Rick Perry: Strong

December 15, 2011

Political Theory


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.

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10 Comments on “Rick Perry: Strong”

  1. kirtip Says:

    I do not think Perry should be required to remove his video. Like you said, it is free speech that Mill would support and, it seems, our constitution would as well. While it seems like Perry probably caused more harm than good with his ad, he has the right to state his beliefs. In the greater scheme of things, Perry’s opinions and statement is not even that ridiculous. He is arguing that people get the same freedom to exercise their religion in school and life that homosexual people have in expressing their sexuality in the military and in life. These arguments have obviously been made numerous times before. He is not breaking out some incredibly offensive and groundbreaking argument. I think that strong-arming him and his campaign to remove the video would be a blatant act of censorship. While I believe this was too strong a display of his views for a successful political campaign, Mills and the laws and Constitution of the United States would allow Perry to express his beliefs. Thus, the video should not be forced to be removed.

  2. danielpienkowski Says:

    Although I believe the video was in extremely poor taste and will most likely continue hurting Perry’s reputation, I don’t think that he should be forced to remove the video or apologize for it if he himself doesn’t believe that it’s the right thing to do. Perry does have the right to free speech, and he was expressing his personal and political views in this campaign ad. Really, this is all about a sort of “marketplace of ideas.” Everyone should be able to express their own views and opinions publically, and then each individual should draw their own beliefs from this marketplace by judging what is right and what is wrong. Perry himself was also vocalizing a stance held by many right-wing Americans who do indeed support his message. Perry did appeal to a certain demographic by expressing these views, so perhaps one can argue that Perry ad could be justified in that sense. Really, I think the most shocking thing about the ad is that a political candidate would actually be willing to say something like that and endorse such an opinion rather than the nature of his opinion itself. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more with Perry, but I think it is obvious to all of us that his message of conservative religion (which, unfortunately, has been misconstrued into something that limits gay rights) is not something that completely came out of the blue as has been an issue in this country for quite some time. Altogether, Perry did have the right to release his ad according to principles of free speech, and it is up to each individual to interpret its message for themselves.

  3. antuck Says:

    Is there honestly anyone who will leave a post arguing that Rick Perry should be forced to take down the ad? Of course not. We’re all going to post saying that he as the freedom to say those things even if we don’t agree with them. So instead, my post is just going to mock Perry.

    First, kids CAN pray in schools. They just CAN. It’s one thing to spin the truth, but I’m just not sure there is any way to spin the law right now so that the statement “our kids… can’t pray in school” is true at all. I mean, it’s so false that there is really no law that he could possibly have even been interpreting to mean what he said. The law merely presents faculty from being able to lead the class in prayer before class and at school functions. Is that what he meant?

    Same with Christmas.

    http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2011/dec/09/rick-perry/rick-perry-says-kids-cant-openly-celebrate-christm/

    In fact, a little bit of research showed me that Texas, Perry’s HOME STATE, has legislation specifically protecting children’s right to pray in school.

    So, in fact, I’m going to do what I said I wasn’t going to at the beginning of my post: I’m going to argue that he SHOULD have to take it down. Because offensiveness aside, he is telling lies (not spun truths, or stretching the truth—he is telling what I can only take to be deliberate lies) in political ads, and being allowed to tell lies in political ads will corrupt the democratic process.

    I enjoy the humorous parodies popping up on youtube. My own, more angry than humorous, would read something like, “I’m not a Christian, but you don’t have to be an unbeliever to know that there is something wrong in this country when undisguised disdain for brave men and women risking their lives overseas and complete ignorance of the law are forgivable qualities in a man who stands (stood*) a decent chance of becoming the leader of the most powerful country in the world. He thinks these are qualities that will appeal to a largely Christian America. 681k dislikes and a mere 21k likes suggests that you are proving him wrong, America.”

  4. golortegui Says:

    I don’t believe Perry should have to take down the video. He has only inadvertently offended people as a byproduct of expressing his own opinion. If he had made the video with the intention of offending people it would be grounds for removal, however that doesn’t appear to be so in this case. The part of his message about gays serving in the military is insensitive and the part about Obama’s “war on religion” is a gross exaggeration, but in the end he’s just expressing his opinions for the sake of doing so, and that’s kosher according to Mill.

  5. clinthng Says:

    Rick Perry doesn’t need to take down his video because in a political campaign, it’s important for the candidate to advertise who they are. Sure, Rick Perry comes off as homophobic (and uninformed) which could be offensive, but he has that right.

