About a week ago my sociology professor showed a video in class that was a :30 political campaign commercial for Republican candidate Rick Perry, a link to the vide can be found here. The script from the ad goes as follows,
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s 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. As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again. I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.
While I believe that the overall message was to show that Perry supports prayer in school and a mixture of secular and religious views in government. He does not like that liberals have tried, and to some extent, accomplished, getting prayer out of schools and making the United States government even more secular. In his ad, he attempts to appeal to a large christian audience, but who perhaps do not attend church regularly. He directly attacks Obama’s secular views and goes as far as to claim that Obama is leading a war on religion. Perry cites historical events and views about what he interprets as what America once was.
I find it hard to believe that a candidate would be so strong mannered in his campaign. There have been multiple parodies of this ad to go along with all the controversy that has been drummed up since the ad had been published on the internet. A popular video (linked here) shows a Michigan Rabbi mocking Rick Perry. While one is entitled to free speech, it does not seem to be a good idea for a political candidate to openly attack so many different groups of people.
John Stuart Mills, a philosopher who believed that anyone and everyone is entitled to free speech and expression. In this situation, Mills’ theory would argue that Perry had every right to say exactly what he felt and that he should face no consequence in doing so. Mills would also go on to say that the only time when a person, especially a public figure like Rick Perry, should be restricted from expressing themselves is if they were attempting to harm someone else through their expression (say a flash mob protest). This idea is known as the harm principle,
That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right…
So, what do you think? Should Rick Perry be required to remove his video from his campaign and apologize to the people that he offended. Or should he continue on with his campaign acting under Mill’s theories and only stop if he were to harm someone. Either way, the parodies and mockeries of this ad are quite humorous which leads me to believe that the damage is done.