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Views & Voices

Dan Savage and the truth about homosexuality and the Bible

Monday, April 30, 2012

As you may already know, there is just now much controversy swirling around this video of Dan Savage (of Savage Love and the “It Gets Better Project“).

Such headlines as: “Gay Conservatives Demand Dan Savage Apologize for Anti-Christian Tirade,” “Christian students walk out as Dan Savage attacks the Bible,” “Anti-Bully Advocate Dan Savage Bullies High School Kids With Profane Bible Rant,” and “Rabbi compares Dan Savage’s anti-Christian bigotry to Westboro Baptist Church,” tell the tale.


The controversy is due to Mr. Savage calling bull**** those parts of the Bible that throughout history been used by “Christians” unworthy of the name to justify the Holocaust, condone slavery, oppress women, and victimize gay people.

He was speaking on April 12 to attendees of the National High School Journalism Conference, sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. The four-day conference, featuring over 200 sessions, two keynote speakers (Dan and Jennifer Sizemore), more than a dozen featured speakers, and more events and activities than you can shake a pen at, was titled Journalism on the Edge.

The conference’s promo material begins with:

You are already on the Edge. Journalists have always lived on the edge. Deadlines, and the edge of time. Facts, and the edge of truth. Authority, and the edge of free expression. We balance on the edge of legitimate public interest and the interests of those who would rather we not publish.

And there, amongst all this journalistic edginess, was Dan Savage, being edgy.

Just who does this podium-pounding pontificator peddling in people’s perplexingly perverse predilections think he is, anyway?

I, for one, have no idea what the world has come to, when a person who has made his career out of speaking, in the most unadorned language possible, directly to great numbers of young people about some of the most important issues in their lives, dares to speak in unadorned language directly to a great number of young people about one of the most important issues in American life today.

Besides the fact that he was raised in a devoutly Catholic home and is the country’s leading gay activist, who is Dan Savage to say anything at all about the ages-old Christian condemnation of gay people? So what if his claim is manifestly valid that nothing contributes more to the destruction of the lives of gay people than do Christians falsely and hypocritically using the Bible as an instrument of brutality?

So what if he believes that among the most egregious of all Christian sins is daring to proclaim that God’s love ends where their own fear and hatred begin? So what if every day, for decades on end, Dan Savage has dealt with young lives obliterated through violence informed and buttressed by the bedrock “Christian” view that gay people are less than human?

So what if any reasonably compassionate person should be expected to vigorously assert that it’s time for all Christians to reject using the Bible as a means of justifying the persecution of an entire population whose only “crime” is to prefer to spend their lives with same-sex partners?

Why should any of that matter? What matters is that Dan Savage cursed. He said bull**** not once, but three times.

Three! That’s one more than two! Which is two too many!

You know, it’s almost like the people who put on this conference, as well as a small but now (thanks, media machine!) significant number of individuals who attended it, don’t even know what the word “journalism” means.

Well, thank you, young people who walked out of Dan’s speech the moment he began talking about the parts of the Bible to which he takes exception, for reminding us of what beats so passionately in the heart and soul of every true journalist. Speaking as a person who for twelve years made his living as a journalist, I admire your dedication to the journalist’s creed: When you personally disagree with something someone is saying, get up and leave.

If that’s not what Jesus meant by, “The truth shall set you free,” I can’t imagine what he did mean.

P.S. What immediately become a meme amongst Dan’s critics is that those who walked out of his talk felt bullied by him. But that’s impossible. People get bullied because of who they are: how they look and act, what they say and do. Perceived as being in some critical way weak or lacking, victims of bullies are selected for persecution; they are pulled from the pack before being pointedly and repeatedly victimized.

The people who walked out during Dan’s talk were not separated from their peers by anyone. They were content to do that themselves. They were not frightened or cowed. They were offended. They felt that by disparaging what amounts to their God, Dan had transgressed beyond their capacity for toleration. And they were pleased to show their intolerance of Dan’s words by protesting against them in the manner they did. Theirs was not an act born of suffering. It was a proud show of disdain.

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36 more reader comments:

  1. yes every pegen shellfich shud be boiled and deep fride befor eating lol ya the bible is good in su and bs in othears …i thank jesus wold kadem the bible but not as a hole

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:08pm
  2. Go Dan!!

