FROM THE ARCHIVES (2003) SANCTUM SANTORUM?

January 9, 2012

Santorum and Lott: Pigs of a Feather

Found this in my old “Crank Call” files. Seems pertinent now. First published 30 April 2003

How thoughtful of Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania and chair of the Senate Republican Conference, to take my mind off Iraq, Iran, Syria, SARS, North Korea, Donald Rumsfeld, Laci Peterson and that freak in the White House by attacking “homosexuality.”  It’s been a long time since I’ve written a screed in defense of gay sex, an issue of such burning importance to the nation that it’s eclipsed the Dixie Chicks and Charlton Heston’s farewell speech to the National Rifle Association.

For those who don’t know, Mr. Heston, stricken with Alzheimer’s, won a standing ovation at the NRA’s annual convention on Sunday, “shuffling onto the stage before a crowd of 4,000” and “strong enough to raise an 1866 Winchester rifle over his head” while gasping his trademark line, “From my cold, dead hands!”  Which, right now, to speak frankly, I wish were wrapped around Santorum’s neck.

Oh, I know — Santorum has “no problem with homosexuality,” as he told the Associated Press in the interview that caused all the fuss:  “I have a problem with homosexual acts.  As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships.”

These acts might include golfing, cheating, lying, stealing, bombing Iraq and leaving the toilet seat up, but let’s not pin a straight man down.  “I think this is a legitimate public policy discussion,” Santorum remarks.  “These are not, you know, ridiculous, you know, comments.”

No.  These are, you know, appalling, you know, despicable comments.  Santorum describes the abuse of children by Catholic priests as “a basic homosexual relationship,” and while acknowledging that homosexuality is not in itself, “you know, man on child, man on dog,” he sees no need to temper his words.  “And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home,” he adds, “then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery.  You have the right to anything.”

Well!  That’s a lot to swallow, forgiving the expression.  I doubt that “swallowing” sits high on Santorum’s list of traditional heterosexual acts, although I’m sure if my cold, dead hands were to lift the sheets when he and Mrs. S. get together for the Deed, he’d resent the intrusion.  Democrats have called for Santorum to resign his Senate leadership post, and even the Human Rights Campaign, a generally insipid gay rights organization, has said that his stance is “stunning in its insensitivity — putting homosexuality on the same moral plane as incest is repulsive.”

Actually, incest is the only item on Santorum’s list that can be compared to “homosexual acts,” even if the comparison is odious.  Bigamy, polygamy and adultery are all terms defined by their relation to legal or, if you prefer, holy matrimony.  Take away the marriage vow and these entities change their names.  “Bigamy” becomes a second marriage, “polygamy” a third, fourth, or more, and “adultery” — let’s face it — is just an affair.  Outside the law, none of them has anything to do with sexual preference, positions, partners or parts.

Not so with incest, which, while also illegal, is a social taboo, powerfully and permanently proscribed by almost every society and so fraught with genetic and emotional baggage as to pop the diamond from your ring.  It, too, is widely practiced, despite its prohibition, and no matter how many times its perpetrators tie the knot.  For better or worse, the same is true of “man on man,” or “dick on dick,” if I can lapse into vulgarity for the sake of a point.  This is why Santorum can claim “no problem” with homosexuality but only with the “you know” part of it.  This is how we can tell that he’s thought about it, a lot.  The sex itself blows his mind in a way that bigamy, polygamy and adultery never could.

There’s a been a lot of pundit blather comparing Santorum’s “incendiary” comments to those of another revolting bigot, former Senate majority leader Trent Lott, whose remarks on racial segregation cost him his post at the start of the year.  Will Santorum, like Lott, resign? Who cares? No mention is made of Lott’s previous piggery, in June 1998, when he compared homosexuality to alcoholism, “sex addiction” and “kleptomania.”  Four months later, the body of Matthew Shepard was found beaten, bludgeoned and tied to a post, left to die by a couple of punks who feared he might unman them with a glance, and who, if the God Santorum says he believes in is really on the job, will be raped in perpetuity in the jail where they belong.

If there’s a hero in this scenario, it’s our own Howard Dean, who, three years ago, signed Vermont’s civil union law like a nervous nellie, virtually in the dark, but who seems to have found his courage on the national stage and says he “can’t wait to engage Republicans on that issue.”  I hope he means it.  Because — oh, irony! — while President Bush and his party keep insisting there will be no “theocratic, fundamentalist” government in the new, remodeled Iraq, we’re well on our way to getting one here.

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3 Responses to “FROM THE ARCHIVES (2003) SANCTUM SANTORUM?”

  1. John Hayes Says:

    Beautifully expressed, Peter. I have grown so disheartened with the political landscape in the US that I can no longer bring myself to write about it. I’m glad you still can–you are consistently a voice for sanity & reason. Much appreciated.

  2. Peter Kurth Says:

    Thanks John. I can’t believe that (even) Republicans are considering this clown.

  3. Christopher Hill Says:

    I have missed Crank Call for years Peter, you and Peter Freyne were always my first read…


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