Shutdown Vote Ends With Bizarre Rant By House Stenographer

Last night’s House vote that ended the bizarre government shutdown ended in an appropriately bizarre manner:

A House floor stenographer was abruptly hauled out of the chamber after charging the dais and screaming during Wednesday’s late night vote on raising the debt ceiling and funding the federal government.

As the bill sailed toward final passage, the presiding lawmaker suddenly began pounding the gavel. Witnesses on the floor said the woman, identified as Dianne Reidy, seized a microphone and began yelling during the vote.

She was then removed from the chamber by floor staff and taken into an adjacent elevator. She continued yelling as she was taken away, saying phrases such as “you cannot serve two masters” and “he will not be mocked.”

Here’s some more detail:

The stenographer apparently began shouting about God, the freemasons and a House divided, just as federal workers’ pay was being restored.

“He will not be mocked. He will not be mocked. Don’t touch me. He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here is this is not ‘one nation under God.’ It never was. Had it been, it would not have been … no … it would not have been,” the stenographer yelled as Capitol Police dragged her from the House floor.

“The Constitution would not have been written by free masons. They go against God,” she said. ”You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Lord Jesus Christ.”

Lawmakers watched the scene in a mix of bewilderment and shock. Members stood on the floor watching the scene unfold, and after the floor staffer was removed from the chamber, lawmakers turned to each other to try figure out what that was all about.

And here’s video and audio:

After three and a half weeks of this nonsense, it’s surprising more people didn’t snap.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    That is disturbing and sad. That person clearly has mental health problems. I suspect that she is not taking her medication regularly, or if she is not prescribed medication, she should be.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    @al-Ameda: And it’s extremely hard to get someone forcibly committed or treated. I understand why, but given the danger these people can be to themselves and others, I wish we were a little more dubious of using self-judgment of mental health as the acid test.

  3. legion says:

    And of course, Faux News considers her impending psych evaluation to be an infringement of her Gawd-Given rights…

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When I first read about this I just assumed the links went to the Onion and took it as a joke. Life imitating art.

    (shakes head)

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist:

    And it’s extremely hard to get someone forcibly committed or treated.

    The thing is, I hear stuff like this all the time around here. It’s called “religious freedom”. Her only mistake was saying it into a live mic.

  6. Ernieyeball says:

    @grumpy realist: but given the danger these people can be to themselves and others,..

    “I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it.” says Mike Huckabee, at a Christian conference “Rediscover God in America” hosted by the United in Purpose organization.
    http://www.dailypaul.com/160843/mike-huckabee-wants-all-americans-to-be-indoctrinated-at-gunpoint

    Of course this guy is a respected Conservative Gasbag.

  7. bill says:

    @legion: didn’t see that, they read 2 emails pertaining to it but didn’t promote it. maybe she had a long week and needed a beer?!

  8. @grumpy realist:

    And it’s extremely hard to get someone forcibly committed or treated.

    While she would likely benefit from treatment, would being forcibly committed really improve her life? She has a relatively prestigious job and is presumably self-supporting. Is being impoverished and locked in a jail really a better way to go through life?

    I understand why, but given the danger these people can be to themselves and others

    While they can be dangerous, they very rarely are. Indeed, there’s no evidence this woman is dangerous. The real problem here is she made you uncomfortable, so you want her locked away out of sight.

  9. Ernieyeball says:

    @Stormy Dragon: While they can be dangerous, they very rarely are. Indeed, there’s no evidence this woman is dangerous.

    You know this because you are a mental health care professional and you have interviewed her in a clinical setting?

  10. rudderpedals says:

    Wasn’t there just the ironically named Values Summit where the stuff she speaks of reflects the org’s raison d’etre? The Dominionist / Family / Palin faction she speaks for knows exactly what she’s talking about. Crazy like a fox.

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: My viewpoint is that if you interact with society, there are certain social norms you should adhere to. If you don’t have the control to adhere to those social norms, then please move away from where other people live.

    You especially don’t have the right to indulge in activity that frightens other people. Because of the idiotic gun laws in this country, I would have to assume that anyone babbling crazy stuff like this is possibly armed and that there is a non-negligible risk that said person would suddenly decide that I am one of the Illuminati and decide to shoot me. This is why I give a wide berth to babbling and crazy people and yes, I would like to see them off the streets. I think the right of the average, normal, social-rule-abiding citizen to be free from fear is also something that should be taken into consideration.

    When you step out of behavior that is normal, the onus is on you to reassure the people around you that your behavior will not escalate to seriously dangerous activity.

