Savage hate from Savage Love

Savage hate from Savage Love
  •  emoticon

If you’re a big fan of your city’s grungy alt-weekly newspaper (this week’s headline: “Reinventing organic nudity”), chances are you’ve heard of Dan Savage. He’s an edgy, anything-goes sex columnist who enjoys quite the omnipresence in the urban hipster media scene. Though actually an internationally-syndicated American based out of Seattle, until quite recently I thought he was an exclusive Vancouver guy — a self-serving misconception I’m sure is not at all uncommon in big cities all over the continent, so high is his indie cred.

Anyway, the gist of the Dan Savage worldview is that a great deal of social dysfunction is caused by sexual repression, and therefore the more liberated, open, and honest we all are when it comes to talking about (and doing) sexual stuff, the happier and better-adjusted we’ll be as a collective society. As a gay dude himself, he’s a particularly strong booster of the idea that taboos against homosexuality are among the greatest evils of our time, and the people who actively promote such taboos among the most wicked. The “It Gets Better” project, where celebrities, both gay and straight alike, record inspirational videos to gay and lesbian teens who may be facing bullying or discrimination, was his brainchild and probably his most laudable and moving accomplishment to date.

But there’s a real dark side to the man as well, and it manifests in the almost pathologically vicious way he chooses to hound, belittle, and publicly humiliate those whom he declares to be enemies of his sexual revolution. I’m sure you’re already starting to see the irony.

Some time ago, the now-Republican presidential candidate and arch-Catholic Rick Santorum gave an unfortunate interview where he, in his typically awkward and muddled way, made the point that, in his mind, there was no historic precedent for recognizing same-sex marriages any more than there was a basis for recognizing dog-human marriages, or pedophilic ones.

Once the interview was released, Savage sprang into action with a campaign to ruin Santorum. Employing a very gross Google bombing campaign, Savage asked his readers to come up with the most vile alternative definition of “Santorum” they could dream up, then created the website “” to clog up any future search results for his name. It worked, and due to the endless links of bloggers and Facebookers, Santorum’s e-reputation has now been sufficiently corrupted beyond repair. According to this well-titled article in Mother Jones, even leading online reputation consultants consider him basically beyond help at this point.

Now, if you have not read the Santorum interview in full, it may be worthwhile to do so. The man is not particularly eloquent in his words, but it’s nevertheless clear that he is defending his particular worldview with logic and reason, and is not merely a raving bigot. He repeatedly stresses that he has “no problem with homosexuality,” and in fact, the only reason he brought up the man-on-dog stuff in the first place was to, quote, “not pick on homosexuality.” One can certainly disagree with his thesis that privacy rights are unconstitutional, and that all forms of non-missionary consensual sex are a slippery slope to Vatican-style child rape, but it’s still an intellectually valid thesis (and despite his strong faith, not even a particularly religious one).

The same thing could be said for the views of Michelle Bachmann’s husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, a Christian family counsellor who holds a similarly negative opinion on homosexuality. In Bachmann’s case, of course, his views are unambiguously religious; it’s now been proven that Bachmann’s clinic has conducted scientifically dubious “gay fixing” therapies on the basis that homosexuality is out-and-out sinful, rather than merely socially problematic. As punishment for believing this, Savage has recently turned the guns on the doctor with equal force, claiming that Bachmann is clearly a repressed homosexual himself, and has launched an aggressive propaganda campaign to make that assertion the mainstream consensus of the internet. (The evidence backing Savage’s claim is that Bachman kinda talks like a homo.)

Now it’s obviously, undeniably clear that a lot of young, gay men and women suffer emotionally from growing up in a culture where their sexuality is constantly condemned, or only discussed as a problem to be solved. And it’s equally clear that true bigotry exists in this world, and people who are genuinely motivated by pure, vicious, angry ignorance can unleash awful cruelty in all sorts of hideous ways.

But it’s also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of homosexuality in modern America, rather than some strict either/or, love/hate duality. If you’re a conservative homosexual like me, or Jack Donovan, whose fascinating book on conservative homosexuality I plan to review soon, then you know it’s entirely possible to be accepting of yourself and your sexual orientation, while simultaneously being aware that the overly sexualized, overly-permissive, non-judgemental society championed by some gay activists isn’t necessarily ideal, either. People like Bachmann and Santorum, who probably know very few gay people and don’t really understand a lot of what they’re worried about, may be wrong, but all evidence suggests their motivations stem from a legitimate place of concern (the Daily Beast article linked to above describes Bachmann’s anti-gay therapist as “caring and not particularly dogmatic”), or a genuine religious passion, much as we may personally disagree with it.

More importantly, however, two wrongs don’t make a right. If it’s wrong to bully young gays and lesbians simply for who they are and what they believe, as Dan Savage rightly holds, then it should be equally wrong to use those same tactics against innocuous critics of homosexuality. The idea that the appropriate response when encountering people with whom you disagree is to harass and belittle them until they recant in a position of weakness and shame is a stance as abhorrent as the luridly well-documented tactics of certain fanatical gay “fixing camps.”

Dignity begets dignity. What I hate most about the term “culture war” is its implication that America’s major cultural cleavages, on issues such as sexuality, can only be resolved through the rhetorical and political equivalents of weaponized violence, complete with dehumanized enemies and a scorched-earth pursuit of total victory. The more vicious — and in Savage’s case, frankly gross, reactionary, and immature — tactics that are employed, the more likely one’s opponents are to respond in kind, and the very cycle of ignorance we’re supposed to oppose merely becomes ever-more heated and hysterical.

I actually quite like the Santorum interview above, not because of what it contains, but what it represents. Santorum is calmly being asked to justify his worldview in neutral, intellectual language, and the reader can decide for himself if the case is sound or not. We’d all be a lot better if the discussion had just stayed in that phase. There’d certainly be a lot less evidence that gay activists are hateful, disgusting subversives, for one thing.


  1. Matthew Steele

    Its disturbing how often I find myself furious at people I agree with.

  2. Max Blair

    You're totally wrong here. Santorum's position on this issue removes him from the realm of civilized public debate. His position cannot be defended rationally or logically and people who hold it have already surrendered their dignity to the point where the level of mockery Santorum has suffered is not just well-within the boundaries of fair game, it's actually demanded by his own words.

    Santorum believes that Savage should be in jail. He believes that the police are justified in breaking down Savage's door and hauling him and his spouse away. Santorum is the bully here. It's not bullying to smear his reputation and drive him from public life. It's fighting back.

  3. @Cristiona

    "it's not bullying to smear [someone]" Really? You can say that with a straight face?

  4. Psudo

    "Santorum believes that Savage should be in jail. He believes that the police are justified in breaking down Savage's door and hauling him and his spouse away."

    Can you substantiate that? He doesn't like homosexual acts and he's critical of the logic that defends them, but those things are not the same as wanting homosexuality criminalized.

  5. Dan


    I couldn't disagree more with Mr. Santorum's and Mr. Bachmann's views on homosexuality, but this practice of attacking the person and not the belief is not only extremely malicious, it Mr. Savage look like an intellectual juvenile. I'll break down Mr. Savage's actions in a way Mr. Savage may understand.

    Santorum: I have questions concerning the precedent of non-heterosexual marriage.
    Savage: Well, well, you're literally a poopie-head! See? It says so on the internet, and everything on the internet is true!

    Bachmann: Being gay is a disease that must be cured.
    Savage: Oh My God! I can't believe you said that! That's so gay! You're so gay you fairy! Everyone knows all men with a high-pitched voices are gay!

    Yet the worst offence is what Mr. Savage says about Mr. Bachmann. For someone who fancies himself the Emperor of Homosexuality, he's using the very tactics that bullies are using on young people, people who may just be realizing who they are, and may feel all too alone in the world.

    I'm legitimately scared that Mr. Savage's actions in politics will takeaway from, or even completely delegitimize the It's Get's Better campaign.

    You started a very good thing Gary Savage. Don't ruin it by being, using your own term, a compete Santorum.

  6. beneficii

    There's a certain point where you can't just calmly respond to the person's points. Basically, all this stuff about gay people has already been answered by various sources (e.g. _Perry v. Schwarzenegger_ and the American Psychological Association).

    It's getting to the point where it's like someone who makes pseudoscientific racist comments or pushes young earth creationism (both of which can seem intellectual and logical). It's where you can make a response, but you just don't see the point of the effort effort, with the information already out there, but instead you just ridicule them, tell them they should do their homework so they can catch up.

  7. Dan

    "you just ridicule them, tell them they should do their homework so they can catch up."

    That's very different from calling someone a poopy-head

  8. David Liao

    You can't really single out Savage though as the voice of any movement or real opinion. When you get down to it, the guy is Howard Stern but with more hipster cred and that's why you can't get upset at what he says.

  9. Dan

    I wouldn't be upset if he hadn't started the It Gets Better campaign. I'm afraid Mr. Savage's extreme boorishness and juvenile approach to those who disagree with him will take away from that campaign.

  10. State of Reason

    Dan, I need to correct one small thing you mentioned. You imply that Santorum has said "I have questions concerning the precedent of non-heterosexual marriage." but that is not quite accurate. Santorum has actually said that homosexuals are the equivalent of pedophiles and people who practice bestiality. He has said that homosexuals should be second class citizens without constitutional protection. He has said that homosexuality itself should be illegal.

