IN THE AMERICA OF RICK PERRY AND HIS FOLLOWERS; WHO NEEDS SCIENCE WHEN YOU HAVE FAITH?
SCIENCE FRICTION: Perry -- In God we trust (AP Photo)
"It takes balls to execute an innocent man." -- Rick Perry supporter
Sometimes, when I think about Texas' twisted "live or let die" spirit that attends the unrestrained gusto with which that state executes its citizens (on average, about once every two weeks), it brings to mind a lyric by old-school hip-hop artist Big Daddy Kane which goes as follows:
"I'll take them from (age) eight to eighty; blind, crippled, or crazy."
Or another, by rapper Ice Cube: ""so if you is (sic) or ain't a gang-banger; keep one in the chamber""
Or perhaps most fitting -- particularly if you are Texas Governor Rick Perry, the consensus frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination -- the old saying about "Kill them all, for the Lord knows them that are his."
But I'm also thinking about how South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, still does not believe that acquired immune deficiency syndrome is caused by HIV and how that belief parallels many held by Gov. Perry, who, for example, continues to thumb his nose at global warming bell-ringers and to claim that he sees no credible scientific basis to support a belief in evolution.
Now in many respects, South Africa is among its continent's most developed nations. In fact, in 2006 the Mbeki Administration reversed its treatment policies in recognition of AIDS' relationship to HIV. Nevertheless, it's probably safe to assume that for many of Perry's supporters, persistent HIV/AIDS denialism by South Africa's president offers clear evidence of Mbeki's leadership over a primitive culture. But it also should perhaps cause one to wonder just how Rick Perry's supporters would describe the culture that defines their America; the quasi-theocratic dominion at which their crusade storms to "take back" from Barack Obama. It is cause to question whether it is the role of America's Commander in Chief that they seek for Perry, or that of Minister in Chief.
Consider Perry's comments to a group of Texas business leaders in August:
"At 27 years old, I knew that I had been called to the ministry. I've just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was going to have. I still am. I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will."
Indeed, of the entire field of GOP presidential candidates (not withstanding Sen. Michele Bachmann, who's clearly ignorant on most matters of science), it is party frontrunner Perry who has most credibly expressed to the Republican base, the kind of contempt for science that has enabled him to rhetorically slither around the compelling body of evidence connecting mankind to global warming. But it also harkens to pertinent questions related to his anti-evolution belief, including: If God is the creator of man, who then, is the creator of God? If Rick Perry knows the answer to that question, the next question is: How does he know?
A glutton for punishment
Of late, there is much speculation that Perry's delusions of rapture and antipathy toward science have been underlying factors in the aggregation, during his watch, of the highest number of state executions in modern history. After all, to true believers, control over either life or death is probably as close to having God-like power as one can get. Regardless, what is clearly obvious is that Gov. Rick's God is an indifferent, vengeful entity that's had its hands full sorting through the scores of souls dispatched its way via his main disciple's death chambers.
Since America revived the death penalty in 1976, Texas has executed 471 of its citizens including juveniles and the mentally-impaired, as well as non-citizen foreign nationals. Of these executions, Rick Perry, in office since 2000, has presided over 235 -- serial killer numbers representing 40 percent more than were executed during George W. Bush's tenure as Texas governor. By contrast, over that same 35--year span, California, a state with a population recorded by the Census Bureau to be about 50 percent larger than Texas, has executed just 13.
But it's not necessarily the volume that some find troubling; it's the wanton callousness that has been injected into the process by the "pro-life" Perry for whom the execution of human beings appears to be a religious experience. The pro-execution culture of Perry's Texas seems the polar opposite of that found in a state like Illinois, where the capital punishment process became so corrupt that at the urging of its governor, that state's legislature simply abolished it in March of this year. Little along those lines is bound to happen neither in Texas nor under any circumstance in which Perry holds such power. The record of death penalty cases in which the governor has played a role seems a story of the kind of callous indifference which many of Perry supporters would assume describes Satan-worshippers, paid assassins, and, of course, Islamic fundamentalists.