Fists (Ok, Fist) Flies at the Alabama Senate

Via the AP: Ala. lawmaker punches Senate colleague

A Republican state senator who punched a Democratic lawmaker in the head expressed regret, saying “that’s not the way grown men solve their problems,” but he said he won’t immediately apologize.

Republican Sen. Charles Bishop claimed that Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron called him a “son of a (expletive)” in the Senate chamber on Thursday.

“I responded to his comment with my right hand,” Bishop said.

Alabama Public Television tape captured the punch.

“I was raised in the woods of Arkansas and people don’t say that about your mom,” Bishop said.

Barron denied saying that to Bishop. He said the Jasper senator used an expletive to him and he was trying to get away when he was hit by Bishop on the side of the head near an ear. He said he had not decided if he would file charges.

And, of course, it’s already on YouTube:

The impact in question is at the very beginning of the clip.

The headline in Montgomery Advertiser: Session ends with a bang

For most of the session the Republican minority stalled legislation in protest of operating rules they say are unfair to them.

The tense session exploded Thursday when Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, punched fellow Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, on the Senate floor during the last day of the session.

Their accounts of what provoked the event differed as much as their votes have, but it topped off a session in which patience was tested and tempers flared.

Bishop had unsuccessfully asked Barron to bring up a bill banning money transfers between political action committees during the meeting. The incident occurred shortly after the Senate recessed.

Bishop said Barron had called him a “son of a bitch.”

Barron, who said he is considering bringing criminal charges against Bishop, denied it. Barron said he might have said he “didn’t give a damn.”

He said Bishop told him to “watch your back” because “I’m going to F you every day.”

“Nothing I did was provocative,” he said.

But Bishop disagreed, saying he responded accordingly to a remark about his mother.

“I responded with my right hand,” he said. “I hit him wherever I could get my right hand on him.”

He apologized for it happening on the floor of the Senate, but did not apologize for hitting him.

“If he calls me that again, it will happen again,” he said.


FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. markm says:

    Republican Sen. Charles Bishop throws a punch like a girl. He should be banned from the gender.

  2. Personally, I think our legislative bodies could use more brawling. And I don’t mean one guy hitting another once. I mean Taiwan style everyone wailing on each other fights.

  3. markm says:

    Heh, it could be the next new thing. TSL (Taiwan Style Legislation) Championships.

  4. Somehow, I don’t think this is going to lose him many votes in Alabama, where 99.99% of the men would applaud his response – and wish they could do the same to anybody who speaks that way to them.

  5. Russell,

    You are almost certainly correct.

  6. Triumph says:

    This is not going to do much for the image of Alabama. Maybe they should solve their differences with a dog fight.

  7. Anjin-San says:

    Got to agree with Markm, the guy hits like a weenie. Though I know some girls that are pretty tough, so I don’t know if “hits like a girl” has the same meaning it once did.