Social media users have rounded on US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry after he connected the use of fossil fuels to sexual assault, claiming that "the light of righteousness" from burning hydrocarbons would prevent sex attacks in Africa.
Speaking at a forum in Washington on Thursday morning hosted by Axios and NBC News, Perry recounted his visit last month to Cape Town, South Africa, where he attended a conference on oil and gas partnerships on the continent. Perry said that power produced from fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assault there.
"It's going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl told me to my face, one of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I'm not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people, but also from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will on those types of acts," Perry told the forum.
Full Perry quote on fossil fuels/sexual assault pic.twitter.com/KH6pyApIYU— Timothy Cama (@Timothy_Cama) 2 ноября 2017 г.
The remarks were posted on Twitter by Timothy Cama, a reporter from The Hill. Social media users were quick to denounce Perry's comment, with some likening it to a satirical story from The Onion.
No words. Perry says burning dirty fossil fuels will prevent sexual assault. No, this is not an Onion story. https://t.co/I0CMqaROFM— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) 2 ноября 2017 г.
Rick Perry ‘Righteous’ fossil fuels help prevent sexual assaults
Did I really read this or am I taking crazy pills? https://t.co/k44fJfCdmz pic.twitter.com/fKhDtgOI1L
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) 2 ноября 2017 г.
the only real explanation for that Rick Perry quote is that he loves coal so much he's been licking it— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) 2 ноября 2017 г.
Perry's claim comes after a wave of allegations of sexual assault against several public figures in recent weeks, which was set off by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Rick Perry suggests fossil fuels help prevent sexual assault. If only Harvey Weinstein’s bedside lamps had burnt coal.— Warren Holstein (@WarrenHolstein) 2 ноября 2017 г.
In light of the negative reaction, the Department of Energy issued a clarification of Perry's remarks on Thursday afternoon.
"The secretary was making the important point that while many Americans take electricity for granted there are people in other countries who are impacted by their lack of electricity," spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes stated.