Rape is not “knuckleheaded,” rape is a felony

by Duganz

Well, it only took former congressman Pat Williams a few minutes to lose my respect. I say minutes because I re-read his quote to the New York Times roughly 30 times. And then I just felt sad.

“I’m very sorrowful one of the premier universities in the Rockies has been scandalized by a few knuckleheaded students,” said Pat Williams, a former United States congressman and a member of Montana’s Board of Regents. “The football team has been terribly hurt by this.”

That is the embodiment of all that is wrong, tragic and sad about the University of Montana rape scandal. These alleged crimes are being treated like a tragic inconvenience rather than a terrifying and awful wrong that’s left victims.

In those two sentences Williams just… Christ, what doesn’t he do?

Knuckleheads? Rape is NOT knucklehead behavior. Knuckleheads are like Larry, Moe and Curley (Shemp as well). Knuckleheads come out dancing in togas during a party and fall down comically much to everyone’s joy. Knuckleheads is also a now closed Missoula rib joint.

But knuckleheads don’t rape, sick men rape. Williams is far too smart for me to believe he confused the term “knucklehead” with “alleged rapist.”

To equate rape with knuckleheaded behavior is jaw-droppingly wrong. It’s like calling a serial killer an “overzealous playmate” or a genocidal murderer a “driven politico lacking a defined moral compass.”

And then we come to that second sentence. The poor football team.  The poor, tortured football team. Those poor players who have done no wrong but are now associated with the crime of rape… Just awful. That actually is sad. Those student athletes not implicated in any alleged rape have reason to be upset.

That reason, of course, is that UM and rape are now as closely associated as USC and recruitment violations. Personally, I’d rather the recruitment violations and I’m sure those players agree.

But the focus of Mr. Williams should be on the victims of rape and not on the fucking football team.

As a proud alum (’07) I just want to say that my pity is with those victims. I hope they find peace and can be happy, healthy people.

And, Mr. Williams, that’s what you should have said.


  1. Amen.

    I can seriously picture you just saying this and I know how you’d deliver it and I would be sitting there probably cheering you as you did it. Saying “Amen.”

    You’ve saved me from ranting on about Pat Williams, too. Good Lord, doesn’t he have any sense? Is he tone deaf? At this point he goes and says that? Really?

    The guy is on the Board of Regents for flying out freaking loud. Disturbing. Without conscience, pretty much.

    I am more glad than ever that we have the DOJ in town.

  2. Buzz Feedback

    I can’t really say I’m surprised. Mr. Williams has spent a lifetime in the system. And now’s he’s circling the Establishment’s wagons like a good little villager.

  3. greenprawn

    I agree. Rape is an act of violence and not an act of a knucklehead. What question was Pat Williams asked that prompted that unfortunate comment, I wonder?

    We have a long way to go in our society to see that all women are treated with respect and regard. It begins by recognizing that women are far more apt to be victims of rape than men. Men have to recognize this and do more to stop violence against women. In spite of this comment, as a husband, father and grandfather, I believe Pat agrees.

    • Maybe. And it’s true that we don’t know what question he was asked, but still… He shouldn’t have said it. It’s sad that he did. He could have been the voice of reason.

      • Virgil Kane

        Isnt it possible that self preservation is a powerful motivator, resulting in these types of contradictions? Why, do you wonder, is it that VP Foley hasn’t been fired yet, despite his amazingly offensive emails and omissions? Do you really wonder at all? A skilled and experienced politician and wordsmith like Regent/Congressman Williams isn’t going to get trapped by a “question”. He’s on message. It’s the fault of the press, the Missoulian and the Kaiman. Let’s assign another insider to “investigate” and soon this will all blow over.

        • Okay. It’s not fair to say anything negative about the Missoulian or the Kaimin. Both have done stellar work and without them we wouldn’t know what we do. Despite very negative feedback both papers have hammered at this issue.

          • Virgil Kane

            That’s their point, not mine, Duganz, the negativity. Please retread my comment. The next statements will be, “If the papers and blogs would just cooperate, and not sensationalize this, we could move on to “the real issues”. ” Without the Missoulian, that would have already happened, to the detriment of everyone except those trying to cover this up. There is a lot of “negativity” being expressed, particularly about the reporter, but not by me.

            • My bad. Sorry.

            • Props that you predicted maligning of the blog and a call for focus on the “real issues.” How’d you know this “coppertop” would be stopping by?

              Also, any thoughts on lottery numbers?

  4. evdebs

    Must be something in the water in Missoula.

  5. G6

    Pat Williams is knuckleheaded. Jon Tester is knuckleheaded for thinking having Pat Williams in his latest commercial will help Tester’s campaign east of the divide. It’s hard to believe P Dub could even keep a straight face when he delivers the BS about Tester standing up to lobbyists. Yeah…OK….
    http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/lobby_contribs.php

  6. mahmet7

    Robbins’ story reports “top Montana officials were taken aback by the federal attention…” Unfortunately, no top Montana officials were part of his story. Baucus, Tester, Rehberg, Schweitzer, Bullock, well, you get the idea. No comment? Did not return our call? Or, maybe Robbins did not call as requested? Maybe he just knows not to call.

