Everyone gets it. Rick Santorum is a moral and upright citizen who doesn’t look kindly on gambling, non-procreative sex and birth control. But with the price of gas spiking, the violence in Syria and the chaos in Afghanistan, it’s probably not the best time for him to bring up his opinion on the national pornography “pandemic.” Santorum posted this statement on his website promising to crack down on obscenity as president, and it’s predictably drawn a wave of controversy:
“America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences. Addiction to pornography is now common for adults and even for some children. The average age of first exposure to hard-core, Internet pornography is now 11. Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking. …
The Obama administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws. While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families, that will change under a Santorum administration.”
It’s not that Santorum’s position is out of step for a presidential candidate. Romney and Gingrich have both made similar pledges to enforce obscenity laws as president. The difference is, they haven’t turned it into a major part of their campaign platforms.
Romney and Gingrich also haven’t framed the obscenity issue as a “pandemic” and painted it in such stark moral terms. They made generic campaign promises. But for Santorum, this clearly means much more to him than just a vague vow to appease values voters. It may not hurt him in the primary race, though it could hit a nerve with libertarian-leaning Republicans who aren’t looking for morality lectures. And it’s one of his many statements that would boomerang on him in a general election.