Thursday, May 25, 2017

Boys Will Be Boys

The NH legislature was in session on May 4. State Representative Debra Altschiller from Stratham was one of many women in the House who were deeply disturbed to learn that a colleague had started the misogynistic Red Pill forum. Rep. Altschiller asked to read a short statement during the session. Before she did, a number of the Republican men walked out of the room. They weren’t willing to listen to what she had to say about decency, respect, and honorable behavior.

When they left, some of them went to a bar with Robert “Red Pill” Fisher. One of them, Rep. James Spillane of Northwood posted photos of himself cavorting with Fisher on his Instagram page and tweeted some of them out. All the while, he was wearing a giant House name badge, and a bunch of other trinkets on his lapels. Later, when he was arrested for DWI, the oversized name badge and the other pins were right there in his mug shot. Spillane had been arrested once before in an event that included drinking, driving, and spousal abuse. The original arrest took place before he was in the legislature. Given that he’s a Republican in NH, those charges were not an impediment – heck, charges like that help build name recognition.

Two weeks ago, in my last column, Rep. Robert “RedPill” Fisher was about to testify at a hearing of the House Legislative Committee. Well – he did. In fact, he added a little theater to the proceedings by swearing he was about to tell the whole truth and nothing but the. It was a nice little pageant that allowed the Republican members some cover. After all – he took an oath! We have to believe him!

Not one of Robert’s friends or colleagues spoke on his behalf. Some of them submitted written testimony, which only the committee would see – and meant they didn’t have to openly support ole Radioactive Robert. His alleged girlfriend didn’t testify. His MOM didn’t testify. The committee responded by asking him softball questions and accepting his answers without question. If the Oathtaker said he stopped participating in his misogynistic forum before he became a legislator, that was good enough for them.

Once again, the Republicans were perfectly willing to keep this utter creep, because of the R next to his name. That he refused a committee assignment, showed up less than half the time for votes, and was a fan of rape – well…. nobody’s perfect, boys will be boys, and even presidents engage in locker room sexual assault talk.

A week later the committee met again to determine whether to censure, expel, or do nothing about Robert Fisher. On the committee is Representative Tim Smith, who works in IT. He spent many hours going through the site and discovered that Robert Fisher did a poor job of covering his tracks, and that it was a safe bet that Fisher was still moderating the forum. He sent the committee all of this information. Chair Dick Hinch admitted he didn’t look at it because he was “afraid of viruses.” If one considers unwanted information a virus, one can see how he might reach that conclusion.

Faced with this evidence, the majority party members of the committee still voted to do nothing about Fisher. Women in the hearing room stood and loudly chanted, “Shame, Shame, Shame” at the members of the committee. The Democratic Minority Leader brought up the possibility of referring the matter to the AG for a perjury investigation. Fisher resigned 30 minutes later.

The House voted on May 19 to keep Rep. Debra Altschiller’s remarks (delivered May 4) out of the permanent journal. The vote was 165-143, and came down along party lines. In Carroll County, Representatives Avellani, Chandler, Cordelli, Comeau, McCarthy, Nelson, Schmidt, and Umberger all voted to keep Altschiller’s remarks out of the journal. In the GOP, the lads all band together to defend rape culture, and the women enable them.

Just this week, at a Belknap County budget meeting, mention was made of a deputy sheriff who had been charged with raping a prisoner he was transporting. GOP State Rep. Michael Sylvia commented, “"You know what that tells me, that tells me he had time on his hands."  Apparently he thinks guys get all rapey when they don’t have enough to do. Rep. Sylvia serves on the House Judiciary Committee. In 2014, Rep. Sylvia was one of three votes against the bill making domestic violence a stand-alone crime in NH. The other two were JR Hoell and Frank Sapareto.

The boys have brought their talk out of the locker room and into our state and local government. 

Representative Altschiller’s short speech can be read here.

 This was published as an op-ed in the May 26 edition of the Conway Daily Sun


Sherry Frost said...

For the record, Representatives Beaudoin, Graham, Harrington, Kaczynski, Keans, Mullen, Pitre, Scruton, Spencer, Turcotte, and Weulper from Strafford county all voted "nay." Keans is the only democrat on that list.

Tom St.Martin said...

One very minor point - Spillane is from Deerfield and holds one of the three seats of Rockingham 2 ( Candia/Deerfield/Nottingham).

Not that we're proud to claim him, but Northwood has troubles of its own and shouldn't have to shoulder ours too ...