Three days ago Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., made a rather -- in context at least -- innocuous remark at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing looking into sexual assault in the military. Because the political left has decided to take every possible statement from every possible Republican who might be used to perpetuate the idea the GOP is at war with women, the statement has taken on a life of its own devoid of its context and meaning.
Chambliss, who in reality attacked the military for lax standards which have led young men to think they can engage in sexual harassment and assault, is now cast as excusing young mens behavior as hormone driven boys being boys.
CNN, Politico and others have all assailed Chambliss remarks. The Politico headline read, Chambliss Blames Sexual Assault on Hormones. He did no such thing. Better Georgia, one of the most ideologically far left groups to exist in the state, tried to raise funds off Chambliss remark. It sent out an email that began, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss believes that raging hormones are an excuse for sexual assaults in the military. That is a flat out lie, but that is how Better Georgia operates.
Among the items being looked at in the Senate hearing and that formed the basis for Chambliss remarks were these:
Rugby players at West Point engaging in a lewd email exchange in which they rated female cadets and girlfriends according to sexual attractiveness and joked about rape, incest and homosexuality.
A battalion commander allegedly condoning adultery and creating an open season climate when it came to sexual activity among the troops.
Marines creating a Facebook page denigrating women, including suggesting they are sandwich makers.
There were other even more terrible acts including physical assaults and rape. Now, knowing all this, the sound bite everyone has fixated on is this:
The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22-23. Gee whiz -- the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.
Yes, Chambliss said that during a six minute or so lecture to the military brass about the permissive sexualized culture they have created. More bluntly, his point was that horny 17 year old boys, when told or taught explicitly or implicitly by their commanders that it is OK to engage in harassment and assault just might do that.
Again, one case involved a base commander encouraging soldiers to hook up on base as much as possible. Another case saw the military presume pregnancies were from consensual sex, not assault and therefore never investigated.
Prior to Chambliss making his controversial statement, he said the military needed to do a better job of putting fear into these young people from day one in the military instead of allowing these young people to presume it is OK to harass or assault women.
He focused on an aircraft carrier that, upon return to the United States, it turned out that many of the females on the ship were pregnant. He beat up the military chiefs for going with the presumption that the pregnancies occurred through relationships on the ship and not sexual assaults, which he implied should be the working presumption in these cases.
As Chambliss was noting, but not excusing, at that age, with their hormones, in an environment where often their superiors were encouraging or turning a blind eye to bad behavior, some young men will behave in awful ways. He should be applauded for his bluntness, not attacked.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.