This morning Box Turtle Bulletin reminds us that it was on this date ten years ago that USA Today published an AP interview with Rick Santorum—then the third most powerful Republican in the U.S. Senate—in which Santorum compared same-sex relationships to dog fucking and child rape. Santorum didn't just attack gay people in that interview: he also argued that there is no right to privacy for straight people in the U.S. Constitution. He told the AP that Griswold, the Supreme Court decision that overturned laws banning contraception, was "wrongly decided." Here's Rick in his own words:
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. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold—Griswold was the contraceptive case—and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you—this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.
Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —
AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.
Most people have forgotten—I had forgotten—that my first response to Santorum's "man on dog/man-on-child" remarks was this calm, measured, even-handed op-ed in the New York Times. Santorum weathered the scandal, George W. Bush said he supported Santorum, and pundits declared the issue over. My readers had a different idea. Box Turtle Bulletin:
But a month later, Santorum’s comments were largely forgotten, except among the LGBT community. Lamenting that “the Santorum scandal didn’t have legs,” a 23-year-old reader of Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column suggested holding a contest to “‘include’ (Santorum) in our sex lives—by naming a gay sex act after him.” Savage agreed, and invited readers to send in their suggestions. By June, the votes were counted, and a definition was promulgated.... Four months after Santorum’s infamous comments and two months after the definition was created, the neologism was still struggling to catch on. It wasn’t until the end of the year when a new web site was created that SpreadingSantorum ended up becoming the most successful Google bomb in history. And with that, a callow comment which almost faded into history has become the name by which Santorum will be known for the rest of his life.
There's a chapter in my new book about Rick Santorum that includes an interview with the man who came up with the winning definition. It's the first time he's ever spoken publicly about what inspired him to come up with "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." Here's a teaser: he thinks the inclusion of the word "frothy" clinched the race for him.