April 26, 2004

Dear Dan,

I take issue with your assertion about "diluting" the meaning of the term "santorum." In fact, you will find that the more successful lexical items, neologisms and so forth, are the ones that can have multiple meanings and that are applicable in more than their original context. Making the jump from the literal (concrete) meaning to a metaphorical or a metonymical application of the term is a sure sign of success. I think that this, in fact, points to the success of your campaign and does not in any way detract from the original meaning that you assigned to the term. If you manage to create a "concept", it is a far greater accomplishment than merely labelling some physical phenomenon. Concepts are enduring.

FYI, I am a linguist, and I am certain that linguists that you may consult on this matter will concur.

Teaching Others New, Glorious, Understandable English

Hey Dan--just wanted to let you know that santorum has made its way to the Ivy League. Demon, a (mediocre) comedy magazine, released its fall issue with "Sen. Rick 'frothy mix of lube and fecal matter' Santorum" listed among the magazine staff.

-mk eagle

I've made the big time at last!

I may not be the best writer in the world, but I think I've proven that nobody at Amazon reads the reviews submitted by the readers before posting them. Check out the reviews of Karen Santorum's book:

Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners

In particular, look under "All Customer Reviews."

Dorkface Petunia

Well done, Dorkface!

April 22, 2004

Hi Dan,

I just wanted to let you know that I was listening to, but not necessarily paying deep attention to, NPR the other day while getting ready to take a shower and I overheard them say "santorum". I immediately thought of your version of santorum. I don't know if this speaks more to my devoted readership of your column, the fact that, as a grad student I have no time to pay attention to the "real" news (besides NPR and the Daily Show), or the fact that it was early. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you've had a [perhaps disturbing] effect on me.



Department of Anthropology

Emory University

Dear Alex: I'm thrilled to know that I made the morning news more bearable for you. And aren't you going to miss Bob Edwards? I know I am.

April 21, 2004

Dear Dan:

I know someone whose last name is Swallows. She's a sweet girl, but I do hope, for her sake and ours, that she never marries someone whose last name is Santorum - and decides to hyphenate.

Santorum Hyphenation is Terrible

Dear SHIT:

I agree --as last-name hyphenates go, "Swallows-Santorum" has to be the most unfortunate example I've ever heard. Let's hope your young Miss Swallows never falls for one of Senator Santorum's spawn.

April 20, 2004

Dear Dan:

I am very pleased and amused at the success so far of your santorum campaign. I can only hope it achieves what it deserves to achieve, and what Rick deserves to live with, that being its entrenchment in dictionaries and conversation everywhere. I thought of a slogan for your site, whether you enjoy it or find it ridiculously lame I cannot predict, but I figured I would email you regardless. It’s “Help spread the word.” This is, of course, a double meaning, both as a call to the dissemination of the truth about certain bigot politicians and the new usage of their names, as well as to the spreading of santorum all over the bedsheets. It also refers to the name of your website, in part. Simply an idea I thought I would communicate. My apologies if this has already been thought up.

Sincerely Yours,

Canadian Appreciates Redefined Language

Thanks for sharing, CARL, but I've already used "spread the word" in reference to santorum numerous times. (No slam intended -- you know what they say about great minds, right?) My favorite slogan, however, is the one that calls to mind the substance, the growing use/popularity of the word, and a visceral reaction of disgust -- it's also the slogan that my readers begged me to stop using: "Santorum -- it's on everyone's lips!"

April 19, 2004

Dear Dan,

I thought you might appreciate this story: I am a youthworker in Edinburgh, Scotland and was recently in a training session regarding sexual health and sexually transmitted infections. We were discussing bodily fluids and HIV transmission risks when one of my coworkers said, 'yes, but what about santorum?', which prompted a 10 minute discussion on santorum and STIs: what are the risks? Youthworkers can take the fun out of anything.

I thought you might appreciate knowing that santorum, in its frothy fashion, has spread across the Atlantic.



Thanks for sharing, Sarah. With any luck "santorum" will soon take its rightful place in the OED.

