First, let me qualify my antipathy to Senator Santorum. I will simply let his words speak for themselves:
SANTORUM: And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we're seeing it in our society.
AP: Sorry, I just never expected to talk about that when I came over here to interview you. Would a President Santorum eliminate a right to privacy -- you don't agree with it?
SANTORUM: I've been very clear about that. The right to privacy is a right that was created in a law that set forth a (ban on) rights to limit individual passions. And I don't agree with that.
It was Santorum's remarks that linked his name to a new definition for shitstain through the efforts of one angry sex advice columnist, Dan Savage.
Savage reacted strongly to United States Senator Rick Santorum's statements about homosexuality in an interview with the Associated Press published April 20, 2003. (See Santorum controversy for the details.) In the interview, Santorum describes homosexual acts as part of a class of deviant sexual behavior, including incest, polygamy, and zoophilia, which he said threaten society and the family. Furthermore Santorum stated that he believed consenting adults do not have a Constitutional right to privacy with respect to sexual acts.
Savage was outraged by these statements. At the suggestion of a reader, Savage challenged his audience to come up with a sex-related definition for the word santorum as a satirical form of political protest, a smear campaign for the express purpose of "memorializ[ing] the Santorum scandal [...] by attaching his name to a sex act that would make his big, white teeth fall out of his big, empty head".
After Savage published several definitions suggested by readers, a vote was taken among the readers of his column. The winning definition "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" was announced in the June 12, 2003 column.
Fans of Savage (among others) have made a concerted effort to make the newly coined term a part of the English language, setting up a web site for the purpose and employing Google bombing to drive that site to the first result slot for a Google search on "santorum". At its annual meeting in January 2005, the American Dialect Society selected "santorum" as the "Most Outrageous" word of the year.
There is a rather simple observation that cuts through much of conservative anti-homosexual politics. And that is: to consider homosexuality a threat to the family, heterosexuality, or marriage, one must first start with the assumption that the family, heterosexuality, or marriage are weak institutions/ impulses. Now, I don't know about you, but when I see the naked female form, I feel urges that aren't really influenced by what Jack and Mark are doing next door. To put it another away, sexuality is never simple, but this observation is: as a heterosexual, I don't care what homosexuals do, they simply don't matter to me. What sort of person is very interested in what homosexuals do?
In what way can homosexuals be considered a threat to my peace of mind? Or rather, what kind of person finds expressions of homosexuality interesting? For people of what psychological makeup is the instution of heterosexual marriage or the impulses of heterosexuality weak?
The answer to all of these questions is: homosexuals.
There is nothing wrong with homosexuality. However, if your childhood was deeply religious or conservative, then if you begin to have feelings for members of your own sex as you enter into puberty then one can imagine that the internal conflict between expectations and reality that unavoidably arises could be quite powerful. How does a child react and how does their reaction drive their character later in life? In their teenaged and young adult years, homosexuals fall into one of two camps: the ones who summon their courage and go through the often difficult process of coming out, and the other ones. The ones who cannot face the chasm between their upbringing and their organic feelings. The ones who respond by digging in their heels and driving themselves deeper into the closet. The ones whose adult future is one defined by this internal psychosexual conflict.
I'm not the only one who will tell you that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. Senator Santorum will tell you the same:
SANTORUM: I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And that includes a variety of different acts, not just homosexual. I have nothing, absolutely nothing against anyone who's homosexual. If that's their orientation, then I accept that. And I have no problem with someone who has other orientations. The question is, do you act upon those orientations? So it's not the person, it's the person's actions. And you have to separate the person from their actions.
AP: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?
SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.
Without getting too deeply into the philosophical questions of privacy versus society, and completely sidestepping the whole red herring slippery slope argument Senator Santorum suggests (just because those issues are outside the scope of this story), let us instead examine the words of a man who would like to regulate your bedroom behaviors (remember, you might laugh at this man, but he's not funny: this is a US Senator speaking here, he wields real power over your life, even if, as recent history suggests, you do not live in the United States). Beyond all of the practical impossibilities involved with regulating bedroom behavior, to what kind of mind does such an impulse make sense?
