Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican, said some really awful things about teachers on Friday in response to the one-day strike they staged to protest lack of funding. And then he made an even bigger jackass of himself by offering up a pathetic non-apology apology.
Teachers in states across the country walked out of the classroom to go on strike for better pay and increased education funding, especially in West Virginia and Oklahoma.
In Kentucky, teachers chose to strike in front of the state capitol building for a single day, and rather than address their concerns, Bevin insulted them instead with some outrageous claims. Bevin told reporters that:
“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them. I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them. Children were harmed – some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time – because they were vulnerable and left alone.”
Here’s the video via YouTube.
Bevin’s remarks made national headlines and offended teachers and parents alike. After all, teachers work damn hard to make sure kids get the best education possible, but lawmakers, especially Republican lawmakers, have made that job more difficult over the years by cutting funding and expecting teachers to do everything from babysitting to doctoring to security in addition to teaching.
Kentucky Republicans passed a bill to cut teacher pensions and Bevin vetoed a bill that teacher unions say would have created millions of dollars in new revenues for public education.
After much outrage over his remarks, Bevin posted a video on Twitter insisting that he was misunderstood and claimed to regret that what he said hurt people.
Bevin said that he was trying to communicate that there are “unintended consequences” for the actions of the teachers who went on strike, ironically ignoring the consequences of slashing teacher pensions and cutting education budgets that hurt far more children than a teacher going on strike would do.
Bevin also wrote off his words as just him being ineffective in this particular instance and seemed to be criticizing his critics for not “appreciating” his tone-deaf and offensive message. Bevin said:
“For those of you understanding what I’m saying, thank you, I appreciate that you do. But clearly, a tremendous number of people did not fully appreciate what it was that I was communicating or what it was that I was trying to say. I hurt a lot of people, many people have been confused or hurt, or just misunderstand what I was trying to communicate. That’s my responsibility. I apologize for those who have been hurt by the things that were said, it was not my intent whatsoever.”
It is my responsibility to represent you, not only when I’m speaking to you but also when I’m speaking on your behalf. It is not my intent to hurt anyone…but to help us all move forward. We need each other. We’re in this together. #WeAreKY https://t.co/2MzQaoJGNk
— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) April 15, 2018
Twitter users weren’t buying it.
No one was “confused” by what you said. People were appalled because they understood it perfectly. #resign
— Reverend Pete Jones (@PrsbyPastorPete) April 15, 2018
I’m a die hard Republican but every ounce of my being regrets voting for you.
— Chris Richter (@Crichter1218) April 15, 2018
This is not an apology. This is the statement of an emotionally abusive man. You meant exactly what you said and now you want to blame those who heard it for mishearing you.
Seek help. https://t.co/hibhOv5ZwJ…
— Rob Mattheu (@LouSchoolBeat) April 15, 2018
What a fake apology. It’s the listener’s fault for hearing what you said. A true leader would say “I messed up. Here’s my letter of resignation. I have brought shame on the office and have offended the citizens of the Great Commonwealth of Kentucky. My intent was evident.”
— Robert Paugh (@RobertPaugh) April 15, 2018
Please don’t speak on my behalf. You do not represent me or the thousands of Kentucky teachers lining the Capitol steps on Friday. An apology is only as good as the action behind it. Show us something different, Governor Bevin. Show us some respect.
— Andi (@acpreston_7) April 15, 2018
A true apology has an antecedent-remorse. No remorse here. Blames the offended for not understanding his intent. Just say you were wrong…that’s it. Nothing else. But you can’t because you don’t think you are wrong. EVER.
— Anita Davis (@anitagdavis06) April 15, 2018
It is also your responsibility to represent people that disagree with you not belittle them! Understand your role and be a leader not a bully.
— Ron Kinmon (@RonKinmon) April 15, 2018
I believe you intended to offend teachers, and as a teacher, I was offended. So your communication was effective and not misunderstood. I will never forget your degrading speech about education to educators during the ceremony for teaching awards. I heard you loud and clear.
— EKUFIWinslow (@EKUFIWinslow) April 15, 2018
I think its too little, too late. Everybody knows you were attacking public school teachers by intentionally using an emotionally charged subject (and a very bad example). How about saying something good about those teachers every now and then?
— Jason Maynard (@KYMMJason) April 15, 2018
Those who abuse use apologies as a means of blaming the other person for the abuse taking place. KY is in a classic abusive relationship with this governor. I’m filing for divorce.
— Sean Jackson (@MrJacksonMCHS) April 15, 2018
This is the worst apology I have ever heard. To think I was offended because I didn’t fully understand where you were coming from is ridiculous.
— Matt Jenkins (@jistermenkins) April 15, 2018
I am a registered Republican who you have successfully convinced to vote Democrat going forward
— John King (@kingjskking) April 15, 2018
Claiming that children would be raped because teachers went on strike is horrendous.
Bevin clearly tried to bully teachers and shame them into not protesting by saying what he said. Child sexual abuse is a real issue that people should take seriously, but accusing teachers of causing children to be sexually abused is a red line and Bevin crossed it. People from across Kentucky’s political spectrum is giving him hell for it.
That’s the only reason he put out his “apology.”
But it looks like that “apology” didn’t work, and Bevin can expect consequences at the voting booth in 2019 when Kentucky will get a chance to vote for governor again.
Featured Image: YouTube screenshot.