Congressman Threatening Violence With Attack on Titan Sees Actual Consequences

Congressman Threatening Violence With Attack on Titan Sees Actual Consequences
Photo: Kodansha / Anna Moneymaker, Getty Images

Nine days after Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a now-deleted Attack on Titan-themed video of himself and his Republican colleagues killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden, the House of Representatives voted to censure Gosar and remove him from his two House committee appointments. This marks the first time that a House member has been censured in over a decade.

On Tuesday night, Democrats on the House Rules Committee proposed removing Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Natural Resources. The vote to censure happened today. House members mostly voted along party lines, with only two Republicans voting in favour of the censure. The decision to censure Rep. Gosar will significantly lessen his influence in those policy areas.

According to Rep. Gosar, he deleted the original video from his Twitter account out of the goodness of his heart:

I rise today to address and reject the mischaracterization, accusations from many in this body that the cartoon from my office is dangerous or threatening. It was not. And I reject the false narrative categorically. I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset. I voluntarily took the cartoon down, not because it was itself a threat, but because some thought it was. Out of compassion for those who generally felt offence, I self-censored.

As the Democratic Representative Gosar’s video depicted as an enemy titan, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez felt that the vote was justified.

“In response to the Republican leader’s remarks when he says that this action is unprecedented: What I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body,” she said.

In the debate leading up to the censure vote, the Republicans mostly argued that the United States faced more pressing issues than the contents of an anime video. Noted weeb Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona attempted to explain why Gosar’s controversial video was not a death threat by invoking his deep-seated familiarity with Japanese culture and anime:

I’ve lived in Japan for several years. I speak Japanese. I read and write Japanese. This is an anime, Shingeki no Kyojin. Highly popular, stylised, intended to demonstrate the alienation that people feel, particularly young people feel, in their cultures. Does anime have violence? Yes. It’s highly stylised violence. It is not meant to induce people to violence.

The Democrats disagreed.

“We know where the glorification and promotion of violence leads,” said Democratic House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer. “We have seen it this year, previous years, piercing tweets become sharp knives. Fiery words bring out deadly firearms and cartoon killing begets real life bloodshed.”

The vote to censure Rep. Gosar ended at 223-207-1, plus three abstentions.