    In any case, the amount of parodies and the amount of “dislikes” the video has is an indication that many people do not agree…but it’s not like Rick Perry was trying to appeal to those people in the first place.

  6. pelarkin Says:

    There is really no reason I can think of as to why Rick Perry should be forced to take a controversial advertisement down. The clause in the Constitution about free speech was specifically created to protect a person like Rick Perry in instances like this. Just because everyone doesn’t agree with his views doesn’t mean that he should be forced to take his ad down, which would be a blatant disregard for his freedom to express his views and opinions. In this case, Mill would most certainly be on Perry’s side, because Mill fought for everyone’s right to have freedom of speech and expression.

    Moving onto the specific content of the ad, even though I consider myself to be right of center, I do think that this ad was slightly over the top, and probably wasn’t a good decision on his part, because he is seemingly alienating himself from all other voters who do not share in some of his more aggressive and extreme views, which, for him at least, seem to be quite a bit. As an earlier commenter stated, there is a provision in Texas, his home state, that allows all kids to pray in school. There is no law, and will never be a law, that prevents kids from praying, because a law cannot stop an act such as that. There could be laws that prevent teachers from forcing the class to all pray together, but trying to prevent students from praying is a ridiculous claim that will (hopefully) never be put into place in schools across America. His claim that the President is making a “war on religion” is also over the top, and was most likely not a good decision. However, I applaud the fact that he is so open with his views and is not afraid to let everyone else know of them. He is incredibly aggressive, and although that will probably be his eventual downfall, it is good to see a candidate who is not afraid to directly say what he wants.

  7. jps3520 Says:

    In my opinion, I loved this video because it helped restored a little of my faith in this county as a whole. Rick Perry didn’t restore my faith with what he said, the internet backlash restored it. I read an article claiming it had more dislikes than Rebecca Black’s “Friday” even though way less people had watched it, and some people working on his campaign were uncomfortable letting it air. It was such a strong thing to say that it most likely alienated more people than it united, and I’m guessing this ad hurt his campaign instead of helped.

    I do not think that he should be required to take the video down and apologize though. He is entitled to his opinion however different from mine it may be. He has the right to share his views, just as I have the right to share mine. I think that he should apologize and take the video down because it’s the right thing to do. This would probably help his campaign as well. My question is this: how can someone with such strong values not accept everybody for who they are? It’s like saying “if I’m president, I’ll help out people like me, but the rest of you are on your own.” I am religious and I can accept gay people for who they are. To me that shows stronger faith and values than he is claiming to have in his videos.

    Another quick note: he made people unable to comment on his video, and in a later ad on YouTube he disabled people from liking or disliking the video. While these were options available to him, he’s kind of stifling free speech by doing so.

  8. lmaren Says:

    Honestly, he has his right to make any campaign video that he wants. It would be a violation of free speech if he was forced to remove it. However, that does not mean that he should leave up his video. LIke most, I find the video commercial very offensive. This is ultimately going to hurt him more than it is going to help him and get more support. He is going to hurt himself with the video more than he will help his cause. By leaving it up, he is just punishing himself because people are making comedies of it and not taking him seriously.

    Just so you know, the music that they chose to play in the background was written by Aaron Copland, who was jewish and gay. I find that quite ironic, given that his message clearly does not support gays.

    I agree with you- the damage is done and whether or not he removes the ad campaign, he has hurt his reputation and his chances of winning the republican candidacy.

  9. ryanjcarney Says:

    I agree with those above said that Rick Perry shouldn’t be required to take down his video, even if he may have offended some. It’s totally within his rights to release the campaign ad that he did and as a candidate for the office of the presidency it does nothing but benefit the people in that it displays his views and policies. That said, it was a terrible move for his campaign as he alienated not only the homosexuals in this country, but anyone else who isn’t an evangelical protestant. Granted, the evangelical bloc is a strong one, especially in the republican primaries. It seems that the ad was a last ditch effort of a dying campaign to grab some quick Christian votes – he’s obviously not going anywhere but back to Texas.

  10. jonkeren Says:

    Rick Perry should most certainly not be forced to take down his campaign video. I understand that some people may be offended by it, but the truth is he has the complete freedom to keep the video up. He is trying to express who he is as a person, which is a very good thing for a presidential election. A lot of times presidential candidates are very fake and do not show who are they as a person. This is not the case with Rick Perry. I feel that he is very ” real” and this video just emphasizes this fact. That being said, It was not very smart for his political campaign to air this video. Since many people disagree with it or are offended by it, it makes him lose votes. Therefore i agree that He should be allowed to air the video but he should not have because it hurt his overall campaign.

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