16 Jun Testimony Regarding Misogynistic Activity of Rep. Robert Fisher
Testimony Regarding Misogynistic Activity of Rep. Robert Fisher,
To the Honorable Members of the NH House Legislative Administration Committee
Delivered by Representative Ellen Read, Rockingham 17. May 12, 2017.
Introduction: Why Does This Testimony Still Matter a Month Later?
This testimony regarding the misogyny of a NH State Representative is still relevant for two big reasons. First, Fisher got off the hook by quitting, which he did only because he realized he was going to face a perjury charge. The House should have made it abundantly clear his worldview was not acceptable. And yes, he should still face that perjury charge, and the citizens of NH need to pressure the Attorney General to pursue it, as the AG has given us the run-around about it. We need your help.
Second, we in the House are still being told there is not culture of misogyny or sexism, even though it is in front of us every day. Women are constantly silenced. And outspoken women like Rep. Sherry Frost are crucified for speaking truth, while men can say and do unthinkable things with impunity. False equivalencies and double standards abound. And it is in the NH House because it is in our society. We MUST call it out. Speaking up doesn’t make us victims; it makes us trailblazers, like those who came before us.
Testimony Regarding Misogynistic Activity of Rep. Robert Fisher
Delivered by Representative Ellen Read, Rockingham 17. May 12, 2017.
First I want to talk about misogyny, because I think it is a word used often but not well understood by many. Misogyny is the broad discrimination, active hatred, and belief in the inherent inferiority of women.
With that in mind, I’d like to start out by having you participate in a rather abstract a thought experiment…
What is the difference between the discrimination, hatred, and denial of human rights of a select group of people based on their body parts, and the discrimination, hatred, and denial of human rights of a select group of people based on the COLOR of their body parts? In other words, what is the difference between racism and misogyny?
I submit that there is no difference, logically or ethically. It is a sad tendency of human nature and human history to try to pick out a group of people, often that are physically identifiable, and dominate them in order to feel superior and powerful.
So, I have another question for you to ask yourselves, what would we do, as the NH House of Representatives, if a fellow member said something like: “to give blacks autonomy is to take away the very thing that made race relations realistic—what I dislike is the general attitude that somehow we owe blacks something for work….”
Or how about: “Before emancipation, there was less freedom, and therefore it was not necessary to teach blacks consequence. Consequence was strictly a white’s game…Blacks enjoy the autonomy that civil rights has afforded them, but don’t expect the relics from back in the day to continue to benefit you without the sacrifices you were making… Civil Rights took the lid off Pandora’s Box, but blacks never internalized, learned, or passed down the concept of responsibility for their freedoms.”
Or what would we do if a member said, “Slavery isn’t an absolute bad, because the slaver I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really,” or, “blacks just wish they were good enough to be enslaved by whites?”
What would this body do?
What if we found out that this member was responsible for founding a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, with 200,000 members?
I ask you, what would be our ethical responsibility in that circumstance, to maintain the integrity of this body?
How are the actual comments of Robert Fisher any different, really? Other than the fact that he discriminates, hates, and believes to be inferior a group of people based on their body parts, rather than the color of those parts, he is the same as any Klan member.
So, here is the thing… I absolutely believe in this individual’s first amendment rights to say all this filth. I am of the Larry Flynt school of thinking about the first amendment. He said, “If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.”
But this is not about what was SAID. This is about who this individual IS; what he BELIEVES.
If he had never said these things, but it came to light he merely silently believed them, our problem would be the same.
There are plenty of jobs that this individual would not only be woefully unequipped to hold, but would be dangerous in. For example, he could never be a rape counselor, or any kind of therapist. He also could not work in any school setting based on his beliefs about adult relationships with children. In fact, we all know that he would be immediately fired from almost any corporate job, and probably most jobs, if it came to light that this is what he believes.
And WHY is that? Because as a society, as a nation, we have come to agree on a few core principles. We have decided that as a society, we are NO LONGER a people who hate other races, or believe in having sexual relationships with children. And likewise, we no longer believe that women are inherently inferior, are not due their equal human rights, or must be dominated. We have agreed as a country that those things are all part of a shameful past, but this is not who we are NOW.
It is so understood and accepted that we do not believe these things, that unless you explicitly state that you are FOR them, there is the societal presumption that OF COURSE you are against them. OF COURSE you are not racist. OF COURSE you are not sexist. OF COURSE you know rape is horrible. This is our societal presumption and norm.
So, if this individual could not hold almost any job in our country because of his beliefs about women, then what bar is there to be an “Honorable” member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives?
I put to you that unless this individual explicitly RAN HIS CAMPAIGN on a women-hating and pro-rape platform, that he essentially LIED BY OMMISSION to the voters of his district, and so violated their sacred trust. After all, can you imagine him getting elected if he revealed his true position on women?
How can he faithfully represent a district when he does not even believe that over half of his constituents are entitled to basic freedoms or deserve not to be physically violated? There is no district in the country that he could represent when he so fundamentally disagrees with an inherent part of our culture.
Therefore, he is in blatant violation of his sworn oath of duty. It is now the ETHICAL MANDATE of this committee to maintain the integrity of this body and recommend that he be essentially fired, like he would anywhere else in the state or country… and it is up to the full body of the House or Representatives to do the actual firing.