back to article Wikipedia awash in 'frothy by-product' of US sexual politics

The world's Wikifiddlers are obsessed with santorum. Though they can't agree on what that is. For some, it's a word. For others, it's not: it's the result of a campaign to create a word. The distinction – however subtle – has sparked weeks of controversy among the core contributors to Wikipedia, the "free encyclopedia anyone …


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  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    But isn't that the case in the "real" world too?

    "This is just the way Wikipedia works. It's a flaw of the medium. The line between participant and documentarian is inherently blurred."

    But this has always been the case - even with the printed word and the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica. All that's happened with Wikipedia is that the connection is now obvious - the end result is that any serious "student" must now question their sources, even if those sources aren't Wikipedia.

    I for one think this is an improvement.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge


      And that is about all that needs to be said on the matter. Consider yourself upgraded to version 1.1.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha ha

    Typical of wikifiddlers. This has raged across the site on numerous notice boards, and will continue for years to come. Under current management there can be no resolution to this. The effect has been mentioned by a couple of political pundits, therefore in wikiland it must have an article that includes every time the phrase has ever been mentioned in the last 8 years (last count 124 times). I suggest that everytime we mention fuckwits online we link to this:

    1. Marvin the Martian

      To be fair though,

      this futile chicken-or-egg fiddling discussion is the most interesting aspect of R. Santorum.

      Sad for his namesakes tho, who may have to change their name even a few generations from now! [e.g., the French word for dustbin is the name of the official who outlawed dumping waste on the street...]

  3. pip25

    Allow me to quote the Wikipedia article in question.

    "Rick Santorum has publicly addressed the phenomenon in multiple interviews, saying it was not a problem for him but rather a byproduct of how politics and the internet work."

    That pretty much sums it up. Obviously, even the politician seems less concerned about the matter than the writer of this article. Dan Savage is an crude idiot, and his plan regrettably worked. In my opinion, the current state of the Wikipedia article presents this fairly well. I know there's some some (perhaps not always unwarranted) anti-Wikipedia opinion floating around here at El Reg, but this article, at least in its present form, is sadly unnecessary.

    (PS: I miss the "RIP El Reg" icon)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Fail to see the big picture.

      Pip you have totally failed to see the point the original author (Seth Finkelstein Not Dan Savage) was making. The Santorum case is used solely as one example. It is NOT the story here! This is a story about Wikipedia's reporting/recording being used for political smear. Dan Savage Is correct to write an article on this and is correct to go further in his comment on the story by highlighting the Swift Boat Veterans and Bill Ayers articles.

      But perhaps if you'd 'read' the article you'd know that.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia awash in 'frothy by-product' of US sexual politics

    “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, ... Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does,”

    So, does his wife have to force herself on him every night?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "So, does his wife have to force herself on him every night?"

      The Soopreem Court decides what we do in our homes?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      She has to force herself.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    " have the right to adultery..."

    IIRC, adultery is not against the law in the US.

    1. John Lilburne

      Perhaps not ...

      ... but it is certainly against the law according to wikipedia, where every dalliance has to be recorded in perpetuity. It has become the 'Wanker's Weekly' for the love lorn dweeb.


      1. John Lilburne

        Please pass the tissues to the left...

        ... I see that there are at least three love lorn dweebs here in need of relief.

    2. Allan George Dyer

      Not Illegal != Right

      It's not as if, having been rejected by your potential adulterous partner, you can prosecute them for their lack of adulterous-ness.

      It's interesting that Santorum appears to think that suddenly everyone will *want* to do all of the things he mentioned, if only they were made legal, or even Rights.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Obviously never read Dan Savage, who is a rather astute advice columnist. For crude idiot I'd nominate Rick Santorum. If not crude, certainly ignorant.

    As for the topic at hand, live by the sword, die by the sword. Santorum got what he deserved. And media (which includes Wikipedia) are tools. Tools will be used.

    1. pip25

      It was not my intention... portray Rick Santorum in a better light than he would deserve. His quote at the beginning of the article certainly proves his ignorance. Dan Savage's "response" however, is at the very least contemptible and uncivilized, with which he sank even lower than the person he wanted to criticize. You can say just as easily that nukes (see your icon above) are a tool in modern warfare, but that does not mean it is good idea to use them.

