Some of Those Upset About Bocchinno’s Remarks Were Oddly Silent About Hewitt’s ‘Snake’ Remark

It took a while but now much is being made about moronic comments made by Republican state Rep. Mike Bochinno during last week’s committee debate on a campus anti-rape bill. Yet those who seem very upset now were dead silent during the dust up over comments—arguably worse than Bocchino’s—made by Democratic state Rep. Ernie Hewett two years ago.

In late February of 2013, a 17-year old girl testified before the legislature’s Appropriations Committee in support of funding for the Connecticut Science Center. She explained how her experience as a teen ambassador at the center help her get over some shyness she previously had. She then noted that she loved the snakes there and that “they’re my best friends” after previously being afraid of them.

When it came time for questions from the committee members, Hewett chimed right in with, “And if you’re bashful, I’ve got a snake settin’ under my desk here.” Hewett then compounded the problem by saying he wants only male interns because “that keeps me good and that keeps everybody else good.”

State Rep. Ernest Hewett

State Rep. Ernest Hewett

People were understandably upset. Democratic Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey stripped Hewett of his leadership title and Republicans jumped all over him including veteran Republican state Rep. Art O’Neill and Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola.

Conversely Bochinno’s offense was, in debating the anti-campus rape bill, remarked that in he-said, she-said situations there are no witnesses. He continued, “At least if there are, it’s a really great party…”

The state Democratic Party erupted and demanded an apology from Bochinno. The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) Thursday railed against what it said were, “Jokes and dismissive remarks about a very serious and painful subject” among other things in last week’s debate. It didn’t mention Bochinno by name but it’s clear to whom the PCSW was referring.

Even the College Democrats of Connecticut slammed Bochinno. “By attempting to make a joke about a serious issue affecting college students across the country, he marginalized the importance of this issue and those it impacts,” said the group’s vice president Jesse DeFelice. She added, “As an elected official, Rep. Bocchino should hold himself to a higher standard rather than trivializing the debate around
such an important piece of legislation.”

DeFelice is right. But the College Democrats didn’t hold Rep. Hewett to any standard at all two years ago. They were silent. We heard not a word at the time from PCSW about Hewett either. And certainly the Democratic Party didn’t condemn Hewett’s “snake” comment.

It should be noted that now-state Sen. Mae Flexer, a Democrat, had the courage to call out Hewett at the time and she is now leading the fight for the bill about which Bochinno commented. Count on Flexer to do what’s right regardless of party.

It is also true that Rep. O’Neill and Republican Party Chairman Labriola have nothing to say about Bochinno’s comments.

The moral of the story is that in most cases, most people put politics ahead of what’s right.