    The question I’d like to ask is what are Montana’s top officials doing? Are they doing everything they can to help DOJ get to the bottom of this? Are they thwarting the investigation with calls to Jim Messina at the White House and AG Holter at DOJ? Does anyone think there is no coordinated PR plan? Silence favors cronyism, the status-quo.

  7. Swede Johansson

    Sitting in your dorm room at Rape U and blogging about the violence in oil rich eastern MT is knuckled headed.

    • Steve W

      Swede, have you been drinking again? Or is it early onset dementia?

      What are you talking about?

      Who do you imagine is still in their dorm room now that school is out, blogging about the well documented upswing in violence that’s occurring in the fossil fuel boom towns of Eastern MT?

      Calm down. Breathe deep and slow. It’s OK. Now try to get some sleep.

      • I caught a PBS special the other night that was supposed to be about the Bakken. Here I was thinking it’d be about oil and gas, but it was pretty much the born-and-raised Sydney locals complaining that the women can’t go out anymore..and kids can’t play in the streets.

        The whole show was pretty much about the criminal element that is rising like sewage in a flood.

        Swede disappoints even his own conservative side with ruminations like that. I’m all for his PR style. Keep in rolling, Swede!

        • Swede Johansson

          Gotta hand it to those Sidney women.

          Stay outta bars, stay sober and don’t date football players or foreigners.

          • That’s a rather harsh sentence. I’ve never dated a football player, but I can’t live by the other three, and I don’t think that women should have to, either.

  8. Virgil Kane

    Ochensky has a good editorial on the subject. He calls on the AG’s office to investigate. This is an interesting idea, but does it range far enough outside the clubhouse?

    The Board of Regents, who are making up cute names for two year schools, the equivalent of classifying belly bottom lint, have assigned another clubhouse member, Missoula Good Ole Boy And Regent/Commissioner Clayton Christian to “get more involved”. He has been involved, right up to his eyeballs, for years with Foley, and Dennison, and Engstrom. And that sweet deal where he moved from unpaid Regent to highly paid Commissioner, without a search, that should give all a warm feeling of confidence about his ethical compass. Any FOIA request should include the new, well-compensated Commissioner in their search. An independent Commissioner without conflicts would have been all over this months ago.

    It’s a real feather in the cap of 4&20, and a sign of their independence, that they’re commenting about this at all. This scandal reaches into the inner circle of the old line Democrats’ clubhouse. We on the outside can only wonder how many it encompasses.

  9. Virgil Kane

    PS: My friend Levon had to ramble, or he would have been celebrating his birthday today. Let’s do it for him.

  10. Bill O'Connell, aka Rimrock

    Ever since I saw your name on here this morning, Virgil, there’s been a song stuck in my head. A great one, even if it was written by a Canadian about the Civil War! Off topic, I know, except at this point I’m not going off about my experiences with the “Old Guard” in Missoula. No rapes at least, except maybe attempted financial ones (which failed). It was a time, I remember, oh so well…

    • Virgil Kane

      Bill, so many great memories come to mind with that music. Although for this thread, perhaps “Unfaithful Servant” might have been a better choice, I bow out with a drunken version of Janis, Rick and Jerry singing “No More Kane”.

  11. Sen. Tester’s letter to NDN Country:

    http://64.38.12.138/News/2012/005804.asp

  12. coppertop

    The idea promoted here, that Pat Williams doesn’t understand the seriousness of rape, is absurd. This post is exactly the type of thing which, by association, discredits all progressives. Duganz, why don’t you find something else to focus on? There happen to be very real issues that should arouse anger and action among reasonable folk. For example, conservative are actively, and quite literally, taking steps to nullify existing rights for women. Let’s address those real issues; not this imagined nonsense. This post is a disgrace and a hindrance to all progressive blogs.

    • Buzz Feedback

      Thank you. Now I know how the world looks through Left/Right glasses.

      • coppertop

        Ok then, full speed ahead! You can pretend Pat thinks rape is ok, while the rest of us will be sitting at the grown-ups table dealing with real problems.

        • lizard19

          so if your mom/sister/daughter was allegedly gang raped by football players, you wouldn’t mind if a man in a position of influence (board of regents) referred to the alleged assailants as “knuckleheaded” then proceeded to lament for how hurt the poor football team has been?

          or maybe you think we’re just suppose to give him a pass for being incredibly insulting because, you know, he’s Pat Williams, and there are big important campaigns being waged with lots of money and high stakes. you know, that important adult stuff.

          I know women getting raped and the subsequent institutional inaction and now full blown scandal is really inconvenient and potentially costly for some, but you know what? tough shit.

          no matter how tough it gets for some of the good old boys, it doesn’t compare to what 80 people have to go through as the Feds poke around.

