Santorum’s Google Trouble a Warning to Conservatives in Internet Age

Here's a delightful little story from the Sept./Oct. issue of Mother Jones, the far-left political magazine. It's called "Rick Santorum's Anal Sex Problem," and, with its helpful creative artwork, it's not something you want to read over lunch. Thanks to the efforts of a vindictive liberal writer, anyone Googling conservative former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is fairly likely to get an unpleasant surprise. Among the top three results will probably be a nauseatingly offensive website based on making "Santorum" a "sexual neologism," according to Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer. Back in 2003, Santorum expressed a traditional Catholic view on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Then talking in general about "orientations" always excluded from understandings of marriage, he included pedophilia and bestiality along with homosexuality. "The ensuing controversy," wrote Mencimer, "prompted syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, who's gay, to start a contest, soliciting reader suggestions for slang terms to "memorialize the scandal." Having selected the nastiest entry, "Savage launched a website, and a meme was born." Once launched, the smear site "eventually it eclipsed Santorum's own campaign site in search results; some observers even suggested it may have contributed to Santorum's crushing 18-point defeat in his 2006 campaign against Bob Casey," Mencimer wrote. Whether that's the case or not, the damaging site remains, and remains a problem for Santorum's future political aspirations. The site "hasn't been updated for years," but it still comes up high in the Google results. It's been linked to over 13,000 times "compared with only 5,000 for Santorum's own, real site, America's Foundation," according to the article. Mencimer talked to Internet PR and search engine experts who called the site "devastating" and said Santorum should "consider buying paid search results for his name.' The article claims that Santorum "would very much like to be president." If so, Savage, not content to let his website do its passive work, threatens to "‘sic my flying monkeys on him' - in other words, mobilize bloggers to start posting and linking to his site again." Mencimer explained that "Savage has not forgiven Santorum for his seven-year-old comments: ‘Rick would have prevented me and my partner from being able to adopt my son,' he points out." And that would be a shame, not to raise a child in an environment where differing opinions are met with vitriolic and gross scatological personal attacks. Why, he might not grow up to be a tolerant liberal.

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture