The rights and duties of members are easy to state, but most difficult to enforce.
48. Rights of Members.— The rights of each member are based upon the doctrine of his equality with every other member. He has therefore the right to present his propositions and to debate them fully. But as the right of each member leaves off where the rights of others begin there must be much mutual forbearance between each member and the assembly. Each member has a right to demand that the assembly be in order, and may rise to demand the same. He may also interrupt a member not in order, but he must exercise his rights in such a manner as not to increase the disorder.
49. Duties of Members.— The duties of each member are based upon the considerations which arise from his being a component part of the assembly, which desires to act together and which, in order to act together, must come to some agreement.
The member must maintain order and refrain from conversation.
He should not engage in any other business than that before the meeting. He should not walk between the member who has the floor and the presiding officer. He should not interrupt the member speaking except by his consent. It seems superfluous to say that he should not wear his hat, or put his feet on the desk, or smoke, for in all ways the member of an assembly should act properly.
He should not use injurious expressions.
He should not make use of even proper parliamentary motions to create discord or impede unreasonably the action of the assembly.
In short, as the object and purpose of an assembly is to enable men to act together as a body, each member ought to so conduct himself as to facilitate the result, or at least so as not to hinder it.
50. Decorum.— It will be seen that the rights and duties of members are somewhat difficult of enforcement, except by general comity.
Yet they should always be borne in mind and insisted on; for the creation of healthy public sentiment in an assembly is as important for its success as the observance of the laws of politeness is necessary to the comfort and well-being of a community. Decorum is usually treated of in connection with debate, but is as necessary and as much required at other times as when discussion is going on.