      1. mraak

        BS pip25, BS

        You are comparing a prank against one person with spreading of fascist ideology that is demonising millions of people and calling openly for public lynching? Come on, if you never watched Fox or listened to Republicans, you SHOULD do some research. What Savage has done might be too much, and probably it got out of hand, but what RS and his fellas are preaching daily is far more dangerous and affects health, well being, and even lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Would you also acuse a person who'd pull a satiric prank on Hitler?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Jim 59
      Thumb Down


      The senator expressed his views. Many people might disagree with him. But he was voted in to do that; it's his job. To me, it seems Savage's response was just an excercise in hate. It encouraged others not to think, not to address Santorum's views, but just to hate the man. And it encouraged them to think that the hatred was good and clever. We've seen it all before. Hate is not good or clever, but it can be extremely powerful when roused (cf any internet forum).

      Wikipedia/Google should alter themselves to remedy the situation as far as possible.

      1. JC_

        @Jim 59

        What were Santorum's views if not hatred? Savage's response was ridicule.

      2. Dave Bell

        Santorum's Precious Query is Ridiculous

        OK, he don't approve of gay sex. That alone doesn't justify the response. But the ills of gay sex can be dealt with simply by treating it in the same way as herosexual sex. While I have heard of a few awkward legal definitions, rape shouldn't stop being rape just because the victim isn't a woman. Those infamous Catholic Priests shouldn't be protected by the gender of their victims.

        And, yes, a lawyer could use this as a precedent in other US cases. But here we seem to have a legislator who doesn't seem to know how the law works.

        Rick Santorum deserves all he gets from this.

        1. Aaron Em


          Dibs on Wolverine!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    i find this very amusing!

  8. JOpedia

    The world as Wikipedia sees it

    Wikipedia reflects the world as it has been published in reliable sources like books, magazines, and newspapers. The Santorum debacle is part of the world now--a well sourced part--and our mission is to cover what has been reported on. We typically balance that imperative by excluding low quality sources such as tabloids, and concern ourselves with doing harm to real people. But, the sources involved here are not low quality sources and the living person is a very public and controversial politician. We can't stop Santorum from being a dunce, and we can't stop Dan Savage from running a ludicrous stunt, and we can't stop the world's press from covering those events as they happen... And when it winds up on Wikipedia's front door, we welcome it with careful, neutral, loving arms, into our peculiar marriage of community and scholarship. At least, we''d like those two things to be married; as of now it's more like a messy romance without social security benefits or visitation rights. But we're trying. Really, we are.

    1. John Lilburne

      Fuck RS idiot

      This is NOT a major anything, there are categories on that article that describe the person as unimportant, of low interest, and yet here is an article of about 5000 words on the subject, far more than WP has on many other more important subjects. What of these RS? They are no more than talking heads talking crap, there is no analysis of the issue by those RS they are simply saying "Oh santorum there is a funny thing that happened to him". Any half decent, responsible organisation would simply devote no more than 100 words or so to the issue, Partridge managed to do it 75 words. Articles like this demonstrate that WP is nothing more than a festering puss ridden sore on the internet.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "our scholarship"

      "Wikipedia reflects the world as it has been published in reliable sources like books, magazines, and newspapers. "

      But mostly from the web, because that's what Wikipiddians find easiest to use.

  9. Asgard

    Santorum and applying Critical Thinking

    @”Santorum told the Associated Press that gay sex could "undermine the fabric of our society”, comparing it to polygamy, incest, and adultery. “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does,” he said.”

    (1) Whatever the Supreme Court says about *consensual sex between non-biologically related adults* is irrelevant, because its a basic human right.

    (2) Which leaves everything not covered by point (1) (e.g. non-consensual sex etc..) which is illegal over just about the entire planet.

    (3) I think Santorum protests way too much about gay sex and he is using a straw man argument against bigamy, polygamy, incest & adultery as a cover. Let me guess, is Santorum keeping his closet door too jammed shut for him to be willing to get out of it, so to speak? ;) ... Because that would explain why he is so up tight against it and thinking about it so much and fighting against it so much. Its so often the case that the ones who do so much of the protesting against it, end up very often showing they have something to hide. It often turns out they are what they protest so much against.

