McKean Tries (and Fails) to Explain Away Rape Remarks

House Minority Leader Hugh McKean

As we noted in this space earlier in the week, House Minority Leader Hugh McKean (R-Loveland) used some rather disgusting language in trashing Democratic legislative priorities in a pre-session right wing radio interview. In discussing his opposition to Democratic support for increasing fees to fund transportation projects, McKean said that Democrats “have been just raping the people of Colorado.”

McKean’s comments rightfully angered many Democrats, including State Sen. Faith Winter and State Rep. Matt Gray, the latter of whom pointedly walked out of the House chambers on Wednesday during McKean’s opening day speech.

As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, McKean is now trying to explain why it’s no big deal that he used rape language in off-the-cuff remarks:

“I meant that the people of Colorado feel like money is being taken out of their pockets,” said McKean, calling his usage of rape language merely a “misunderstanding.” McKean then pivoted to one of the weakest arguments you can use in any framework — from lazy term papers to shoddy opinion pieces: Quoting from a dictionary.

“There are three definitions,” McKean said of the word “raping.” “The last definition means to be robbed. That is literally Webster’s definition for that word. [Pols emphasis] I wish that things didn’t get political quickly.”

When asked if he may use different language in the future given the other definitions of “raping,” McKean said “yeah, I might use better words.”

“When we’re in the middle of these interviews, there are times when I would much rather use better words that don’t lead to that kind of misunderstanding,” he said.

First of all, there was no “misunderstanding” from McKean’s words. It was because McKean’s comments were perfectly understood that there was such a pushback to his rhetoric.

As to the other part of his excuse…yes, friends, many words do in fact have multiple meanings. “Bananas” could be a euphemism for someone (or thing) that appears to be crazy; it could also refer to a collection of yellow fruits that grow on trees.


There are some words that also are only ever used in one particular frame, and “rape” is absolutely on that list. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who used the word “rape” to discuss a robbery? We’d guess the answer would be, “Never.”

To use another example, via Merriam-Webster, the word “pig” could refer to a tasty domestic animal; a dirty, gluttonous, or repulsive person; an immoral woman; a police officer; or “a crude casting of metal (such as iron).” If you called someone a “pig,” you could technically say that you were calling them a “crude casting of metal” rather than a “repulsive person,” but no functional human being would accept that excuse instead of an apology.

McKean notably didn’t apologize for saying that Democrats were “raping” Coloradans, in part because the right-wing base loves this kind of incendiary rhetoric and McKean is desperate to firm up his bonafides with extremists. In fact, McKean isn’t responding to this because he thinks he made a mistake — it’s because he keeps getting pestered about it by colleagues and reporters.

Unfortunately, McKean’s response is an insult to the intelligence of everyone who hears it.

62 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    The world will be a slightly better place when this weeping pustule on the left buttock of humanity drops dead.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Hold on, there. Lemme’ just double-check that . . .

      Definition of pustule

      1a small circumscribed elevation of the skin containing pus and having an inflamed base

      2a small often distinctively colored elevation or spot resembling a blister or pimple

      I guess McKean is clearly small (petty) enough, has a distinctive coloration (splotchy-white), and bears close-enough resemblance to a blister or pimple . . .

      . . . And, he is definitely kinda’ whiny (weepy) . . .

      I’m good with “weeping pustule” — seems accurate enough to pass the Webster’s test . . . 

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Perhaps it would have been better to say "right buttock of humanity" to reflect those political leanings.

  2. Genghis says:

    I’m good with “weeping pustule” — seems accurate enough to pass the Webster’s test . . . 


    Thank you, Diogenesdemar! Had you said otherwise, you would've been guilty of "misunderstanding" me.

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    That same explanation seemed so much more believable back a few days ago when Elliot suggested it . . .

    . . . I guess that’s why there are lawyers?

    . . . to find or give manufacture to a suggestion for plausibility to the preposterous.


    • Genghis says:

      Exactly. Defending the indefensible is a BIG part of the jerb.

    • ElliotFladen says:

      You realize that some words have multiple definitions, right?