    So, implying that Santorum is just some guy with a polite disagreement severely distorts the facts.

  11. Ozius

    Please read JJ's news post. Are you aware of the context of those remarks? You may be unconsciously distorting the facts yourself. It makes more sense if you actually look at the article, but context makes for a lousy sound bite or quotable quip.

  12. Psudo

    I think you're distorting what Santorum said. Consider this quote:
    "That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."
    His statement that homosexuality is distinct from pedophilia and bestiality seems to dispute your claim that he considers them equivalent. Can you prove your claims?

  13. @Ryan_in_SEPA

    More left-wing hypocrisy on display. Meet modern American progressivism. No tolerance and all hate at those who don't agree with you exactly.

  14. Nick Wood

    False! Ad-hominem attacks are not indicative of any one ideology. They are simply the result of intellectual laziness, and the inability to participate in a reasoned debate. Mr. Savage doesn't attack peoples' character because of his progressive beliefs; he does it because he can't be bothered to address his critics with a civil argument. Instead, he takes the easy path by calling names and pointing fingers.

  15. Sigh...

    He's constantly responding with logical, civil arguments but that stuff doesn't get attention because it's not as interesting. For example, when someone like Bachmann says we can't just ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality, he points out that we have been ignoring what the Bible says about premarital sex (98% of you heteros have it), eating shellfish, beating our disobedient children, marrying our rapists, wearing mixed fibers, etc.

    Also, the writer makes it seems like these people just have a problem with the promiscuity, not the homosexuality. That makes no sense since lesbians are more monogamous than straight people. So what causes promiscuity in homosexuals = being a man. How can promiscuity be considered a "gay" trait if half the gays (lesbians are gay too) don't engage in it. That's like me blaming all straight men and women for leaving the toilet seat up when only men do it. The same thing applies to anal sex, they all have a problem with sodomy but I know zero lesbians who have engaged in that but about a third of my straight friends have done it.

  16. Mike

    You have to remember that Western society is massively patriarchal. Anything that men do or say receives far more attention than anything a woman does or says. Knowing that, it's easy to see why the promiscuous gay stereotype overshadows the monogamous lesbian stereotype.

  17. @Andy928766

    I too have scratched my head in the past on why Savage decided to attack Rick Santorum in this fashion. I mean I am a guy who is completely in favor of gay marriage, so I disagree with Santorum on that, but why single him out? Certainly many politicians have spoken against gay marriage, along with a lot of other people in general. Why take the immature route of crapping on the man's name instead of just criticizing his position?

    The whole thing is really a rather sad statement on how today's youth looks at problems. No Google bomb has ever been successful without a minion of attack dogs to pull it off. And this was a great success for them. So you get this Dan Savage guy, a pro-gay rights activist, and a bunch on Internet users, who are mostly of the generation that is vehemently in favor of gay rights, that are willing to follow him and do his bidding. All Savage needed was the poster-child for the anti-gay rights group and boom, this happened. Of course, all those people involved in the bomb are uncaring about the long-term implications. After all, Santorum is a guy who has different views and should be severely punished for it.

  18. @Cristiona

    Simple. If you disagree, it's not because you have a different opinion, it's because you're pure, unadulterated evil. And being evil, you must be, ah-heh, savagely attacked.

  19. bellpepper

    No – he picked Santorum because Santorum argued (when talking about the Texas sodomy law overturned by the Supreme Court in 2003) that gay sex should remain illegal, and then compared it to bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery.
    Exact quote:
    "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum said in the AP interview.
    Savage wouldn't attack a politician just for being anti-gay marriage; there are so many of those that to do so would take all his time. But Santorum's comments take the situation to a new level.

  20. Jon Bennett

    I dunno. As a Conservative, Marcus Bachmann still gives me the creeps.

  21. J.J. McCullough

    Another thing I wanted to mention, for a bit of a Canadian spin, is that Savage's bullying apparently knows no borders. He recently made a vulgar "offer" to the leader of the British Columbia Conservative Party, after the latter made a very offhanded, passing reference to homosexuality being a "choice:"

  22. Mike

    He's definitely not helping the stereotype that gay men are promiscuous.

  23. Sigh again...

    Being gay does not make you promiscuous. Being a man dating another group who thinks exactly the same way you do about sex does. Why are athletes more likely to be promiscuous? It's not because knowing how to throw a ball makes you want to have a lot of sex, it's because they can. Gay men are more promiscuous because they can be.

    Men are only as faithful as their options. Imagine if women had the same attitude men did about sex, you guys would be just as promiscuous as the gay men. As I said before, if being attracted to the same sex made you promiscuous, how do you explain lesbians, who are notoriously monogamous?

  24. Mike

    I said it was a stereotype, not a fact. Just like the Van Dykes broke the stereotype of monogamous lesbians.

  25. Ricardo Bortolon

    To be fair, his offer wasn't bullying but a clever intellectual question. The ball is at least in Cummins' court.

  26. Dan

    You clear have never known a woman. Ask her to suck your dick as a clever intellectual question. Tell us all how it goes.

  27. @ThePsudo

    It's about equally fair to bring up "gay for pay" porn stars, as if their choice represents the typical homosexual in any way.

  28. Jill

    Wow. Just wow. If Mr. Savage ever publicly propositioned me like that, I wouldn't bother Google-bombing his name, I'd just fist-bomb his face. Such a "vulgar offer" qualifies as assault.

  29. Eric Stimson

    What recent event brought this issue up?

  30. Jbot

    Dignity and decency only extends to your own side. That's how it's played. The vast majority of people who preach openness and an exchange of ideas might as well be whispering under their breath "except for the people who disagree with me."

  31. Fnord

    For an allegedly conservative bloke, you sure like to embrace leftist positions…

  32. Nick Wood

    Really? You should hang around libertarians sometime. That'll blow your mind.

  33. @Kisai

    I really have no opinion on the guy, or the politicians, but it seems that maybe he's playing their game unaware that he's not in their game and has nothing to gain from it.

    Politicians spread mis-truths to make their opponents and competitors (even in the same political party) look weak, hypocritical, or even corrupt by taking things they say out of context. Sometimes these campaigns are launched by special interest groups.

    What do you think will happen if googlebombing becomes a standard tactic? I'd hate to see search engines being used as a proxy war in political issues.

  34. guest

    Since you raised the issue JJ – what do you think about attacks on the homes and workplaces of people who contributed to the pro-Prop 8 campaign?

  35. J.J. McCullough

    I'm against it.

  36. JOB

    You don't say….

  37. beneficii

    Bachmann is gay, whether he admits it or not. My gaydar measurements are through the roof when I watch him talk or move. It's been said that when he's out in public he's like an old queen sampling at the soda stand of his local gay pride parade. It's not insulting to call him gay–it's simply the truth.

    As for the anti-gay Republicans, there has been an explosion in recent cases where they've been found to engage in homosexual activity themselves. I think one was outed just this past week.

    Basically, our point is that psychologically speaking, if a man is very very anti-gay, then he's probably gay himself and hates himself for it.

  38. beneficii

    There's also this paper, backing up the concept that homophobic men tend to hate themselves for having same-sex attraction:

  39. @ThePsudo

    Your gaydar is not a justification to out him, especially if your gaydar is wrong.

    You're using "This has happened" to prove "This always happens." That doesn't follow.

  40. Les

    It does make logical sense. Each and every one I've heard arguing against homosexuality has done so in a manner making it sound like homosexuality is some vast conspiracy to turn upstanding straight people into 'the gay'. They talk like being 'tempted' into homosexual acts is a near constant threat to them which they must be on-guard against.

    I'm sorry, but if you are indeed truly heterosexual then there is no way you can be tempted into homosexuality, it just doesn't work that way. If you're a dude and another dude comes up and says, "Hey kid, your hormones are raging, let's go into this other room and engage in homosexual acts, I think you'll enjoy it." and you find his argument in any way compelling you were never 'Straight' to begin with.

  41. Ozius

    Although this is purely anecdotal, I do think it is worth mentioning. There is an elite private high school near my old home in Detroit, and I dated a girl who went there and was introduced to her friends. They were, by and large, exceptionally wealthy, unsupervised, and prone to any excess their teenage minds could think of. The boys were also, almost to a man, gay. I actually asked a friend of mine, a few years later, who was graduating that school if he could name any other heterosexual males in his graduating class. He thought about it, and honestly could not. Now, statistical clustering happens, but it strikes me as odd that a singe institution should have such a vastly larger gay student body than the area surrounding it. Of course, it's an upper class school, with an arts history and background, the children are unsupervised, and religion is laughed at, so naturally experimentation will happen, yet I wonder at how being in one place can so affect the results of those experiments.

  42. @tominkorea

    Nothing equals concrete proof like "my gaydar" and 'he looks gay to me.' That's the mentality of a fourth-grader.

    That's not insulting to you, it's simply the truth.

  43. Dan

    Yes, because "gay dar" is a real thing. It's just like how I can watch someone on TV and tell if they like the taste of anchovies.

