Rachel Maddow on “legitimate rape”—What Todd Akin’s statement says about GOP orthodoxy

This is The Rachel Maddow Show at its best.

Look beyond the fact that MSNBC is a one-eyed giant that finds only Republican fault. There is Republican fault to find, and Maddow has found a doozy. The analysis below is brilliant.

Consider the seed. The ostensible seed is Missouri [corrected] GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin’s remarkable statement (my emphasis):

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 this is not about that statement; it’s about what that statement means. This segment has a different seed and a different bottom line.

Her bottom line determines her structure. She therefore starts in 1980 with the Leon Holmes’ own remarkable statement, then steps to Stephen Freind in 1988, to Henry Aldridge (what a name) in 1995, and then to Fay (“God’s Little Shield”) Boozman in 1998.

The seed isn’t the offense to women in Todd Akin’s statement, it’s modern right-wing orthodoxy. You can’t understand “legitimate rape” and its implications without that backward look.

Watch; and as you do, try to anticipate her bottom line. (Click here to open large in a new tab.)

Do you see it now? A nice catch by Maddow and an unexpected, brilliant bottom line for the Todd Akin news event. It’s not about that comment; it’s about what that comment means.

Akin’s comment means that modern right-wing voters and the low-end politicians (like Akin) who carry water for the smarter, more powerful Bigs (do you really think Rove believes this crap?) — those people think exactly like the witch-hunters of the 17th century.

In the 1600s, judges determined if a witch was guilty by subjecting her to “trial by drowning” (my phrase; actually “ordeal by cold water“). Basically, you tie the “witch” up and throw her in the river.

If she floats, she isn’t a witch. If she drowns, she is a witch and needed drowning anyway. The proof is also the punishment. How convenient. [See also Update below.]

In this century, they’re testing for modern witches who engage in “illegitimate” rape — witches who secretly wanted it.

Call it “trial by baby” — if the “witch” wasn’t asking for it, she can’t have gotten pregnant. As Maddow says, “by definition” if she got pregnant, she “cooperated” and lost the protection of “God’s Little Shield”.

And just like in 1600s (where these people apparently still live), the “proof” is also the punishment. If you didn’t have “God’s Little Shield” you got what you deserved — “God’s Little Lemonade.”

How convenient.

Right-wing orthodoxy: These people, enablers of the right-wing Bigs, are truly crazy. And non-crazy Bigs like Rove are using them to the hilt. Like with the climate, folks, this trajectory too has an end-point.

Update: I’m reminded that some versions of “ordeal by cold water” reversed the guilty indicator (see here and also here). True enough; still, I like my metaphor and they did often test-drown the “guilty.” (Thanks always to commenters for corrections and factual adjustments.)

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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