Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been reliable for saying and doing ridiculous things ever since he was just a first-term governor way back in 2000, but he really stepped in it on Thursday when he claimed that increasing the use of fossil fuels in Africa will reduce the number of sexual assaults on women.
Perry, who just returned from a trip to South Africa last week, was speaking at an event run by Axios, a new online news site, when a protester yelled that fossil fuels are causing climate change and killing people in poor countries.
In response, Perry launched into a story from his recent trip where he spoke to a young girl who told Perry she wanted electricity so that she could read by something other than firelight and all of the "fumes that are literally killing people," according to Politico.
And then Perry veered, stating that providing electricity is also about preventing rape. His logic behind this was almost touchingly naive: “When the lights are on, when you have light that shines — the righteousness, if you will — on those types of acts,” he told the crowd.
He said this with a straight face. In fact, he went on to argue that fossil fuels provide all kinds of benefits, which is a viewpoint that makes some sense, coming from Perry, considering the fact that oil production and processing have been integral to the fortunes of the Lone Star State both during Perry's tenure as governor and for decades before and since.
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"From the standpoint of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that," Perry said. "I happen to think it’s going to play a positive role, and I wish we could understand it’s not just about us living here in the comfort and confines that we’re in.”
But Perry goes even further on this idea by claiming that fossil fuel-sourced electricity will be the cure-all for sexual assault and any and all other problems in African countries.
“Let me tell you, where people are dying in Africa is because of the lack of energy they have there, and it’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa," Perry said.
It's a nice thought, in a way, that fossil fuels will light up all darkened streets, stop rape and senseless death and violence, but it's one of Perry's biggest "oops" moments to date. After all, if fossil fuels could solve all of these problems, why are these things still happening right here?