Analysis

The GOP debate audience's 'disgusting' booing of a gay soldier

When an openly gay U.S. service member in Iraq asks Rick Santorum a question via YouTube, some Florida debate watchers respond rather disrespectfully

The video: One of the most controversial moments of Thursday's "confrontational" GOP presidential debate came when co-moderator Megyn Kelly introduced a taped YouTube question from Stephen Hill, a gay soldier serving in Iraq. Hill asked candidate Rick Santorum, "Do you plan to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?" The Orlando, Fla., crowd responded by breaking into a scattered chorus of boos. (Watch the video below.) Santorum's response, met with thunderous applause, was that "any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military." He later added that allowing gays to serve openly in the military is a "special privilege," and he would reinstate the military's ban on gays, which officially ended earlier this week. Conservative gay rights group GOProud is calling on Santorum to apologize to Hill, saying he was "disrespected" during the debate. No other candidates responded to the question or the crowd's reaction during the debate, though Jon Huntsman later said it was an "unfortunate" incident.

The reaction: That the audience would boo a soldier risking his life for our country is "downright disgusting," says Paul Begala at The Daily Beast. "Rarely have I seen a more unpatriotic public display." More shameful, says Crooks and Liars, is that not one candidate on stage condemned the "disrespect paid to the soldier." Not so fast, says audience member Sarah Rumpf at her blog. The whole crowd wasn't booing, just one or two people — and they received an "immediate and angry reaction from nearly everyone around." A more accurate headline for this story: "One or Two Stupid Jerks Out of a Crowd of Thousands Booed a Soldier." Watch for yourself:

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