There's no question that Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is mentally challenged when it comes to basic facts about biology, reproduction, and rape. Akin, who is running for Senate against Democrat Claire McCaskill, told a Show-Me State tv station that rape victims don't get pregnant because, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." GOP standard-bearer and presidential candidate Mitt Romney dutifully condemned the comment as Democrats figured this can only help their side in every race around the country.
The upshot of Akin's stupidity? As HotAir's Jazz Shaw tweeted, "Akin manages to take this back into the Seinfeld campaign after we finally started talking entitlements."
Yet the candidate says he's not gonna drop out of the race and there's a good shot he can still win (McCaskill isn't anybody's idea of a strong incumbent). Win or lose, Akin can take some solace in the fact that you're never alone when you make really dumb comments about rape, especially in politically charged situations. Here are three montstrous examples of people saying stupid stuff involving rape.
Next: Let's Make Whoopi!
3. Whoopi Goldberg, Roman Polanski, and "rape-rape."
In 2009, Roman Polanski was back in the news due to a possible extradition from Switzerland to the United States stemming from the movie director's 1978 guilty plea to having "unlawful sex with a minor." Polanski fled the U.S. before his sentencing took place and is a fugitive who can't legally return to America. During a discussion of the case and its fallout, View co-host Whoopi Goldberg put forth a definition of sexual assault that puzzled just about everyone. "I know it wasn't rape-rape," said the Oscar-winning actress. "I think it was something else, but I don't believe it was rape-rape."
While there was a universal outpouring of condemnation for that statement, Goldberg didn't seem to suffer professionally for speaking her mind. In 2011, she garnered wide props for a public show of disgust at a Kathy Griffin joke calling the daughters of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) whores. "If somebody talked about my daughter as a joke like that," said Goldberg, "I would beat their ass."
Next: We all figured a guy named Bernard Shaw would be much wittier than this.
2. Hello Kitty Dukakis, goodbye Democratic White House.
During a 1988 presidential debate between Republican George H.W. Bush and Gov. Michael Dukakis (D-Mass.), CNN host and moderator Bernard Shaw—obviously no relation to the chronically clever playwright George Bernard Shaw—opened the contest with this query to the anti-death-penalty Dukakis: "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?"
Dukakis brushed the question aside with zero emotion, not even taking the full two minutes' alloted him to respond while drily saying, "No, I don't, Bernard…And I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life."
Shaw was roundly booed for asking such a question, but like Whoopi Goldberg, suffered no professional sanction for raising rape in such a cavalier manner (did Shaw need to suggest that the woman be brutalized before being killed? Did he mistake a presidential debate for a Brian de Palma movie?). He eventually retired from CNN in 2000. Dukakis went on to lose handily to Poppa Bush and become embittered over his treatment not at the hands of the media but of Bush's campaign team (watch the documentary Boogie Man, about GOP strategist Lee Atwater). Kitty Dukakis went on to become the punchline of at least two memorable Saturday Night Live skits, one based on the debate question and the other on her drinking problems.
Next: Is that a 10-gallon hat or do you just have water on the brain?
1. Clayton Williams makes "rape is like the weather" joke in 1990 Texas gubernatorial race.
In 1990, Republican Texas millionaire Clayton Williams looked like he was coasting to an easy win over Democratic candidate Ann Richards. Before a "working cow camp" event chock full of reporters, Williams compared the day's soggy weather to rape: "If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it." Williams half-apologized for the comment, explaining to the press, "That's not a Republican women's club that we were having this morning…It's a working cow camp, a tough world where you can get kicked in the testicles if you're not careful."
It turned out Williams did indeed end up getting kicked in the testicles—he lost a close race to Richards. At least his wife, improbably named Modesta, was there to nurse his wounds: "If the word rape was in a joke, if sex was in a joke, it was just a joke," she told The New York Times. "He's about as much of a gentleman, a caring person, as there is."