Usually, I like what Dan Savage has to say. I’m an avid reader of “Savage Love”, I like the mix of his off-beat humor and no-nonsense, frank discussion about sex and it’s many, uh… complexities.
And I absolutely applaud his efforts with the It Gets Better Project.
However, this past week, he made an error that, to many, has negated his efforts to end bullying… the core of why he started the It Gets Better Project in the first place.
Dan made an appearance as the keynote speaker at the NSPA/ JEA’s annual High School Journalism convention, Journalism on the Edge. The main topic was about bullying, but, as he has been known to do, Dan veered off on other sub-topics and one of them was the Bible.
Honestly, here is where I have to question whether or not the organizers of this event actually knew anything at all about Dan Savage and what he does/has done. If they had done a proper amount of research into not only the It Gets Better Project, but Dan, himself, and his core beliefs they might have been wiser not to have had him as a speaker for High School students. Or, at the very least, could have given fair warning to those in attendance that some of what he said may be deemed offensive by this group or that group and given said groups the opportunity of opting out of attending in exchange for some other activity to get their grades. Some have said attendance was voluntary… but I don’t remember attendance to anything in High School being voluntary. It was “you attend, or take an incomplete and fail”.
At any rate, Dan began to speak about the Bible and, as he did, a group of Christian students in attendance began to leave. Here’s a short video from that part of his presentation, and what has been garnering all the criticism.
To be completely fair, Dan didn’t call anyone “Pansy-asses”. He described their reaction to what he was saying as “pansy-assed”.
Ah… isn’t semantics a wonderful thing?
However, we’ll just go ahead under the allegations of name-calling and not get nit-picky.
The thing is, he had some great points in what he said about the Bible, and then he pissed them all away carelessly.
Is what Dan Savage did any different from what certain Christians/Christian groups do on a daily and repeated basis? No. And that’s why he gets criticism from me on this while others might say that turnabout is fair play.
Do I think this was anything more than a momentary lapse and careless slip of the tongue that we all sometimes have? No. Do I think it really merited this kind of controversy? Again, no. But it doesn’t surprise me either, because those with the weakest arguments will point at any and every little thing that will divert attention from that fact.
Bottom-line: Dan Savage negated his entire argument against bullying with one careless sentence. With that one sentence he went from being the bullied to being the bully and, in a world where too much of that is going on and children are dying at an alarming rate by their own hands because of it, it is utterly unacceptable! You cannot convince the world bullies are wrong by stooping to bully tactics. You have to be better than that. You either ignore what offends you, or you respond to it in a respectful way. But you don’t throw around thoughtless comparisons to belittle the group that has offended you. That behavior makes you no better than them.
Dan, you have to be better than them, man. You have to respond as a clear-thinking, open-minded, respectful adult in the face of their murky-logic, close-minded, immature disrespect of you and others in the LGBTQ community. You must be better if you want your message heard and believed.
We all, who know better, need to be a voice of sanity in the insane chaos that is the rhetoric of hate.