Just stop talking!
There comes a moment of truth for nearly every public figure where they have a choice - to keep their mouth shut or keep traipsing down the trail to verbal ruin.
Rep. Brian Greene (R-Pleasant Grove) is our latest cautionary tale.
During a Tuesday committee hearing Greene wondered aloud whether having sex with your spouse while they are unconscious constitutes rape.
He said that.
Into a microphone.
In a room full of people who could hear him.
It’s archived on the internets for anyone to listen to.
That statement is so mind-bogglingly stupid, so beyond what is acceptable in rational society, that it’s hard to believe it came out of a human being’s mouth.
But it did. And he’s been the subject of widespread (and deserved) derision.
There are a number of things he should have said immediately after uttering his stupid, stupid statement. Here are some of them:
“That’s not what I meant to say.”
“Let me try that again.”
“I didn’t put that exactly how I meant it.”
“I withdraw the question.”
“You know what? I’m gonna stop right now and you can come back to me when I’ve had a chance to think about my question.”
I came up with all of those in less than a minute.
Greene let his idiotic statement sit there for almost a day before he decided to walk it back using the hoary old claim that he was taken out of context. He said his intentions were misinterpreted. Typical move to blame the media.
I went back and listened to what he said so I could understand the context and try to understand what he meant.
In context, Greene asked whether someone could be charged with rape if they had sex with their spouse while they were unconscious. He did offer the qualifier that he “hoped that didn’t happen,” but he was specifically asking about that scenario. I’m not sure what other context there was for me (or other media members) to misinterpret.
It’s pretty clear he meant what he said and he said what he meant. If there’s another way to interpret his statement, it’s beyond my comprehension. This was not a statement taken out of context.
Right after asking if having sex with an unconscious person would be rape, Green said “I understand that this sort of thing makes sense in a first date scenario, but not when people have a history of years of sexual activity.” Adding that sentence of context makes the whole thing even more cringe-worthy!
Just stop talking!
I’ve had many incidents where things sounded much better inside my head than they did when they came out of my mouth. I’m sure it’s happened to you, as well. But there has to be a certain self-awareness about the difference between something that has been phrased inelegantly and making a statement that is brazenly stupid.
Rep. Greene has been skewered mercilessly on Twitter and Facebook. He will be the subject of jokes and one-liners. Our media has conditioned us to treat these gaffes as entertainment.
But there’s something more troubling here. Greene’s statement is a incalculably stupid thing said by someone placed in a position of authority. He is entrusted to make policy for the rest of us.
It’s sad when someone with outdated notions of what is proper and acceptable in society has those ideas laid bare for all to see. Apparently Greene spousal rape doesn’t exist.
Our frame of reference is our experience. Apparently Greene has no frame of reference for sexual violence. He’s fortunate if it’s never touched his life.
There is one good thing that will come out of all of this. HB 74 will pass with flying colors this session. Nobody will say a thing against it because of the uproar caused by Greene. It should pass. Sexual violence is abhorrent and there is no case, none at all, where having sex with someone who cannot consent is acceptable.
Remember, it’s better to remain quiet and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.