Stupid remarks cut to bone of real problem in sexist South Carolina

S.C. Sen. Katrina Shealy and Sen. Tom Corbin

Who knew state Sen. Tom Corbin was such an accomplished butcher?

It’s not so much that he is a pro at accurately judging cuts of meat — he’s just proven extremely skilled at turning an apology into a hatchet job.

Earlier this week, Corbin stood on the Senate floor and said he was sorry for his offensive, bone-headed and sexist remarks aimed at Sen. Katrina Shealy.

See, Corbin called Shealy — and women in general — a “lesser cut of meat” while dining at a Columbia restaurant last week. This was after the ribs arrived at the table, and it reminded him — biblical scholar that he is — how Eve was made from Adam’s rib.

At the same time, Corbin made a crack about how it had taken two years, but he’d finally got Shealy wearing shoes.

Classy.

So Corbin publicly apologized. But then he had to go and get defensive. He noted that he and Shealy, his deskmate, always kid each other — she teases him all the time about being fat and bald.

He left out “stupid.”

And even as Corbin conceded his joke was in “poor taste” in one breath, in the next he blamed Shealy for this story going national.

“She chose to be offended and make a big deal out of all this,” Corbin said.

Sort of like people in Travelers Rest chose to elect this Neanderthal.

It’s not exactly a news flash that the whole “blame the victim” line of thinking is alive and well in South Carolina.

That was clear when Corbin said that Shealy “stuck a knife in his back” just because he disagrees with her position that people convicted of criminal domestic violence should have their right to bear arms revoked for awhile.

Let’s get this straight: In Corbin’s mind, some guy who beats the life out of a woman needs the state to protect his right to have ready access to firearms.

Why, senator, so he can finish the job?

How about the rights of women, who in South Carolina are in more danger from men than in any other state in the nation? Do they not deserve protection?

You know, Corbin doesn’t belong in the state Senate — he needs to be on a road crew. Because when he’s in a hole, he obviously keeps digging.

One of the most depressing things here is that Corbin thought it was OK to joke around like this at all. What does he think would have happened if he’d suggested the votes of his African-American Senate colleagues should only count three-fifths as much as his?

If he’d made that joke, Corbin would be cleaning out his office in Columbia right now. And he knows it — society has finally made it perfectly clear that’s not acceptable.

So why is it acceptable to make similarly derogatory remarks about women?

Well, senator, it’s not.

Shealy says she accepted Corbin’s tepid apology because she wants to move on.

The senator says she has told Corbin in the past that she didn’t like the way he kidded around, although Corbin says he didn’t recall any such complaints.

“We cut up together,” he says.

So that makes it OK? If you were embarrassed by the national attention, and shame, this has brought upon South Carolina, Corbin says to get over it — it was just a joke.

But most people aren’t laughing.

There is one good thing about this whole unfortunate incident. It should force the Legislature to take a good look at attitudes in this state — and at the Statehouse.

Gov. Nikki Haley at times has been treated with outright disdain by lawmakers. Sure, some of that is just politics — but you can bet there’s an element of it that’s gender-related.

Luckily, Haley and Shealy have proven remarkably adept at taking care of themselves. Other women are not so fortunate. So the Legislature needs to get serious and pass more severe penalties for people convicted of criminal domestic violence.

This ridiculous incident has proven there are still a lot of backward-thinking lunkheads in this state who believe it’s acceptable to treat women as pieces of beef.

And yes, that includes you, Sen. Meathead.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.