    I willingly admit I adhere to an ethical system that is far more tilted towards the collective than the individual and that it would probably never be accepted in the United States. It would, however, be accepted in something like a space colony.

  12. Franklin says:

    I can’t decide if it’s too bad she didn’t have a gun.

  13. @grumpy realist:

    You adhere to an ethical system that is bigoted. It’s not the responsibility of who aren’t harming you to convince you they should be permitted to participate in society just because you apparently freak whenever you’re exposed to someone who isn’t exactly like you. Your logic is the same as that used to justify everything from racism to homophobia, and it’s not any less repellent when directed toward people with mental health issues.

    This woman caused a bit of a scene, but in the grand scheme of things, no one has been harmed in any way by her. I hope she’ll be given the help she needs and allowed to return to her job and continue being a productive member of society.

    The last thing she needs is to be stuffed in a cage like an animal because you’re uncomfortable around her and don’t care how much she suffers as long as she’s suffering out of your sight.

  14. wr says:

    I’m just shocked that there’s someone called a “House stenographer” who isn’t also called “senior reporter for Politico.”

  15. Surreal American says:

    At least she didn’t talk smack about the Stonecutters:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZI_aEalijE

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If that woman had stood up and said a similar rant but with “Allah shall not be mocked”? I wonder how much support she would be getting from all the “oh, but she’s just a sweet Christian lady choosing to testify” crowd. I bet they would be screeching for Obama’s impeachment because she wasn’t gunned down as soon as she opened her lips.

    We’ve seen what indulging religious fanaticism leads to. And I want no part of it. If this woman can’t understand that suddenly getting up in the middle of a vote in the House and ranting about God is unacceptable behavior, then yes, she is a nut.

  17. legion says:

    @wr: You are beautiful.

  18. @grumpy realist:

    I’m not denying she has mental health issues. The question is what to do about it, and I don’t see involuntary commitment of non-violent functional mental health sufferers as treatment. It’s not about doing what’s best for the patients, it’s about doing what’s most convenient for society.

    And now that you brought it up, I’m rather disturbed that your demand she be institutionalized seems to what you imagine to be her political leanings. I don’t seem to recall you demanding, say, Jodie Evans be institutionalized for similar disruptions.

  19. anjin-san says:

    And it’s extremely hard to get someone forcibly committed or treated.

    Yes. We have gone too far in the direction of patients rights. People with mental health issues that are not able to make rational choices about their care are making the decisions anyway. As a society, we are paying a high price for neglecting/underfunding community mental health.

    The last thing she needs is to be stuffed in a cage like an animal because you’re uncomfortable around her and don’t care how much she suffers as long as she’s suffering out of your sight.

    You make this statement without any real insight into her condition or what her life is like. Do you think that people who are mentally ill don’t suffer – horribly – as long as they are left to their own devices? I can assure you from personal experience that the truth is otherwise. BTW, “stuffing her into a cage” is hyperbole. Certainly she will briefly lose her freedom for a psych eval, but she will almost certainly be cut loose after 72 hours. (or at least that is what would happen in CA, not sure about DC law) There are (and need to be more) outpatient options.

    We need to find a place between where we are now – largely ignoring the problem – and “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest”.

  20. anjin-san says:

    I don’t see involuntary commitment of non-violent functional mental health sufferers as treatment. It’s not about doing what’s best for the patients, it’s about doing what’s most convenient for society.

    I’m sorry, but you are simply wrong. I have a relative who suffers from schizophrenia. Had he not been involuntary committed for three years he would be dead – my wife and I are certain of that. As a result of sustained treatment during his commitment he is able to live a halfway decent life now with support from his family. He is actually taking his meds now. Not wanting to be committed again is a big part of what got him to voluntary meds compliance.

  21. anjin-san says:

    I hope she’ll be given the help she needs

    Again your heart is in the right place, but you are wrong.

    A. People with sever mental health issues tend to reject help when it is right in front of them. The rejection, the lack of insight into their own condition, is one of the primary symptoms of the illness. They literally think they are the sighted ones in the land of the blind.

    B. The help is often not forthcoming in either case, because our mental health care system is broken.

  22. @anjin-san:

    Had he not been involuntary committed for three years he would be dead – my wife and I are certain of that.

    Hence the qualifying phrase “non-violent functional”. If your relative would have been dead without treatment, then he obviously wasn’t functional.

  23. @anjin-san:

    People with sever mental health issues tend to reject help when it is right in front of them. The rejection, the lack of insight into their own condition, is one of the primary symptoms of the illness. They literally think they are the sighted ones in the land of the blind.

