On Sunday night, Republican Texas governor Rick Perry spoke to students at Dartmouth College, where he was controversially asked a range of seemingly ridiculous questions about his views on homosexuality and other issues, student newspaper The Dartmouth reports.
One question that has stood out was asked by The Dartmouth columnist Emily Sellers, a senior at the Ivy League school. As written in a list of questions handed out before the event started, Sellers asked Perry, “In your campaigns you have received hard-money campaign contributions of $US102 million, half of which came from 204 donors. Would you have anal sex for $US102 million?”
In a column in The Dartmouth today, Sellers explained why she asked Perry this question, which has received negative feedback from campus Republicans and Democrats, as well as various national media outlets. Here’s what she writes:
In my view, it would have been a disgrace to an institution of higher learning to engage only in superficial discussion that helps mask offensive and oppressive views behind decorum…
When confronting those in power who actively disrespect the rights and humanity of others, any demand to civility is ironic. The questions were offensive because they confronted his actual policies. Why is our tone — as politically powerless undergrads — more offensive and shocking than his enacted homophobia as a man with incredible amounts of money and power? Respect in this context is not a paramount or meaningful concept. I’m not advocating disrespect per se — rather, that incivility can be an effective and appropriate tool for such circumstances. My questions were disrespectful, but I reject the notion that I should respect a man who holds power simply because he holds it. It should matter what he does with that power, and what he does is oppress people he finds icky.
Sellers also quotes Dartmouth sophomore Ben Packer, who compiled and distributed the list of questions:
“This particular question occurred in the background of Perry’s moral opposition to anal sex (which we are criticising), and was motivated by the fact that if Perry has any moral boundaries that have not been carefully selected by a team of campaign managers to appeal to specific constituencies, he has almost certainly had to violate those moral boundaries for campaign contributions,” Packer said.
Packer defended his actions to The Dartmouth in the paper’s original article on Perry’s talk, saying “”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.”
Here’s the list of questions that were distributed before Perry’s talk:
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