On shouting "baby killer" in a crowded legislative chamber 

Randy Neugebauer preps for his 15 minutes   (afp photo)

Oh, Texas. The latest Lone Star eyebrow-raiser is from Congressman Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican who shouted "baby killer" at Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak on the House floor last night.

Beltway is all for heckling. We think our leaders should be heckled vigorously and often, and when they heckle each other, we think it's great sport and settle in to enjoy the spectacle. But -- "baby killer"? On the House floor? USA Today sets the scene:

The outburst -- reminiscent of South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson's decision to yell "You lie!" during an address by President Obama to Congress last year -- came as Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., explained why he was switching his support to back the health care bill after initially leading a group of anti-abortion Democrats in opposition.

"Baby killer," someone on the Republican side of the House chamber yelled during the debate. "Who said that?" Democratic lawmakers screamed in response. Initially, it was unclear whether the comment had come from a lawmaker or from a member of the public viewing the health care debate in the gallery.

For awhile it was unclear who the shouting perp was, until a sheepish-sounding Neugebauer 'fessed up via official statement.

"In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase 'it's a baby killer' in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership," Neugebauer's statement reads. "While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself…The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate."

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs commented generally on the incident and also the language used by some anti-health care demonstrators on Saturday.

"I don't know that I would want to explain to my six year old why I had done or said some of the things that were done or said this past weekend," Gibbs said. "I think the president believes regardless of the passion of your views, which people rightly hold in a country as great as this, that we ought to be able to have that debate without the type of language and actions that we’ve seen in some places over the weekend."

What do you think?

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Julie Mason

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