Think about the motivations here behind the idea of regulating bedroom behavior. How and why does the "solution" Senator Santorum presents us make sense in his mind?
When I am in the bedroom, I'm not thinking about regulating my behavior, I'm not thinking about any higher superego mental faculties at all. For me, and most other people I believe, when I am in the bedroom it's about satisfying lower pleasures. Healthy, normal pleasures, but pleasures NOT related to higher mental faculties. And I couldn't imagine why I would want to or have to regulate those baser pleasures when I am in my bedroom with a willing partner. I'm not doing anything wrong. What kind of mind would cast suspicion on whether or not I am doing something wrong in expressing my normal organic sexual self?
What kind of mind indeed.
Maybe it makes sense to a mind who has spent his entire adult life regulating his baser instincts? Maybe regulating everyone's bedroom activities makes practical sense to a mind that has spent decades honing and exercising the police state mentality over their sexuality within their own mind, so that it is like a well-exercised muscle. Only to such a mind does it seem possible to exercise a police state mentality over sexuality, in terms of governmental policy.
Again, we're not talking about a stupid man, we're not talking about a man who cannot express his ideas and words. He is no simpleton. In fact, he is a very, very complex individual, perhaps more psychologically complex than the vast majority of people.
He is not a funny fringe character, he is very dangerous. He seeks power because seeking power is all he has ever known in his adult life: seeking power over his sexuality. Seeking power in life is a personal strength of his, because he has honed the skillset psychologically over his own sexuality like a powerful, well-exercised muscle, for a longer period of time and to a much stronger degree than any normal person. And of course, what I mean by a normal person is not to mean a heterosexual person, a normal person is a homosexual or heterosexual person who has made peace with their sexuality. It is not normal to not to have made peace with one's sexuality.
So this is a man with a very deep psychological issue. How deep?
Some straight men can recall friends from junior high school who had an interesting problem: they were a constant fount of unsolicited homophobic remarks. Perhaps these homophobic remarks reached a fever pitch in the locker room. Perhaps these homophobic remarks got louder when a good male friend showed an interest in a girl. But even at that young age, even if the other men were homophobic themselves for the more usual reasons- simple ignorance and bigotry, most non-homosexual teenagers could still perceive of a difference in motivations between them and their (somewhat) secretly homosexual peers: why was this person's mind constantly stuck on the issue homosexuality?
In other words, most neutral parties could see that for some of their loudly homophobic peers, the issue was not that they were homophobic (again, considering the psychology, they were also most probably the most overtly aggressively homophobic), the issue was that the homosexual issue constantly reasserted itself.
For your average heterosexual, even the garden variety homophobic ones, homosexuality is never really thought about. In fact, among heterosexual men who are not homophobic, you can say that they can even view homosexual pornography to no great effect: they won't like it, but they won't hate it. Their reaction? They just won't care. It simply is not a threat to them. For them, what makes their penises hard is female anatomy. The expression of homosexuality simply does not threaten them in any way. (In fact, this observation is key to the entire national debate over homosexuality.)
You can see then how the conflict going on within the teenaged homosexual in denial plays itself out in public: the deeply rooted desires versus the expectations of their upbringing in traditional male roles. It is a very powerful conflict. Now, draw the analogy between:
Exactly what is motivating some conservative leaders to be concerned with homosexuality so much?
- the teenaged homosexual in denial and his deeply rooted aversion to homosexuality and his seemingly incongruent obsession with homosexuality, and
- contemporary conservative American politics.
Some of you must be thinking that I am going way out on the limb here. "OK," you might say, "maybe you can find one or two rare birds for whom this psychosexual conflict drives their anti-homosexual politics... but the vast majority of anti-homosexual people have at the root of their beliefs simple, traditional values."
And I would agree with you on that when you are talking about your average joe on the street. But what of the most highly anti-homosexual, the ones who would move to the forefront of the anti-homosexual efforts? The ones most highly motivated to achieve political power to pursue their anti-homosexual agenda? Wouldn't you find a concentration of these people in higher echelons of conservative American politics?
