During a Fox News roundtable today discussing a Colorado bill that would allow women to carry concealed weapons to prevent sexual assault at colleges, The Five co-host Bob Beckel delivered this Twitter-baiting beauty: "When was the last time you heard about a rape on campus?"
It's worth pointing out that Beckel's fellow Five-ers were quick to counter such a claim. "What are you talking about?" said Eric Bolling, who like Beckel isn't exactly known as a voice of reason. "It's rampant." Less surprising than Beckel's comment, of course, was that the panel went on to conclude that the best solution to stopping date rape and other sexual assaults on college campuses is by arming students. "If your date is a rapist, you shoot them," explained Kimberly Guilfoyle, striking a familiar gun-rights talking point that guns make women safer (a claim that researchers have pretty much debunked).
As you watch the clip below, it's also worth keeping an eye on former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino who wonders whether maybe not "everybody needs to be armed" before quickly backpedaling in the face of a moment of stunned silence from her fellow co-hosts.
Beckel, who served in Jimmy Carter's State Department and later ran Walter Mondale's presidential campaign, often serves as something of the de facto liberal voice on the Fox News program (or at least what counts for it on the conservative-leaning cable channel). Liberals, of course, would probably prefer to be represented by someone who poses more nuanced hypotheticals than ones involving a drunken and gun-toting fraternity wandering on to campus.
Lest we lose track of what's clearly much more important than the chattering of the chattering class, a few key stats: The Centers for Disease Control estimate that as many as 1 in 4 women in college have reported being the target of an attempted or completed rape while in school; Violence Policy Center research showed that in 1998, the year they studied, "for every time a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate acquaintance in self-defense, 83 woman were murdered by an intimate acquaintance with a handgun." More relevant stats here.
This post was updated at 3:21 p.m. with additional information and analysis. The last graph was also tweaked for the sake of clarity.