Patterico's Pontifications

4/23/2003

SANTORUM: I think Rick Santorum’s

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:34 am

SANTORUM: I think Rick Santorum’s remarks in his interview with the Associated Press (an unedited version of which can be read here) are being misrepresented.

If you are unfamiliar with the controversy, here’s the part of what he said that is getting the attention: “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.” This has been interpreted simplistically as morally equating homosexuality to polygamy/incest/adultery.

I don’t think that the simplistic interpretation of his remarks is fair. In context, I think it’s clear what Santorum meant: if the phony right of privacy invented by the Supreme Court is extended to say that anything consensual that happens in the bedroom automatically receives constitutional protection, then states will lose their traditional ability to regulate other consensual sexual activity that falls within that description (including polygamy/incest/adultery). (Santorum might have added prostitution to the list.) In other words, Santorum’s observation had to do with constitutional law, and it is entirely accurate.

Now, as a moral principle, I think that that “let two consenting adults do what they want” is fine. But a constitutional principle it ain’t. Santorum’s constitutional point is a good one, and he is right to refuse to apologize for making it.

ASIDE: My favorite quote from the interview comes from the questioner. Santorum was explaining that depriving states of the authority to regulate private sexual conduct could threaten the traditional definition of marriage: “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.” The questioner then said: “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.”

UPDATE: Rereading the interview, I can see that Santorum did make at least one comment (“I have a problem with homosexual acts”) that may not be a constitutional argument, but a moral comment. To the extent that is true, he has a problem that will require some ‘splainin’.


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