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  • Reverend James Squire

Red Handed

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State Republican Senator Jeff Pyle from Western Pennsylvania is facing calls on social media to resign and censure from colleagues for mocking the appearance of a transgender woman, Dr. Rachel Levine, who served as Health Secretary in Pennsylvania and now will serve in the Biden administration. Pyle’s description was offensive. He stated as per the Inquirer January 24, 2021 that “I had no idea it would be received so poorly as it was. Tens of thousands of heated emails assured me it was.” He went on to say that he did not come up with the offensive post on his own. He merely shared it. He offered a humble apology. Notice it was not an apology for the content of the post as much as it was an apology for getting caught. Otherwise, we would not have heard from him.

Growing up in my working class community there was an expression that was used frequently that someone such as Pyle was “caught red handed”. The origin of this phrase goes back to 15th century Scotland and meant that someone had “blood on their hands” for murder or poaching. It emerged over the years to mean an obvious serious breach of ethical action.

Recently Kevin McCarthy reversed course and said that Trump did not incite the insurrection. It was everybody’s fault. Previously he had said that Trump was responsible. I can’t wait to see the logic behind that reversal when all of his statements have been caught on news videos. He has been caught “red handed”, a serious breach of trust that violates a code of moral behavior.

There have been more incidents like “I never said or did that” (referring to something related to telling the Big Lie about the election). I wouldn’t know where to begin to list them. They have been as numerous as the sands on a beach which is why a segment of the American public came to believe that the election was illegal and stolen in the first place. They didn’t come up with that notion on their own. One of the more outrageous examples was the Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick offering up to a $1 million reward for examples of voter fraud if whistleblowers and tipsters could find any. There were none, but Texans are now angry because he never demonstrated how they would get the reward if they found any fraud. Regarding those caught during the Insurrection, there have been multiple excuses, but the one that I like best is the seditionist who went into the capitol to see the artwork in the hallways.

Focus on your favorite people who have blood on their hands such as Hawley, Cruz, and Lindsey Graham. Focus on them because these people do literally have blood on their hands which was the result of the Insurrection.

I believe that we need to start using that “caught red handed” phrase as we go into the Impeachment Trial Part 2 for it graphically reflects the serious nature of the crime and also the literal result for some who were bloody. Can you picture Kevin McCarthy saying “Trump doesn’t have blood on his hands.” That is a stronger irrefutable visual that could enhance the accusation of his inciting the crime. I found that the more visual examples that I could provide to my Ethics students, the more long term memory of them and good choices would occur. Years later after students took the course, I had students call me and say, “I almost lied about something I did wrong, but I thought of that movie, Before And After, that we saw, and I didn’t do it. Others would list a host of unethical acts that they almost committed but remembered that visual or video that they saw in the Ethics class and chose the right thing to do. I remember visuals as well.

Yes, “caught red handed” is much better than any other phrase to capture the seriousness of the issue and the murderous attempt that we now know would have happened if the Insurrectionists weren’t stopped. We can’t forget that blood was shed. Neither should those at the trial.

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