    Which leaves this Wikipedia battle this guy is inciting on both sides. Highly contentious issues are always going to generate this kind of problem. But even on highly contentious issues, I would hope that the wikipedia articles can seek to represent both sides of the argument. That then allows people to choose and judge for themselves.

    But the fact remains no information from any source can be taken as 100% reliable no matter who says it. (Innocent mistakes and intentional bias and manipulation are everywhere in human interactions). Therefore Critical Thinking is always required to filter out potential bias in everything we read and its only the people who don't use Critical Thinking who are the people who complain about information isn't what they can totally trust. When really they shouldn't be so blindly trusting. They should have learned to think critically. If everyone would learn to think critically it would solve a lot of the problems in this world, but I'm not holding my breath hoping they will learn.

    But then there is possibly some good to come from highly contentious issue battles on Wikipedia and the Internet in general. Hopefully it'll help everyone to become more critical in their thinking and what they believe. :)

    1. TeeCee Gold badge


      You have a problem in your first numbered point.

      There is no such thing as a "basic human right"........well certainly not a universal list of such that everyone agrees on. The nearest thing we have is whatever the jurisdiction under discussion says it is. In this case that would be the US government, with final authority on interpretation of the appropriate legislation held by the, er, Supreme Court. Thus it actually matters very much what the Supreme Court has to say on the subject......

      1. Will.

        @ "There is no such thing as a basic human right"

        Tell that to the United Nations 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' adopted in 1948. This, backed and enforced by the US (when it serves them; usually in other countries) applies regardless of so-called jurisdiction. No court on the planet can deprive you of them.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          No court on the planet can deprive you of them.

          Your planet sounds nice, but it's obviously not earth. There are plenty of courts here that will deprive you of your basic human rights.

  10. cloudgazer

    Bone Fide Neologism

    'Santorum' at this point is a perfectly good word - one I could use with any english speaking gay man and expect them to understand what I meant. Which is more than I can say for those words of Polari that didn't enter the broad language.

    So if Wiki are willing to consider paloni-omi to be a word, albeit a defunct one, then santorum certainly should be. Even if only the omi-paloni (not to be confused with paloni-omi who rarely have santorum issues) ever use it.

  11. mraak

    Rick Santorum

    And his mafia, led by the likes of Jack Abramoff, also known as GOP or Republican Party are actually far more disgusting than the 'santorum'.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      What happened to the Republicans?

      I can remember Watergate. Nixon seemed like a total villain at the time, but he was a moral giant compared to the degenerate scum his party seem to favour nowadays. I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would make of these people's character?

  12. JN
    Thumb Down


    This was more than just reporting. This was a Wikibomb.

    Three new navigation templates were created, and added to hundreds of unrelated articles on Wikipedia, adding hundreds of in-bound links.

    Some of the sources the article cited were ridiculous: an alternative crossword puzzle, a geek limerick contest, and free erotic e-books. Even the book Cade cites in his article is self-published -- Broken Science Press has published exactly two books, both by the same author.

    7 new articles on Dan Savage were created and nominated for the Wikipedia main page, to try to get Dan Savage on the main page 7 times within one week.

    The one good source in the article, The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, was misrepresented. It mentioned the term in its introduction, and explained why it did not list the term in the dictionary:

    "As we drew from written sources, we were also mindful of the possibility of hoax or intentional coinings without widespread usage. ... An example of deliberate coining is the word 'santorum', ... In point of fact, the term is the child of a one-man campaign by syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage to place the term in wide usage. From its appearance in print and especially on the Internet, one would assume, incorrectly, that the term has gained wide usage."

    Instead of reflecting that, the article said the exact opposite, proudly reporting that the word was listed in the dictionary as a "deliberate coining".

    Most of this was the work of one editor, who has not been sanctioned in any way and is free to carry on as before.

    1. jugear

      Bomb Wiki

      There ya go buddy that's the stinking Wikipedia for you.

