The Subtle Art of Name-Calling

Rick Santorum wants you to vote for him. Rick Santorum wants you to support his politics. Rick Santorum wants you to research his past political work. But… Rick Santorum really doesn’t want you to use Google to do any of this. You might know why, but if you don’t, feel free to take a second and search his name on Google. I’ll wait.

…I know, right!?

For the better part of a decade, Rick Santorum’s website has been second to a very — vivid — description of a sexual byproduct on most search engines. Though it didn’t necessarily damage his career as Pennsylvania’s two-term Senator, it certainly seems like a crushing blow to his already weak presidential campaign. And, who (you might ask) is behind this name-calling? Well, it’s Dan Savage, the guy who started that charity website to protect gay teens from name-calling.

This concludes our brief lesson on irony.

Dan Savage, a well-known journalist, sex columnist and blogger, created the Santorum "neologism" in 2003 in response to statements the Senator made that were perceived to be anti-gay. Cut ahead a few years and Savage cut a wildly viral video called "It Gets Better" that directly spoke to gay youth who are getting picked on. That video then gave birth to a popular non-profit organization by the same name and the “It Gets Better” project has attracted thousands of similar videos from the worlds of pop-culture (Ellen Degeneres, Tom Hanks), music (Katy Perry, Adam Lambert), politics (Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton) and ordinary citizens. In a year where marriage equality passed in New York, the Republican Party has its first openly gay presidential candidate, and Tracy Morgan did that Tracy-Morgan-thing, Savage's campaign seems to directly dovetail with the American zeitgeist.

Meanwhile, this month, some of Santorum’s supporters have taken to Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to persuade Google to fix the presidential candidate’s internet problem—a problem some people consider political cyber-bullying in its own right. Nevertheless, there has yet to be a ground-swell of Santorum momentum (a fun phrase to say three times fast).