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        But, of course; — like someone calling someone else “mother fucker” — that doesn’t necessarily have to be taken as an insult; it could be merely a speaker’s more colorful word choice alternative acknowledging an understanding of the parental status of the spoken-to as a “father.” (I’m pretty sure that’s the way my kids meant it.) . . .

        And, as ruled in: Humpty, Dumpty, et al v. Alice –

        When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

        ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

        ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.

        Anyway, I’m not arguing that some words don’t have multiple meanings. I’m looking at the likelihood of what McKean actually intended to convey as meaning when he said it, versus the what he said he intended his meaning to be three days later when he was confronted — (commonly known as, the post hoc preponderantly sniveling, coward’s I-got-caught-so-I-just-checked-with-my-dictionary-and/or-attorneys-about-what-they-think-I-could-now-claim-to-say-I-meant-to-convey defense).

        But, I guess this is preferable to, and all so much easier than, expecting or calling for some circumspection from politicians, or for their ever just simply acknowledging and taking responsibility for their words and actions; and then apologizing — immediately — when they get those wrong?

  4. ElliotFladen says:

    It’s literally the third definition. Some gotchas are just petty. This one though is simply wrong.


    • The realist says:

      Eliot, do you disagree with this statement?

      There are some words that also are only ever used in one particular frame, and “rape” is absolutely on that list. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who used the word “rape” to discuss a robbery? We’d guess the answer would be, “Never.”

      This really is the point, in my opinion. We just don't use the word for anything but its primary meaning. And clearly McKean used it for effect, to be offensive, and then tries to hide behind . . . a dictionary?!



      • ElliotFladen says:

        I don’t agree with that statement.  I knew about the third definition before looking it up to confirm.

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          Might you also have known of, — oh — I don’t know — how about one, or maybe two, other definitions of the word? — that you wouldn’t have had to look at the dictionary to confirm?

          • ElliotFladen says:

            I knew of all three.  But I used to read a lot of history and rape gets used now and then to describe wanton destruction.  Now that you mention it, I wonder which definition came first….

            EDIT: as I suspected, the third definition predates the first


            • Diogenesdemar says:

              All that, just to avoid saying, “yes”? . . .

              . . . impressive.  (– not in outcome, in the lengths of denial-of-the-obvious/avoidance effort undertaken.)

              “Now and then,” as in, ≠ commonly?

              Clearly, Hugh McKean — misunderstood post-hoc historian . . . Got it.

              Like the giant wall-sitting egg said . . . for now, until the next time you have to put one back together again.

              • Pikes Piqued says:

                The contortions required to claim McKean didn't really mean what he so obviously meant would be incredibly painful, provided the claimant had a spine. 

                • ElliotFladen says:

                  It is literally the third definition of the term.  A definition that predated the first definition. And the first definition makes zero sense in the manner he used the term which is strong evidence that he intended the third definition.

                  While there are contortions here, they are contortions you all are using to try get a silly gotcha moment that simply does not fit the facts.  Move on.

                  • Pikes Piqued says:

                    The first definition makes perfect sense, considering the GOP's penchant for lurid imagery when claiming their own faux victim status, and their proven track record of minimizing actual rape.  Your defense is lame and completely unsurprising. 

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      When you have multiple definitions of a word, you have to look at the context of the sentence.  Here it was used in the context of increasing fees on Coloradans.  Those fees are clearly akin to a robbery if you take the low tax point of view.  How do you claim they would be akin to a sexual violation?  That just does not make any sense.

                    • Diogenesdemar says:

                      “When you have multiple definitions of a word,” . . .

                      . . . it would behoove a speaker to just avoid using that word, in preference to a more suitable and less ambiguous word, particularly if your intended use of that word is uncommon, and one of those more-common definitions involves a vile repugnancy or a slur — so as to not be misunderstood or unduly give offense.

                      (Unless, of course, that’s what you’re actually wanting to do — give offense, describing your opponents as beings in the worst possible imaginable light.)

