doesn`t mean that we don`t want to continue to share our
stories and teach compassion and understanding in nonviolent ways in high
school, maybe even implement after school programs that teach those things.
That`s one project that we are working on.
So, I think, you know, like going back to your question, there`s an
urgency all around the country, we teach workshops to students, mostly high
school students just sort of the gun violence prevention 101 and how
students can go back to their schools and communities and work on it, and
no matter if we`re in the South, if we`re in Florida, we`ve taught it
there, we`ve taught it in Hartford where those students` stories are much
different than those students` stories in Florida, it doesn`t matter.
They always say the same thing. One, they are tired of seeing their
friends lost to gun violence. They are tired of hearing those stories and
carrying that burden on their shoulders.
Two, they want to hear different things coming out of both sides,
really, of the argument. You know, they are tired of the redundant
rhetoric. And then, three, they want their voices to be heard. They want
to be at the forefront of the debate, because really my generation is the
most proportionate of the gun violence.
The average age of a gun violence victim 31 years old, which is sort
of the tip of the millennial generation. So, that means more than half of
gun violence victims in the U.S. are young people. So, I think you`ll
start to see, especially in 2014, sort of this bridge connecting students
all around the country so that we can come together for this one goal,
which is, you know, our opponents always talk about our agenda and really
our agenda is to make the community safer, so we don`t have to fear
crossing gang lines to go to school or just attending school in a place
called Newtown, Connecticut.
MADDOW: Sarah Clements, founder of the Junior Newtown Action
Alliance, you make me feel both expectant and kind of hopeful for the
prospects of this movement that you are both part of and building. You`re
a very impressive person. Thank you for being here.
CLEMENTS: Thank you so much.
It probably helps to be the daughter of a superhero.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We now have got the final numbers on what actually happened
in Washington this year. House went home, Senate went home and now, we`ve
got the final numbers and it is astonishing. It is gasp out loud
astonishing. If you are drinking a beverage right now, put it down,
because it is going to end up on your couch via nose.
All right. Chart imitates life, ready?
Here we have the number of bills passed by Congress starting with the
infamous do-nothing Congress of 1947 and 1948. You see the red arrow
The do-nothing Congress got its name for passing what at the time
seemed like an embarrassingly number of bills. And here, this next era,
that`s where we have the Gingrich era, when they have the rolling
government shutdowns and the Republican radicalism.
The last full Congress, the first Congress under John Boehner was
officially the least productive Congress in recent history. But look at
this, put down your drink and look at this. Look.
Now, we have only had half of this current Congress – look at the
last line. They`ve got all of next year to get their numbers up, right,
but that is as poor of a start as visible to the naked eye. Their progress
what they have done is almost invisible to the naked eye.
And so, as a service, we now introduce tonight the debut of the
official RACHEL MADDOW SHOW that sparkles or blinks or does some kind phase
thing, because otherwise how could you see it? Otherwise, the work
accomplished by this cross could not be shown on TV. How would you know to
They`ve passed 58 bills. They could triple their output next year and
still set a new record low for utter futility by a complete U.S. Congress.
We had to invent a new thing to show you how bad they are. We posted
a link to the miracle arrow and posted a blog along with the chart that
doesn`t have the blinky version, which is suitable for printing out and
taking home for the holidays and tacking up in the refrigerator and then
arguing about with your uncle.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Have
an excellent weekend, except it has to start with you going to prison.
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