Rick Santorum -- Why Homophobia is a Psychological Disorder

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.

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10 comments to Rick Santorum — Why Homophobia is a Psychological Disorder

  • 1
    John Kusters says:

    It’s the same ol’ double standard we hear from these reigious conservative types all the time. If straight people talk about what they and their spouse did over the weekend, that’s wholesome and normal. If gay people talk about what they and their spouse did over the weekend, that’s forcing deviant behavior down the throats of normal people. The religious right just cannot separate gay people from anal sex, so anything that gay people do is automatically sexual. And it’s not appropriate to talk about sex in the workplace. Therefore, if a gay man says that he and his husband went shopping for a new TV on a Saturday afternoon, it’s making sex an issue.

  • 2
    JCF says:

    The default public policy, according to the Constitution, is equal treatment under the law. Period.
     
    But their bog-standard response to this is “The Framers NEVER had in mind (blah-blah-blah)”. Thanks to Scalia and Co, it’s never about what the words say to us, today. It’s about conjecturing what was in the head of somebody 200+ years ago. “Why, they couldn’t POSSIBLY have ever considered the possibility of letting ho*mo*sex*uals marry, therefore…!!!11!1!”
    Yeah, well “the Framers” never considered the possibility of the telephone, much less the internet. Despite that, Scalia never met a government wiretap he didn’t allow!
    Blatant hypocrisy…

  • 3
    Ali says:

    I’m not sure whether my favorite part (read: most ridiculous) was where he suggested removing DADT means same sex troops are now being officially encouraged to have sex with each other on base, or where he tailed off (after ‘special privilege’) because he seemingly couldn’t come up with an actual end to the sentence on the extra rights gay servicemen and women now apparently have. Because there wasn’t anything he could have said that wouldn’t have been not only innacurate but obviously so even to the right.

  • 4
    Bonefish says:

    When people like Santorum make this “special rights” argument, what they’re doing is re-wording one of their awful arguments that were tossed around during the prop-8 trial: If gays and straighs BOTH have the right to marry an opposite-sex partner, then they technically have “equal” rights.  Therefore, an ability to marry the same sex would be a “special” right.
     
    Rob refuted this pretty well in his youtube video by pointing out how this is akin to arguing that anti-semitism is OK, since Jews have the same right to convert to Christianity as anybody else.  However, there is an even more basic logical flaw to the “special rights” argument: its converse.  If it’s true that gays have the same right to “be straight” as straight people, then it’s also true that straights would gain the same right to “be gay” after certain legislation is passed.
     
    For instance: there are four policies that the military can have regarding “open” vs. “closeted” sexual identity:
    1) No sexuality can be discussed.  Everybody’s sexuality is a mystery. (i.e., Santorum’s suggestion)
    2) Heterosexuals can be open.  Homosexuals must lie, omit, or be discharged.  (i.e., DADT)
    3) Homosexuals can be open.  Heterosexuals must lie, omit, or be discharged. (That’ll be the day)
    4) Everybody can be open.  Nobody will be discharged for revealing the sex of their spouse/crush/ex/etc. (i.e., the new policy)
     
    Under the logic of the “special rights” argument, all of these situations are technically “equal.”  Both gays and straights are sworn to silence under #1.  Both gays and straights can pretend to be straight under #2.  Both gays and straights can pretend to be gay under #3.  Both gays and straights can be honest under #4. 
     
    So, in order to believe the context-free literalism of the “special rights” argument, you paradoxically have to believe that “special rights” are impossible; that any law is equal since everyone “has” to obey it.  This goes to show how ridiculous it is to ignore context.  The right that gays were being denied isn’t the right to “have a partner” without being discharged.  It’s the right to have a partner THAT YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO without being discharged.  Under DADT, straights could do this and gays could not.  That is the definition of a “special” right.
     
    Under the new policy, both groups have the exact same privileges: both can date and sleep with the people that they are attracted to, and both can be open about this, and both can keep their jobs.  Neither one has “special” permission to do what the other may not. 
     
    And if Senator Frothy still isn’t convinced, maybe this point will clarify things for him: if a straight soldier is jealous that his gay colleague now has the “special” ability to have gay sex and then talk about it without being discharged, he can always get his own gay lover and then talk about him.  He has the exact same right to do this now that DADT has been lifted!  So if it makes Santorum feel any better, he can always pretend that DADT was simply a means of expanding the rights of straight soldiers.

  • 5
    Will J says:

    I’m not willing to concede that the former Senator did not hear the boos.  I want to see his audiologist’s report.  Produce the report!

  • 6
    K H says:

    All of the arguments on this page would be correct except for the fact that all of the arguments and claim of psychological disorder are based on a false premise.  That premise is that the desire to practice homosexuality is equivalent to an inherent trait such as race or gender.  It is not equivalent to any inherent trait because it is not an inherent trait but a behavior preference just as bestiality, pedophilia, or non-sexually oriented behaviors such as bowling or golfing.  Because you don’t like that fact or you disagree with that fact, and it IS A FACT, does not, in any way, indicate psychological disorder. Your unsubstatiated OPINION does not equate to clinical diagnoses.  There is no biological or any other scientific evidence that the desire to engage in homosexual acts is any more a biological trait than the desire to commit beastiality, or the facination with latex. Any claim that there is or any claim based on such a claim is false and not based in reality.
    In fact, the ONLY reason you claim it is a psychological disorder is because liberals, of which those with the mental disorder of the disire to commit homosexual acts is a value of liberalism, as they often do, try to use conservatives claims against them in a childish way.  It is just a more sophisticated version of the schoolyard name-caller counter response of, “I know you are. What am I?”.   And that is, yet again, no basis for your argument of mental illness or psychological disorder and political manipulation through rage, and name calling, and bullying has coerced weak principled people and organization to succumb to your point of view for political reasons, politically correct reasons, so they will be spared the hatred of intolerant, militant, homosexual activists, the desire to practice homosexual acts is deviant and is still a mental disorder just like people who think they have fallen in love with a rock, tree, or a dog and want to marry them would be diagnosed as a mental disorder.  There is NO DIFFERENCE between you and such a person. None.

  • 7
    robtish says:

    K H, the problem with your response is that it has nothing to do with the post.  My argument in no way rests on the premise that “the desire to practice homosexuality is equivalent to an inherent trait such as race or gender.”  While I do believe it’s inherent, I don’t bring it up in this post.

    Rather, in this post I question Santorum’s ability to think clearly about homosexuality because he makes bizarre statements, like his idea that “in the past” even straight soldiers weren’t allowed to talk about their sex lives.

    That’s the basis of this post, and you ignored it completely so that you could launch into a diatribe that has nothing to do with what I’ve written here.  My issue is not that you disagree with me, but that you seem to be blind to what I’ve written while apparently seeing things on this page that I did not write.  

    You’re demonstrating the exact kind of break from reality that I called out the article, the kind of break that makes us view homophobia as a psychological disorder.  One might almost think you’re a ringer, a commenter I invented underscore my point. If only that were so.

  • 8

    […] saw this in his policy statements on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: …we would move forward in conformity to what was […]

  • 9

    […] longed for the good old days before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, when even straight soldiers never talked about their sex lives with each […]

  • 10

    […] longed for the good old days before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, when even straight soldiers never talked about their sex lives with each […]

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