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Jon Stewart takes on Republican lawmaker who wants to ban drag shows in viral interview

Jon Stewart takes on Republican lawmaker who wants to ban drag shows in viral interview
Jon Stewart Photo: Screenshot/AppleTV+

On the most recent episode of The Problem with Jon Stewart, the show’s namesake and host grilled an Ohio Republican, using his support of drag show bans to expose the hypocrisy behind his opposition to gun control legislation. A clip from the interview, which premiered on Friday, has since gone viral.

Oklahoma state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R) opposes restrictions on firearms, like laws requiring background checks and red-flag laws, because he says they infringe on a person’s Second Amendment rights. He also supports banning drag shows anywhere they might be viewed by minors.

During his interview with Dahm, Stewart clashed with the lawmaker over the idea that increased access to guns makes Americans safer, arguing that Dahm’s efforts to loosen gun restrictions have made it harder for authorities to identify individuals who may pose threats.

“The person is the threat, not the firearm,” Dahm explained.

“But you don’t want anything that could help law enforcement or society determine whether or not a person is a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun,” Stewart countered. “I don’t understand why you won’t just admit that you are making it harder for police to manage the streets by allowing all of these guns to go out without permits, without checks, without background stuff.”

Dahm argued that the restrictions he opposes infringe upon “the individual’s right to keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment.  

Stewart then pivoted to other examples of ways in which constitutional rights are limited under the law, including requiring voter registration. He then questioned Dahm about his support for an Oklahoma bill that would make it illegal to host drag performances on public property or where they could be viewed by minors. Similar bills are being considered in states across the country. Last week, Tennessee became the first state in which such legislation was signed into law.

Stewart asked Dahm whether Oklahoma’s anti-drag law would infringe on the First Amendment rights of performers. Dahm argued that under the proposed law, drag performers could continue to exercise their right to free speech, “just not in front of a child.”

“The government does have a responsibility in certain instances to protect children,” Dahm admitted.

“What’s the leading cause of death amongst children in this country?” Stewart asked. “And I’m going to give you a hint, it’s not drag show readings to children.”

“It’s firearms,” Stewart continued. “More than cancer, more than car accidents. And what you’re telling me is you don’t mind infringing free speech to protect children from this amorphous thing that you think of. But when it comes to children that have died you don’t give a flying f**k to stop that because that shall not be infringed. That is hypocrisy at its highest order.”

The clip has since received over 36,000 views on Twitter and more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.

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