I’ll be doing my usual SiOB later today, but there was one incident that everyone is talking about that deserves separate attention. By chance, I read about it first on JG-W’s blog:
The worst part was not his referring to parts of the Bible as “bullshit” in front of an assembly full of high school students. The worst part was mocking those who got up to leave the auditorium as Christian pansy-asses, while those remaining in the auditorium laughed at them.
I’m glad to see that our culture is growing to understand that bullying isn’t some inevitable part of youth and childhood — but rather it’s something that kids can be taught not to do. (Check out this new book!) And I love Dan Savage’s work on this front.
Naturally, I think it’s important to make it clear that expecting kids not to bully other kids really is about this particular unacceptable behavior (bullying), and it’s not some sort of culture-war smokescreen that one culture-war team is using to attack the other. And I recall giving Dan Savage a similar criticism earlier…
However, the more I read about this particular incident, the less cut-and-dry it seems.
The only part of the speech that might reasonably be called “bullying” was when he called the students who walked out “pansy-assed”, encouraging the remaining kids to laugh (and some claim even that wasn’t bullying). Here’s Savage’s apology for that:
But gay people feel insulted by “love the sinner, hate the sin” because it is insulting. Likewise, my use of “pansy-assed” was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong. And I apologize for saying it.
However, Savage’s remarks about the Bible seem to be what offended a lot of people. Personally, I think the fact that this wasn’t some ordinary school assembly — it was a journalism conference — makes a big difference:
The program listed the goal of the keynote this way: Students will get ideas on how to cover the topic of bullying in their student media. Keep in mind its virtually impossible to talk about anti-gay bullying without mentioning the Bible.
Plus — as many people pointed out — Savage’s criticisms of the Bible (and Bible-based hypocrisy) may well be right. Look at this post for references to the Bible commandments Savage mentioned that modern Christians ignore (plus the Bible’s “moral” guidance on slavery…). Christians pick and choose:
They hold to the homosexual passages because THEY WANT TO. Every Christian self selects the passages of scripture he or she wants to live by. let’s quit blaming the bible and start taking responsibility for our own positions. The anti-homosexual position does not belong to a deity…. it belongs to you.
Also, a pastor made the news for recommending that if a boy is effeminate, his father should beat him, and some saw the connection with this incident.
Indeed, even the Savage’s most questionable comment (“Its funny, as someone whos on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back”) may be right. Does that make it reasonable in context?