I don't think there are many out there that would say Rick Perry is unprincipled. The epithets are plenty, and his mistakes are many, but there are few that would claim that Perry is anything approaching the slippery flip-floppery of Mitt Romney. He's a man of his word.
Thus, when Rick Perry, flying in the face of national sentiment, continues to believe that the Boy Scouts will somehow wither and die should they allow gay scout leaders, it comes as simply yet another nail in his principled coffin. It's not especially newsworthy. But when Perry says he believes opposing gay leaders is akin to, ahem, opposing slavery, well: Then we have something to write about.
First, the video proof:
Perry begins his discussion with the ultra-right Family Research Council -- which has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its virulent anti-gay views -- with a discussion of the Scouts' century of achievement. Not entirely sure anyone would object to the claim. But then Perry decides to address the issue of gay leaders in a way that only he could::
For pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just so happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that have served millions of young men, helped them to become men and to become great fathers, and that is just not appropriate. And frankly I hope the American people will stand up and say, 'Not on my watch.'
A couple things: First, Perry, for whatever reason it may be, seems to think that "pop culture" is the main force influencing the recent move to eliminate the anti-gay framework from the Boy Scouts. Our governor seems to believe that a handful of episodes of Modern Family and a few interviews with Jason Collins -- rather than, say, the slow realization that gay men and women are a threat to neither society nor children -- have somehow put the Boy Scouts in a bind. Moreover, such "flavor of the month" attitudes will undoubtedly fade, and such a push for orientation equality, like acid jeans or Pogs before it, will clearly pass into memory. No sense changing the Scouts for something as transient as gay rights.
(Christ, Perry. Do you actually believe this? Or are you just that good at pandering?)
But that's not all. After staking that Sam Houston was the greatest governor Texas had ever seen -- Perry may just have lost Dubya's vote -- he discusses how Houston's antislavery views cost him his governorship. (Interestingly, Perry also notes that Houston was right to not want to secede from the Union. Might have just lost some Sons of Confederate Veterans votes, too.)
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Citing Houston's "courage" and "principled leadership," Perry then draws a line directly from Texas's birth to its current state:
If we change and become more like pop culture, young men will be not as well-served, America will be not as well-served, and Boy Scouts will start on a decline that I don't think will serve this country well as we go into the future.
Right, Governor. Sam Houston's stand against human chattel, his progressive views on ending the greatest oppression this nation has ever known -- a view that landed him outside Austin; the divide over which more Americans were killed than in the rest of our wars combined -- is akin to this move to stanch the flow of "pop culture" into an organization founded on principled leadership and humanistic empathy. Your stand against allowing gay men to participate in one of the finest institutions that young, wayward men can join is but an updated version of the antebellum abolitionists who sought to place all humans on equal footing. Your opposition to including gay men in one of the nation's more formative organizations is a modern take on a tale of equality stretching from Moses to Douglass to Susan B. Anthony. Your stance will resound in the halls of eternity. Of course.
It's the principle of the thing, Governor. Continue sticking to it. Because if Houston's experience is any example, this may be the best hope we have of landing you outside Austin. If nothing else, your principles only keep more people aware of the Scouts' discrimination. And that will only bring about the policy's end that much quicker.