  44. beneficii

    "Once the interview was released, Savage sprang into action with a campaign to ruin Santorum. Employing a very gross Google bombing campaign, Savage asked his readers to come up with the most vile alternative definition of “Santorum” they could dream up, then created the website “” to clog up any future search results for his name. It worked, and due to the endless links of bloggers and Facebookers, Santorum’s e-reputation has now been sufficiently corrupted beyond repair. According to this well-titled article in Mother Jones, even leading online reputation consultants consider him basically beyond help at this point."

    Cry me a river. He's a stinking rich politician, a public figure, with plenty of yes men to tell him they love him.

  45. @ThePsudo

    As a public figure, Santorum accepts a certain amount of insulting personal attacks as a cost of doing business. However, those who provide the insulting personal attacks are still jerks.

    Similarly, retail stores expect to spend a certain amount of money on shoplifting, but shoplifters are still criminals.

  46. Beanwar

    Slippery slope isn't an intelligent argument, it's number 38 on the list of logical fallacies. And honestly, what would you do if some guy went on TV and told the world that your lifestyle will eventually lead to widespread bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery, and then goes on to make a backhanded comparison to pedophilia and zoophilia? And why is he even talking about gay people when the economy is in a shambles and a full fifth of the country is unemployed?

  47. @ThePsudo

    Santorum's comments against homosexuality were given in 2005, when the economy was doing fine.

    Your reasoning is "He's being a jerk, so be a jerk back." Do you really want a world where everyone acts like jerks? If you counter bad behavior with good behavior, it demonstrates who has the moral high ground. Savage is not doing that.

  48. Beanwar

    Okay, I didn't notice that those remarks were given in 2005. You can insert "the wars", or whatever else was going on at the time, and still make the point that pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE is more important than interfering in the personal lives of gay people. Also, I never condoned what Savage did, although I can certainly understand why.

  49. Chris

    The wars are still happening…

  50. Dan

    Mr. Savage's antics toward Santorum suggest that Mr. Savage has the intellectual capacity of a 3 year old. That's when most people stop using the "Well, well, you're a poopy-head!" argument.

  51. Beanwar

    How exactly do you have an intellectual argument with a person, when the person you're arguing with is just going to do the equivalent of closing their eyes, sticking their fingers in their ears, and yelling at the top of their lungs "LA LA LA LA JESUS SAYS YOU'RE WRONG LA LA LA LA"? You can have a better argument with a brick wall than you can with a person who uses faith to justify their beliefs.

  52. Dan

    So when you can't beat them as an adult, become a child?

  53. Beanwar

    I never said I condoned what he did. I just asked what you would do in his place, and if acting like a jerk didn't cross your mind, you're just being dishonest. How long would it take before the prodding of a bunch of ignorant evangelical zealots makes you lose your cool?

  54. Dan

    I guess no one ever told you the best revenge is living well.

  55. Beanwar

    That is very true, but it's also very difficult when the people you're trying to get revenge against by living well are actively trying to legislate away your ability to do so. Also, you can't deny the base pleasure you get from kicking the other guy in the jimmy.

  56. Jill

    Oh dear, men being raped must be the real problem. I best get back to the kitchen, and let the boys talk. What could I know? My vagina get's in the way of my thinking.

  57. Beanwar

    You're the only person that brought your gender into this. I'm sure your bad attitude will serve you well in the future. Good luck with that.

  58. Andrew

    Slippery slope is not, ipso facto, a logical fallacy. It can be, but sometimes it's a valid point.

  59. Adam

    In the absence of supporting evidence, any argument that might be invalid (like a slippery slope) is invalid; that's what "invalid" means.

    Fortunately these sorts of arguments rarelydepend on logical rigor.

  60. @Cristiona

    Well, generally when slippery slope is being used in a valid way, it's referred to as reductio ad absurdum. </pointless_pedantry>

  61. Adam

    If somebody made such comments about my lifestyle on TV, I'd like to think I'd reply in a coherent, mature, rational manner. Duh.

  62. Beanwar

    I'd like to think that if someone did that to me, once, I'd be coherent too. But if there was an entire group of people systematically discriminating against me for my entire life, especially for something I had no control over, I think at some point I'd be decidedly less cordial.

  63. Jill

    So you know what it's like to be a woman now?

  64. Beanwar

    Do I have to know what it's like to be a woman in order to understand how being discriminated against can suck? Is that a requirement? I know what it's like to have someone try to derail the conversation by tossing in a comment that has nothing to do with the subject matter at hand, now. Good job trying to alienate those that would be sympathetic with your cause!

  65. Jill

    Who needs the support of those who deny their male privilege?

  66. Beanwar

    If it's a privilege I shouldn't have, why shouldn't I deny it? Did Martin Luther King kick white people out of the civil rights movement because they were denying their white privilege? You're not very good at this equality thing, are you?

  67. Jill

    Says the guy who doesn't have to worry about the 1 in 3 chance of being raped.

  68. Beanwar

    I don't have to worry about it because it's already happened to me. Would you like to continue making yourself look stupid, or are you done now?

  69. Ozius

    To Santorum's credit, *isn't* Savage in favor of bigamy, polygamy, and adultery at least? Isn't Savage's idea that all of us should be having a lot more, and weirder, sex?

  70. Sifried

    Savage's "bullying" is directed at prominent politicians who make decisions demeaning and belittling minorities, this is clearly equivalent to people bullying gay kids.

  71. Dan

    It is clearly as juvenile, and does almost nothing to counteract the decisions in question.

  72. @ThePsudo

    It's not the same magnitude, but it's the same class of behavior. Same quality, different quantity.

  73. Mike

    JJ, is it possible that Dan Savage hates in Rick Santorum and Marcus Bachmann what he hates in himself, namely being a complete arse?

  74. J.J. McCullough

    That's an interesting point, given how strongly he believes in the "anyone who hates gays must be gay themselves" thesis.

  75. Ozius

    Maybe his dislike of straights implies he's secretly straight?

  76. JfC

    He doesn't dislike straights; he's built a career out of providing them sympathetic counsel!

  77. Tounces

    So are politicians in need of “Protection” now? Do we need to find out if being a politician is genetic, or just a choice they make? Seriously, who flings more shit than conservatives, anyway? I can’t feel sorry for a group of people who, on the whole, constantly attack other groups. If they get any shit on them from the return-fire, well, I’d say they well deserve it.

  78. Dan

    "Seriously, who flings more shit than conservatives, anyway?"

    Have you looked in a mirror lately?

  79. Matthew Steele

    Nobody, but a lot of people fling an equal amount.

  80. Adam

    This is not about protecting politicians, it's about whether you think Dan Savage's tactics are laudable or despicable.

  81. Les

    What if we just don't care?

    Childish, maybe, but despicable?

    Santoram and Bachman's position is Wrong, that they are discussing their position in a calm voice using non-reactionary language does not change the fact that it is Wrong. That they are not behaving as a frothing furniture-chewing insane-with-rage bigots does not change the fact that their arguments are used by frothing furniture-chewing insane-with-rage bigots to justify their bigotry.

    I have friends in the homosexual and transexual community, friends who had friends who were brutally murdered for the sin of living a life their neighbors thought was 'icky'. So all I have to say to Bachman and Santorum is [REDACTED].

  82. Psudo

    So call them wrong and, if people don't seem to get it, explain how. By trying to embarrass rather than confront weak ideas, you're splitting the debate into us vs. them rather than good ideas vs. lousy ones. Ignoring the quality of ideas gives those furniture-chewing madmen equal standing with your own views, where they properly deserve far less.

  83. Adam

    "two wrongs don't make a right"

    Sorry, isn't progressivism exactly the idea that two wrongs do make a right?

  84. Lord Zentei


  85. Matthew Steele


  86. Voodoo Ben

    What a thoughtful and intelligent comment. The conservative movement is lucky to have a deep thinker like yourself among its members.

  87. Voodoo Ben

    Not that I completely condone Dan Savage's actions, but remind me which is worse: supporting legislation denying people the right to marry, see their loved ones in the hospital, and generally ensuring that entire groups of people are considered second class citizens for something they have no control over (sorry Marcus, your religious arguments are as dumb as your wife. Well, maybe not THAT dumb) or calling people some rude names? Savage's actions, right or wrong, affect two specific people who have opted for public lives. Santorum's actions, were he to become president, would negatively impact the lives of millions and make it even harder for gay people to gain further acceptance in society. It's really hard for me to sympathize with Santorum when gay people are routinely victimized far worse every day. On a related note, I'm curious about JJ's thoughts on Andrew Sullivan, one of my favourite gay conservatives (other than JJ of course).

  88. Dan

    So the ends always justify the means? If the statements made by Santorum and Bachmann are extremely hurtful (I think they are), then attacking those statements should be sufficient. Dan Savage instead acts like he's 3 and uses responses along the lines of "You're a poopy-head!" to Santorum and "You're a gay little fairy!" to Bachmann.

  89. Lord Zentei

    Because going on the offensive against bigots is as bad as being a bigot yourself. This is true even when the bigots you're going after are proposing legislation and drumming up public hate against a particular group. For all that Dan Savage is a blowhard, this is in no way comparable. It's just more of the same old "being intolerant of intolerance is hypocritical" whine we hear every now and again.

