During this past week's GOP debate two things stood out that sent shivers up my spine, made my skin crawl, and for an instant made me ashamed to be an American. One was uttered by the GOP front runner, the other was an outburst of enthusiasm by the venue’s audience. I’m not the first to write on this issue, but I want to offer my perspective and record it for posterity or at least so I’ll remember it for as long as I still have a memory.
Rick Perry attempted to justify his rejection of the scientific evidence for man made global warming by implying that scientists can be and have been wrong before. In his bumbling attempt to find support for his denial of scientific reality he made this absurd statement: “Galileo got outvoted for a spell." WTF??!
It took a few seconds for that to register with me since it made zero sense. Galileo got outvoted? By whom, and over what? Galileo supported the solar centric versus the Church endorsed Earth centric model of the universe. What peer review group of scientists “outvoted” him? Was he ultimately proven wrong? WTF was Perry saying?
What Perry was saying was pure and blatant idiocy. Or, if you are more generous, he is a pathetic whore playing to the dumbest of the religious zombies that he depends on for support. So dumb that likely many of them still believe in an Earth-centric model of our solar system. But no matter what spin anyone puts on it this was the statement of a living breathing jerk.
Galileo wasn’t outvoted /overruled as a result of his theory being subjected to peer review and found lacking by qualified astronomer scientists of his day. Galileo was silenced, a victim of the Church’s Inquisition! The Church forbade Galileo to promote the heresy of truth; threatened him; and put him under house arrest until he recanted the truth of his statement. How does the exercise of unlimited power by the Church to suppress reality and truth because it disagreed with their fable and lies, in anyway equate to being “outvoted” and more importantly how does it relate to the global warming issue? It doesn't, except ironically Perry would likely be delighted to play Grand Inquisitor to the 98% of the climate scientists whose science he rejects.
I hope it was his stupidity. I want it to be his stupidity. The implications of it being the latter alternative are so horrific, so insidious, so foreboding in terms of what a religiously guided government would be that it boggles the mind, or should, of any freethinking American and respecter of reason. But I dare not dismiss the possibility. It is entirely plausible given Perry’s history of combining religious fanaticism, feigned or real, with governance.
Then came the most telling and horrific event of the evening. The moderator brought up the hundreds of executions that Texas has carried out under Perry’s administration, more executions than under any other governor, in any state in the nation’s history. At the mention of this fact some significant portion of the republican/tea party/ Christian audience erupted into applause. APPLAUSE!
At first I thought I missed something. Maybe there was a delayed response to a prior comment from a candidate. But alas, this was not the case. These people were applauding the over 230 executions carried out under Perry’s term of office. They were gleeful, proud, and exuberant over the size and scope of unbridled state sponsored killing. They were being Christian.
My mind immediately formed the image of filthy, stinking, jeering crowds of peasant Christians reveling at the writhing bodies of heretics as they are burned at the stake during the Inquisition; or gleeful at the screams of incinerated “witches” during the 17th century. Of Muslim extremists stoning women to death, or loping off heads as crowds laughed and goaded and cursed the condemned.
I looked at Perry during this unholy display. He did not look distraught, or disapproving, or in any way phased by his supporters’ outburst - emotions /reactions that a better man, even a death penalty supporter, might have elicited simply as a respecter of human life. No, nothing. Religionists love executions, they always have; and the more religious/ Christian they are the more they love them. So, what’s to be ashamed of? Where’s the contradiction?
I support capital punishment for certain cases. I’m not proud of it; I just see it as a necessary response to certain crimes under certain circumstances. But for a fleeting moment I felt dirty and ashamed. Americans don’t revel in execution rates, at least not in the America I thought I knew. They do in Rick Perry’s America.