Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rick Santorum's Wonder Emporium

Poor Rick Santorum. I suppose I could denounce him as yet another conservative douchebag (he respect homosexuals, just not the things homosexuals do that, by definition, make them homosexuals; how does that work, exactly?), but I actually feel a little bad for him. As if having your name transformed into a synonym for fecal matter wasn’t bad enough, he then had to go blow it with this whole “500 WMDs found in Iraq” thing (500 WMDs in Iraq…500 WMDs…smuggle one to…some Syrian dudes…499 WMDs in Iraq). Personally, I’ve reached a point where I just can’t have an opinion on this WMD thing. I’m on information overload. So there were weapons, but they’re from 1989, they’re not the weapons we were looking for, and what does that even mean, but they’re still WMDs, but they’re not even weapons of mass destruction anymore, since they can’t be used as weapons, they can’t be missilized, and apparently they aren’t capable of real destruction, massive or otherwise, and the fact that the DoD keeps saying they aren’t WMDs probably means they aren’t, and why isn’t any other news source besides Fox picking up this story, is it just the slant in the liberal media, but then there’s this guy Georges Sada who says Saddam did have WMDs, but they were sent to Syria, but then he doesn’t actually know they were sent to Syria, but this friend of his, HE knows, and why are we trusting Saddam’s top general anyway, if Saddam was such a bad guy why do we think his upper echelon is so trustworthy, but then why would he lie, and anyway even if Saddam had WMDs the real issue was that he intended to use them against the US, which clearly he couldn’t do with these…

I mention this because I was watching an old Santorum interview on the Daily Show from last year, and it’s about gay marriage, and since I sort of just did a big rant on it I thought I’d comment on the clip. So…

Like Ann Coulter's, I haven't read his book, either, so I'm not really in a position to say. But once again it feels to me like Rick is just bending over backwards to find rationales to deny gay marriage. His argument seems to be that because hetero marriage is the ideal format for child-rearing and gay marriage isn't - an argument which, by the way, is interesting from a theoretical standpoint but yet to be proven scientifically - we should outright outlaw anything less than the ideal. But he doesn't really seem to ACTUALLY believe that; he only believes it in regards to gay marriage. For example, he says, “Government should be for the ideal. That doesn’t mean that a single mom can’t, and in most cases will, raise great children. That [doesn’t] mean[] that other forms can’t, won’t raise good children. But what government should be for is what’s best.” But the thing is, Rick, we’re not making single motherhood illegal. If government should only permit the ideal family unit, then it has to prohibit single motherhood along with gay marriage.

And earlier he says, “The criticism I get all the time is: yeah, you talk about protecting marriage, but where were you when the divorce culture came in…you don’t seem to be concerned about that. Well, if you read the book, the answer is I am concerned about that.” And I haven’t read the book, so I don’t really know, but I’m guessing he’s not proposing LAWS that prohibit divorce. That’s the issue. We’ve got all this energy on banning gay marriage, and then people say they’re also concerned about divorce when the fact of the matter is they don’t invest nearly the same level of energy. Where’s the legislation? And once again, and this is a point I’ll make often, there are no studies showing that being raised by gay parents has any sort of real impact on a child, while there are many showing that divorce can and does have a significant impact. So if we’re going to amend the Constitution to protect the American family, shouldn’t it be on the issue that is really – if not literally – dividing families?

He says this stuff, but if you think it through - and I admire Jon Stewart's respectful tone, but I'm a little disappointed he didn't press Santorum on this - he's just not particularly committed to the rationale. If government's only going to allow the ideal, then let's really go for it. No divorce. No single parents. And really, since children grow up better in wealthy households, maybe we should outlaw procreation below the poverty line. Nothing less than the ideal is acceptable. When asked by Jon whether you can legislate an ideal, Rick declares, "You have to." But he doesn't really seem to be committed to it.

Where the anti-gay marriage crowd loses me, honestly, is in this basic assertion that marriage is all about the children. I really don't think it is. I think it's about state-sanctioned lifelong compatibility. When I look for a wife, I'm worried more about how I get along with her than how great she'll be with my kids. Quite frankly, that's gonna be their problem; they're just gonna have to learn to get along with the woman I love. Kids are an important part of marriage, but so is the house you buy and the jobs you take. There's more to it that simply waising wittle wugwats.

Rick disagrees. “The reason societies elevate marriage to a special status is not because they want to affirm the relationship between two adults. That’s important, that love relationship is important, but…What’s society’s purpose in marriage? Society’s purpose, the reason civilizations have held up marriage, is because they want to establish and support and secure the relationship that is in the best interest in the future of the society, which is a man and a woman having children and providing that stability for those children to be raised in the future.” I’m not sure I agree with this argument, though I think it has its merit, but irrespective, it’s still not a sufficient reason to actively ban gay marriage. By this rationale we'd have to outlaw hunting, since the state's guarantee to the right to bear arms is about public safety (“A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…”), not what to do with yourself and your bloodhound on a Saturday morning. If we're going to permit people to pursue state-sponsered rights only based on the state's stated interest, then anytime they pursue it for another purpose it has to be forbidden.


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