    I get that, but making sure they get treatment does not necessairly require involuntary commitment. And again, if all the patient has done is make some people uncomfortable, as in this case, they should have the right to refuse treatment. Otherwise “mental health” quickly becomes just an extra-judicial method for punishing non-conformists by pathologizing individual personality differences.

    The help is often not forthcoming in either case, because our mental health care system is broken.

    Then let’s focus on getting them that help, rather than grumpy realist’s solution, which is clearly more about his own comfort than the patients well being.

  24. @anjin-san:

    BTW, “stuffing her into a cage” is hyperbole.

    If I was describing the current system yes. I wasn’t; I was describing grumpy realist’s “you vill conform to my social norms or else” solution to the problem.

  25. @anjin-san:

    You make this statement without any real insight into her condition or what her life is like.

    Shouldn’t the burden be on the people advocating for her commitment based on a C-SPAN clip to demonstrate such conditions, rather than just assuming they must exist?

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I’m saying that in a small, enclosed populace (such as a space colony) conforming to social norms IS what is expected. I’m not expecting the US to adhere to my social norms. But I’m not going to pretend that I’m comfortable being around religious nuts who have free access to guns, either.

    There seems to be a definite overlap between religious fanaticism and mental illness. I remember sitting in a cafe, reading a book, when a glassy-eyed young girl came up and started ranting at me about how I shouldn’t be reading anything aside from the Bible and that God Loves Me and how I should get rid of all the books I was reading and on and on….

    I’m not inclined to grant such people extra-special privileges to rudely butt into my space. I was sitting by myself, totally silent, reading my book in peace, not disturbing anyone. Why should the onus be on me to put up with a ranting nut rather than on the ranting nut to control herself?

    (Another person tried to engage her in conversation and convince her that what she was doing was rude and inconsiderate of others, to which her constant reply was “God loves you and I need to tell you this!” There’s not much you can do to convince religious nuts to play nicely by the rules of society.)

  27. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy Dragon

    people advocating for her commitment based on a C-SPAN

    I would tend to dismiss those opinions out of hand. The woman needs a 5150, or whatever passes for one in DC, and a psych eval. The real issue is what happens after that.

    I do agree that Grumpy’s comments lack compassion and show a superficial understanding of mental health issues. Certainly “If you make me nervous you should just go away” is unrealistic, to say the least.

  28. anjin-san says:

    the ranting nut to control herself?

    Wow.

    Being unable to control one’s self is a symptom of mental illness. It’s an illness. It’s a tragedy. It’s not something it’s victims asked for.

    Do you want cancer sufferers to be locked away because their bald heads make you uncomfortable?

    Sorry, but it’s not all about you and your comfort. I spent two hours at the mental health clinic yesterday. The waiting room is full of people that would make you very uncomfortable. None of them asked to be sick.

    Tell you what, spending time around people who are mentally ill has taught me many lessons about compassion, patience, kindness, and being less self-involved. It’s made me a much better person.

  29. al-Ameda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    @al-Ameda: And it’s extremely hard to get someone forcibly committed or treated. I understand why, but given the danger these people can be to themselves and others, I wish we were a little more dubious of using self-judgment of mental health as the acid test.

    I understand that. Many years ago I and another manager once had to deal directly with an employee who had a breakdown, and the complications we experienced in trying to convince that person to voluntarily seek medical help were significant. After 3 long weeks of efforts by us and others close to that person we succeeded. It is difficult for all involved.

    And, yes, I assumed or projected a mental health problem there – perhaps I shouldn’t have, but there you are, I did.

  30. Tillman says:

    @Stormy Dragon: the one downvote is me, meant to upvote. Stupid phone.

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @anjin-san: Exactly. I’m simply saying: either control yourself or give up the responsibility of controlling yourself to other people. I don’t see what’s so uncaring about that.

    By the way, it looks like this woman is now saying that she was “moved by the Holy Spirit.” Yes, well, people also hear voices from God (or the Devil) to do such things as push people under trains, kill their children, or kill other people’s children. You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about sharing my space with someone who has demonstrated an inability to control herself because of following the voices in her head.

  32. @anjin-san:

    We need to find a place between where we are now – largely ignoring the problem – and “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest”.

    In someway, both of the extremes have the same fault: they’re based on isolating the mentally ill from the rest of society (at one extreme social isolation, at the other physical isolation), rather then focussing on how they can be helped to function within society.

    Part of what makes me loathe to endorse making involuntary commitment easier is having heard accounts from people like Elyn Saks of what it was like being commitment. To some extent, their treatment was only successful because they pushed back against a system that only saw them as a problem to be controlled rather than asking focusing on how to get these people back to functioning members of society to the greatest degree possible.

