At a recent speech in Chicago on April 29, Elizabeth Warren joked about cutting open Republicans' bodies. Of course, she doesn't literally want to do that; Warren made the remark in jest, joking that the Republican health care proposal is so bad, she's unsure that the lawmakers who support it actually have hearts inside their chests. She doesn't actually think lawmakers should be put under the knife, although some conservative commentators have been happy to pretend otherwise.
"Knocking 24 million people off health insurance and raising costs for middle class families so that you can produce a tax break for a handful of millionaires and billionaires was not brutal enough for a big chunk of the Republican Party, and that's why the [Obamacare repeal] bill failed," Warren said. "I hope they leave their bodies to science. I want to cut 'em open." She then mouthed "heart" and mimed opening up a chest as the crowd laughed.
As was clear to any honest observer, Warren wasn't advocating for violence against lawmakers. That's true even within the context of the joke; Warren made clear that, to the extent that she did want to cut open Republicans' chests, she'd only want to do that after they "leave their bodies to science" — that is, when they've already kicked the bucket.
Nevertheless, some on the right were none too happy about Warren's lighthearted jab. The Reagan Battalion, a conservative organization most notable for taking down alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, tweeted that Warren should resign over the joke. Others, such as anti-Islam activist Pamela Gellar, trotted out the tried-and-true "imagine if a Republican had said that" argument, while good ol' Breitbart reported Warren hadn't fully joked, but merely "half-joked," about slicing open Republican legislators.
Sure, one could argue that Warren's joke was in poor taste. What's much harder to argue, though, is that her joke is worse than the Republican Party's health care proposal.
Although the new draft of the GOP health care bill is still being negotiated, the last version would have stripped health insurance from 24 million people, eliminated the requirement that plans cover maternity and prenatal care, cut off access to preventative care by defunding Planned Parenthood, and otherwise obliterated the massive expansion to health care provided by the Affordable Care Act. According to USA Today, the latest version of the bill cuts off access in yet another way by allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to Americans with preexisting conditions.
Making a joke like Warren's is not grounds for resignation. However, in my opinion, supporting a bill as destructive and cruel as the one Republicans are proposing may well be.