Rick Perry: Hiding in the Darkest Alleys

“…[G]ay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
– U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Addressing the United Nations on International Human Rights Day

Do read or watch Secretary Clinton’s remarkable speech on LGBT rights.  She spent about a half-hour talking about the need to further the cause for LGBT human rights around the globe.  Such a speech given by such a person to such an audience would have been unthinkable even five years ago.

Now contrast it with the mess of a campaign video Rick Perry concocted and released at the same time Secretary Clinton made her remarkable speech.  After first declaring that he is “not ashamed to admit” that he’s a Christian, he further posits:

“But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there is something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

Wait a second, what the hell did he just say?

“But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there is something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

Right, that’s what I thought.

First, some background.  Perry created this video to air in Iowa, a Hail Mary pass for his flagging campaign before the Iowa caucuses on January 3, 2012.  Iowa surprised everyone in April, 2009 when it adapted marriage equality after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state could not discriminate against same-sex couples who wished to marry.  Though celebrated, the decision has been controversial and a backlash has already claimed three of the Iowan Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of marriage equality.  They were voted out of office in the 2010 election.  So Mr. Perry, hoping to capture some of this energy and the religious right vote, hastily threw this video together and put it on the air in Iowa.

Make no mistake:  this ad is patently and dangerously offensive.  It conjures dark images of dimly lit alleys and cornered souls being surrounded by thugs with lead pipes, chains, and bats ready to do bodily harm.  Or of a kid hiding in some obscure corner of his or her existence, trying desperately to hide from the biting, tearing words flung by sadistic schoolmates.  Has he not seen the coverage of kid after kid after kid committing suicide behind anti-gay bullying?  Perry’s is not a political ad.  It’s an instigation for violence, a call to arms against “the other” who in his mind possesses no humanity and thus is not deserving of it.  I think we’ve seen this movie before.

I don’t know if Rick Perry truly believes that LGBT folks do not deserve equal, human rights.  It doesn’t really matter, though.  His willingness to put out such an ad, for the sake of political gain, shows that he is a man with a very shaky moral compass.  Yet he states that he’s not “ashamed” to be a Christian.  Most Christians I know would be ashamed of his behavior.  But his claim of being a defender of faith and “religious heritage,” as he states in the video, is hardly unique and certainly not new.  As I wrote some months ago, in their declarations of secession, some of the former Confederate states, including the Governor’s, cited moral and religious reasons why it was right for people of African descent to be enslaved by those of European descent.  To treat the races equally, Texas wrote in their declaration of secession, was a violation of “Divine Law.”  Religion is not itself an evil, but it is often used for evil by those with shaky moral compasses.

This is hardly the first time LGBT folks have been singled out as boogiemen for the sake of electoral advantage in a presidential race.  But this is one of the most foul.  Rick Perry did more than just took off the gloves.  With this “political ad”, he donned dark clothing, armed himself with a nail-spiked bat, and entered the realm of the dark alley thug, waiting for a victim to pound into oblivion.  The world is changing, Mr. Perry.  Secretary Clinton’s speech is one of many reflections of that change.  Those like yourself are a vanishing breed and will soon be thought of and referred to exclusively in the past tense.  However, if someone is bullied, beaten, or killed because of your vicious ad, the splinters from the well-worn bat are in your fingers.

© 2011, gar. All rights reserved.

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