Perry made serious point about sex assault

first_imgBut common sense — and years of crime-watch meetings — tells me that adequate lighting doesn’t hurt women’s chances for safety. It’s sad for our profession when so many mainstream sites rush online with a “Perry links fossil fuel development to preventing sexual assault“ without any of this context.Now, if you want to have a real discussion, let’s debate whether fossil fuels really are the answer.My real-time reaction: This is exactly the kind of thing that cements in so many Americans’ minds that the media are biased.At the very least, it illustrates that we can’t wait to gang up on easy targets like Perry. Sharon Grigsby is a member of the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News.  Categories: Editorial, OpinionIn a white-hot-charged world of politics, where each side can’t wait to catch the other acting the fool, the headlines are flying about bumbling Rick Perry stepping in it again.  The former Texas governor and current U.S. energy secretary will never win any awards for being precise or even articulate in his public remarks. On Thursday, he gave critics a double whammy: A rambling, almost indecipherable anecdote that gave anybody with a Twitter account a chance to make fun of him for acting pro-fossil-fuel to the extreme and for being a dummy on sexual assault at the same time. Here’s the core of the story, as reported by CBS News: During an event with Axios and NBC in Washington, Perry brought up sexual assault after launching into a story about a trip to Africa, where he said “people are dying“ because they don’t have access to energy. “And it’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl said to my face: One of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I’m not going to have to try and read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally kill people. But also from the standpoint of sexual assault: When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.“ Perry’s remarks can be interpreted and misinterpreted a million different ways.But determined to get a quick laugh, news outlets and commentators were quick to report a sound bite that painted it in the worst light — without providing some important context:  First, Perry was sharing an anecdote he heard from a girl in Africa.According to Perry, she said she wanted electricity NOT ONLY because she wouldn’t have to read by a fire’s light, BUT ALSO because of sexual assault. Second, the fact is that bringing power to remote villages in Africa would do these people a lot of good. And, according to some researchers, yes, it would help prevent sexual assault. For the skimming reader, that may sound ridiculous: Tying sexual assault to fossil fuel? Especially when you consider that everyone in the Trump administration looks for every opportunity to push that form of energy. None of that makes Perry wrong. And given all the headlines of late about sexual assault, it’s not stupid that he would link lack of electricity and lights with the possibility of violence.Consider this National Public Radio piece on the links between access to home toilets in India’s largest state and sexual assaults:Lacking indoor plumbing, hundreds of millions of women in India, under the cloak of darkness, set out for an open field to relieve themselves.center_img In those circumstances, NPR reported, women are vulnerable to being preyed upon.It cited the case of two young girls who were raped and left hanging from a tree.But NPR was not saying that lack of home toilets are the underlying cause of male predation. Separately, The Guardian has reported on how poor quality and underfunded public services — from lack of lighting to sanitation and decent housing — leave poor women and girls vulnerable and exposed to violence and harassment. Of course “darkness“ alone doesn’t cause people to commit sexual assault. But what from Perry’s remarks gives people the impression that he said that? Willful misinterpretation. Of course, the most important deterrents focus on changing the behavior of the perpetrators. We need to be teaching young men not to rape. And to enforce strict punishments. And a whole lot more than that.  More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationlast_img

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