Paul Ryan and the right to bare arms (UPDATE)
A business dress code is one thing. Summer weather in Washington, D.C, is another. But apparently House Speaker Paul Ryan thinks he has to right to crack down on women reporters wearing dresses without sleeves.
In June, Ryan announced the dress code — the rule is not new, it just hasn’t always been enforced — that only business attire is acceptable in the House itself and the area known as the Speaker’s lobby, a corridor across from the House chamber where journalists often interview lawmakers. This bars women from wearing sleeveless dresses and open-toed shoes, and requires men to wear jackets and ties. It applies to lawmakers as well as reporters.
A young, female reporter was denied entrance to the area because she was wearing a sleeveless dress. According to many stories about the incident, the reporter, Haley Byrd of the Independent Journal Review, took some papers and tried to stuff them into the dress’s shoulders, but that didn’t pass the sleeve test.
Many on social media started slamming Ryan, calling the arm crackdown a case of “Handmaids in the House,” referring to the popular Hulu show of red-robed women forced into submissive roles. “It really is truly something that the House wants to deny essential health benefits to women, including prenatal care, while simultaneously worrying themselves over the appropriateness of shoulders and toes,” commented a story on Jezebel.
Looking professional is a way of life in Washington. We once flew into airports in Washington and Seattle in the same week, and the difference in modes of dress is the difference between a lawyer arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and Eddie Vedder.
But lighten up, Mr. Speaker. It’s 2017. Washington is a Southern city, after all, and the weather is nearly always hot and humid. The average high is 88 degrees in Washington in July, and nearly half the days have temps in the 90s. That’s not a time to dress in layers.
Paul Ryan is a supporter of the Second Amendment, which gives people the right to bear arms. But he must never have read about Amendment 2A, which got struck by the founders when they passed the Bill of Rights only days after voting on the Constitution itself in September of 1789.
Amendment 2A: When temperatures rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the right of the people to display bare Arms shall not be infringed.
Ryan just missed a little-known history lesson.
UPDATE: Apparently the bad publicity (and the comparisons to Sharia law) got to the House speaker. Now he grudgingly says he will work to “modernize” the dress code. And perhaps it was the women in Congress who got his attention.