  90. Dan

    You would be correct if Mr. Savage was making a comment on intolerance, but Mr. Savage is just going around calling people poopy-heads. What does that achieve?

  91. Lord Zentei

    The idea is that it ridicules the people who are otherwise respected, but who don't deserve any respect. Dan Savage is an entertainer, taking stuck-up bigots down a notch by calling them names. In any case, it's not as if we all know the arguments against intolerance already. And your counterpoint isn't relevant in any case: even if calling people names isn't useful, it's still not comparable to Santorum and Bachman's behaviour.

  92. @ThePsudo

    Santorum is not all that respected. Even anti-gay-rights Republicans were offended by his crude descriptions of objectionable material.

  93. Voodoo Ben

    Has he specifically called anyone a poopy-head? Because I've noticed you've said that term about 5 times on this board but I can't recall a time when that actually happened. Link please or stop saying it.

  94. Dan

    Look up his new definition of Santorum and you will see the connection.

  95. Ophedia

    So maybe Dan Savage isn't as liberal as we think: maybe he doesn't believe that we should listen equally to all worldviews however hurtful they are to some people, but instead that it's a dog-eat-dog world so it's legitimate for both sides to use whatever tactics they can think of, and may the better man win. That may not be your worldview or mine, but it is an intellectually valid thesis.

    Many conservative commentators seem to like to play themselves off as victims of the culture war, when in fact they are winning in many areas (maybe not gay rights, thank goodness, but in painting conservative straight WASP farmers as somehow more 'American' than the rest of the country's inhabitants). Moreover, these same people have popularized a wide variety of lies (e.g. where Obama was born) which are vaguely if not outright endorsed by many conservative politicians. I daresay making up stuff about a person's religion and place of birth is as bad as google-bombing someone's name. If you are frustrated by Savage's tactics, do we get a comic about their dishonest and disgusting tactics, too?

  96. Dan

    We definitely will if you draw one.

  97. J.J. McCullough

    Like, say, this one?

  98. Ophedia

    Sorry, yes.

  99. Walker

    The two open questions are, "Is it ok to bully a bully?" and "Is it ok to resort to ad hominem attacks, when the other side's opinion is basically unreasonable (and somewhat evil) even if their argument is couched to appear as reasonable rhetoric?"

  100. Chris

    A significant portion of the bullies I've met have felt that they were bullying bullies. If it is ok to bully a bully then a lot of bullies are going to turn around and say that that is what they are doing.

    Even more so if it is ok to bully someone who the bully believes is 'basically unreasonable'- after all, that's what the anti-gay bullies think they're doing.

    Better not to allow the tactic to proliferate, I think.

  101. @ThePsudo

    At the end of high school, the guy that had bullied me all year came up to me and apologized. He said he did it to try to fit in better with the guys who were bullying him. In hindsight, they really did treat him pretty crappy. I just wasn't able to see it at the time because I was too busy being emotionally defensive.

  102. Gordon Jennings

    You can't seriously equate the bullying of children who have few defenses and little support to turn to, with the way political discourse is conducted against bigoted politicians, can you?

    Belittling, making fun of, calling out these hateful people for their bigoted practices, whatever they may be, is EXACTLY the prescription for getting gay rights front and center on the scene.

    The Civil Right movement (and I can hear your groans now "Oh jeez, let's equate gays with blacks," but that's what this is — a civil rights movement) didn't end racism, but it made you a jerk for publicly arguing that these people shouldn't have rights. All kinds of justifications for denying groups their rights in America have been made with "neutral, intellectual language" as you call it. And guess what: A napkin is still a napkin and hatred and bigotry are still hatred and bigotry, and they deserve to be treated with equal intolerance.

  103. Dan

    The last time I read my history, MLK never went around calling people poopyheads.

  104. @ThePsudo

    Calling people names and outing them against their will are hardly the kinds of tactics the black civil rights movement endorsed. Yes, please call hatred and bigotry what they are and denounce them. Don't avoid the topic with name-calling and personal attacks.

    If you discredit individuals, other individuals pop up to take their place. If you discredit principles, the whole movement dies a little. So target stupid principles, not stupid people.

  105. Gordon Jennins

    I'd hardly call one person's tactics the practices of an entire movement. Dan is indeed a visible proponent of the cause, but he's not the only one.

    The black civil rights movement didn't endorse such tactics? How can you "out" someone as black? If you think that simply calling people names is destructive and that elements of the black civil right movement didn't endorse MUCH WORSE (Malcolm X, anyone? Black Panthers anyone?), then you'd better go back and pick up some more history of the movement.

    Also: Savage does not believe in outing all homosexuals, only the ones who profit from the fear and hatred they create. He's going after the worst closet cases, the people who put themselves up as leaders of the anti-gay movement. Dan didn't put the targets on their backs, they did it themselves. It's the hypocrisy he's outing, not the homosexuality.

    The topic is not being avoided with personal attacks, it's being addressed with personal attacks. These "stupid principles" will never go away. There will always be closet cases who make money and livelihoods off of their hate-mongering. Just as there is still racism, as I mentioned above.

    The racism hasn't gone away–the bigots are simply people who keep their mouths shut because they know that if they open their stupid heads and the bile pours out, it'll be seen for what it is: ignorant hatred. Stupid bigots and their ringleaders must be verbally targeted (and were indeed targeted during the civil right movement), so the smart bigots will see what happens to the stupid ones.

  106. Mike

    You're confusing the Civil Rights movement with Black Nationalism.

  107. Psudo

    I'm not claiming the whole GLBT movement uses Dan's crappy tactics. I'm claiming Dan is a disgrace and discredit to the GLBT movement when he uses crappy tactics.

    Also, Dan is not pointing out hypocrisy. Santorum having a different view is not hypocrisy, and he is making up reasons based on "It'd be hilarious if…" to call Bachmann hypocritical. The fact that some gay-bashers are self-hating closet cases doesn't prove that Bachmann himself is.

  108. Gry

    You can't possibly be equating wealthy and influential closet cases having their own invective turned back on them with the plight of a harmless pre-teen kid having "Fag" regularly scrawled into his locker at school and suffering in abject silence?

    Santorum is in the distinct position of having the very filth he puts out there literally ascribed to his own name, an unfortunate fate, but one cosmically well-deserved for his arrogance and self-styled superiority. And yes, it's terrific that Mr. Bachmann's immediate circle is populated by people who either have no eyes or have the amazing tact to never state the obvious, but he and his lady friend are — sorry — very obviously living a ridiculous sham that people like me are expected to emulate. Really?

    Wow, if you can't see that inherent difference in power and consequences, then you really are a million miles away from the issue and have clearly never been to a school in this mortal coil.

    And take a memo: the freakin' napkin vs. paper towel analogy is inherently flawed. Despite the difference in man-made nomenclature, both are made of the same material and both essentially serve the same purpose.


  109. Psudo

    Obviously there are differences, but the tactics are the same. "I can hurt people I don't like so I will" is the philosophy embraced by school bullies and by Savage.

    I'm not very familiar with Marcus Bachmann. What evidence (besides disagreeing with your political views) do you have that he is sexually attracted to men? What proves that he is "obviously living a ridiculous sham" to you?

    If he had used a pen and a pencil for his analogy, would you be harping on the comparison? The fact he picked a bad example seems pretty irrelevant the point he was making.

  110. @smpflueger

    Politicians who are running on bigoted platforms aren't being bullied they are being campaign against with public media attention on their thoughts, ideas, and actions. A child, who the "It Gets Better" Campaign is aimed at, can feel defenseless against real bullies. These are completely different situations, People of Power verses Politicians and Children being bullied in school in some cases to death.

  111. Chelsea Roman

    I completely agree. Adults can handle a certain amount of open criticism, children who are a LGTBQ however should not be compared to pedophiles and beastialists. That isn't intelligent language at all, in fact it's one of the incredibly stupid opinion-based 'facts' that Republican candidates are known for. It isn't just Santorum who doesn't seem to have a platform made of more than religious rhetoric and the restoration of society into a socially digressive state but so do Bachman and the other Republican Party members Savage calls out. Moreover, their arguments are at an all time low for persuasiveness: napkins and paper towels? Gays are people of Satan without dignity? The more these people have large bigoted families, the more I am terrified to live through the next three generations of intolerant poorly argumented god-loving children. All I can say is — we are so fucked.

  112. Nasty Alaskan

    Standing up to bullies =/= bullying. If Senator Frothy didn't want a fight, he shouldn't have picked one. It's amazing how pussified conservatives have become ever since John Wayne and Ronald Reagan died.

  113. @ThePsudo

    Calling a bully names is not really standing up to him. To stand up to a bully, you have to put yourself at risk to some extent. If Savage ran against Santorum on a pro-gay-rights platform, THAT would be standing up to him.

