Under the Big Tent — The SCRCC Amendments

nicubunu_RPG_map_symbols_Circus_TentThe leadership (we presume) of the Scott County Republican Central Committee  (SCRCC) has proposed some amendments to its constitution. They are to be voted on by the assembled delegates at the March 8 county convention. No indication is provided as to what process the proposals went through.  Some have wondered whether the entire lot is seriously intended as needed changes to the county document, or whether some changes are merely opportune, even folderol in pursuit of one more pointed. One observer trenchantly asked whether “inclusive” was cover for “vindictive.” The proposals as posted on the SCRCC Website are as follows, set forth in italics. Interspersed is our commentary.

1. Changing the wording from “Co-Chairs” to our current structure of: “Three Vice Chairs”. This change was approved for our by-laws by the Scott County Central Committee on February 20, 2009 but has not been amended to reflect it in the constitution.

Our wonderment relates to why the use of “Chairs” is called for in the process of making such changes but “Chairperson” is proposed to replace Chairman elsewhere?  Would it not be more consistent with the call for the clumsy substitution of the word “chairperson” to continue the clumsiness and refer to the “Three Vice Chairpersons,” in the interest of consistency of course.

2. Changing the wording of “Chairman” to “Chairperson”

Hmmmm . . . then one wonders why not just refer to the “Chair” consistent with the first proposal.  More so we wonder what the need is for any change. We note inclusive language in the SCRCC constitution. It seems more a personal preference matter that we can be informed of depending on the preferences of the “chairperson.”  It is not required by any stretch of propriety  in our judgment.

We adopt here elements of a response to related inquiries in the column Word Court, by Barbara Wallraff, a feature in the publication The Atlantic Online:

We learned in school that one of the meanings of man is “humankind”: a freshman or a chairman can be a member of either sex. We also learned that there is such a thing as the “generic he”–a he that refers to any person, in a context where no particular person is present as an antecedent for the pronoun.

Wallraff sees no harm in “chairperson.”  This matter is not a biggie for us either, just seen as clumsy, particularly in the plural. But we further wonder where the advocates want to take this. Traditionally where the gender of the person referred to changes or is unclear or the reference is to members of both sexes, we use what some might refer to as masculine nouns or pronouns.  In context they are not “masculine,” they are generic, like the “they” we just used.

And so what other words are to be scrubbed or denigrated in our documents platforms and official communications for lack of political correctness?  Policeman . . . history . . . man-made . . . congressman . . . woman . . . sportsman . . . human . . . football lineman (do not be too quick in presuming anything) . . . kinsman? Should we be petitioning for a new Declaration of Independence because clearly there is some confusion over whether the endowment relating to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness applies to females of the species?

3. Article 4: Fourth paragraph adding to the last sentence a section taken from Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th ed.: “conduct which is injurious to the organization or its purposes, tending to injure the good name of the organization, disturb its well-being, or hamper it in its work.”

so it will read as: “The term of office of a member of the Scott County, Iowa Central Committee shall begin as provided in the Constitution of the Republican Party of Iowa and shall continue for two years or until his or her successor is selected and qualified, unless the member is sooner removed by the Scott County Central Committee for inattention to duty, incompetence, actively supporting an opponent of our Republican nominee, conduct which is injurious to the organization or its purposes, tending to injure the good name of the organization, disturb its well-being, or hamper it in its work.”

We did not have an 11th edition of Robert’s but suspect our 10th edition is reference enough. Reading pages 629 – 643 about disciplinary matters, where we believe the verbiage selected comes from, we also see that it is with reference to bylaws.  Robert’s maintains that such conduct is presumed to be subject to disciplinary action “whether the bylaws make mention of it or not.”

All of this, unless Roberts is to be only selectively referenced as done by proponents, is subject to rights being afforded the accused. Roberts has twelve or thirteen pages delineating the process including formalization of charges,  time frames,  trial procedures, and even provision for counsel.

We do not know if, or to what extent,  non-profit corporate law (Oleck being a standard reference) and legal precedents apply,  or that of the statutory references to the positions of Central Committee members and delegates in the Iowa code. Why there is no attempt to round out such a threatening but unnecessary addition (using proponents own authority, Robert’s) with a reference to any rights for the accused strikes us as unseemly.

We will continue our commentary related to the implications of the proposal above in  upcoming posts, either directly or indirectly.  Particularly as “discipline” relates to rather selective application heretofore.

4. Article 6: change to no less than “four meetings” per year, previously listed as no less than “two meetings” per year.

Fine, even if unnecessary under provisions that can be required under the bylaws, as constitutions are typically minimalist.

R Mall

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