Rick Perry, Your Trayvon Martin Tweet Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry is well known for loving guns and threatening vigilante violence, so it's pretty easy to guess what he'd think of Florida's Stand Your Ground law that has come under criticism after the Trayvon Martin shooting. Not only did Perry sign Texas' version of Stand Your Ground in 2007,  in 2010 he won the "highest honor" awarded by American Legislative Exchange Council, the group that successfully pushed almost two dozen states to adopt the law. Perry hasn't said anything about the Martin case, but it's pretty clear that he'd support ALEC against its current critics. Unless, of course, you read his sole Martin-related tweet.

The link there goes to a Washington Examiner story from Wednesday about the successful threats to boycott the companies like Coca-Cola and Walmart who are members of the Perry-honoring ALEC. So it seems Perry was trying to stick it to the gun-hating P.C. police by spending his hard-earned cash on Coke in Walmart. Take that you ALEC-haters! Except the headline of the Examiner's story is, "Coke caves in face of Democratic boycott threat." And as the story explains, "Coke was quick to react to the political boycott threat, pulling support from the targeted group just five hours after it was called. Walmart said that support for a group does not mean it backs every decision by those groups."

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Coca-Cola said their statement, "We have a longstanding policy of not taking positions on issues that don't have a direct bearing on our company or on our industry." And Walmart told the Examiner that it didn't have a position on the issue at the center of the debate: "Our membership in any organization does not affirm our agreement with each policy created by the broader group."

So, if you're a friend of ALEC's now, you probably wouldn't be chugging Coke (Or Pepsi; they dropped their ALEC membership in January) while wandering a Walmart at the moment.  We're not really sure what Perry meant in his tweet, so here are a few possible interpretations:

  • Perry is actually applauding Coca-Cola's decision to quit ALEC and does not want to see NRA-backed self-defense laws spread around the country. This seems unlikely, since he's long been a big supporter of the NRA and is always having his photo taken shooting stuff.
  • Perry thinks "cave" means something like, "to go even deeper" instead of "to capitulate." That would mean he thought the headline indicated Coke's more intense commitment to ALEC, which would be consisted with his past gun fetishism.
  • Perry is like a lot of people on the internet, and does not closely read the stories he links to on Twitter. We see this all the time from random Twitterers, but it seems especially foolish for a public figure to do with his official account. (Also, in our experience, even the laziest readers at least get through the headline.)

Some conservatives have waded into the Martin story in a way that suggests they think the unarmed teenager was a thug who had it coming. Perhaps Perry was trying to make the same case, but more subtly. We would have granted him a bonus tenth in his Conservative Outrage Score if that emoticon had been a winking smile. And he could have earned a whole extra point if he'd managed to read two words into the story he linked.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.