  114. Rebecca

    I don't always agree with Mr. Savage or his invective but Mr. Savage is not a bully who throws kids into despair and indirectly leads to their suicide. Bachmann, Santorum and their ilk need to be taken down. This article is more tolerant of their intolerance and that disgusts me more than any of the mean and nasty things that Savage has said or promoted. Yes, the ends do justify the means when it's a matter of political speech, when you are fighting against people who actively promote bigoted policies and hate. Bachmann and Santorum might not call people names to their faces like teenagers do, they might not use Savage's foul language, but they want to write discrimination into law, want to criminalize homosexuality, and promote homophobia and public shunning and ridicule in other ways as well. Their social policies lead to bullying, lead to the deaths. Neither of these grown men are going to commit suicide because of Mr. Savage or his words. They worse pain they will feel, once the initial sting passes, is their loss of political capital, which they have fully earned given the choices (real choices) they have made.

  115. SMT

    This is where the whole article falls apart: "innocuous critics of homosexuality". These aren't innocuous critics. Rick Santorum has made it his mission in life to discriminate against homosexuals, going so far as to pledge to:

    Support and send to the states a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman;
    Defend DOMA in court;
    Appoint judges and an attorney general who will respect the original meaning of the Constitution;
    Appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters; and
    Support legislation that would return to the people of D.C. their right to vote for marriage

    The fourth one is my favorite. Traditional marriage supporters (which is code for people who want to infringe upon the civil rights of homosexuals) need a presidential commission to investigate their being harassed. The irony is nearly too much. People who's mission in life it is to harass an entire community and deny them equal rights then want to make sure no one can point out to them or fight against their vile bigotry. These are also the same people (NOM) that are fighting against any anti-bullying campaign that specifically mentions the LGBT community. In essence, we can bully you and make you second-class citizens, but you can't say a word in response or we'll tell the president on you.

    As for Marcus Bachmann, gay-fixing therapy isn't simply scientifically dubious as the author suggests, it is directly harmful. Marcus Bachmann is doing real harm to LGBT individuals. This is not innocuous.

    Dan Savage isn't bullying helpless people who are different from him, he is fighting back against two very powerful individuals who have attempted to further infringe upon the rights of an already marginalized community as well as possibly causing direct psychological harm to individual members of that community. They deserve everything they get from Dan Savage, and depicting Mr. Savage's actions as bullying as well as the actions of Misters Santorum and Bachmann as "innocuous" is absurdly dishonest. A bully picks on a weaker person or group from a position of power. Who does that sound like in this situation? It certainly doesn't sound like Savage to me. The syndicated columnist is the powerful one compared to a former senator/presidential nominee? Give me a break. Savage is acting out of self-defense, the victim who stands up for himself against a pair of bullies is not a bully himself.

  116. LukeM

    Dan Davage's own response to this idiotic fallacy is spot on. It's also right here >>

  117. Jill

    Why doesn't Mr. Savage mention in his response that the comic's author, JJ, is openly gay? It's kind of important to the context, and it's right in the accompanying article.

  118. Zulu

    I couldn't disagree more on this analogy.

  119. Dignity?

    Key lie in the article: "If it’s wrong to bully young gays and lesbians simply for who they are and what they believe, as Dan Savage rightly holds, then it should be equally wrong to use those same tactics against innocuous critics of homosexuality./"

    Their criticism is not innocuous.

    "But it’s also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of homosexuality in modern America, rather than some strict either/or, love/hate duality."

    But it's also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of segregation in modern America….

    But it's also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of sex slavery in modern America…

    But it's also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of forced child labor in modern America…

    But it's also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of a woman's right to vote in modern America…

    But it's also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of slavery in modern America…

    "Dignity begets dignity. "

    We must respect and value each of these morally equivalent opinions. We must treat them with dignity. We must ensure to treat with dignity and respect those people who tell our children to hate n****rs, and f*gs, and b**ches.

    We must treat with equal time and respect, and indeed dignity, The Klan and Focus on the Family.

    They are simply respectful, innocuous purveyors of opinion.

  120. @ThePsudo

    Are you saying innocuous criticism of homosexuality cannot possibly exist? That would mean everyone who does not completely conform to the gay rights platform is a radical and is fair game for every kind of logical fallacy and personal attack. That's not a slippery slope argument you're making, it's the bottom of the slope.

  121. Les

    Here I go… I am saying innocuous criticism of homosexuality cannot possibly exist, any and all criticism of homosexuality is in effect harmful bigotry and is indefensible.

    That said, 'Gay Culture' is a whole other kettle of fish. I believe this is often forgotten when some out there try to criticize what they see as wrong with 'Homosexuality'.

  122. Alanmt

    Unbelievable. Paragraph 6 is as white a whitewashing of the interview as I've seen. Your quoting his "no problem with homosexuality" and "not pick on homosexuality" statements without stating that he thinks homosexual acts should be illegal and those lovable homosexuals that he has no problem with should be charged as criminals and imprisoned for engaging in them and that there is no right of privacy for consenting adult citizens for private sexual behavior in their own homes is misleading.
    Dan Savage's tactic may be crude. It may not be my style. But I support it wholeheartedly. The social backlash against outdated, ignorant prejudice will run the gamut from polite redirection to aggressive and coarse and devastating repudiation. Oppressers oppress at their peril. Given our history, Dan Savage's Santorum campaign may fall into the more civilized category. As our ancestors who were violent militant suffragettes knew:

    "By what means, but screaming, knocking, and rioting, did men themselves ever gain what they were pleased to call their rights?"
    Daily Mirror, 24 October 1906

  123. @ThePsudo

    I would respond to the Daily Mirror that the black civil rights movement and Ghandi's civil disobedience did pretty well without violence. They can be excused for not knowing those examples because they hadn't happened yet. What's your excuse?

  124. Les

    I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that calling someone a poopy-head constituted Violence.

  125. @ThePsudo

    Obviously it doesn't, but the Daily Mirror quote defends violence and Alanmt defends the quote.

  126. justin

    Right, Santorum has no problem with homosexuality. He just thinks homosexuals are, you know, not as good as heterosexuals. That they don't deserve the same rights. That they really shouldn't exist. No problem with them, though.

  127. @ThePsudo

    He distinguished between people who feel homosexual attraction, which he has no problem with, and homosexual acts, which he does.

  128. drs

    And that makes it *so* much better.

  129. @ThePsudo

    He allows for the possibility of homosexuals being good people. Can you allow for the possibility of critics of homosexuals being good people? If not, his view is more tolerant than yours.

  130. Les

    "He allows for the possibility of homosexuals being good people." Provided they don't actually Do anything homosexual.

    …and you don't see anything at all wrong with that?

  131. @ThePsudo

    I allow for the possibility of smokers being good people, but I don't think they should smoke. Does that make me an anti-smoking bigot?

    He might be factually wrong about the morality of sex, but can you prove recreational sex has no moral significance? We're all just guessing, and the fact that his gut tells him something different than yours tells you is a pretty poor excuse for a google-bomb personal attack.

  132. @sandyKLT

    Poor little Ricky, I hope he doesn't consider suicide after being picked on so long by that big gay bully Dan Savage. Oh wait, Santorum is an adult. If he can't handle opposition he has no business holding any public office.

  133. @ThePsudo

    Given his results in the Republican straw polls, I think it's clear he has no business holding any public office.

  134. Geoff G.

    Here's a clue: when you're picking on someone who's richer, more powerful and more politically connected than you, it's not bullying.

  135. @ThePsudo

    Like when the French Revolution slaughtered the French Nobility? Totally reasonable response?

  136. Matthew Steele

    Something people fail to take into account is that something like this isn't noticed only by Santorum. Its noticed by people who a good activist needs to talk to, the people who are apathetic or misinformed. Insulting the people who are lying and malicious may help reduce their credibility, but in something like this, you need to worry about your credibility also.

    Dignity begets dignity applies, because its not the people who are insulting us who we need to be dignified for. We need to be dignified because so many people are convinced we aren't.

    In my mind, Savage is to homosexuality what PETA is to animal rights. I appreciate the sentiment, but really, you're not helping.

  137. Rebecca

    I agree with you to a certain extent, except that I have no problem with rudeness. If gay activists were all rude, then we'd have a problem. But sometimes there's no place for politeness and we need people to be ruffle feathers. Dan Savage is primarily a sex columnist known for his direct approach. This is not out of character for him. The "It Gets Better Project" was a side project separate from his other work, separate from his rants. He is not polite, and there are enough polite lgbt.

  138. Kyle Fuchko

    I think I'm going to disagree nearly entirely. When you put yourself into running for the president of the United States, you're opening up yourself to your character to be attacked. Obama is a secret Muslim. John McCain is on death's door. John Kerry is a traitor to his country. George W's intelligence… Politics has always *always* been dirty.

    Comparing gay marriage to bestiality wasn't some failed attempt at an analogy, it was *the* talking point of the day on the topic when the interview happened. Typically it was reserved for candidates in smaller offices and pundits, but this was a case of a man taking a shot for president.

    Yes, I agree that this means of attack is below the belt, but the gay rights movement didn't gain momentum by politely-worded letters. It started with drag queens throwing rocks at police, and offending sexual taboos in protest-parades.

    Finally, there's a reason these things stick. Part of the reason the "Santorum" campaign was so effective was because people felt that Santorum's positions were something that needed drawing attention to.

  139. @ThePsudo

    Social conservatives remember that the gay rights movement started with violence against police and use it to discredit the movement. If the movement had a MLK or Ghandi-type non-violent figure at it's center, it'd be doing a lot better.