April 15, 2004

I would just like to add the following embarrassing surnames to the list provided in Tom's letter of April 7th, and remind everyone that they are all (much) more common than Santorum: Woodcock (3455), Cockerham (6608), Hathcock (7535), Glasscock (7836), Pitcock (11324), Cockburn (15886), Pocock (21325), Laycock (22119), Cocker (32228), Cocks (34042), Cockman (36701), Cockram (38359), Woolcock (38797), Sincock (42073), Pincock (45892), Hiscock (51344), Handcock (51475), Growcock (51542), Lacock (71038), Decock (73766), Cocking (86633), Allcock (88616), Acock (88750), Loser (43064), Dumbleton (22318), Dacunto (44160), Balls (15928), Balling (18347), Snowball (22621), Ballman (36335), Muff (14809), Schmuff (68149), McNutt (2846), Blackie (44520), Homola (63252), Jerkins (11360), Jerko (71641), Holeman (10347), Fagg (19206), Fagley (32048), Hooker (1670), Oshita (29879), Peniston (50053), Penister (50054), Penisson (69214), Sementilli (29675), Semenza (32867), Semen (36880), Belcher (1073), Belch (28005), McCracker (70222), Butt (5069), Buttram (12675), Buttermore (36162), Smelley (12726), Smutz (39187), Lube (62271), Reamer (11647), Smallwood (1665), Blackwood (3959), Leatherwood (5659), Woodring (6938), Fullwood (11070), Titsworth (17521), Titze (41846), Titlow (49022), Titman (53813), Stains (32782), Shorthair (78210), Bush (304), and Cheney (2346).

Much love,

Morehead Formey Brownsword

Dear MFB:

Acock? Balling? Hooker? Buttram? Thanks for pointing out that plenty of people have struggled all their lives with names that have embarrassing double-meanings, MFB, not just the odd asshole senators who annoyed the odd asshole sex advice columnists. While all the poor, innocent Santorums out there were tainted by the new definition of their last name, they are certainly not the first folks to have to face the world saddled with a seamy last name. Poor dears, all those innocent Santorums, how they're going to suffer now that "santorum: the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" is taking root. But look at it this way, Santorums: the Titmans, Homolas, Ballmans, Cockings, Lubes, and Snowballs have suffered all their lives with their undignified last names. You people, on the other hand, only have to suffer for the *rest* of your lives.

Dear Dan:

BBspot.com, a satire/humor site that is aimed at computer literate types (aka "geeks") holds an annual Geek Limerick contest. Santorum made an honorable mention.

By Seth Brown

The Internet is a great forum;
We can mock people when we abhor 'em.
And if you don't believe
What the web can achieve,
Then just Google our dear friend Santorum.

The page:


The full results:

www.bbspot.com (final results)

Just thought you might find this one amusing...

Tim B.

Dear Tim: Thanks for sharing -- this isn't the first example of santorum poetry we've received here at www.spreadingsantorum.com, but it's definitely the best. It's certainly better than all those too-easy-to-bother-to-post haikus that have poured in since we launched this site. Note to haiku stylists: any idiot can pull together an enigmatic 5-7-5 haiku about santorum -- or anythign else, for that matter. A Limerick, however, takes real skill, talent and discipline. Let Seth Brown be an example to you. He's is an impressive young man and poet who we will be hearing more from, God willing.

April 9, 2004

Dear Dan,

This may strike you as odd, but after reading Savage Love for a couple of years and having developed a concept of "santorum," albeit not through direct experience, I have something that I would like to share with you.

Recently, while painting my daughter's bedroom with a roller, an odd thing happened. The white ceiling paint that I was using got mixed with a caked-on dry red paint that was on the ends of the roller and frothed-up into a pinkish-brown slurry. I immediately thought "santorum."

Though this might seem bizarre to many of your readers, it was a revelation of sorts for me. This was a cognitive leap, a form of metaphorization, which is a fundamental aspect of human cognition, language and conceptualization. This means that in my conceptual system, worldview and idiolect, "santorum" has become a more generalized term which can mean any sort of frothy mixture resulting as a by-product of another action.

