God damn it!!! How dare you make me defend Rick Santorum.

I don’t think I should have to tell anyone who reads my blog how much I detest Rick Santorum.  His negative opinions of women, homosexuals, atheists, and pretty much everyone who isn’t a fundamentalist Christian as well as his ignorance of science and even politics (the thing his actually does for a living) is pretty well documented so I don’t think I should even have to rehash them. 
However, this glitter bombing thing really needs to stop.  First let me say when I heard about him being glitter bombed my first, visceral, reaction was to cheer on this action against him.  After all he says some pretty hateful things that make it rather difficult to like the man on any level.  
However, the more I thought about it the more I came to the realization that such actions could reasonably be deemed assault by the law. See, it seems to me our main issue with a man like Santorum is that he acts to assault other peoples personal freedom.  He doesn’t want to let gay people marry, he wants to erode the foundations of church state separation, he wants to prevent access to birth control and would forbid abortions even in cases of rape or incest.  He clearly feels it his his right or even duty to invade other peoples personal space with his religious ideals.  
So I get it, I understand why the people who glitter bombed this man are so angry, and we have a right to be angry, and there is nothing wrong with that.  There is nothing wrong with protesting, there is nothing wrong with calling him a bigot, there is nothing wrong with pointing out his bad behavior.  Freedom of speech guarantees us these rights. 
I realize that glitter is fairly harmless, but I think this crosses a line..  If we complain about his violations of civil rights how does it look when we invade his personal space and throw something at him? (even glitter)  We don’t make a good example for ourselves or our causes when we allow ourselves to become what we fight against, and the last thing we want to do is give people like Santorum ammunition to claim that Christians are being persecuted.  Lastly, we as skeptics need to be wary of letting bad behavior slide just because we happen to agree with the person who did it or because we dislike the victim.   
Now that I am done defending Santorum I am going to go shower….I feel dirty. 
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  • Anonymous

    This same issue occurred to me just this week. At first my thoughts were like yours. But with more reflection I realized this is no different then what Hollywood celebrities are subject to with things like the paparazzi and being stopped for autographs.

    In Ricks case, being as how he’s a public figure like Hollywood celebrities, the rules get bent a bit in what’s allowed as a reaction to his loudly and publicly proclaimed attacks on those he disagrees with. Clearly he views many men and women as sinners and in some cases murderers. In the same way as the law recognizes “fighting words” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_words)
    I think we need to recognize that the glitter-bombing is a “fighting words” response. If it’s OK for Rick to use his position to loudly and publicly proclaim gays and women horrible defective people needing elimination from society, it should be OK to glitter bomb him.

    So I see two things that make glitter-bombing poor Rick OK, the public figure/paparazzi exception as well as the “fighting words” exception.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04470392187213526525 Dylan Walker

    I guess we will just have to disagree.

    First, I’m not a big fan of paparazzi but I recognize their rights to a certain extent. I think they go to far at times, but they generally stop a taking photos, not assaulting someone.

    secondly, my understanding of the case law in regards to fighting words would lead me to conclude that Santorum’s statements probably would not cross that line legally speaking.

    Even Phelps, who goes much further than Santorum had his right to picket funerals of dead soldiers protected. As much as we may detest the things he says, he has the freedom to say them. We have a right to criticize him for saying them too, but we don’t have a right to assault the man.

    To turn the issue around, I say quite a few things about religion that I am sure many Christians, Muslims or other religious groups would find insulting. If I allow the right to glitter bomb Santorum, what rights do Christians have regarding the things I say?

    We do not have right to physically assault someone because they say something we don’t like. We have a right to criticize it, but I personally don’t want to live in a world where people who say something that pisses off someone else have to worry that the person who they pissed of will assault them. The law needs to protect this or we will reduce freedom of speech to a joke.