Santorum, the frothy lube mixture presidential candidate

Republican candidate Rick Santorum came out yesterday to tell us all that marriage “is what it is.” In other words, he goes on to add, it means whatever he says it means (see actual footage in video below). Holding a napkin up in the air, he argues that one could call it a paper towel, but it would still only be a napkin. “It is what it is.” A profound argument indeed. Except I noticed that he didn’t hold up a marriage next to his napkin in order to establish its self-evidence.

His argument as I follow it is that certain things are ontologically self-evident. We can get full consensus in the public that a tree is not a dog and vice versa because in the end we can point at them and ask if it barks or grows leaves. Only he doesn’t actually do this with marriage – he only suggests that marriage is equivalent. His argument defeats itself, however, on those very grounds. If it were as self-evident as a napkin or a glass of water, then there would be little to discuss, he could just point at it and we would all be agreeing. But he didn’t do this because he couldn’t. Self-evidently then it is not an ontological given, but a social construct laden with historically arbitrary and shifting values and practices.

But all this is so plain to see it is superfluous to really comment. Instead, let’s recall that words themselves, even napkins and paper towels, are ultimately arbitrary social constructs too and hardly as stable as his example of the napkin would imply. “It is what it is.” Persuasive evidence indeed. Well, let us point then at Santorum himself and ask if  “it is what it is” and not anything else. And then we can verify our conclusions through Google and find out if things are as plain as he thinks. And we will find out the truth, that Santorum means, as verified by millions of users:

Explanation and more laughter at the Wikiexplanation here.

And to set us straight, here is Dan Savage with some of the most sensible talk on this subject I’ve heard.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

For an even more critical take there is Wendy Brown asserting among other things that “…marriage has functioned historically to secure women’s subordination and male privilege, to hoard wealth and transmit property, and to regulate sexuality, ethnicity, race, class, and nation…”

Finally a riotous and acid Dan Savage explains brilliantly the origin of the Santorum neologism and how it is much more serious than a mere gag.

“He [Santorum] also pointed out that it was going to be a tragedy that the state […] couldn’t regulate masturbation. He’s fucking nuts! You all [straight people] sit there and watch the right-wing beat the shit out us [gay people]… But what you don’t realize is: You’re next! They had a march in Washington this year against birth control. They fought the HPV vaccine every step of the way because they think you should get cervical cancer and die if you are sexually active and a woman…”

And finally here is Jon Stewart with the damning evidence and the usual DailyShow treatment:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
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One Response to Santorum, the frothy lube mixture presidential candidate

  1. Andrea says:

    Great clips. Dan Savage is so refreshingly clear and reasonable in his speech, especially when compared to Santorum himself – what kind of logic does Santorum think he’s using? He’s appealing to common sense without demonstrating the sense of anything. A fun post, on a weighty topic.

    By the way, a post request – I’d be interested to know more about the youth riots happening in Britain, which I can’t find a good reading of (Newsweek says the kids are just bored and so decided to loot and arson main street – hard to buy).

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