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:11pm
  3. I don’t agree, sorry. This is how Dan Savage has always talked. You don’t ask the painter to leave off the nudity in a masterpiece. You get what the artist paints, if you don’t like it then don’t buy from that artist anymore. Simple as that. I admire Dan Savage for pointing out what is reality, this letter focuses too much on his conduct.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:11pm
  4. Love how the hypocrite bible thumpers can’t take being called out on it.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:22pm
  5. Not a thumper…LGBTQ advocate here…and host of QueerFM Vancouver…and I thought he was rude, and disrespectful. Those kids had every right to walk…and he didn’t need to bulky them for it. Normally I’m on your team, Dan. This time…I can’t back you. You need to unconditionally apologize. Period.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:28pm
  6. His conduct was out of line for speaking to a group of high school kids. My respect for this man is pretty much gone now. I agree with every single word he said, but I disagree with how he said it, especially when speaking to teenagers.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:29pm
  7. I don’t find anything he said disrespectful. What I find disrespecting is when church leaders condemn fellow human beings to death, condones slavery, condones rape of women, condones murder when it’s justified by god, and the murder of disrespectful children. Now that is far more disrespectful than Dan calling religious people hypocrites.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:34pm
  8. For Who?
    (c) 4/25/2011 – Aina J. Powell

    “It Gets Better,” they all say.
    Well sure, if you are
    the right kind of gay.
    The White kind of gay,
    and not a POC,
    a woman, transgender,
    or worse, Black like me.

    Patriarchal attitudes,
    and denial of rights.
    There’s irony in
    the the gay community -
    crippled by White Flight

    What is there to
    look forward to,
    when you are a
    double whammy?
    When you’re a man
    and getting your ass kicked -
    Is it for loving men
    Or because you
    have a mammy?

    And if you’re a woman,
    and your woman
    ain’t got soul.
    They’ll say your woman is
    a nigger-lover
    before they’ll say she
    has a role ….

    … a place in the dis-unity -
    the un-united state of the community,
    they’ll reject her with impunity,
    and they’ll sabotage the goal.

    It Gets Better! It Gets Better!

    The privileged mantra of those
    with nary a clue,
    blinded by their whiteness.
    It gets better for who?

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:40pm
  9. Great poem Aina – can I share it on another page?

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:50pm
  10. Although I completely agree with what he said, I’m kinda confused as to why he even brought it up at a National High School Journalism Conference.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:51pm
  11. As gay AND Christian, I was offended. He could have made his points in a much more appropriate manner. It was crass, it was rude, and calling kids Pansy asses for walking out was just beyond pointless. I take the Bible as ass WHOLE, and the WHOLE message it delivers. When Christians AND non-christians use specific, out of context, or flat out old religious Scriptures as weapons against each other, No one wins.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:53pm
  12. Ariel, and this is no different than Junkyard Prophet coming in and influencing issues on abortion and gay rights in a public school (which really happened recently) and then having the Christian community slap us and claim religious right? Not really that fair if you think about it…

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:53pm
  13. *take the Bible as a whole*

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:54pm
  14. Sure, Kay ..

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:56pm
  15. He didn’t call the kids pansy asses, he called their actions pansy assed because they got their panties in wad when it came down to the truth, and we all know how much we love to hear what we want to hear.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:59pm
  16. @Clay Curry: He brought it up at the conference because his keynote speech was on bullying and the It Gets Better Project. Part of the journalism competition is a writing contest, and the contest centered around bullying

    I was in the audience for this, and applauded Dan the whole time! It was absolutely appropriate for the audience.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9:59pm
  17. Tyler, too bad life isn’t fair, amirite? And this is different because of who he is. Also, Junkyard Prophet was a different situation and cannot be compared to this. Junkyard Prophet was brought into that school to make anti-drug messages and popped out of the bag with something completely different that even shocked the superintendent, and because of that situation, the school has now made new rules about what to do before letting anyone speak there. Also, Dan Savage preaches out AGAINST bullying, yet he openly pointed out those TEENAGERS who walked out and called them pansy asses because they walked out. Guess what? That’s bullying. He was crass, out of line, offensive, rude, AND a bully. Makes us look great!!!

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:02pm
  18. “You’re not a pansy ass, you just act like one.” Makes sense, bruh.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:05pm
  19. not in the least offended by what he said.. it is about time the fucked up christians got to hear the truth. it is ok when they berate us,, well fuck them, Dan was spot on with what he said!

