A Torquemada for our times

The Republican-led legislature in Arizona is nearing passage of a bill in which “Women in Arizona trying to get reimbursed for birth control drugs through their employer-provided health plan could be required to prove that they are taking it for a medical reason such as acne, rather than to prevent pregnancy”, because we all know that there is nothing that any woman likes more than discussing the most intimate details of her life with her employer.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, clearly thinking that his pro-god, anti-women, anti-college, anti-sex, anti-gay message has struck a chord with voters, has decided that a Santorum administration would also vigorously fight pornography. Yes, that should be a real winner. Can the Republican war on masturbation be far behind?

In doing so, he is essentially declaring war on the internet, since has been plausibly argued that the main driver for its rapid development is the desire for easy access to high-quality pornography.

The interesting thing about Santorum is that unlike with most other politicians who take these extreme anti-sex stands, he comes across as a true believer and not a panderer. I don’t know that he is an evil person in the sense that he seeks to willfully do harm to others. I can well imagine that he is liked by those around him who do not find his sanctimony annoying.

But he is the classic manifestation of the proposition that it takes religion to make a good person do evil things. I can just see him in the garb of a cardinal during the period of the Inquisition, piously condemning someone to death by torture because he firmly believes that that is what god wants and that it is good for the morals of society that all sinners and heretics be punished and that torturing the sinner’s body is worth it if it saves his immortal soul. He even looks the part in those old paintings where the inquisitors are usually depicted as lean with narrow, humorless faces.

His is the face of what a theocracy would look like in the US.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    RE the Arizona bill: apparently when you hire someone, you own their life. What if they insist on attending a church to which you object for religious reasons; I guess that could also be a firing offense? Why is it that only employers have religious and moral rights, and not employees?

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Unlike Romney and, particularly, Gingrich, I’m sure that Santorum believes all the crap he throws out. He’s a Catholic, which means he is required by his cult to be anti-abortion, anti-contraception and homophobic. Plus he’s in the conservative reactionary wing of the Catholic Church, so he considers the no death penalty, concern for the poor stuff that John Paul and Benny push is purely optional.

  3. Myoo says

    I never liked that “it takes religion to make a good person do evil things” thing, I think it attributes far more power to religion than it really has.

    The fact is that extreme belief in anything can cause a good person to do evil things. Be it “Justice” or “The Economy” or “Freedom” or “Patriotism” or even “Science”, there is no shortage of good causes that can be twisted to justify evil.

    I’m not saying that religion is awesome and can do no wrong, I’m saying that it is a mistake to think it is the only source of evil in the world.

  4. DB says

    Democrats might want to keep government’s hand in your wallet.

    But Republicans definitely want to keep government’s hand out of your wallet … and clamp it firmly onto your crotch.

  5. Mark says

    But if you’re looking for a cause to justify your evil, then you’re not a good person.

    The point is that it takes false belief for a good person to do evil. If you support the wrong values (and all the things you mention *are* values), then you’re just not a good person.

    Or so the argument goes. Is it an arbitrary distinction? Possibly. But the point is, I think, very clear and extremely accurate.

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