It's almost the perfect tweet for press coverage of the Trump administration.
A Trump administration official makes a claim, poorly articulated, and a reporter wryly and snarkily reduces that argument to a stupid and overly simplistic format. The Hill — maybe the worst offender in this regard — tweets out that reductive and misleading formulation, and it goes viral.
The Hill's tweet is actually slightly less tendentious than the reporter's original tweet.
So let me ask Timothy Cama of the Hill, his editors, and everyone on Twitter OMGing about this a few questions:
Do you believe street lights can reduce crime? If you don't think so, do you think that's at least a plausible idea? (Here's a study from Chicago suggesting that outages of street lights causes crimes.)
Do you think electrification is an important part of economic development in Africa?
Do you think fossil fuels provide more reliable electricity than other sorts of energy?
If you answered yes to the above questions, then you think fossil fuels can help reduce sexual assault.
Cama's tweet, the Hill's tweet, and the Hill's headline all omit the middle step that Perry, even in his inarticulate answer, included: lighting.
"Perry Says More Reliable Lighting Can Reduce Crime" wouldn't have been as clickworthy.
This is literally why Americans don't trust journalists.
UPDATE: There's more.
Here's a United Nations paper titled "Better lighting, wider pavements: steps towards preventing sexual violence in New Delhi."
Oxfam points to another way in which fossil fuels can reduce sexual assault. In a paper on energy needs in sub-Saharan Africa, the group writes:
Given the challenges of energy poverty, providing energy to households in safe and sufficient quantities is hypothesized to result in myriad positive outcomes, including the following:
• Improved health outcomes: Reduced burning of biomass and kerosene in homes will reduce people’s exposure to harmful pollutants. Access to modern fuels is expected to help prevent the cuts, falls, bites, and episodes of sexual harassment and assault that women and girls might otherwise sustain while collecting fuelwood.