Malloy's revisionary view of Conn. history

Did you know the sexual revolution was fought and won here in Connecticut?

Neither did anyone else until Gov. Dannel P. Malloy mentioned it while introducing a $27 million campaign designed to promote tourism with the slogan - "Connecticut Still Revolutionary."

And in keeping with the revolutionary theme, the governor revealed for the first time that Connecticut was just as important as Massachusetts and Virginia in the American Revolution.

After hearing the Malloy takes on Connecticut history, the slogan might better be, "Connecticut: Still Revisionary."

According to Mr. Malloy's recollection of the American Revolution, Connecticut has wrongfully "ceded our history to Boston and Virginia. We have an equal claim to that."

As one of the 13 original colonies that took up arms against the king, I guess we do have a claim to some equality, but our role is more equal to Delaware's or New Hampshire's.

Not that Connecticut played a minor role in the American Revolution, it's just that the biggest battles weren't fought here and the greatest heroes didn't come from here. We did produce the struggle's first spy in Nathan Hale, but he got caught, and also the first traitor, Benedict Arnold, and he didn't. Arnold did come back to Connecticut to burn New London, but the governor didn't bring that up.

But what about that other revolution, the sexual one the governor says was "fought and won here in Connecticut?"

According to historian Malloy, "a lawsuit that was filed in Connecticut when a young, married woman was denied access to the Pill resulted in a Supreme Court ruling that made contraception widely accessible."

Not even close.

The governor was apparently referring to Griswold vs. Connecticut, a 1965 Supreme Court decision that overturned an 1879 Connecticut law prohibiting the use of "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing contraception." Until then, Connecticut was something of a national joke, not a revolutionary, because it was among the last of the states to ban the use of condoms by married or unmarried couples.

The case was brought, not by Malloy's young, married woman using the pill, but a Yale medical professor and the woman who ran New Haven's Planned Parenthood League, who were arrested for giving away condoms.

The court's ruling on Connecticut's embarrassing law could be considered the opening salvo in the never ending culture wars and its precedent did lead to bigger things, like Roe v. Wade. But the sexual revolution wasn't won here and if the Republican Party and the Catholic bishops have their way, there are battles still to be fought.

The governor could have noted Charles Goodyear, the inventor of rubber condoms, was born in New Haven. However, though he did his inventing over the line in Springfield.

Mr. Malloy also cited Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum for being the first museum to host a modern art exhibit, and the museum notes on its website that it did sponsor the world's first Picasso Retrospective.

But the Atheneum has a greater distinction. It is the first public art museum in the United States. Nothing in Massachusetts or Virginia can make that claim.

The catchy slogan and the $27 million campaign are the work of a New York advertising agency because Connecticut, despite its many achievements, is apparently yet to produce an advertising agency worthy of promoting Connecticut.

Dick Ahles is a retired journalist from Simsbury.


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