Readers respond to "Thank You, Sen. Santorum," by Bruce Bawer, and "GOP Defends Ayatollah Santorum," by Joan Walsh.

Published April 30, 2003 8:18PM (EDT)

[Read "Thank You, Sen. Santorum."]

As another expatriate, I can sympathize with Bruce Bawer's sense of outrage at many of the sound bites flying like armed missiles out of the United States these days. It will surely come back to haunt President Bush that people like me who work with foreign governments endure constant -- and usually deserved -- abuse on his behalf, and on behalf of people like Rick Santorum. Like it or not, we expats are the face of America abroad, and a lot of people would like to spit in it.

But Bawer's essay also brought up another odd American phenomenon I've noticed lately: He prefaces his words with genealogy, telling us where his parents came from and how thoroughly American they are.

Is this proof of patriotism? A howl at being driven away from liberties our ancestors won? Whatever the cause, it's a sad commentary on the state of political debate in the U.S. if the price of admission has become an all-American pedigree.

-- Carrie La Seur

Bruce Bawer writes: "And how does all this look from Norway? My recurring complaint about the land of the fjords is its excessive statism -- the social-democratic assumption that your rulers know what's best for you and should, as they see fit, forbid, tax, circumscribe or (alternatively) subsidize activities that are, in my view, none of their damn business."

So he moved away from the threat of state control over his personal life in the U.S. to complain about the level of state control over his personal life in Norway?

Stuff a sock in it, Bawer.

-- Roy Hill

After reading "Thank You, Sen. Santorum" as a gay man living in the Midwest, my emotions were stirred.

I'm stuck, unable to gracefully express my outrage that I can't legally adopt a child in my state, have a civil union, visit a sick partner in the hospital -- liberties that heterosexuals take for granted. What really gets me is that it took a senator that I've never heard of before and an American expat living in Norway to remind me of the liberties I don't have, rather than someone in my community.

Thanks, Salon, for giving me that wake-up call.

-- George Lara

[Read "GOP Defends Ayatollah Santorum."]

Thank you, Sen. Santorum, for showing us what being an American is all about.

Thank you for your quick wit in comparing my love for my partner to bestiality. Thank you for your brilliant exclusion of my family in the definition of traditional families. Thank you for saying that I'm basically not an American.

You've taught me a lot, most importantly that my skills as an engineer will always be devalued by America and the people like you who run it. That I will never be equal in your eyes. That I will never have the rights and protections that any heterosexual can get from marrying a near stranger on a TV game show.

I'll have you know, Senator, there are plenty of countries out there that value me, my skill set and my family enough to extend a complete set of civil rights. America is not one of them.

You've served me a wonderful reminder that the land of the free is not to be found on U.S. soil.

-- Rob Nevitt

Until recently I was a member of the Republican Party. I no longer am. Over the past several years, I have seen the Republican Party hijacked by the likes of Rick Santorum and those of his ilk. I have seen the Republican Party taken over by the Rush Limbaughs and the Rupert Murdochs now so prominent and vocal.

I am neither gay nor liberal. But something is out of balance in America. People like Santorum have no place in our caring society.

-- Edward Smith

I take great exception to Joan Walsh's use of the term "ayatollah" in an attempt to smear Sen. Santorum.

Like most of your readers -- and I would hope the rest of America as well -- I was stunned and horrified at Santorum's views as expressed in the widely circulated AP interview. His views on homosexuality -- and even more so, his views on our rights to privacy -- are truly a cause for alarm. In a man of his position, these are not mere opinions of the heart, but represent a dangerous threat to civil liberties in as much as he has the ability to directly affect government policy.

Walsh's editorial rightly calls him on the carpet for his words and warns us of the dangers. But referring to him as "Ayatollah Santorum" is a mistake. The term "ayatollah" is one of respect used by Shiite Muslims to refer to a religious leader, and I think that any self-respecting Shiite Muslim would be offended by such a misappropriation of the term.

-- David Bringhurst

Obviously, your publication is on the side of the devil. You seem to think that the majority of Americans think homosexuality is OK, instead of a perversion that attacks the very core of society: the family.

While I decry your fools who consider themselves to be "journalists," I would fight to the death to defend their right to be as stupid, ignorant and foolish as they want to be in their writings -- because I'm an American, where freedom reigns supreme.

The U.S., while not perfect (since nothing is perfect outside of the Son), is the greatest country in the world. If your idiot writers knew anything about how people suffer under most of the oppressive governments of the world (including the socialist state of Canada) they would be 100 percent behind our president.

-- Violet Weed

I am not a fan of Sen. Santorum or the right-wing power elite. Nevertheless, the senator made a legal point consistent with previous Supreme Court opinions -- Roe vs. Wade was based upon the right to privacy.

The criminalization of sodomy in state law is simply one of a long list of "sins" in Leviticus -- the source of current sodomy laws -- and Santorum's logic was simply an extension to the rest of the "Leviticus list." The current appeal to the Supreme Court on constitutionality is based in part on the thinking underlying Roe vs. Wade.

Although Santorum's logic seems far-fetched, who would have thought two generations ago that Roe vs. Wade would be decided on the basis of the right to privacy?

-- Tom Zwemmer

I'm a resident of Pennsylvania, so Sen. Santorum's comments struck close to home for me. Aside from the pending Supreme Court case Lawrence vs. Texas, the larger issues he and some Republicans are choosing to ignore are what those comments mean to people they are elected to represent. I found the comparison between incest and homosexuality offensive and disrespectful to my experiences as an incest survivor, and to the experiences of the many other survivors as well.

Sen. Santorum's comments do not reflect the reality of the home in which I was raised nor do they respect my family on any level. I am the adult daughter of two mothers whose committed, loving relationship spans two decades. My moms raised my brother and me from the time I was a toddler, and our family is still very much intact.

-- Amber Love

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the Orwellian doublespeak of the Republican Party has reached a new high. Their sails have filled with a gust of hubris after the military victory in Iraq, and the true extremist views of the GOP -- which have been suppressed in its long march to dominate all branches of our government (and now apparently the world) -- are once again beginning to surface.

It seems clear that the Trent Lotts and Rick Santorums are not unfortunate anomalies within the Republican Party but, in fact, that the party's true colors are showing.

I never imagined I would live to see such a perversion of American principles so easily passed off onto the American public -- and so willingly accepted.

-- Bob Grimes

By Salon Staff

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