Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

A Close Reading of Rick Perry's Argument that Fossil Fuels Prevent Sexual Assault

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While the men of this nation engage in a public reckoning with the prevalence of sexual assault even among—gasp—Good Guys, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has crawled out of his sewer, tip-toed into the room and shouted, “You know what would cure all this? My thing,” which is the general attitude that got us into this mess to begin with!

On Thursday morning, during a discussion about energy policy between Perry, Chuck Todd, and Axios CEO Jim Vandehei, our man, known perhaps most widely for participating in a dance reality show, cobbled together one of the most impressively offensive and logically-discordant group of sentences maybe... ever.

Let’s take a look at his quote, courtesy of The Hill reporter Timothy Cama:

“I just got back from Africa—”

Okay, let’s stop there. Perry traveled to South Africa where he represented the US at Africa Oil Week and met various local energy ministers; while there he spoke out against the “global culture of shame” around fossil fuel dependence. Anyway.

“I’m going to finish up with this, because I think I heard a lady say there are people dying. Let me tell you where people are dying, is in Africa, because of the lack of energy they have there.”

This is a decent point if this is a persuasive essay you’ve been assigned by your sixth-grade teacher, your reading comprehension is at a low-middle school level, and you aren’t yet expected to hold multiple complex ideas in your head at once, like, for instance the idea that where people are dying, is in Africa, but also, is in the US, is in Europe, is in Asia, often because of destructive climate events, made worse by man-made climate change. Also because of other stuff.

“And it’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa—”

Say the name of a country, you illiterate!!!

“—where a young girl told me to my face, ‘one of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I’m not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people.’”

Okay, it is hard to argue with the legitimately rough experience of this unnamed young girl.

“But also from the standpoint of sexual assault.”

Let’s! Get! Into! It!

“When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts. So from the standpoint of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that. I happen to think it’s going to play a positive role.”

Here Perry invokes the Bible—a worthy option for any man looking to justify his position without saying a thing. The first line, Jezebel’s Smart One, Stassa Edwards, points out, is a play on Proverbs 13:9: “The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.” The light in Proverbs, as far as my semitic brain can understand, was more of, like, a fire-based thing, or an inner light that comes from being pure of spirit—not a product of fracking. And, to be sure, the connection between Christianity and climate change denial is one the anti-science right has been pushing for some time, a connection that Perry seems to be actively embracing.

Never mind the absurd judgement that the presence of light has deterred people from sexual assault—think of Los Angeles and New York, cities literally known for their addictions to excessive light installations, that are also currently reeling from sexual assault scandals in their major industries! Or that fracking boom towns see sharply elevated rates of sexual and domestic violence. Perry speaks from an admirably unwavering dedication to his own asshole—maybe if more men followed his lead, they’d stop paying attention to ours.