Last Sunday, soon-to-be ex-Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry continued his pre-2016 tour with a stop at Dartmouth College. He was there to discuss the results of the midterm elections, and to frame himself in opposition to the President. Perry explained:
- We’ve seen six years of this administration’s work, and we’ve seen a lot of people out of work. We’ve seen foreign policy that is feckless to say the least, we’ve seen our country really struggle, and we’re really concerned about the future. The reason I’m engaged in this process isn’t for me. I’m 64 years old. This battle that we’re talking about, these discussions, this discourse that we’re having is about you and it’s about your future.
His immediate future was about to get pretty uncomfortable. Before the event, Ben Packer, a student a Dartmouth, handed out flyers with suggested questions for the Q&A portion of the evening. These questions were less concerned with fiscal policy, and more concerned with highlighting Perry’s troubling history on gay rights through pointed questions about his position on sodomy. A few of the students drew from Packer’s playbook and proceeded with queries like this one:
In 2002, you supported Texas’s anti-sodomy law. Do you dislike bootysex because the peeny goes in where the poopy comes out?
Some students who attended were not amused by this tactic. Michelle Knesbach, president of the College Republicans, was one of them. “They were phrased in incredibly insulting ways, and I’m horrified,” she said. Knesbach tried to quell the questions, but she couldn’t stop Emily Sellers from mentioning Perry’s $102 million campaign war chest, and whether he would have anal sex for that amount of money.
Packer, for his part, was disappointed with the questions’ reception. Though it didn’t draw the laughs he’d hoped, he still felt it was worth it when speaking to The Dartmouth following the event.
People that are opposed to this act are opposed to it because they think that it hurts their political discussion. I think the desired effect was to point out that their political discussion is not meaningful.
And here is the heart of the question: though we may disagree on whether it’s appropriate to ask a sitting Governor questions about butt pirates, what is more horrifying: students asking sexually explicit questions in an open forum, or a presidential contender who openly supported criminalizing gay sex?
Many of the questions were rooted in serious critiques of Perry’s political history, including his stance on abstinence-only education, his support of setting barriers to abortion access in statute, and his continuing explicit homophobia as he attempts to ramp up his national profile with primary voters.
One of Packer’s suggested questions handily pinpoints the cognitive dissonance present in Perry’s – and the rest of the Texas GOP’s – “pro-life” rhetoric:
- You have fought hard against abstinence plus safe-sex education in favor of a strict abstinence only policy. You have also taken a strong position in opposition to abortion. Is this because you want people to not know what condoms are, and not be able to terminate unwanted pregnancies, so they have to have anal sex?
It’s as good of an explanation as any when trying to sort out the nonsensical stance of an anti-choice movement that actively undermines their stated goal – fewer abortions – by opposing the very things that would help hasten that reality, such as access to birth control (especially long-acting methods such as IUD’s), comprehensive sex education, and the expansion of preventative healthcare through expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Far more upsetting than a college sophomore’s sex humor is that this man is trying to move from Governor to President, and he would take his homophobic rhetoric with him to the White House.
A list of the suggested questions that didn’t make the cut is available here on Queerty.