With one offensive, four-letter word, state Rep. Larry Liston has seamlessly joined the ranks of two other fellow El Paso County Republicans, notably former Commissioner Betty Beedy, who called single mothers who date, “sluts,” and former state Sen. MaryAnne Tebedo — who outraged people of color when she went on television and claimed their “culture” encourages sexual promiscuity for girls.
Apparently trying his darndest to distance himself from his own slur, Liston, who announced last Saturday his intent to run for a third term in November, spent at least part of Thursday making sure that everyone knew that he didn’t quite mean what he said when talking about “sluts” on Wednesday.
The Colorado Springs Gazette first reported on Liston’s comment, made during a Wednesday GOP caucus lunch when a group was delivering a report that included Colorado’s high teen pregnancy rate.
“In my parents’ day and age, they were sent away, they were shunned, they were called what they are. There was at least a sense of shame,” Liston said.
“There’s no sense of shame today. Society condones it. . . . I think it’s wrong. They’re sluts. And I don’t mean just the women. I mean the men, too.”
Immediately Rep. Stella Garza Hicks, a fellow El Paso County Republican, told a reporter she was offended. And by Thursday, after Liston’s comments had been widely circulated — from a women’s room at the Capitol to the Drudge Report — the lawmaker, who graduated high school in 1970, informed reporters he was “definitely sorry” for his “derogatory term.”
“I certainly could’ve used different words,” he said.
“I had no intention of offending anybody. That was not my intent all – never was, never has been.”
But Liston’s “slut” application — and suggestion the pregnant girls should be “shamed” into hiding — conjured up, at least for some Coloradans and certainly residents of El Paso County, memories of former county Commissioner Beedy.
The outspoken Republican, in office from 1996 to 2000, first raised a stink when she declared that single mothers who date are “sluts.” She went on to stridently oppose naming a stretch of concrete highway in El Paso County after civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr., claiming he was nothing better than a philanderer.
Beedy then boycotted — on moral grounds — a statewide gathering of county commissioners, who were meeting in the mountain town of Crested Butte. The town and ski area, she claimed, informally endorses a “ski naked” day in the winter.
The commissioner’s saucy tongue generated such controversy that she eventually was invited to appear on “The View,” where she informed her slack-jawed interviewer, Starr Jones, an African-American woman, and the rest of the nationwide TV viewing audience that only white people are “normal.”
As for former state Sen. Tebedo, who left office in 2000 – well, she was also well known for her gaffes. In addition to her televised claim that minority culture “encourages sexual promiscuity for girls,” Tebedo did offer up one bit of encouraging news about teens and sex — and certainly something Rep. Liston might keep in mind:
It’s a fact, Tebedo once told her colleagues, that the incidence of teen pregnancy “drops off significantly after age 25.”
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at The Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org