Friday, December 9, 2011

Think of the Children!

So there's been a lot of talk about Rick Perry's latest campaign ad. I'll show it here just so we all have the same information:



My first reaction to this was pure and unbridled anger, then a friend on Facebook (with extremely different opinions politically and religiously) tells me that isn't the point that Perry is trying to make, is that he thinks it's absurd that kids can't celebrate Christmas in school? Yes, Perry makes it abundantly clear he thinks the current administration has mounted an attack on his religion. OK fine, let's run with that...

Here's why I am still enraged: gays in the military and religion in school are mutually exclusive.

Issue #1: (His) Religion is Under Attack
If Mr. Perry thinks a public education system should force religious beliefs on children then that's one thing but I personally witnessed 8 year old kids singing "Jesus is the reason for the season" at a "holiday pageant" and many of the kids looked sad and confused, and a couple very upset. I wonder what that would feel like? To be told to sing a song praising a god you didn't believe in? I happen to think that this is a bigger atrocity than telling someone they can't just wave their personal religious beliefs around in a public school system, especially when there's separate religious schools for that and churches open every Sunday.

You can't possibly accommodate every religion that's represented in a public school, but since there are associations and communities outside of the schools that do (the aforementioned churches, plus mosques, and temples, ...) you accommodate none, but you honour them all in the form of, oh I don't know... EDUCATION! Which is what the schools are supposed to be for anyway, right?

Feel free to disagree. I know many people will and that's all fine and good. Welcome to adulthood where people with strong opinions can disagree and welcome to Canada where you can have disagreements freely and not feel the need to kill anyone over it (most of the time. We do have our share of nut jobs).

So Rick Perry wants you to know that this offends him greatly and his country is so backwards because of this religious attack that at the very same time this is going on, gays are allowed to just walk around being gay while defending the country.

Wait a second, he lost me.

It's a religious attack to allow people to defend, WITH THEIR LIVES, the rights and freedoms he wants so desperately to flaunt wherever and whenever he sees fit?

Holy shit, are you kidding me?

Issue #2: Gays Shouldn't be in the Military
I thought this issue had pretty much been kicked to the curb but let's face it, some people don't like gays no matter what they're doing (like defending the country or adopting a child who was kicked to the curb), but since when has being gay and serving in the military become a religious issue? There's a lot of history with respect to gays and the church, but being amazingly patriotic while at the same time being gay is somehow an attack on Christianity? I'm not sure I understand the correlation.

Time for a thought experiment:
How about instead of the "gays in the military" comparison he uses "gays getting married". Now there's an issue that's littered with conflict on how to define marriage, religiously versus legally, that many would actually argue is an attack on some beliefs. It's an equally polarizing topic, so why not use that as the comparison in the campaign ad? It seems more relevant, does it not?

In my opinion it is more relevant, but it's not quite polarized enough and it's not quite broad enough. Gay marriage is only a "concern" in a few States and it's not a federal issue. The military? Well, they're everywhere and they're the reason a surprisingly large number of small town kids end up getting jobs instead of becoming criminals. To over-simplify it, "gays in the military" reaches a broader audience - the audience that Republicans want to reach - so they picked that to use in the ad. Hell, they picked every single word so carefully it makes me wonder how much of a puppet Rick Perry actually is, and who's actually pulling the strings.

My conspiracy theory: Republicans Bigger than Perry are Pulling the Strings
Rick Perry is pretty much a non contender in the race for the Republican nomination, but the fact that he is a non-contender is exactly why I think the other Republicans want him to do things like this. They win either way. On one hand the Rick Perry supporters get their chance to let themselves be known, and on the other it provides the Republicans an out by way of running someone more moderate and hopefully winning back those middle of the pack swing votes that crossed over to Obama.

If enough right wing religious nuts get on board, the extreme right drives the agenda. I don't see this as very likely but it does offer up an interesting opportunity for the Republicans to say: Wait, wait, wait. Yes we strongly believe in these things but the Rick Perry's of the country are too nuts, even for us, so here's someone else a little less extreme to vote for. Someone a little more palatable. So, come back: Florida, Ohio, Indiana, New Mexico, and Colorado. Let me pour you some Kool Aid.

The sad part about all of this is that the issues that are really hurting everyone always seem to take a back seat to the issues that people are more passionate about. Hey, I have an idea! Let's get people to make important decisions by ensuring they vote emotionally instead of rationally.

Yeah, how's that working out?