Furthermore, if some homophobic conservative leaders are indeed closeted homosexuals, is this a psychological debilitating position? If you think I am going out on a limb, let me take you dangling off the tree branch: maybe the opposite is true. Maybe, the closeted conservative homosexual's psychology is in fact the prime motivator behind their chosen profession and their chosen point of view, and even, therefore, their concomitant success.
Some of you might know of The Drudge Report, but if you don't, it is a wildly successful right wing muckraking and gossip blog, run by Matt Drudge, an outed homosexual. Consider the following scene from last year's presidential campaign:
Indeed, right now Bush and the Congressional Republicans are trying to exploit "class value" wedge issues by promoting an anti-gay marriage Constitutional Amendment, one that they know will never be affirmed by enough states to become law. It is political opportunism at its most base.
Yet, how does Drudge, who has been outed by a variety of people -- including David Brock -- since we first wrote our June, 2000, editorials justify his anti-gay innuendo?
Last week, he headlined a series of photos (PDF of page from July 8) -- along with an extended commentary -- that insidiously tries to imply that Kerry and Edwards aren't "real men" because of photos Drudge highlights showing them patting each other on the back and so forth. In this strange cover story, Drudge breathlessly fanned the flames of gay-effeminate prejudices:
"Hugs, kisses to the cheek, affectionate touching of the face, caressing of the back, grabbing of the arm, fingers to the neck, rubbing of the knees...
John Kerry and John Edwards can't keep their hands off each other!
In the past 48 hours, 'candidate handling' has become the top buzz on the trail."
Of course, the photos of Kerry and Edwards are just your standard political glad handing, arm-in-arm, patting-the-back stock-in-trade. Every politician engages in such gestures. If you assemble photos of Bush with other male politicians, he's a regular "touchy-feely" kind of guy. Just take a look at this group of photos a reader sent BuzzFlash ("Matt Drudge is a Douchebag," AngryFinger.org).
So how can Drudge, an outed gay, post a totally slimy gay exploitative piece that doesn't even make any sense, in the context of run-of-the-mill male political body contact?
How indeed? What is the driving force in this man? Drudge was at it again last month, all over an "extremely controversial" remark by an edgy comedian involving gays. Thank the almighty we have Matt Drudge protecting us from Chris Rock jokes involving gays. That is: making a big deal about an issue of gayness that isn't an issue at all... except in the mind of homosexuals in denial.
I just never understood organizations like the Log Cabin Republicans. That's like being a pro-slavery African American in 1850, or an anti-suffrage American woman in 1880. What are the psychological roots of the politics of self-hatred and self-denial?
Now consider the political scandal last month involving a right wing muckraker posing as a journalist at a presidential news conference, Jeff Gannon aka James Guckert:
The initial controversy started at President George W. Bush's January 26, 2005 press conference, at which Gannon asked the president the following question:
Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid was talking about soup lines. And Senator Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work - you've said you are going to reach out to these people - how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?
Guckert was soon discovered by bloggers to have registered several domain names of a sexual nature, including Hotmilitarystud.com and Militaryescorts4m.com. Guckert said that he had registered the domain names for a client who ended up not using them. Further inspection showed that many sexually explicit photos of Guckert existed online, with accompanying ads appearing to offer himself as a gay prostitute for clients seeking a military type. Gannon commented that these activities were in his "past," however some noted that many of his online gay profiles were still active after he had resigned from Talon News  (http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/02/if-this-is-your-past-then-why-are.html)
These findings had some critics questioning Guckert's sexual orientation. Supporters denounce this speculation as irrelevant, but others say that it reveals hypocrisy on the part of Guckert, his employers, the White House and/or the Republican Party. Opponents note, for instance, that Guckert had made statements in articles that could be perceived as anti-gay or homophobic. During the 2004 election, he wrote that John Kerry "might someday be known as `the first gay president,'" and that Kerry had supported "the pro-gay agenda."  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36733-2005Feb18.html)
And for the final blow to anyone who thinks that a deeply closeted homosexual cannot find great success in politics, consider recently resigned New Jersey Governor James McGreevey. While not a conservative politician, no one can consider his career, and then conclude that deeply closeted and immensely successful politicians are mutually exclusive ideas or even a strange concept.
