Rick Santorum — Why Homophobia is a Psychological Disorder

Rob Tisinai

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.

Ken Noguera

September 24th, 2011

I recall the saying that “There are no atheists in foxholes” There are probably no homophobes in their either.


September 24th, 2011

“But perhaps Santorum himself is not an idiot.”

Rob, Man-on-Dog was pretty much been established as the dumbest Senator serving in his years there (and remember that Jim Bunning served at the same time).

One day, there will be photos of Lou Sheldon and Rick Frothy Mixture in a hotel room. Naked on a plastic covered king-sized bed. Smeared in feces. With several dogs walking strangely.

and God will be weeping.

Many apologies for the imagery.

Those who obsess to this extent have very deep closets.

Priya Lynn

September 24th, 2011

Ken, there have been many atheists in foxholes, that was an idiotic statement by a dumb reporter who never experienced combat himself.



September 24th, 2011

I will admit that Santorum gets angry — disproportionately angry — whenever LGBT issues enter the conversation. It was particularly noticeable during Santorum’s August 30th talk at Penn State. He sounded testy when arguing against same-sex marriage, and got very annoyed when a student questioned his assertions about social science.


Leonardo Ricardo

September 24th, 2011

I think Rick needs a Sanitarium…fasto!


September 25th, 2011

Rob, with Santorum’s obsession with gays, what evidence have you seen that indicates a bright and agile mind?

And those silly comments about no atheists in foxholes. Well, I wasn’t in a foxhole but I was on a military post in Sinope, Turkey, 90 miles across the Black Sea from the nearest Soviet bomber base during the Cuban Missile Crisis and I was not by myself as we all went about doing our jobs. And we weren’t doing laps around any beads or babbling incantations for help from a sky fairy.


September 25th, 2011

[Ken was making an analogy, that’s all. Could the angry atheists here please not hijack the thread? plz&ty.]

The default public policy, according to the Constitution, is equal treatment under the law. Period.

“But the Framers never intended (blah-blah-blah)”: that’s their [Scalia&Co] standard rejoinder. It’s BS, of course, but we still have to anticipate/defeat it.


September 25th, 2011

Don’t forget “sexual activity has no place in the military”

First he reduces gayness to sex. Then he somehow thinks sex doesn’t happen in the military. The straight service members aren’t going to like that one bit


September 25th, 2011

“The default public policy, according to the Constitution, is equal treatment under the law. Period.

“But the Framers never intended (blah-blah-blah)”: that’s their [Scalia&Co] standard rejoinder. It’s BS, of course, but we still have to anticipate/defeat it.”

The 14th Amendment came along WELL after the Framers, because “But the Framers never intended…” was basically the standard response to “All Men Are Created Equal.” Then you STILL had the New Deal which introduced Labor Laws to prevent companies from preying on their workers, the De-Segregation of the Military in ’47, the Civil Rights Act, the James Byrd/Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, etc. HELL, even DADT itself was originally an improvement.

How many times do these kind of people have to see it in black and white, that prejudice is right, before they get it through their heads??

God, you have to have laws on everything for some people, I swear. It’s like warning labels on everything, makes you wonder what’s wrong with people.

I’d say that I’d bet money that when picking on Gays becomes socially unacceptable (it’s fast getting there) they’ll find some other group to pick on…but these are the people who seem hell bent on repealing the entire 20th century and while they’re at it trying to assign everyone who isn’t Christian, rich, straight, and white to being 2nd Class citizens anyway. It’s not going to work in the long run, but I bet when the dust has settled they’ll still find someone to hate…and/or to blame for their failures.


September 25th, 2011

They’re christians, they lie! They have to lie to create their truth! We didn’t hear the boos. Oh brother.


September 25th, 2011

I also have to take exception to the characterization of Santorum as having “a bright and agile mind.” He’s given no evidence of being particularly intelligent — quite the opposite — and as for agility, he’s one of the most rigid and dogmatic people in public life.

As for his statement in response to that question, that’s one of the most incoherent things I’ve heard out of the Republicans yet, even allowing for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Like most rabid anti-gay activists, he’s obsessed with sex and doesn’t think very clearly to start with.

But you got the “idiot” part right.


September 25th, 2011

Eh, I think the term “idiot” is overused. Santorum isn’t special enough to be an idiot, he’s just willfully ignorant as hell.

Ken Noguera

September 25th, 2011

I saw the 60 minutes story about the soldier who tried to save his fellow Marines and got the CMH.

With regard to the Atheists or Homophobes in foxholes,I was alluding more to the four soldiers that died in that Afgan ambush. I felt sure that of the four of them that not a one of them was at that time concerned about the lifestyle choice of the other three.

With regard to their last moments being with or with out a god, we’ll never know. Can’t say what anyone else might do in that situation and you can’t really be 100% on what you might do in your last moments of life.

Timothy Kincaid

September 26th, 2011


Great piece, but I have a correction (one that strengthens your case). Santorum’s verbatim comment was:

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 uh to uh to to uh in removing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…

Usually “uh” isn’t part of the transcript because its a vocal filler. In this case it is relevant and telling.

Santorum was trying to state what the special privilege was… but couldn’t come up with an example (or one socially presentable). So he quickly shifted to just say that removing DADT was a special privilege (inherently somehow I suppose).

(For those looking for agility, this is an example.)

And no one has called him on it. And you are spot on that to call equal treatment a special privilege is idiocy.

However, I do want to offer some shading on your final comment. I think that those who think like Santorum would not put “getting laid, or their romantic interests, or their spouses, or their family life” together as one concept.

They don’t see gay and straight as the divider, rather they see sin (religious conformity) as the divide.

So they would put “straight soldiers getting laid” or even “married soldiers discussing their sex life” in the same category as homosexual anything. When he says “sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue” he really means that sex should not be an allowed topic of discussion. By anyone.

It is prudish, puritanical and authoritarian. It is conformity control. It is the opposite of what any freedom loving person supports. But it isn’t hypocritical or inconsistent.

But your final conclusion is correct. Homosexuality makes Santorum reactionary. It short-circuits his brain.


September 26th, 2011

Good piece, but Rob omits the most idiotic and incoherent part of Santorum’s response.

After declaring that the repeal of DADT constituted special treatment for homosexuals and further constituted the harmful introduction of sex into the military, Santorum goes on to say that he would not discharge any of the servicemembers who come out prior to his reinstating the policy.

There may be tens of thousands of servicemembers who come out between now and the hypothetical moment in 2013 when a President Santorum could reinstate the policy. These servicemembers will continue to serve for years and in some cases, decades. If Santorum actually believed that the repeal of DADT harmed the military, undermined recruitment, retention, readiness and unit cohesion, how could he plausibly say that it is OK to keep thousands of open homosexuals on duty?

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