Sen. Maize Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, closed a speech from Wednesday the floor of the United States Senate with something virtually unheard of, a literal, “call to arms,” against fellow Americans.
In the five-minute address, Hirono lambasted the “extreme far-right Supreme Court” for their “horrendous decision,” and accused Republicans of “pandering to their extreme MAGA base” with the introduction of a 15-week abortion ban.
She declared that “allowing Republicans to regain control of Congress would be catastrophic, not only for women but for our entire country.”
“Do you want to let extreme MAGA Republicans tell you what you can and can’t do with your own body?” she asked.
(The whole speech can be viewed here. Hirono’s segment starts about the 5:16 mark.)
Hirono called the Republican Senators “hypocrites” and accused them of “an outright attack on women in this country,” before closing with the comment, “I yield the floor. But clearly, this is, literally, a call to arms in our country.”
SEN. HIRONO (D-HI): “This is an outright attack on women in this country. […] Madam President, I yield the floor but clearly this is, literally, a call to arms in our country.”pic.twitter.com/Rfv24q5jqO
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 14, 2022
A “call to arms” can be taken in two ways according to Merriam-Webster, as either “a summons to engage in active hostilities,” or “a summons, invitation, or appeal to undertake a particular course of action.”
For many viewers, Hirono’s could be seen as the former.
This sounds to me like a declaration of war against citizens who support restrictions similar to those in Europe. It sounds like a declaration of war against citizens who support limiting abortions that would not touch 95% of abortions each year in the US, & are supported by 60%
— Phil_Am_Patriot (@PhilAmPatriot1) September 14, 2022
If she knows what “literally” means, she’ll understand she literally called for violence against those with whom she disagrees.
— BeKind2MN (@Kind2Mn) September 14, 2022
Is she calling for violence in support of political aims?
— GChris (@GChris65) September 14, 2022
Others defended Hirono’s comments as simple exaggeration.
You are leaving out some essential context – words can have multiple definitions.
: in effect : VIRTUALLY —used in an exaggerated way to emphasize a statement or description that is not literally true or possible
— 🇺🇸 Cold War Nostalgic 🇺🇦 (@Malabar_Bucolic) September 14, 2022
There’s little question that Hirono’s inflammatory rhetoric would be treated by the mainstream media differently if it had been spoken by a Republican. However, all speech on the floor of the Senate or House of Representatives is protected by the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.
According to the Congressional Research Service, senators and representatives “speaking or acting on the House or Senate floor” are “as the Court has repeatedly stated… ‘immune from liability for their actions within the ‘legislative sphere,’ even though their conduct, if performed in other than legislative contexts, would in itself be unconstitutional or otherwise contrary to criminal or civil statutes.'”
In the Constitution, Article 1, Section 6 states that “for any Speech or Debate in either House, they [members] shall not be questioned in any other Place.”
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