  140. Chris

    "Obama is a secret Muslim. John McCain is on death's door. John Kerry is a traitor to his country. George W's intelligence…"

    But, none of those things were true and their popularisation seemed to really impair America's ability to make an informed decision. I suppose it's inevitable, but I don't know if that sort of campaign culture really helps America.

  141. Jon Bennett

    In a legal sense, Santorum almost had a point: If there is a constitutional right to privacy in all things sexual, then it does necessarily open up the door to legalization of other things currently considered taboo. Some libertarians are already making a push to legalize polygamy (John Stossel and Reason Magazine, for example).

    Saying it might lead to Bestiality or Pedophilia is a step too far, since settled accepted law says that children and animals are unable to ever consent.

  142. Chris

    I don't disagree with you, here, but I'm unfamiliar with American law and curious. Didn't settled accepted law once say that homosexuality was illegal? How much more settled is the law of consent?

  143. @ThePsudo

    It's hard to describe US law on the issue, since every US state has a separate history of changing laws and standards for enforcing them. Even today, no federal laws ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, but many states have laws that do. Generally, the turning point is considered to be when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from it's list of mental disorders in 1973. One could argue that homosexuality was not technically illegal federally for a long time before that, or one could argue that it's still illegal in some parts of the USA because of laws that ban sodomy are still on the books and enforced in some states. There are a lot of blurry definitions involved, but here are some basics:

    Georgia's law against sodomy between two males was declared unconstitutional on the basis of sex discrimination (Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986), a decision that ensures any ban on a sex act that distinguishes based on sex or sexual orientation is invalid throughout the country. But, various other states' anti-sodomy laws that do not distinguish based on the sex of the participants have been upheld. Also, it the US Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America had a first amendment right (freedom of association) that gave them the right to exclude homosexuals from their organization (BSA v. Dale, 2000).

    You can read more about the supreme court decisions here:

  144. @ThePsudo

    Oh, I forgot to mention: The principle of mutual consent is a widely accepted philosophical basis for what laws should be passed, but it is not actually codified in US law itself.

  145. Jonathon

    It's a difference of degree, not of kind. Bullying innocent teenagers is bullying. Bullying politicians with lies on the internet is also bullying. I find I care a lot less if a politician gets bullied, frankly, and it's not a crime that keeps me awake at night. Besides, the Santorum shenanigans were pretty hilarious. But when Mr. Savage keeps using similar tactics over and over, it gets harder to support him. There are better ways to fight the good fight.

  146. Brooklyn Reader

    This is a completely hollow and dishonest representation of the situation, supported by nothing more than rhetorical gamesmanship. Not to mention, total logic fail.

    The two troglodyte Presidential candidates in question oppose reproductive rights for women. They oppose non-reproductive sexual rights for consenting adults. Their reasoning? Nothing more than their own faith, a faith so distorted, so full of judgment and xenophobia, so perverted a reading of the Bible, it should make most Christians of good heart and kind spirits cry. And speaking of faith, neither show any understanding of the U.S. Constitution regarding faith. Americans shall not, through action, color or cover of government, force their faith on others, period. This is a secular society, with extraordinary guarantees of religious freedom (and even tax breaks) for those who wish to practice their faith in the private sector. That should be enough.

    Is it fair to "pick" on Michele's husband, when it is she who is the candidate? Ordinarily, no. However, Michele and Marcus are in business together, partners in their "Christian Counseling" business, and her public views and expressions are part and parcel of that business. When Marcus torments a young, gay "patient," Michele profits. So, the shared views, the business partnership, the damage being done to the innocent, all serve to bring public focus on Marcus, and what an embarrassing focus that turns out to be. For a prominent anti-gay campaigner, and counseling practitioner, Marcus Bachmann is hilariously "light in the loafers."

    Your cartoon depicts Mr. Savage as visiting physical violence on Mssrs. Santorum and Bachmann, when he has done nothing of the sort. This obfuscates the real bullying that is part of this sad story. Supported by "religious" and other homophobic judgmental views, wild charges about dangers to society, and other inflammatory language, weak-minded individuals are emboldened by these public figures to bully defenseless children. Those are the victims here. To fail to acknowledge that is to condone it.

  147. Jill

    So you're saying JJ, an openly gay man, is condoning violence against gays?

  148. Rebecca

    To a certain extent, yes, because he is whitewashing the positions of politicians who are anti-gay. There has been an unprecedented rash of teen suicides and attempted suicides in Bachmann's district, half of which were gay or perceived as gay teenagers (the dead kids, the identities of the children who only made attempts aren't known). The Bachmanns pray with an anti-gay preacher with violent rhetoric, they support extreme fundamentalist views and policies, she says things like "Don't ask, don't tell worked so well…" Teachers from the public school are forbidden to say it's okay to be gay in any official capacity, so the ACLU is suing them. The people who create such school system, worlds were gay is a shame at best, more likely an abomination and a crime – those are the true bullies. They create the culture of violence – Dan Savage is just taking the piss out of the more egregious one. Mr. McCollough is upset because Dan Savage offends some of his sensibilities, perhaps has even attacked political figures McCollough supports. He's making a false comparison where he turns the villains into well-intentioned victims. And it makes him seem like a bit of an Uncle Tom, someone who turns a blind eye to real cause of the violence.

  149. Jill

    I didn't realize that Michelle Bachmann, as a U.S. Representative, held a post on the school board as well.

  150. @Cristiona

    Haven't read any comics but this one, have you? JJ's hardly been a Bachmann or Santorum booster.

  151. TampaDink

    Excellent points! Perhaps one of the added benefits of Dan Savage's response to Santorum will be that other office seekers might (one can only hope), think twice before making such ignorant comparisons to same sex marriage or other issues of human rights.

  152. Let's be honest

    Regarding "bully"…. you keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.
    Bully – n. a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people .

    What you are calling bullying of these politicians is nothing of the kind. They are not smaller, weaker, or really in any way disadvantaged compared to any other adult. As political figures they may be said to be even more powerful than, for example, a guy with an advice column. It bears mentioning, as well, that both of these homophobic political men espouse, for no other reason than religious dogma, the limitation of rights for citizens who are not heterosexual. Santorum, in particular, supports criminalization of "unnatural acts" (sodomy involving consenting adults) and opposes basic things like visitation rights for gay partners in hospitals and adoption by gay families.

    Mockery, derision, and general meanness may be below your ideal standard of discourse, and it's swell that you're so high-minded. However, there is a word for antagonism when applied to political/public figures in the manner Savage uses: satire – n. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

    If you are intellectually honest, I am sure you can discern the difference between the disparaging of a political or public figure who crusades against the rights of a disenfranchised minority versus the relentless harassment of a child by the socially powerful peer group, particularly when the harassment is centered on something as personal and unsupported (in many places) as sexuality.

  153. @ThePsudo

    Politicians are smaller in population than those critical of them. The many attacking the few is something like bullying, too.

  154. Clayton

    Sorry. Rick Santorum picked this fight when he compared homosexuality to bestality and pedophilia. It was disingenuous (at best) or flagrantly dishonest (at worst) to mention all three in the same sentence and then to claim he didn't mean to make a literal comparison. Besides, Rick Santorum is a candidate for the Republican nomination–a step toward the presidency. If he can't take criticism now, I shudder to think what would happen when he tried to lead the nation.

    As for Marcus Bachmann–in comparing gays to barbarians (or gay teens to barbarians) and then offering bogus, disproven "cures" for something that shouldn't even be regarded as a problem, he is clearly makiing his living by stigmatizing and marginalizing vulnerable youth. He should be able to take a little criticism, too.

    Neither of these men has my sympathy. They're just upset because somebody is fighting back.

  155. @ThePsudo

    When did Rick Santorum compare homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia? In the "unfortunate interview" link, he compares homosexuality to incest, adultery, and polygamy on the basis that they are all consensual sex, but distinguishes it from bestiality and pedophilia. Here are his exact quotes:

    "[If] you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

    [referring to homosexuality] "It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."
    <a href="″ target=”_blank”>…” target=”_blank”>

    People fighting back is fine, so long as they do it with facts and logic. Justifying personal attacks with mistaken facts is not fine, or okay, or acceptable. That is just as true when it is attacks on homosexuality as when it is attacks on homosexuality's critics.

  156. @ThePsudo

    Wow, that link got messed up. Here, this should work better:

  157. J.J. McCullough

    Dan Savage has now responded to this cartoon, in comments you can read here: Welcome, first-time readers, by the way.

    Without playing favorites, I'll respond to some of the counter-arguments I've seen.

    Part of the reason I defend Santorum's line of argument, even if I don't agree with its conclusions, is because I think it's actually an incredibly mainstream position. We all recognize that there are forms of sex, and styles of sexual relationships, that are either gross, immoral, dangerous, or socially destructive. Somewhere, a line in the sand has to be drawn, and legal and social discriminations imposed.

    Now, most of us have concluded that same-sex relationships are within the boundaries of acceptability, because there's obviously a huge abundance of evidence that suggests gay and lesbian relationships are consensual and harmless, as well as generally loving, monogamous, stable, and all the other positive adjectives we associate with happy, productive families. And most of us similarly conclude that polygamy, bestiality, and pedophilia are not acceptable because they don't meet the same criteria for reasons that I hope are obvious.