  13. Peter Murphy
    Thumb Down

    Poor 'ol Rick Santorum. On second thoughts. fuck him.

    Comparisons between gay sex or adultery or bigamy are so commonplace by fundamentalists that they generally don't deserve comment. Where Santorum crossed the line was this following passage:

    "That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

    Seriously, anybody who introduces bestiality in a discussion about gay sex is fucking out of order. That's what drove Dan Savage to crowd surf definitions for the neologism "Santorum". Anyone who can't tell the ETHICAL difference between consensual man-on-man/woman-on-woman love, and molesting one's pet, is unfit to be a US senator or presidential candidate.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Yes but....

      There's a difference between

      1) throwing your hands up in righteous indignation and calling someone unfit for public office


      2) childish playground insults.

      Childish playground insults allow you to be stereotyped as being... well... childish. It also suggests you have no valid argument to offer.

      So while a small minority pro-gay activists are all congratulating each other on dealing a bloody blow against right-wing, neo-conservative fascism, they're really only fuelling the attacks against themselves.

      Clever. Yeah, clever.

      1. Peter Murphy

        Not quite, Mr Indomitable Gall.

        Coining a negative word after a political opponent ain't exactly the act of a child. Malicious or vengeful? Definitely. But childish? Children insult each other all the time, but it's a rare child that tries to make an insult stick long after his or her own death, as what Dan Savage tried to do.

        More importantly, how has the introduction of "Santorum" into discourse "fuelled the attacks against" gays? It might have pissed off the fundies, but most fundamentalists don't like gays anyway, so no difference there. Gay-bashers bash gays out of fear, peer-group pressure, and (for many of the closeted ones) self-loathing - but I've never heard of one doing it because of Savage's column.

        They still haven't repealed the ban on gays serving in the US armed forces, but that ban would have continued under George Bush regardless of what Savage said. Remember - this is the same military that had a shortage of Arab translators for Iraq, and then kicked out quite a few of them anyway because they were - wait for it - GAY!

        To cut to the chase: if certain sectors of society have it in for you because of your sexual orientation, no action you take or don't take will please them. So you might as well keep doing what you planned to do anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Indeed little difference on the fringes...

          ... as the fringes are happy to be "leading edge" thinking they're ahead of the rest. As Peter poinst out, it doesn't increase or decrease the mutual dislike on the opposite ends.

          The central impact is the mainstream: Santorum tries to show that the "moral majority" equates homosexuality, bestialism, pederasty & the end of civilisation --- the common use of his name for what he doesn't want is a reality check showing that his opinion isn't as mainstream as he'd like.

          Anybody calling Savage childish, crude or stupid basically has missed the plot by a large margin. And hasn't been reading his columns for the last few years. Call this campaign devious, possibly.

          Other Savage campaigning:

          *"It gets better" -- to collect testimonials from highschool outsiders, to show that with age comes control over your life and environment. This to stop teenage suicides, many gay/lesbian/transsexual but of course also many others bullied for whatever reason.

          *"Prove it's a choice" -- to get those that argue that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice to put their money where there mouth is (or actually the reverse, as they mostly live off this preaching). So be gay for a day and come perform the necessary acts on him.

          *General pointing out of referenda/ law proposals/ etc infringing on social rights, usually gay but often impinging on straight freedoms just as well. Asking for donations for specific legal actions. Etc.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    There once was a tool named Santorum

    Who's mouth did run off at the forum

    He insulted the mass

    With comments so crass

    That out did it spew some santorum.

  15. John Tserkezis

    What a crock of santorum.

    This isn't about taking advantage of how google and/or wikipedia works to further your campaign.

    Even if that was exactly what happened.

    Nor about a made up word that was not organically created by the public. Heck "Do'h" made it to the dictionary, and THAT was created by Dan Castellaneta, who apparently said it was a modified term from the Laurel and Hardy comedies. MORE made up words, entirely from either actors, or writers. That never first appeared organically in the wild.

    It's about what propigated it in the first place.

    Face it, Rick Santorum made a comment on public record, that way to many people objected to.

    And he spent the following years in Damage Control Mode trying to clean up after the mess he started.

