I Write Letters

To Whom It May Concern:

Rick Santorum is not "crazy." He is not insane, nuts, batshit, wacko, delusional, cuckoo, or any other euphemism for mentally ill.

He is a vile bigot.

The two are not, of course, mutually exclusive—but it is not axiomatic that anyone who holds the extremist views that Santorum holds is mentally ill, and it is certainly not accurate that mental illness inexorably or exclusively causes a belief in extremist views.

You probably already know that, though, don't you? Ha ha it's not like you really think Santorum is actually crazy. It's just something you say to demean him and marginalize him! What could be the harm in that, right?

Well, funny you should ask.

Because demeaning and marginalizing people by implying they are mentally ill has the effect of demonizing people with mental illness, many of whom, myself included, do not share in common any political views with the likes of Rick Santorum. The suggestion that mentally ill people are dangerous and unstable makes an already vulnerable population even more so, and creates a toxic environment in which people deemed "crazy" aren't considered reputable advocates for themselves and their needs, and wouldn't need to be listened to even if they were, because crazy don't get a place at the table.

Hey, here's a fun fact! Do you know two groups who have historically been marginalized with accusations of craziness? Women and queer men! And the fact that we have been dismissed as hysterics and lunatics for, literally, centuries is what makes it so easy for Rick Santorum and people just like him to still say we have no right to basic equality with a straight face in the public sphere and yet be considered viable candidates for the highest office in the most prominent democracy in the world!

Think of that, next time you want to call Rick Santorum "crazy," and think hard about whether it's worth it.

I understand the urge; I used to indulge it myself. I don't anymore.


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