Bare Knuckle Politics: More Than a Metaphor

Partisan politics are in evidence around the world, and some politicians are throwing punches, kicks and even chairs in addition to insults.

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At Calderon's inauguration yesterday, Mexican Congress members shouted each other down, pummeled each other with fists, and even clocked each other with chairs. But these were certainly not the first lawmakers to fall prey to their passions. In 2004, after a close presidential race, member of Taiwan's legislature came to blows over an election recount law. In 2005, Russia's flamboyant politician, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, started a fisticuffs in the DUMA after spitting at another member.

And lest we think Americans are above this kind of thing, we remind you of the caning of Charles Sumner, the abolitionist senator from Massachusetts back in 1856. Sumner had called for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, and he denounced one of its authors, Andrew Butler of South Carolina, as a pimp whose harlot was slavery. Butler's nephew, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks, confronted Sumner in the Senate chamber when it was nearly empty and beat him over the head with a cane.

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