Posted by: mulrickillion | February 10, 2012

Rick Santorum’s ride – Now is the time for consenting adults to lock their bedroom doors

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Jan 7th 2012 | from the print edition, The Economist —

RICK SANTORUM, a former senator from Pennsylvania, is a virtuous man: intelligent, industrious and God-fearing, the proud father of six children, whom he and his wife have schooled at home. His misfortune as he strives to become president of the United States is that virtue is in the eye of the beholder. As anyone who Googles his surname will discover (don’t let your children try), many gay Americans abhor him and will resort to any revolting prank to besmirch his name.

They have reason. Last September the former senator was one of nine Republican hopefuls participating in a televised debate in Orlando, Florida. A question was posed over video by a soldier in Iraq who said he had hidden the fact that he was gay because he did not want to lose his job. Did any of the candidates intend to repeal the measure Barack Obama signed into law last year that had at last given gay soldiers the right to serve their country openly? Mr Santorum’s unblinking answer was Yes. Allowing gays to serve in the military was giving one group of people “a special privilege”; it was “social policy” that ought to have no place in the armed forces.

This became a notorious exchange, not least because some members of the ultra-conservative audience in Orlando booed the soldier. But the episode hardly does justice to the depth of the former senator’s feelings about the things gays get up to. The propinquity of the wicked plainly has an unsettling impact on the peace of mind of the virtuous Mr Santorum.

Gays should not only be disqualified from serving their country, says Mr Santorum. They should also be prohibited from marrying one another. Even if unmarried, they would be ill-advised to have sex. To Mr Santorum the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2003 that anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional was a bad mistake: this was a slippery slope that would establish a right to bigamy, polygamy, incest, adultery—“anything”.

It is not quite clear what Mr Santorum thinks about heterosexuals who have sex for fun—or at least who have it only for fun. The special status of marriage, he told the New York Times, does not exist “because people like to hang out together and have fun”; it is there to provide “a stable environment for the raising of children”. As president, he said more recently, he would at last address “the dangers of contraception in this country”, because contraception is a “licence to do things in a sexual realm that are counter to how things are supposed to be”.

If Mr Santorum has doubts about contraception, he has none about abortion. It is wrong, even in cases of rape or incest, because life is sacred and begins at conception (he does, however, support the death penalty, as it is not the innocent who die). Any doctor who performs an abortion should face criminal charges. . . .

Why it matters

If you write the most controversial opinions of a sincere and thoughtful man down in a list, you are in danger of ending up with a caricature. Google the words “Santorum” and “bigot” and you will get about 5m results. But is it fair to dwell, as the media caravan now will, on Mr Santorum’s divisive attitudes to sex, abortion, family values and gay marriage instead of his many interesting ideas about economics and foreign policy (for example, that “all of the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis”)?. . . .

Lexington: Rick Santorum’s ride | The Economist

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