The political sewer pipe from Carleton County - Macleans.ca

The political sewer pipe from Carleton County

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In light of Republican Joe Wilson’s shoutiness during the President’s address to Congress last week, U.S. legislators have dusted off ye olde Section 370 of the House Rules and Manual to review the precedent. Turns out you can’t call the President a “liar.” But you can refer to his government as “something hated” and/or his message as a “disgrace to the country.”

Likewise, the Speaker of the House of Commons has fairly wide latitude to censure members for overly hostile language. Indeed, at least on paper, “remarks directed specifically at another Member that question that Member’s integrity, honesty or character, are not in order.”

By recent standards this has generally meant that you cannot directly accuse another member of lying. I seem to recall a discussion at some point over the last year as to whether it was improper to call someone a hypocrite, but permissible to suggest that someone’s actions were hypocritical. Though perhaps I hallucinated that.

Various lists are available—see here and here—of specific phrases that have been ruled out of order. It is to our eternal loss that “dim-witted saboteur” and “inspired by forty-rod whiskey” have been removed from the official lexicon.