    Santorum basically uses the exact same line of reasoning, except he draws his line in the sand way, way earlier and says nothing beyond missionary-style heterosexual sex is moral. I'd say this reflects a great deal of ignorance, and perhaps religious bias, towards what homosexuals actually are, but he's still arguing within a logical framework most of us use and support.

    The other part of his argument, the "slippery slope" business, is also incredibly mainstream. No one can deny that gay rights evolved in considerable part from women's rights, piggybacking on many of the same arguments, tactics, and even leaders who helped push for greater female equality in the 60s and 70s. And no one can argue that groups we consider sexual deviants today, such as pedophiles and polygamists, are very consciously trying to take advantage of society's newfound tolerance for homosexuality to push their pet causes, too. (For example, consider this recent Daily Caller story about the efforts of a pro-pedophilia lobby group trying to get pedophilia declassified as a mental disorder, in the same way homosexuality was ages ago:

    Again, the Santorum argument is that the normalization of homosexual acts was one step of tolerance too far. Most of us think it was a step far enough. We're arguing within the same basic parameters, I just think Santorum has less evidence to justify drawing his line where he does. But again, Santorum clearly has a logic justifying his campaign against gay marriage and sodomy that's based on something larger than reactionary bigotry, and I think that's something his critics should acknowledge and engage with, rather than skip straight to the personal attacks.

    The position of Marcus Bachmann is harder to defend, since the man is arguing from faith. And faith is not really something you can dispute with appeals to facts or logic or whatever — that's kinda the point. That being said, my point was merely that Bachmann thinks he's helping people and doing the right thing. That's very different from being a hateful bigot as well.

  158. J.J. McCullough

    The other point I've been hearing a lot is that it's somehow not "bullying" to harass people who are rich and powerful, or that there's a direct moral equivalence between anti-gay political figures and teens who bully other gay teens.

    For starters, I'd note that Rick Santorum is hardly one of Washington's major power-players. In fact, part of what makes the Dan Savage against him so mean is the fact that he's already such a pathetic figure of minimal importance. Even if he was to become president somehow, it's clear that his stance on gay rights is well to the right of the Republican norm, which is probably why even his most "mainstream" proposal, the federal marriage amendment, could not even pass a Republican-controlled congress.

    Bachmann, likewise, is a presidential spouse who ran a clinic that engaged in "gay healing" therapy as a side service, and he now apparently feels embarrassed enough by the fact to deny his clinic even provided such services in the first place. Until we see evidence that Dr. Bachmann's wife plans to make some sort of national "cure all homos" initiative a major part of her presidential campaign, I'm not convinced this is a man of such great relevance, posing such a great threat, to justify the vile campaign being waged against him.

    Lastly, I simply don't accept the draw-a-straight-line premise between youthful bullying, which is a product of childish ignorance, groupthink, and insecurity, and the pandering campaign positions of very far-removed politicians. I have never been a fan of the "blood on your hands" style of sophistry, where simply contributing, in some vague way, to some equally vague "culture of hate" means that you're directly responsible for every legitimate act of hate in the world. Has there ever been any evidence whatsoever that Rick Santorum or Marcus Bachmann are in favor of bullying or teen suicides? It's completely illegitimate in my mind to wage vicious bullying campaigns against people who hold political positions you dislike simply on the basis of some specious claim of moral equivalency with those who actually DID the evil deeds.

    This sort of thing is really little more than smearing the blood of the very victims that Savage claims to be fighting for, in order to cheapen a legitimate human tragedy into some mundane partisan mud fight.

  159. Nick Wood

    Very well said. Mr. Savage is simply attacking easy targets. Santorum and He-Bachman aren't exactly five star generals in the war on homosexuality, and by resorting to the tarring and feathering in which Savage routinely engages, he is in fact bringing the whole conversation on sexual freedom down to the rhetorical level of a schoolyard fight.

    Dont be cowed by the haters, J.J.! This is such a good debate!

  160. Brooklyn Reader

    Nope. You're not going to give in, not an inch. Stand with your position, defend it to the death. Sigh…

    Look, it's a cute cartoon, well-drawn. It just sends the wrong f***ing message, that's all.

  161. Mark

    Typical American Blowhard.

  162. @ThePsudo

    Speaking as an American blowhard, I find that comparison insulting.

  163. Marty

    What Psudo said! I love the comments on Mr. Savage's blog response ,one even called you a "Conservative Faggot," ( poster "John Horstman"). Despite the fact it was used in a supposedly exclusive sense toward you; still strikes me as akin to using the N'word against a black man you disagree with politically . Despite what they said on that "lovely" blog, I don't think you surround yourself with "Conservative Homophobes" (poster "I Hate Screen Names", seriously). Most of the readers haven't commented on your sexual preference, unless to defend your statements. Or is not calling attention to an individuals preference for genital insertion considered intolerance now? If so maybe I should make T-shirts!

  164. Nasty Alaskan

    Your main defense of Santorum's position is that it's "mainstream." Or, rather, that it is "mainstream" for a person to view certain sex acts as immoral, even if it isn't mainstream to view homosexuality as immoral.

    Care to tell me 1) How Santorum's position is mainstream and yet not mainstream since the sex acts that he abhors are not as commonly abhorred as they used to be, and 2) Why it is relevant how "mainstream" a person's disapproval is? After all, it's pretty mainstream to find obese people sexually unattractive. Should it therefore be illegal to have sex with fat people? Or would calling for fat-sex criminalization, at least, become an intellectually valid viewpoint?

    Remember: the theory that the earth is flat didn't become invalid once it became less mainstream. It was invalid the entire time. It's the same with homophobia: eitther there are valid reasons to ban gay marriage, specifically, or there aren't. Either it is moral to strip gays of their rights, or it isn't. The existence of harmful sex acts/marital arrangements OTHER than gay ones has nothing to do with the harmlessness of gay marriage.

    This is why the slippery slope argument, while mainstream, is invalid, and has been invalid even when it was at peak popularity. You don't ban gay marriage because bestiality is bad, just as you shouldn't ban puppies because vipers are dangerous. You ban things for being harmful, not for being unpopular or "kinda icky" to overly sensitive people like Santorum. If you have to bring up bestiality as a reason to ban gay marriage, that tells me that you cannot find anything wrong with gay marriage itself. The harms of bestiality and pedophilia will serve as reason enough to keep them illegal regardless of whether or not gay marriage is legal. It is a MOOT POINT, and obviously so.

    It is not enough that Santorum has logic; he is using very poor logic in an attempt to justify an invalid desire to turn his personal hatred into law. Nothing about that is intellectually valid, honest, or defensible. It's one thing to find Dan Savage's tactics gross or childish. It is quite another to defend their target, whose worldview is far more disgusting.

  165. Mike

    The really sad thing about reading your comment is, you and JJ agree on almost everything.

  166. Nasty Alaskan

    How is this sad? Especially since we don't agree on the main points in my comment. We may both agree that homophobia is wrong, or that Santorum's logic is poor. But we disagree on whether or not bigotry or poor logic are enough to completely invalidate a person's argument. I believe that it does. JJ believes that it doesn't. That’s what my post was about.

    Take the following two arguments
    1) Anybody who supported Adolf Hitler was a fucking moron.
    2) Gassing all the Jews may very well have been a just reaction to the conditions faced by Germans after WWI.

    Even though argument #1 involves calling people names, it is argument #2 that reflects a more flawed knowledge of history as well as a more hateful attitude. So just because Santorum’s comparing gays to dogfuckers was done less graphically, and with fewer swear words, does not make it a more coherent or valid argument than calling Santorum a smear of anal froth.

  167. Chris

    Discussing number 2 allows people to understand the events and ideology which led to the Holocaust; and hopefully avoid ever going down that route again.
    Discussing number 1 only leaves us with the false confidence that we are absolutely and certainly better than Adolf Hitler's supporters (I think false; all people and all societies have the potential for atrocity) and leaves us blind to trends in our own society which might lead to history repeating

  168. Nasty Alaskan

    Not if you discuss number 2 in a way that is deliberately misleading and historically inaccurate, as Santorum discusses homosexuality. Then you are doing harm and making people less likely to learn from historical mistakes.

    Further below I clarify that I'm not trying to paint Dan Savage's actions as some sort of clever argument or even as high-brow humor. I'm saying that Santorum's actions, while more G-rated, are far more vile, as they attempt to do far more harm to a greater number of people.

    Would you rather be publicly called a nasty name, or forced to separate from your wife and perhaps even your children? Would your answer change if I promised to be verbally formal while driving you away from them?

    Call Dan Savage sophomoric and gross all you want; I may argue that this is what makes him entertaining, but I will not argue that you're wrong. What I take issue with is when people claim that Santorum is more civilized or intellectual just because he sugar coats his word choice when trying to do real harm to real families based on a severely unrealistic interpretation of a highly subjective religious text. That, to me, is more uncivilized than an entire encyclopedia of filthy neologisms.

  169. @ThePsudo

    Santorum's exact words were that Homosexuality is "not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever." He wasn't comparing, he was differentiating.