                      (Once upon a time, and in it’s earliest recorded usage, faggot was a bundle of sticks, . . .) “So, what I clearly meant to say was that particular group of Democratic legislators was behaving without thinking, just like a dumb bunch of sticks . . . It’s literally the first definition of the word, and it’s oldest usage.”

                • Diogenesdemar says:

                  Nah, Elliot’s a good guy, and has plenty of spine, . . .

                  . . . he just sometimes suffers the lingering debilitations from a self-inflicted malady of youthful indiscretion — having gone to law school.

  5. JohnNorthofDenver says:

    Seems pretty clear you fit the definition of slave. 

  6. DavidThi808 says:

    The article is wrong – McKean represents Loveland, not Louisville.

  7. Negev says:

    Meanwhile another Hitler reference from the left that is totally acceptable…

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Nope, not acceptable.

      . . . but, it is a good thing you only had to go 1,600 miles for that bit of today’s unrelated-to-anyone-in-Colorado whataboutism.

    • kwtree says:

      Let me count the ways:

      Tried to establish private militia: check

      Wants to make civil protest illegal: check

      Blames disease on immigrants of one ethnic group: check

      Encourages misinformation and propaganda: check

      Promotes death sentences as punishment: check

      Wants to jail election officials who don't promote his Big Lie: check

      Hangs out with racists , is celebrated by racists, makes racist remarks: check x3

      Suppresses the votes of the opposition: check

      Intimidate schools and teachers , inhibit academic freedom: check

      So yeah, Nikki Fried was quite correct in comparing DeSantis to an authoritarian dictator, similar to Hitler in "a lot of ways".

      Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried compared Gov. Ron DeSantis to Adolf Hitler during a recent interview.

       –Friday's edition of The Florida Roundup podcast.

      Co-host Melissa Ross, a reporter for Jacksonville public radio station WJCT, asked Fried about her past references comparing DeSantis to an "authoritarian dictator."

      "He is doing everything possible to take power away from local governments, taking away people's abilities to protest, making it harder to vote, talking about, you know, banning books," Fried said. "That's what dictators do. Instead of listening and trying to govern with the people, he is trying to govern over the people, and, you know, that, I'm sorry, I'm a student of history, too. I saw the rise of Hitler."

      "Are you comparing DeSantis to Hitler?" Ross interrupted.

      "In a lot of ways, yes," Fried continued. "I have studied Hitler and how he got to power, you know, wanting his own militia."




  8. Duke Cox says:

    I wonder…did Hitlers' apologists take exception to people comparing him to Franco?

    Asking for a friend. 

    • kwtree says:

      My mother lived through the Anschluss in Austria. They were secular Jews, many converted to Christianity.  . She saw Hitler rouse a crowd. Later, she saw and lived through much worse. They eventually had to flee Austria with what they could liquidate or carry.  Those family members that didn't flee ended up in the camps;even if they had converted, Jewish ancestry was considered to be "a taint in the blood".

      What the Austrian press, the elites,  and the government did was minimize Hitler, call him a madman,  ridicule him, or in some cases say that he had a point in blaming the Jews for Germany's decline.  Yes, he did have his apologists. And still does.  They did not see the Third Reich coming until it was too late.  When Austrians voted for the Anschluss in 1938, Jews and Romas (Gypsies) were not allowed to vote.

      Hitler, by the way, claimed to have copied many of his tactics from the Southern states model of slavery of African-Americans, and genocide of Native Americans. From the Atlantic's review of Whitman's "Hitler's American Model":

      Whitman’s “smoking gun” is the transcript of a June 5, 1934, conference of leading German lawyers gathered to exchange ideas about how best to operationalize a racist regime. The record reflects how the most extreme among them, who relied on Krieger’s synoptic scholarship, were especially drawn to American legal codes based on white supremacy. The main conceptual idea was Freisler’s. Race, he argued, is a political construction. In both America and Germany, the importance and meaning of race for the most part had been determined less by scientific realities or social conventions than by political decisions enshrined in law.