          • coppertop

            I’m not trying to downplay any of the harm done to these women. And you’re right, in part; if it were my mom/sister/daughter, I would be highly sensitive to any such public comments. My objection, however, is to this post setting forth of a false choice between “knuckleheaded” vs “felony” and consequently pretending like that represents PW’s views, so you can valiantly intervene to chastize him as if he just doesn’t get it. It doesn’t make sense to go after him—or anyone—this way. And while this issue is much bigger than PW, and he can ably defend himself, I’d be willing to wager that he’s done more to protect and advance women’s rights than any of us here. That alone should cause a bit of reflection before you recklessly suggest that he’s downplaying the rapes. That’s the kind of chickenshit I expect from Newt Gingrich, not from a blog like this.

            • Sorry that I went against a politician you like and approve of, but I feel like you missed the point of the post, which was to admonish Williams for his misuse of language (much like my snarky response is to admonish you for your poor understanding of the post).

              By using the word “knuckleheaded” Williams downplayed the seriousness of what has happened, and what is alleged to have happened. By talking about the football team’s struggle Williams directed attention away from real victims.

              You are adding to the problem when you act as though a simple poor choice of words is acceptable and forgivable because of all other things Williams has done. For you that might be okay, but not for me. And your hyperbole that I’ve discredited progressives is just flat out ironic as all hell. Now, to be fair, you are missing this irony so let me spell it out.

              Progressives ae usually very pro-humanity, right? Well, Williams referring to rape as “knuckleheaded” was not very pro-humanity. (Again, this is my view and obviously you hold him to lower standards than I.) the argument could be made that HE was discrediting progressives.

              But I find that to be a weak argument and so I offer that mostly in jest.

              One thing you are right on is that Williams had more choices than “knuckleheaded” and “felony.” He could have said many other things. I apologize that this post wasn’t meant as a fucking thesaurus for the former congressman from Montana.

              I have one last point to make. Your use of the word “conservative” is off. Many conservatives want huge gobs of rights for all. You’re little jab about what “conservatives” are doing to nullify rights is too broad a comment. You mean “social conservatives.” Your mislabeling is a disgrace to all mankind and represents the kind of chickenshit I expect from Alan Colmes. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberry. (See? I can use hyperbole too. And Python references.)

              The fact that you believe one’s prior actions forgive them for their current failures is kindhearted, and nicer than I feel like being when a regent and leader says something so wrong about a characteristic of a rapist.

              Thanks for commenting and have a lovely day.

              • coppertop

                I’m willing to admit when I’ve made a mistake. It was my error to take this post seriously. Good luck with your powers of perception!

        • Buzz Feedback

          Hmmm. I think rape is a “real problem.” It certainly appears to be an issue at UofM. Mr. Williams is in a position to address that issue through his words and actions as a Regent. And his response, in a national publication, was to express his concern for the football team.

          If that’s what happens at the grown-ups table, I’ll stick with the kids.

          • coppertop

            Please do. That’s probably for the best if you think I’m really arguing that rape isn’t a real problem.

            • Isn’t your “argument” simply that Williams is a peach of a guy? Don’t act like you came here as some defender of all-that-is-good. You came here to defend a politician who made a blunder you think wasn’t a big deal. There is no wrong in defending that but right now you’re backtracking to give greater context.

              Also, please provide me a link to your progressive blog where you raise the level of thought and debate to such great heights—so far out of view of the kids’ table.

  1. 1 Change.No, Pat Williams | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Hmmm, it wasn’t that long ago I recall reading, in the New York Times, about the concern Pat Williams had with how the football team was being negatively impacted by the behavior of “knuckleheads”, a term former 4&20 contributor Pat Duganz tore apart in this post. […]

  2. 2 Do Pat Williams Supporters Suffer From Political Alzheimer’s? | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Pat Williams? Despite playing the same PR game last May with this remark printed in the NYT, Williams evolved his “knucklehead” depiction of UM football players […]

  3. 3 Rape Culture, Missoula Democrats, and Criminalizing Poverty | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] I strongly encourage everyone to read 4&20 contributor Patrick Duganz’s take on what Pat Williams said to the New York Times nearly 2 years ago regarding the University of Montana’s part in the rape […]

  4. 4 Addressing Malfeasance: Republican Ravalli County versus Democratic Missoula County | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] For good measure, Lizard closes out his post with reference to former US Representative Pat Williams’ ‘knucklehead” comment about rapists at the University of Montana, finely documented by the truly lustrous architect of words, Patrick Duganz. […]

  5. 5 On Jon Krakauer | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Addendum: One of my favorite posts from the University of Montana rape scandal is this from Patrick Duganz, as it epitomizes the head-in-the-sand Good-Ole-Boy’s Club and seemingly socially acceptable rape and sexual assault is (or was, depending on who you ask) here in Missoula: Rape is not “knuckleheaded,” Rape is a felony.“) […]




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