Dropping a political bombshell, New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey announced his resignation Thursday after revealing that he is gay and that he had an adulterous affair with a man.
With his wife standing by his side, McGreevey -- a father of two -- spoke in calm tones as he described his struggle with his sexuality, "a certain sense that separated me from others." It was something that he said began as a child.
"At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is," McGreevey said.
"And so, my truth is that I am a gay American," the Democrat said.
McGreevey's surprise resignation came as Golan Cipel, a former security aide to the governor, had readied a sexual harassment lawsuit against the governor, two Democratic sources told CNN. Cipel resigned his post in 2002.
Again, let me reassert the basic premise of the idea of conservative anti-gay politics being derived from the psychology of closeted conservative homosexuals so as not to appear hypocritical in my attacks: there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. Period. End of story.
The wrong that is going on here is that what is driving conservative anti-homosexual politics, perhaps in all societies, perhaps throughout all time, is that closeted homosexuals are living out their psychosexual conflict on the political stage. And they are doing it in such a way that the vast quantities of psychological energy derived from their desperate struggle to deny their true selves is being used to deny the rights of psychologically well-adjusted homosexuals. And for us heterosexuals, the spill-over effect is to drive forward the politics of other conservative interests that are rooted in the desire to control our personal lives.
In any other forum than national politics, the deeply closeted homosexual is a sad figure deserving of empathy. But when their cowardice to face their true selves, their denial, their hypocrisy threatens our rights, we are talking about a different issue.
So again: there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. But there is a lot wrong with denying your true self in such a way that you would rather see the rights of everyone else changed so you can continue your personal psychological charade. And drive yourself to positions of political power in order to achieve the effect.
As an analogy of the concept, let me introduce you to the Napoleon Complex. This is a very politically incorrect construct: that some short men are driven to do great things due to a feeling of inferiority simply because they are of short stature. So while their taller peers are out trying to woo women, they instead are building great careers in business or politics or, as with the case with the original Napoleon, in the military.
In reality it does not matter if you are short in order to tap into the skills you need in order to become successful. The obvious point here is that you have to WORK in order to be successful. Talent is not enough. Work and talent together define success.
And so, if you perceive yourself as being inferior even though you are not, you probably wind up working for your success to a measure probably much greater than your equally talented, but less motivated peers enjoy. You drive yourself to greater heights of accomplishment. The point is that here, with the Napoleon Complex, a psychological issue acts like a personal dynamo, a machine in someone's character that drives them to great success.
So psychological vulnerabilities that can be viewed in one light as an impediment, can actually be seen in another light as a driving force of success. Therefore, if you are a gregarious, intelligent man with charisma and the ability to build respect and trust, natural qualities of true leadership, then politics is a logical field for you to enter, and you should prove at least moderately successful in your endeavours.
Now for the twist: if you are of a conservative upbringing but you have homosexual feelings, then you might think that you are inferior as opposed to your "pure" conservative brethren. And so we have introduced a psychosexual dynamic in your character that can serve as a great driving force for your success, similar in conception to how the Napoleon Complex works.
Yes, I really am saying this: I think that the conservative political leadership, not only in the US, but throughout the world in all societies, and throughout all political history of mankind, is dominated by homosexuals who are in the closet. Because of one simple fact: homosexuality is not threatening to heterosexuals. They just don't care about it. But the expression of homosexuality IS threatening to one particluar group of people: homosexuals who were raised in conservative households and are still in the closet and who have not come to grips with their organic desires yet. And this aversion to their sexual identity drives not only their politics, but even their choice to enter the field of conservative politics in the first place, and their strong desire to see the snuffing out of homosexual expression, that which threatens their precarious hold on their psychologically difficult position.
So maybe you think this story of mine about the possible psychosexual roots of people like Rick Santorum's political beliefs is nothing but a politically motivated smear campaign of mine.
To which I can only reply: please don't mention smear and santorum in the same sentence, you don't want to thrust too deeply into the good Senator's delicate psychology.