  33. Tillman says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m not expecting the US to adhere to my social norms. But I’m not going to pretend that I’m comfortable being around religious nuts who have free access to guns, either.

    Technically, they’re still following dominant cultural norms by not shooting infidels and heretics, so until that last faux pas comes about…

  34. anjin-san says:

    @ grumpy realist

    forgive me if I’m skeptical about sharing my space

    I understand your skepticism. But if you are in a public place “my space” is a somewhat nebulous concept. Other people have a right to be there too. (not the right to get in your face, of course).

    One of the reason our mental health crisis has not been effective is people who are mentally ill are scary. People just want them to go away. If you have cancer, people hold fundraisers for you. If you are schizophrenic are shunned and reviled.

    Neither the cancer sufferer or the schizophrenic asked for what happened to them. They are both victims, and they both deserve compassion and support.

    And, please forgive me, you do come across as being rather uncaring on this issue.

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy Dragon

    I will pick up a copy of Saks’ book & check it out. Certainly what is on her Wikipedia page is compelling. My relative may well have had a better than normal experience with commitment because his family was highly engaged, and the staff and treatment team knew we were watching, and that we have the resources to make a stink if he is not getting good care.

    What we were told by the staff at the locked facility is that 90% of their patients have been abandoned by their families by the time they are committed, for a number of reasons – it’s too scary, too hard, etc.

    One of the things that amazes me is that I have heard stories at family support group meeting that are much worse than what we have faced.

  36. @anjin-san:

    She has a very good TED talk too, which is where I first heard of her:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/elyn_saks_seeing_mental_illness.html

  37. @grumpy realist:

    to do such things as push people under trains, kill their children, or kill other people’s children

    There are 2.2 million people in the US diagnosed with schizophrenia. 99% of whom are not pushing people under trains or killing children. Being scared that any mentally ill person you come across is going to hurt you is not more rational than assuming black people are going to mug you or that gays cannot be scout masters because they’re all child molesters.

  38. Ernieyeball says:

    My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 50′s when I was about 8 years old. There were no drugs to manage the symptoms in those days so she had to be locked up in State Hospitals for months and even years at a time where she was subjected to the state of the art electroshock therapy.
    This after she nearly crushed my brothers head in with the toaster in an apocalypticaly violent rage.
 This was just one of the events my siblings (both younger than me) and I endured while we were learning first hand about this then misunderstood psychosis.

    We were scared of her with good reason.

  39. Amos Jones says:

    So the Tea Party got the last word after all…

  40. stonetools says:

    Was what she was saying much more crazy, really, than some of the stuff coming from Congressional Reps Gohlmert and Bachmann or from major right wing opinion makers like Limbaugh and Malkin? That’s what concerns me.
    I’m also concerned that if she was a Virginia resident, she could walk into a Virginia gun shop and walk out half a hour later with an assault rifle, a shotgun, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, ready to foil the coming Free Mason/atheist/socialist plot to take over America by mowing down those Manchurian candidates in Congress.
    Ah well, here is hoping that she will get the help she needs. Maybe conservative Republicans will be so concerned by the display that they will restore the funding for mental health programs that they have been cutting all these years?
    Good one. That’s even crazier that believing the Constitution was written by Freemasons, which, come to think of it , it was-in part…

  41. If she had used the f-word a couple times, I would wonder if Carrie Mathison was infiltrating Congress to keep track of terrorists.

  42. Tony W says:

    I understand much of the hesitation to commit her is because she sounds an awful lot like Michelle Bachmann on a good day.

  43. Ernieyeball says:

    Day Late.
    I think this is the same fellow I saw on NightLine or some such production about 15 years ago.

    Frederick Frese Psychologist overcomes paranoid schizophrenia
    But Frese had several classic symptoms, notably his inability to separate fantasy from reality and his hearing of inner voices. Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a split personality. Rather, people are apathetic, withdrawn, delusional and can’t think logically. Though people are more likely to develop schizophrenia if it runs in their family, substance abuse, stress and other factors may trigger it. It typically develops between the ages of 17 and 25.

    http://www.schizophrenia.com/newsletter/697/697overcome.htm

  44. K says:

    @Ernieyeball: people are apathetic, withdrawn, delusional and can’t think logically. This sounds like (what/how) the Majority of society IS! So It would stand to reason only a Minority IS Not! Then that would mean Most of society is not able to distinguish that they are the mentalty ill. Becarefull what you wish for , you just might get it.

  45. Ernieyeball says:

    @K: What did I wish for? What are you talking about?