      Responding to CHB's and Negev's critique of Fried's Hitler / DeSantis comparison, I will say that probably Fried shouldn't have let herself be baited by the NPR reporter into breaking Godwin's law and using Hitler's name. It will probably doom her candidacy. However, she was not wrong in calling DeSantis an "autocratic dictator". She was not wrong in pointing out DeSantis' specific policies and speeches that further autocracy. See list I enumerated – and there are more.

      • 2Jung2Die says:

        Collins dictionary entry #2 for "Hitler":

        2. a person who displays dictatorial characteristics

        Sure, definition #1 was a bit worse and more specific…

      • Negev says:

        Politically I think hyperbolic comparisons are fair game, aways has been. However, taking offense to the hyperbolic use of rape while endorsing the hyperbolic use of genocidal mass murder is asinine. You wanna make DeSantis out to be Hitler, have at it, just quit crying over silly rape comments while you do it…

        • Pikes Piqued says:

          So, that's the trade-off? We get to make fun of Hitler, you get to make fun of rape? 

          • Negev says:

            Let me help you out….

            • Duke Cox says:

              Cool…"Adventures in Questionable Equivalency".

              Sorry, Negev, that's how I read it, too. I am not piling on about the rape definition thing…but it seemed what you were saying.

              • kwtree says:

                Negev is only skillfully diverting from the question at hand- McKean’s “taxation= rape” remarks- by bringing in Fried, Hitler and whatever else in an orgy of what-about-ism. As usual. 
                Since he is actually in a position to influence GOP thought and policy in Colorado, I expect he does this same exercise when he excuses whatever his party does, saying that Democrats are much worse.

              • Negev says:

                Ok perhaps a quote would help:

                "Goddammit you little motherfucker if you ain't got nuthin nice to say then don't say nuthin" -Eminem

                Note the speakers vulgar violation of the requested demand.

                 Hope that clears it up. Mama might be able to help you with the Iambic Pentameter…

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          As McKean has just so skillfully demonstrated . . .

          . . . that hyperbole can be useful to inject sheer raw emotion into a debate when you know your position is otherwise weak or lacking (e.g., factually, logically, practically, etc., etc.).

        • kwtree says:

          I didn’t make out DeSantis is to be Hitler. ( and Fried only said she was comparing DeSantis to Hitler “in a lot of ways”, specifically those of DeSantis’ actions that were like an autocratic dictator. ) 

          So since you claim to be an expert in reading comprehension, perhaps you can explain DeSantis’’ actions in outlawing dissent and peaceful protest, suppressing voters, spreading misinformation and the Big Lie, building his own private militia, punishing and intimidating nonpartisan election officials, limiting academic free speech, scapegoating immigrants, showing extreme indifference to human life by refusing to implement public health measures,  leading to Florida having 63,000 Covid deaths and 5 million cases. 

          Is this not what autocrats and dictators do? What is the difference? What does Churchill’s statement

          “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” 

          mean to you?

  9. Genghis says:

    Dudley Dumbshit and his idiot tu quoque aside, let us not lose sight of the high probability that slimebucket Hugh McKean had no idea of any "dictionary defense" to his appalling comment at the time he made it. He came up with the defense (or more likely someone else came up with it for him, considering how laughably stupid he is) on a post hoc basis in an attempt to defend the indefensible. When Fat Boy says he had "robbing" in mind when he said "raping," he's lying. Cuz that, of course, is what liars do.

    • ElliotFladen says:

      No.  I have zero to do with the GOP or Dudley (besides rooting for my old friend Eli Bremer on the former in his senate race which is irrelevant to this).  I simply double checked that my understanding of the word’s secondary/tertiary definitions were in line with a dictionary. Which is what I assume everybody else who isn’t playing gotcha did too. This wasn’t something anybody “came up” with.  It is a literal meaning of the word “rape” (see third definition in the dictionary).

      What really happened is that the people playing gotcha here assumed there was only one meaning and now look like idiots who didn’t do basic due diligence before writing their hatchet pieces 

      • Pikes Piqued says:

        The Fladen doth protest too much, methinks.