Maybe others have had this experience? The more this sort of thing happens, the greater the likelihood that "santorum" will survive more than a generation. We must teach this concept to our children!

Teaching Others New, Glorious, Understandable English

I haven't heard from anyone else about the phenomenon you describe, TONGUE, but for the sake of making Sen. Santorum regret ever opening his mouth in public I hope it doesn't catch on. The new meaning of santorum -- that frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex -- hasn't been in play long enough to become firmly established. It's only just started popping up in places that don't refer to my column or this campaign -- one sign, according to the linguists, that the word is catching on. If alternate or fuzzy meanings start gaining ground, TONGUE, I fear the scatological meaning may be diluted. Weak santorum, hardly frothy, would be a poor reward for all the effort I've poured into this campaign, don't you think?

April 7, 2004

I really enjoy reading your column as it makes me feel damn near normal. And I particularly like your take on your favorite politician. It's gotten to the point that the word santorum automatically has your connotation in my mind rather than the man behind the myth.

Unfortunately, as a student intern, I had to sit through a ridiculously boring teleconference today with various political lobbyists from various nonprofit organizations. As the role call went through, people discussed their work with their national politicians. When santorum was mentioned I nearly spewed my tepid coffee out of my nose and my supervisor gave me an odd look. It honestly took me a moment to remind myself that it was a name, not a fluid. So, thanks for making a tedious meeting far more interesting.

Keep up the good work!

Cleaned Out Sinuses in Chicago


I have been fascinated by the Santorum craze and I guess it is a shame that a couple innocent Santorums are going to become fodder in the righteous defamation that Rick Santorum deserves. What I find interesting however is how few victims there seem to be? This whole campaign seems to have less collateral damage than any of the smart bomb that Bu$h has been hurling around the mid-east. I decided to investigate the 1990 US census list of surnames.


It lists all the names in the 1990 US survey with the percent of the population with that last name and ranks the name in terms of how common they are. The list starts of predictably with Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, and Brown and then you get into the rarer names. For example .02% of the US population are Savages and the name is the 582nd most common. The list however didn't even include one Santorum US Senator or not nobody in the family must have filled out a survey that year. The list did include Santor, Santora,

Santore, Santoro, Santory, Santorelli, Santorella, and Santoriella but I don't think that they are catching any flack from the Santorum phenomenon.

Now there may be very few Santorums in the US but unfortunately Crapo is the 22365th most common name. And there are kids with the last name of Faggett (47505), Takeshita (59819), Sluter (60168), Morgas (80850) and Assalone(88332) and the poor kids with these last names have been steely-jawed walking across the playground for years. The very fact that Dickerson is 517th most common surname and they have to share the same insults and feel the same pain as Dickinson, Reddick, Dickman, Bendick, Haddick, Medick, Dickhoff, Dickensheets, Benedick, Tendick, Sickendick, Overdick and the exotic Ladick means that great swaths of the American population are suffering horrible titles. Gay is the 774th most common surname and do you think that having the last name of Begay, Gaylord, Gayman, Gayer, Dugay, Gayheart, Gayfield, Gayoso, Gayo in grade school makes life very easy yet their are no movements to try to change the meaning of Gay for those that happen to have a Gay last name. Life often deals us an unfortunate hand but you just have to deal with the name your born into and whatever legacy that presents or change it. Little kids don't even need an easy lead in to make any name sound like an insult so it really doesn't matter what your called does it. So to the dozen or so innocent Santorums through-out the US; "tough luck, you're surname has been sacrificed for a higher cause."

PS I learned in Rick Santorum's on-line biography that his father was an immigrant from Italy so because I figure Santorum will soon be spreading over seas I thought I would check the Italian White Pages to see if your definition was about to become a curse on some poor unsuspecting mountain village. I only found 12 listings in a couple towns in Northern Italy. I wish them fortitude in what will surely be a trying time and ask that if the owners of the Santorum Bar and Lounge in Riva Del Garda could take a picture of your bar, I think it would be really funny. I am also curious to know what the origin of Santorum's name is. If it is a literal translation from Italian it means Holy Noise, which might explain away his whole quest to begin with.