This morning I woke up to a Google+ post from a friend featuring RickPerry's latest YouTube ad called “ Strong.” At first glance the 31-second clip looks like a political spoof from The Onion, featuring the Texas Governor strolling up a riverbank, pausing to deliver his punchline six seconds in: “You know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” Alas, a spoof it is not.
To date, the video has more than 700,000 views and zero comments.
Clearly Perry's team disabled this feedback feature, but they do allow viewers to give the ad a digital thumbs-up or thumbs-down. In what could be a record, more than 200,000 people have shared that they dislike the video. Move on over to other social networks and the reaction is also overwhelmingly negative. For example, Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) tweets “Answer to Rick Perry's confusion: We live in a democracy, not a theocracy. Epic YouTube fail.”
Like any political video making online waves, the spoofs are rolling in. The Second City Network uploaded a 50-second post called “The Partisans: Rick Perry – Weak, man,” a caustic pro-atheism slap at Christian politicians.
There is also a Photoshopped pic floating around, drawing attention to Perry's jacket in the video, which bloggers are saying is the same coat Heath Ledger wore in Brokeback Mountain (a movie that tells the story of a romantic relationship between two gay cowboys).
However, it is a comment on Google+ that is perhaps the most fitting.
Eric Williams writes, “Flagged as inappropriate due to hate speech against others related to their sexual orientation. Suggest others do the same.” Out of curiosity, I checked out the Community Guidelines on YouTube. In the section “Don't Cross the Line” YouTube states, “We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).”
The Perry video is an open attack on the gay community. He clearly implies that homosexuals should not be allowed to serve in the military, just on the heels of President Barack Obama's banning of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” As Obama stated in September, “Patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love.”
When Perry declares that “there's something wrong when gays can serve openly in the military” he is, per the YouTube guidelines, demeaning a group of people based on their sexual orientation/gender identity. The Pentagon has declared zero tolerance for such discrimination, so perhaps the Google-owned video service should follow suit.
Aside from Perry's offensive political ad, there is a larger life-and-death issue at hand here. Each year there are reports of teens committing suicide, many of whom were publicly bullied about their sexual orientation. It is disheartening to see a grown man, particularly one who aspires to be President of the United States, contributing to such hatred and to speak out against what is a legal right (for gays to serve in the military).
It only takes YouTube a few hours to pull down a video if it features copyright infringement, so maybe it's time for YouTube to take a stand and defend the rights of the gay community, and pull the plug on this discriminatory Rick Perry rant.