      • Genghis says:

        I apologize for being unclear, Elliot. "Dudley Dumbshit" with the tu quoque fallacy is the idiot Negev, not you.

        I also don't doubt that you had a preexisting understanding of the Merriam Webster definition before the current kerfuffle happened. It's abundantly clear to me, though, that Hugh McKean is a dumbfuck who had to have the "dictionary defense" fed to him by someone who isn't a dumbfuck. I'm not suggesting that you did the feeding.

        But the notion that "rape" means "rob" according to "the dictionary" is incorrect as a simple matter of fact. First, there is no such thing as "the" dictionary. Merriam Webster is one of many, and the only one, per my admittedly quick and cursory perusal, that includes "rob" in a definition. The others use terms like "despoil" and "plunder" in their down-the-line definitions, terms that encompass misconduct far more extensive that "robbing."

        Of course, the dumbfuck Hugh McKean had no prior knowledge of those definitions either.

      • The realist says:

        What Genghis said. Eliot, really the point is NOT how you determined what the third definition of raped is, but how and why did McKean decide to use that word. Most anyone with any knowledge of how McKean and many other Republicans operate, understands the word was purposefully used for its most objectionable reason. Eliot, you're doing an excellent job of demonstrating that we humans are very good at rationalizing, and will rationalize anything if we have a good reason to do so. 

        • Duke Cox says:

          …or even a lousy reason, for that matter. 

          Eliot is suffering from apologist fever. The GOP, bastion of their revered ” conservatism” is writhing on the operating table like an alien is about to explode from its chest

          What are relatively intelligent people, like Eliot, to do? Their tribe has been transformed. It is not the people of William F. Buckley and William Safire. It is the party of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller.

          The Orange Horde runs the village which people like Eliot and CHB want desperately to save. The crazies are in charge and the neocons have no leader. They have no path

          ..and no hope. Their party is on a road to madness. It must be stopped.

  10. ElliotFladen says:

    Look, I’m not “affiliated” with the GOP and will happily rake it over the coals when warranted (see January 6th stuff as quick example).  Nor does my friendship with Eli change that; after all we are also friends with Jared.  Basically we are a family in the middle.

    I just think you all are letting your strong anti-GOP bias color your analysis.  I don’t think this is a close call. 

  11. Old Time Dem says:

    One of the definitions of "raped" is, in fact, "robbed or despoiled," as in the Rape of Nanking or the Rape of the Sabine Woman; one might also speak of a timberland being raped. However, those are historical usages. Dictionaries may or may not be usage guides, and even prescriptive dictionaries are not updated frequently enough to capture the evolving usage of words.

    In the case of "rape," its usage as meaning anything other than "unconsented to penetration of the vagina, mouth, or anus" has become strongly disfavored, particularly in public speech, because it is offensive–particularly to women.

    The contention that McKean intended "rape" to mean "robbed" is simply ludicrous. He meant "fucking over" or "screwed," but he's both a prissy little twit and a nasty provocateur, so he used "raped."

  12. NotHopeful says:

    I'm no Republican, nor a fan of Mr. McKean's politics, but I have to say this whole thing is overblown.

    I think most people knew that Mr. McKean was not referring to a sexual assault when he used the word on the floor last week. It was a metaphor for "taking advantage." I disagree with McKean that the policy about which he complained is "taking advantage," but I don't think everyone should get all up in arms because he used the word "rape" in that context.

    Democrats have lately gotten into the habit of policing people's words somewhat excessively. It's not helpful, politically, and it makes it harder to work with people when you play the grammarian.

    • Duke Cox says:

      I honestly don't think grammar is the issue, until his defenders start trying to explain it away.

      And I have some sympathy for your feeling the discussion is much ado about naught. There is, however, a long history between the participants of the debate. There's that.

      Democrats have no monopoly on obsessing over certain words.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Thank you, Not Hopeful for calling out this absurd fixation for what it is- an absurd fixation.

      All it accomplishes is to make the left look like idiots and slaves to the PC language police.

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