Missouri Senatorial candidate Todd Akin has been thrown under the bus by presidential candidate, Mitt Romney and run over by his own bus driver, GOP Party Chairman, Reince Priebus. The list of passengers wanting seats on that bus while it tries to back over Akin again is getting longer by the day (Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin, John Ashcroft, Rush Limbaugh and Jim Talent, to name a few) That he has gotten up again is stubborn courage.
The reason for the crowd at the bus station, we are told, is illustrated by this uninformed comment from chairman Priebus:
PRIEBUS What he said is ridiculous and bizarre, but we have a chance to not continue down this pathway of having this major distraction in that Senate seat.
BLITZER: What specifically are you referring to when you say it was biologically ridiculous or stupid? What part of his comment is ridiculous?
PRIEBUS: Well, you know what I meant. Everything, I mean, come on. I mean, the idea that legitimate and rape could be together in the same sentence is a problem. And so there’s no part of it that makes any sense.
Sounds to me like Priebus hadn’t even seen the clip or read the transcript of Akin’s remarks. The question to Akin was
“What about in the case of rape? Should it [abortion] be legal or not?”
““Well, you know, uh, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, ‘Well, how do you – how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.’
“It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some
punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
In this post, I will only deal with the claim by Priebus that the words “legitimate” and “rape” shouldn’t be used together. The problem for Priebus is English. The word legitimate is a legitimate adjective used to describe a real or actual or legal category of the noun that follows it. In the case of its use before the word “rape” (or assault or theft) it simply means the speaker is referring to an actual rape, not one that has been falsely reported. It is used that way frequently by the public, the press, lawyers and judges. Here is a small sampling:
Reporters in Columbus, Ohio had this headline earlier this year: False Rape Claim Leads Police To 2 Legitimate Rape Cases
In one story about a man falsely accused of rape, the mother of a rape victim uses the phrase:
“Laurie Wallace, a Canmore mother of one who was raped in 1985, thinks Beaulieu’s accuser and others like her should be tried for perjury for giving legitimate rape complainants a bad name.” (from Sheremata D. The rape that wasn’t. Alberta Report/Newsmagazine).
Do a Google search of a full phrase like “legitimate rape victims from coming forward” “legitimate rape charges” and you will find that the phrase is often used by people who are fighting for better prosecution of rapists:
“On the one hand, they will want to discourage people from lying to law enforcement, and show that there will be consequences for doing so, experts said. On the other, they don’t want to discourage legitimate rape victims from coming forward” ( Givens A. Investigators cautious about precedent they’ll set in false rape report. Newsday)
Two false rape complaints will make it harder for legitimate rape victims to come forward in the future said a rape victim counsellor. (New Zealand Herald, The, 11/23/2007)“Judge Oke Blaikie said wasting police time and undermining legitimate rape prosecutions was a serious offence.” (Teen in court for false rape story, DUFF, Michelle, Manawatu Standard, 2008)
What kind of damage does this do to the efforts of legitimate rape victims to have the truth be told? (New York Times, 12/27/1991, p32)
Liberal commentator Alan Colmes even gets in on the act:
“Doesn’t this do damage to legitimate rape cases?” (Rape Charges Against Duke Lacrosse Players Dropped, Fox News, Hannity and Colmes, 2006).
Any fair reading of Akin’s remarks will show that he had no intention of suggesting that any rape is legitimate. In another interview with Wolf Blitzer, Priebus makes this arrogant statement:
Well, certainly, you know first of all, if it was me and — I wouldn’t say anything that dumb, as he (Akin) has.
Let’s hope not. We can’t have bus drivers thrown under their own buses, can we.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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