Santorum

Santorum

Updated Apr 19, 2013 at 01:18AM EDT by opspe.

Added Aug 20, 2011 at 10:50PM EDT by Brad.

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About

Santorum is a term that has been popularly defined as “byproduct of anal sex.” It was first conceived and coined by American columnist Dan Savage and his readers in an effort to publicly shame the former Republic senator Rick Santorum for the anti-gay remarks he made during an interview with the Associated Press in April 2003. The term still remains as the top result for Santorum’s name on several search engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo, as of September 2011.

Origin

In an interview with the Associated Press[1] on April 7th, 2003, Republican senator Rick Santorum expressed his belief that American consenting adults do not have a constitutional right to privacy with respect to sexual acts. He also added that consensual gay intercourse could be government-regulated, similar to how states restrict other sexual acts like adultery, polygamy, child molestation, incest and bestiality in protecting the values of society and the American family.



Upon its publication on April 20th, 2003, Senator Santorum’s interview response drew harsh criticisms from the press, civil rights groups and other Democrats, mainly for his unsavory comparison of homosexuality to incest, polygamy and adultery.

One of the staunchest critics of Santorum’s remarks was the sex advice columnist Dan Savage, who took one of his readers’ suggestion and organized an open contest on his syndicated blog column “Savage Love”[2] for people to come up with an unflattering definition for the Republican senator’s family name “Santorum.” By May 29th, Savage reported that he had received over 3,000 suggestions for the definition of the word. On June 12th, he announced the winning bid, defined as following:

santorum (san-TOR-um) n.
1. The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter
that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.


Spread

The website Spreading Santorum[3] and its single serving edition Santorum.com[4] were subsequently launched by Savage to further spread the subversive definition and other supporters participated in Googlebombing to boost its visibility in search results for the senator’s name Rick Santorum.



The first Urban Dictionary[5] entry for “Santorum” was submitted a few months later on November 27th, 2003. In 2004, The American Dialect Society[6] selected “santorum” as the winner in its “Most Outrageous” category in the society’s “Word of the Year” event.

In July 2006, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Santorum.com appeared at the top of a Google search for Santorum’s last name. Philadelphia Weekly’s columnist Liz Spikol[8] also reported in 2006 that the word had inspired several punk rock and blues song, as well as bumper stickers and t-shirts.

In May 2010, Savage offered the former congressman to remove the website if Santorum donated $5 million to Freedom to Marry, an advocacy group supporting the legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

In August 2010, Mother Jones[9] published an article about Santorum’s online reputation, noting several commentators who have said Santorum’s defeat in the 2006 senatorial re-election campaign may have been affected by his “Google problem.” In addition, the article quoted Mark Skidmore of Blue State Digital and hinted Dan Savage’s website will be difficult to remove from the organic search results for “Santorum,” due to the high number of inbound links placed by bloggers to Savage’s website in comparison to that of Santorum’s official website.

In September 2010, Mother Jones[17] published another article featuring 16 original illustrations and an
animation by artist Zina Saunders:



Resurgence in 2011

In a February 2011 interview with Roll Call[11], Santorum addressed his notorious Google problem for the first time:

“It’s one guy. You know who it is. The Internet allows for this type of vulgarity to circulate. It’s unfortunate that we have someone who obviously has some issues. But he has an opportunity to speak.”

In rebuttal to Santorum’s Roll Call interview, Savage wrote in his column series[12] posted on February 24th, 2011:

I do have issues--I have lots of issues--but I take particular issue with politicians who compare loving, stable same-sex relationships to “man on dog” sex, as Santorum has done, or who would ban same-sex marriage and adoptions by same-sex couples, as Santorum has promised to do if he gets elected president. But the lowercase s santorum campaign wasn’t “one guy.” A lot of people were involved--from the Savage Love reader who first suggested that we redefine his name to all the folks who’ve written about it over the years (thanks, Roll Call!).

On June 6th, 2011, Santorum formally announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination on ABC’s Good Morning America. When asked in another June 2011 interview with MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown[13] whether he thinks Google should take any measure to downplay the visibility of the definition in search results, Santorum commented that Google should intervene as long as it is equally applicable to anyone else.

In July 2011, Savage appeared in a Funny Or Die[14] video in which he jestfully warned the Republican presidential candidate nominee to redefine his first name “Rick” into something even worse if Santorum did not stop criticizing homosexuality during his campaign.



Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report[16] referred to the term on more than one occasion.



Jon Stewart mentioned it on The Daily Show[15] more than once; his on-air reference to it in May 2011 caused the word to be one of the most queried search terms on Google the following day.



Presence on Other Search Engines

Although the Santorum campaign has been widely reported in the media as Rick Santorum’s “Google problem,” similar top-ranked search results for the same keyword have been observed on numerous other high-profile search engines including Bing, Yahoo, AOL and even the Chinese search portal Baidu, according to Webpronews.[20]



Censorship Request

In an interview with Politico[18] published on September 20th, 2011, Rick Santorum revealed that he had contacted Google asking them to censor the sexual references to his name.

“I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it,” Santorum said. “If you’re a responsible business, you don’t let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country.”

He continued: “To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle but I suspect that’s not true."

Google responded to a CNN[19] email asking about the censorship request with the following response:

“Google’s search results are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the Web. Users who want content removed from the Internet should contact the webmaster of the page directly. Once the webmaster takes the page down from the Web, it will be removed from Google’s search results through our usual crawling process.”

Search Interest



External References

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Top Comments

Covetous
Covetous

Why do people always fail to understand that it is almost impossible to censor the internet in any significant way? Who knows how many dolts have had their lives crushed by the Streisand Effect?

“The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”
-John Gilmore

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