Rick Santorum — Why Homophobia is a Psychological Disorder
September 24th, 2011
People are missing the real story.
You’ve probably heard about Rick Santorum and the openly gay solider at the Republican debate. Watch it here if you like, but so far the outcry has focused on the crowd booing an active-duty soldier just for being gay, the candidates’ failure to condemn the catcalls, and Santorum neglecting to the thank the soldier, as is customary, for his service.
Here’s what the right has claimed in response:
- Santorum did not hear the boos (possible, though at least one person onstage managed to).
- The boos came from an isolated source, and those nearby rebuked him (possible, though the lack of audio proof is unfortunate).
- Santorum’s failure to offer the traditional thanks for the soldier’s service was a meaningless oversight, and was NOT caused by the image of man-on-dog sex that assaults him when he thinks of gays (doubtful, but possible).
- Conservatives have rebuked both the booer and the unreacting candidates (true).
- Santorum himself much later rebuked the booer and thanked the soldier for his service (true).
I’ll concede all that — really, I will — just to get it out of the way. It obscures the real issue, what we ought to be calling out: the idiocy of what Santorum actually said, and the way it shows how homophobia induces a genuine mental breakdown.
Look at three bits of his terrible answer. First:
The fact that they’re making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we’re going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege and removing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…
Stop. A special privilege? Having a equal right to serve openly in the military is a special privilege? The right to mention your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse is a special privilege? Being treated just like your fellow soldiers is a special privilege? If pressed to the wall and forced to classify this as idiocy or not idiocy, I’d have to choose…idiocy.
Continuing Santorum’s quote:
… removing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I think tries to inject social policy into the military.
Stop. The irony and idiocy are singing in harmony. “Social policy”? Banning gays from the military, imposing special silence requirements on them — that’s the social policy.
We ought to make this point more often. The default public policy, according to the Constitution, is equal treatment under the law. Period. You want to argue that the health of society requires anti-gay persecution? Go ahead (you’re wrong, but go ahead). Just remember — that’s the injection of social policy into the military, a political and cultural agenda being imposed by law. Removing DADT, removing the ban on gays — that’s removing social policy from military matters.
Santorum wrapped up with this reason for re-imposing DADT:
…we would move forward in conformity to what was happening in the past, which is — sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself — whether you’re heterosexual or homosexual.
Wow! That last sentence is an amazing and unexpected endorsement of equality. Combine it with his support for DADT, and you’ve got a Republican presidential hopeful declaring that straight soldiers shouldn’t be allowed to talk about getting laid, or their romantic interests, or their spouses, or their family life. He wants to gag them just as he wants to gag gay and lesbian soldiers. He wants straight soldiers to keep silent on such things, “in conformity to what was happening in the past.”
Wait, stop, what? This is idiocy all around. He can’t possibly believe that straight soldiers of years gone by were forbidden to conceal their straightness. And he can’t possibly believe that letting straights speak freely while silencing gays means treating all soldiers the same (“whether you’re heterosexual or homosexual”). But he seems to be saying both of these idiotic things — and since they contradict each other, that makes for idiocy squared.
But perhaps Santorum himself is not an idiot. Perhaps his terror of homosexuals is so intense that it renders his otherwise bright and agile mind incapable of clear, simple thought. Perhaps his feelings toward us create an intellectual dysfunction, an impairment, a narrowly-focused mental disability.
Perhaps. And if so, folks, it would make Rick Santorum prime evidence for why we call homophobia a psychological disorder.