There is a lot of business going on at the state Capitol these days. Committees are working hard to get important bills to the floor of the General Assembly. But the flurry of activity should not bury the calling out of legislators who make offensive, insensitive, stupid comments about a critical issue.
The Shad was the first to write about a bill introduced by state Sen. Mae Flexer and state Rep. Greg Haddad that seeks to address the problem of on-campus sexual assault. The bill would require “affirmative consent.” The issue of sexual assault on college and university campuses has been discussed all across the country.
During the debate on the bill that was before the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, state Rep. Mike Bocchino was concerned about false claims of rape when it’s one person’s word against another.
After acknowledging that any rape is horrific, Bocchino, a Greenwich Republican, remarked, “…[W]e have an obligation to make certain that this legislation that we will finally pass is true and just and cannot be interpreted in any other way…it’s almost asking for in that moment, in that heat of passion whether you are drunk or you are not, sign this this piece of paper, because at the end of the day there are no witnesses. At least if there are, it’s a really great party, but there are no witnesses involved. It’s that one individual with the other individual….” (Shad’s emphasis).
The stupid comment doesn’t rise to the level of former Missouri U.S. Rep. Todd Akin who said infamously said in 20212, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” However, Bocchino’s comments are still insensitive, offensive and stupid. Campus rape is no joke.
Connecticut Democrats immediately jumped on Bochinno. Party Communications Director Leigh Appleby said, “I assume that it was an attempt at humor, but Rep. Bucchino should know better – and his constituents elected him to know better…up to one in five female students are victims. It’s a serious problem, and I hope Rep. Bocchino will publicly apologize for his distasteful and offensive comment.”
Politics aside, Bochinno, who is a freshman lawmaker, should apologize and think before he speaks.
UPDATE: Bocchino has in fact apologize. He tells the Greenwich Times, “It was an unfortunate phrase to use because it was misconstrued by some who apparently wanted to undermine my support for this important legislation. “If anyone took my comments that way I apologize, but that wasn’t what they were intended for.”
The tired “if anyone…” excuse is pretty lame. Of course people were offended or this wouldn’t be an issue.