Speaker Vos’s Distorted Idea of Respect

One reads that Assembly Speaker Vos believes it is disrespectful to allow a physically disabled legislator to telephone into legislative meetings:

A state lawmaker who is paralyzed isn’t allowed to participate in committee meetings by phone under a legislative rule that he says keeps him from performing his job as well as he should.

Democratic Rep. Jimmy Anderson of Fitchburg said the Assembly rule discriminates against him because he has difficulty getting to some meetings for health reasons. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other Republicans who control the Legislature have declined to accommodate his request to call into meetings.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever had to ask for simple dignities, right?” he said. “It’s a frustrating thing to have to ask just to be included in the process.”

Vos, of Rochester, noted lawmakers have accommodated his needs in other ways, such as by providing him with a computer that has voice recognition software. But Vos said he was unwilling to change the rule that requires representatives to show up at committee meetings in person.

“It just comes down to the fact that I think it’s disrespectful for someone to be asking questions over a microphone or a speakerphone when individuals are actually taking the time out of their day to come and testify in person,” Vos said.

Lawmakers in many offices across Wisconsin, at different levels of government, who have no permanent physical disability, sometimes call into meetings.

The more significant matter is Vos’s twisted notion of respect – he demands respect for the physically able, who have less need of consideration, than a physically impaired man who has more need of consideration.

Vos and his colleagues invert a truly moral order – one that demands care for less able people before care for more able ones. Instead, they insist on an immoral order that places themselves undeservedly at the center of need.

What Vos calls respect is truly disrespect, and what he sees as a virtue is simply a perfumed vice.

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