While debating a land-use bill at a committee meeting on Tuesday night, Pennsylvania state Rep. Matt Bradford laid his hand — for just a moment — on the left forearm of the colleague sitting next to him.
That colleague was conservative Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who interrupted Bradford mid-sentence with a personal bit of information.
“Look, I’m a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife, I don’t like men — as you might. But stop touching me all the time,” Metcalfe told Bradford, who then began laughing.
Several other members of the committee, which Metcalfe chairs, giggled and smirked.
“Keep your hands to yourself,” said Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County. “If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle who might like it.
Questions and Observations:
- I love this story!
I wish I had made it up as an ethics hypothetical!
- What difference does it make that Metcalfe is a conservative?
Would a liberal legislator who felt uncomfortable by an unwelcome touch have his complaint reported in the same way?
- If a female legislator reacted this way to the touch of a male legislator, wouldn’t this be cheered?
Isn’t this how those women groped by President George H.W. Bush should reacted the moment it happened?
- Public embarrassment is a great and powerful deterrent. It’s also often not very kind and rude.
Which was this?
- Stipulated: the crack about the other side of the aisle was borderline gay-bashing.
Also stipulated: if Metcalf thought this was appropriate, it would have been just as appropriate if the unwelcome toucher was a member of his own party.
- A touch of this sort, in the workplace, can constitute sexual harassment.
If Metcalf remained silent, and then, 25 years from now, when Bradford is running for President and there is an allegation from an anonymous source that he had harassed another man, would it be fair and ethical for Metcalf to then come forward and say that he was sexually harassed by Bradford during a committee meeting in 2017?