    What did he THINK was going to happen?

    Thank you Rick, for helping to create a word I'll be using frequently from now on. :-)

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Wrong on Santorum

    Santorum didn't compare "homosexuality to incest" in 2003. He was discussing the state's intervention in policing private behavior, and what consequences entail.


    “[I]f the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.... It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold—Griswold was the contraceptive case—and abortion. And now we're just extending it out."

    - and -

    "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. "

    He may hold different views to most people here, including me, but try and reflect your opponents' positions accurately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Sounds like he was discussing the state's non-intervention in policing private behavior. Which, to my mind, is a major theme in the US Constitution (eg: freedom of religion.) Protection from illegal search and seizure is also not a million miles away from a right to privacy. Can we assume Santorum is planning to ban curtains?

  17. umacf24

    All publicity is good publicity.

    I had never heard of him before Savage's campaign; I suspect he's only able to run now because of that publicity boost. Even if it as "the anal sex guy".

  18. bugalugs


    Felchers Favourite ?

    1. SirTainleyBarking

      Sounds like a brand of

      Real Ale.

      A cheeky little number, with a creamy yet slightly nutty aftertaste

  19. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "Online Reputation Management"

    Apparently the good senator is unaware of these "companies" - which have sprung up to "repair" (wash away) negative publicity using a tidal wave of positive spin pages which then appear higher rated in Google than the negative stuff.

    These are outfits that Anonymous/Lolcatz could usefully turn their attention to.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought

    Santorum has it wrong. Just because you have the right to consentual sex, that doesn't automatically grant absolution of other crimes associated with the list he spouted. Sounds to me like the bloke is just trying to whip up some hate.

  21. cloudgazer

    by the way it gets weirder

    A while back Santorum (the senator, not the frothy mixture) was giving a stump speech and explaining how determined he was. He told about how in his early days he was out stumping and he got pee'd on by a woman's dog, but he just went on out and kept stumping. Then he said the following.

    'Dog pee can't stop santorum'

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Graphic Definition

    The graphic definition given here does more to more to put me off Anal Sex than anything Santorum has ever said.

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      Well I Learned...

      ...the word for it.

      Santorum has a very distinct and, to me, disagreeable odor, but i was never able to explain it before.

  23. jugear

    Just another day

    Wikipedia is a friggin' joke, its "editors" (ha!) and "administrators" (haha!) a live mass of snaggle-toothed, slithering, slimy critters that no honest person should have the misfortune to encounter, ever.

    Even after you have mastered its byzantine rules, a process that takes many months, you have ZERO guarantee of getting good, solid info into the "encyclopedia" (aahahaha!!) if one of the zillion cliques of warlords, battlenerds and cynical self-marketers object to it.

    Case in point, just in the last couple of days: El Reg publishes an update on Captain Cyborg (Kevin Warwick) and notes in a postscript how he and his confederates have kept out even one small paragraph of criticism from the grandiloquent puff piece masquerading as his Wiki "article" (lol). A handful of readers rode into the valley of death, valiantly struggling to insert the paragraph. The first brought an improved reference for the quote, ironclad even by Wiki's "verifiability", "relevance" and "reliable source" standards.

    All, all for naught. Warwick (probably Wiki admin "Mdd") and Wiki editors "Bradka" (his secretary), "James Wraight" (his wife), as well as colluding Wiki admin "2/0" (his pet goldhamster) together beat back the onslaught and retired to the pub for beer.

    Just another friggin day on the friggin Wikipedia, among the friggin Wikipediots.

  24. mraak


    On the first republican presidential debate he said:

    "We need strong family and christian family values because if you don't have that,... guess what,... next thing you have is government debt, economic recession, and all the bad things we're experiencing now"

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    anything to dodge the current spate of immoral lying behavior by Democrats..keep digging up old republican scandal and ignore the Weiner lying in the room.

    1. alwarming

      Re: wow

      This is a UK site, AC. No one cares about republican vs democrats here. And this article is about wiki-bombing and such... If anything it's very slightly sympathetic towards the victims of wiki-bombing - though in cse of this senator, it's really hard to be! :)

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