Jim Clyburn Referring to Corporate Machinations as 'Rape' Is a Bad Call

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Updated at 3:07 p.m.: Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn said on MSNBC Tuesday he had a problem with Mitt Romney and Bain Capital "raping companies and leaving them in debt," a poorly selected metaphor that even his friends (including the Obama campaign itself) don't much like. In context his quote read (via Talking Points Memo):

"This is not an attack on free enterprise. I want say to you, I don’t take contributions from payday lenders. I refuse to do that. That’s free enterprise. But there’s something about that enterprise that I have a problem with. And there’s something about raping companies and leaving them in debt and setting up Swiss bank accounts and corporate businesses in the Grand Caymans. I have a serious problem with that.

It seems like he could have been going for the archaic but still occasionally used definition of rape that means "pillaging" -- this is how its meant when one "rapes" the countryside. (Update: His spokesperson's follow-up statement suggests just that.) But context isn't really so valued in the current Twitter-ized news cycle, so everyone's going to assume he meant the definition listed first in the dictionary.

Feminist organizer Shelby Knox has already directed a Tweet at Clyburn to say, "Stop saying Bain 'rapes' companies. Rape is rape [and] applying it to situations outside sexual assault demeans the seriousness." And the Obama campaign's statement reads, "We strongly disagree with Congressman Clyburn’s choice of words- they have no place in this conversation." We assume the debate will shortly return to the actual business practices Bain engaged in and whether they're grounds for political attack -- it's one that's been raging since Obama's latest ad made it an issue -- but not before Rep. Clyburn learns a little lesson in the terribly chosen metaphor. Stick to the "vampire" line Obama gave you. 

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