GOP DEATH WATCH

It’s Time to Get Serious and Redefine “Santorum”

By now everyone is familiar with is euphemistically called Rick Santorum’s “Google problem.” A decade ago, Dan Savage tweaked the former Senator from Pennsylvania and always-current homophobeby defining the word santorum to mean “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.”

What should have been a short-lived prank took on a life of its own—For years, the website defining “santorum” was the first result that turns up on a Google search of the wannabe presidential nominee’s name. (At the moment, it is now in second place.)

That site is also turning out to be the place where at least one of Santorum’s rivals for the GOP presidential nomination is running ads. An official ad from Mitt Romney’s campaign keeps turning up on the prank site, apparently as part of buy that uses mystical algorithms to determine where to place an ad. (To be fair. Queerty has had ads by anti-gay politicians served up by Google from time to time.)

Now, we’re second to none in our contempt for Santorum’s rabid antigay rhetoric. Even among the noxiously anti-gay GOP presidential candidates he stands out in his obsession with our sex lives and the vitriol of his rhetoric.

Having compared homosexuality to “man on dog” sex, Santorum says sodomy laws, he claims, are justified to prevent acts which “undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family.”

His performance at Saturday night’s GOP candidate debate was vintage Santorum: chilling for his refusal to acknowledge our equality or even our humanity. We’re looking forward to the not-too-distant day when Santorum gets his comeuppance at the hands of Republican voters, just as he did in his last landslide defeat at the hands of Pennsylvania voters. (We’re not looking forward to whom they choose in his place, of course.)

Still, shouldn’t “santorum” be a synonym for last-gasp homophobia instead of the aftermath of a sex act? Much as we have liked to chuckle about the Google problem, it cheapens Santorum as a real threat, representative of the virulent strain of antigay hatred that animates the Republican right wing.

At this point, making fun of his name is a lot like making fun of Romney’s first name or even his Mormonism: it feels good perhaps, but let’s face it, it’s pretty juvenile.

It was stupid when Dick Armey made fun of Barney Frank’s name; it’s not a whole lot smarter just because we’re in the right. It makes us look like we can’t defeat Santorum’s bigotry head on with the power of our arguments and our organizing, and must instead resort to schoolyard name-calling.

As the Saturday night GOP presidential candidate debate demonstrated, LGBT equality will be a major issue in the presidential election. Santorum perfectly captures the anti-gay sentiment of the Republican right, but he’s hardly the only candidate who does. Marriage equality is on the line, and conservatives will push for the return of DADT. It’s a deadly serious game that we’re involved in.

Let’s not treat it like a joke.