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:13pm
  20. Who said that any of those kids that walked out think that gay is a sin? Or that they are even Christians? Are they wearing signs saying, “I’m a Christian who believes being gay is a sin?” And making up the term frothy(old news is old) isn’t thwarting Rick Santorum single handedly, the man thwarted himself by being an extremist moron. The term just added to the lulz.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:14pm
  21. He was defending the idea however no one in that room was bullying him directly at that time, that is the line between bullying and defending. There was no reason for him to be defensive at that moment. He could have stated his opinion but when he spoke about them being pansy assed, that was bullying them on believing in their ideals and walking out. Like it or not, he was out of line in that sentiment. It does make our community look bad when a leader gets angry and acts inappropiate in front of teenagers.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:14pm
  22. and as a leader for our community he did EXACTLY what he wanted to do. He got the focus on equality.. got us speaking about it, and got the haters speaking about it.. well done! He used the spotlight to make sure the issues wont go away, untill equality is made. If he stepped on a few righteous toes to let them know how we feel, well done – tnow they can get a feeling of what they do to us.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:20pm
  23. So because it was mostly a Christian student body(like..well..most schools in the US?) they were all obviously Christian bigots? Also…throwing a fit over it doesn’t mean anything? Being called a frothy mix of lube and fecal matter didn’t hurt his campaign, it just gave people who didn’t like him a reason to laugh at him. Also, I have read, listened to, and watched Dan Savage, and I participated in “It Gets Better”. I also agree with EVERYTHING he said, I do not agree with how he said it, and I do not agree with him bullying teenagers. Like someone else said, he wasn’t on the defense because he wasn’t being attacked in that room. He was being a dick, plain and simple.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:31pm
  24. Did you notice Dan Savage is only savage toward a specific religion? He’d not dare touch on Islam, where they actively behead gay people in Islamic nations. Muslims in America would not stand for it, and Savage would have lawsuits and death threats from Muslims if he did speak out against how Islamic nations deal with homosexuals.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:32pm
  25. he did not act inappropriately in front of the teenagers. GUess what, those rat bag kids talk worse then that amongst themselves.. Stop wearing kid gloves when dealing with high school kids.. that is the problem with the next generation.. they are molly coddled way too much. He talked to them as exactly what they are, young adults. He talked to them in a language they understand. Read up a few comments, and you will see one posted by a person who was actually there – and by their own admission – it was within topic, and appropriate….

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:34pm
  26. “What have been the fruits of Christianity ? Superstition, bigotry and persecution.” — James Madison, 4th president of the U.S.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:37pm
  27. The young woman above said that his speech was supposed to be on bullying and the “It Gets Better Project”. Not about religion and taking the Bible and ripping it apart and getting defensive. And yes, kids do talk worse than that, I sure as hell know I was talking worse than that when I was in middle school. But if a teacher had talked that way, they would of lost their jobs so damn quickly it isn’t even funny. So ripping up the Bible and calling a group of teenagers pansy asses for walking out WASN’T appropriate or within topic. How is he going to preach anti-bullying messages, but then go after a specific group of kids and call them pansy asses? He wants to talk about hypocrisy, he needs to look in the mirror real quick.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:38pm
  28. Nice discussion here bros, but it’s time to get to bed. Peace and good night.

    Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:46pm
  29. they should ultimate disrespect by walking out on him, and not engaging in a discussion.. so he talked to them AT their level and returning the disrespect. Those kids got no more then what they deserved…

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 1:00am
  30. The students had pre-planned a walkout.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 1:00am
  31. Philip, the muslims in america are not mass protesting gay rights, nor bashing gay people as is being done in the name of christianity…. your argument does not make a lot of sense..

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 1:20am
  32. Very well written essay.
    I was heartened by how many clapped and applauded for Dan in his speech. Our younger generations are definitely learning to say no to religious-based bigotry (thank goodness!).

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 3:57am
  33. Um, Tyler….I think you need to get an understanding of the concept of sarcasm. John Shore is very much on the side of gay rights and has more than once put forth the thought that the Christian negative view of homosexuals is not right. And no, the negative view is not held by all Christians.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 4:01am
  34. As a friend of mine pointed out, it’s hard to swallow someone tackling the issue of bullying from the pulpit, when they them selves are bullying from the pulpit. Not to mention the insult he used against them is rooted in homophobia and misogyny. For shame.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 4:56am
  35. Go Dan!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 7:56am
  36. Heres my issue with all of this, I was bullied all throughout my school years for being heavy, to the point that I couldnt go anymore. Now in my adult life I am bullied everyday for my sexuality, and if those almost adult kids couldnt let pansy ass role off, well they arent going to make it in the real world let alone as journalists.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 8:46am