  170. Nick Wood

    I think what he was saying is that Santorum is doing something right, in that hes trying to open a discussion about morality. He's wrong, but is expressing those ideas calmly, and civilly, the way adults living in an industrialized, democratic society should. Contrast that with the style of Dan Savage, which is to shout down his opponents, redefine their last names, and make fun of them for talking all queer and stuff.

    He has the right to say whatever he wants, but people should reject his methods on the grounds that it shuts down rational conversation, and actually holds back the social progress Dan Savage supports.

  171. Nasty Alaskan

    When somebody calls for a policy that would do real damage to real people, it makes little difference how politely worded their justification is. The goal that Santorum seeks is one that would harm gays and lesbians, as well as a lot of straights, frankly. His motivation for this goal is based on a hateful belief that homosexuality is so vile, the mere inclusion of it as a legal form of marriage would ruin the entire institution altogether (if that isn’t hatred, I don’t know what is). The logic he uses to defend these beliefs and these goals is clearly poor (e.g., napkins are not paper towels, so therefore gay marriage isn’t marriage).

    Oftentimes, it is very uncivil anyway, like the “gays are equivalent to dogfuckers” comment that unleashed the Frothy Mix retaliation in the first place. But even if Santorum were always careful enough to stick to civil analogies involving such inoffensive things as napkins, this only makes his words civil. It does not make his arguments or his actions civil: it is never civil to make attempts to harmfully strip entire groups of people of their rights, no matter how polite your word choice.

    Was Dan Savage being sophomoric? Yes. Was Rick Santorum being so much worse that there is absolutely no reasonable way to paint him as the victim, or even as the more civilized of the two? Also yes. I will defend sophomoric over downright hateful any old day of the week, and I give no artificial validity to arguments that are poorly made, poorly thought out, and based on a hatred more offensive than any swear word simply because it is G-rated.

  172. @ThePsudo

    Did Santorum actually advocate banning homosexuality? I only noticed him disputing a common argument asserting the equality of homosexuality to heterosexuality. I know he didn't compare homosexuality to bestiality in the 2005 interview, as he is often accused. He explicitly states that they're different, his exact words being that homosexuality is "not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever." Maybe he contradicted that somewhere else, but I haven't' seen it.

    I think you might be assuming Santorum is hateful to justify the sophomoric retaliation. But if your premise is wrong, your justification falls apart. Is criticism of homosexual acts inherently indistinguishable from hate? Is he ever explicitly derisive to homosexuals as a people? Does he believe and spread unflattering generalizations? Is there evidence that he hates gays specifically, or is he just a political partisan with the audacity to disagree with you?

  173. drs

    Hmm, I'd say belief that the Earth is flat is perfectly *valid* given the limited default evidence available early on. It's wrong as aa matter of fact, but given what the Earth looks like when you just stand around, it's a perfectly valid belief. Further observations disprove it, of course. Ditto for the Sun going around the Earth. (Which technically isn't even wrong… but require insisting on a baroquely complicated coordinate system and equations of motion.)

    I don't think this helps anti-gay bigots at all, though. Different types of questions.

  174. Voodoo Ben

    But Santorum is arguing from faith too, specifically the Catholic faith:

    This is something Savage has known for a long time, hence why he hasn't tried to reason with Santorum. His beliefs are based on the Catholic Church and therefore gays need to just accept that their lot will burn in hell for all eternity for failing to understand that the infinite love, mercy and acceptance of God is for people who never touch penises.

  175. Pete

    Your whole argument fell apart when you called Santorum's stance "intellectually valid".

  176. J.J. McCullough

    I think a lot of arguments are intellectually valid even if they're wrong. Communism, for instance, is an intellectually valid theory because it reaches a plausible conclusion through a thoughtful argument based on a reasonable analysis of facts. It's something other intellectual-minded people can engage and debate with, just as I believe Santorum's theory should be.

  177. Nasty Alaskan

    If an argument is very easily refuted by very clearly observable reality (such as the argument that gay marriage harms other marriages, or the argument that gay people are all perverts, or the argument that legalizing gay marriage will give precedent for legalizing marital arrangements actually are harmful), then it is NOT intellectually valid. Santorum's arguments are not thoughtful, nor are they based on any reasonable analysis of any facts, nor is their conclusion even remotely plausible. Unless your standards for intellectual validity are that it just has to be "an argument of some kind," there is no reason to label Santorum's arguments on gay marriage as intellectually valid in any way.

  178. J.J. McCullough

    As I noted, Santorum makes the perfectly accurate point that increased tolerance for homosexuality has made it more difficult to justify social and legal taboos against other forms of sexual deviancy. He also notes that he doesn't want to see a society in which things like adultery and bigamy are tolerated. His conclusion, which I don't agree with, is to draw a line in the sand right after vaginal hetrosexual intercorse in the context of marriage, and say "nothing else." I think it's an intellectually valid argument because, as I said, we all argue this way, to some extent, when trying to address sexual taboos.

  179. Nasty Alaskan

    1) It is absolutely not accurate to say that increased tolerance for homosexuality has led to an increased tolerance for other taboos. There may be several taboos, which may include homosexuality, that have become less taboo due to an increased tolerance of "anything not harmful," but these are not the same thing. Accepting homosexuality didn’t cause people to also accept swinging, for instance. This is exactly what I mean: Santorum is taking things that aren’t facts, and stating them as if they are: this is a step away from intellectual validity, not towards it. The fact that he refrains from calling people names or telling crude jokes is neither here nor there as far as intellectual validity is concerned.

    2) We may all agree that, somewhere, there is a line in the sand between “moral” vs. “immoral” sex acts. However, not all of us form some long laundry list of sex acts and draw a line between two specific ones, like Santorum is doing. But let’s pretend for arguments’ sake that we do: there is still a difference between drawing this line based on the potential for the act to cause real physical or psychological harm (such as child molestation) vs. drawing this line based on personal tastes and then desperately flailing for any series of logical statements that can justify it.

    One of these involves starting with facts (child molestation causes psychological and often physical harm) and THEN coming to a conclusion (therefore it would be beneficial to keep it illegal). The other involves starting with a belief (homosexuality is against god’s rules) and then playing logical games to justify an already foregone conclusion (homosexuality is unconventional, and so is child molestation, so they have something in common, so they are both equally bad and homosexuality can feasibly be made illegal). This is intellectual dishonesty.

    It is not enough that it is done in the same style as more valid arguments, or even if its very most basic, skeletal premise is the same (“there must be some line somewhere”). The way that one goes about choosing that line is very valid and comes heavily into play when determining intellectual validity. I could decide that the line should be drawn between “sleeping with brunettes” and “sleeping with blondes,” and the only reason I might give is that I prefer brunettes, so there must be something wrong with people who sleep with blondes. Even though I’m operating under the same premise that “a line must be drawn somewhere,” my basis for choosing that line is based on arbitrary and subjective prejudices. There is no intellectual validity to be found there; merely a cheap imitation of it.

    Note that I’m not arguing that defining “Santorum” to mean “anal froth” IS a valid argument; I’m arguing that Santorum’s “arguments” share equal intellectual value to the act of redefining his name; that is to say, none. I’m also arguing that Santorum’s actions are far more vile than Dan’s, with or without their difference in raunchiness: I’d rather be called a frothy shit stain than be “politely” forced to separate from my wife any day of the week.

  180. Kristan Overstreet

    It's nice to know that you believe odious beliefs and political positions, like homophobia, racism, etc. are worthy, in your eyes, of dignity and respect.

    Oh, wait, I lie. No, it isn't nice to know that AT ALL.

  181. Mike

    Yet another boorish American!

  182. @Cristiona

    The opinions aren't. But the human beings espousing them are. Savage wasn't attacking their points or their arguments, he was attacking them. That's the problem.

  183. @ThePsudo

    It's nice to know that logic and civility can be throw out because you find someone's conclusions odious.

    Oh, wait, I like. No, it's not nice to know AT ALL.

  184. Job

    To be fair, this toon compares the most respectable of public anti-gay figures with a pro-gay figure so graphic that he's teetering on the edge of the mainstream.

  185. Job

    Switch it to Barney Frank abusing Jerry Falwell, and it just don't stand no more.

  186. Mike

    That would work if Barney Frank didn't have a history of having sugar babies. A better example would be Anderson Cooper.

  187. Job

    Do you mean boyfriends? Certainly McCain and Newt are no better.

  188. Mike

    Read up on Mr. Frank. He had a sugar baby in the late 80s.

  189. Job

    American heroes John McCain, JFK, FDR, Thomas Jefferson,and probably Eisenhower all had EXTRAMARITAL affairs which I would regard as far worse than consenting sex between two adults.

  190. @Ryan_in_SEPA

    Its quite fascinating how people view Santorum. I have met the guy on several occasions. He is a fairly nice guy.

    I actually agree with Savage's anti-bullying agenda, but he is going about it the wrong way. When you are crusading for something like this, you need to take the Gandhi approach. You cannot be out there engaging in tactics even remotely close to your opponent.

  191. Taylor

    Looking at all these comments, I think I finally realize why "liberals" are so hated by a good portion of the American populace, despite the fact I think they're right.

    Good job sticking up for yourself, J.J. That's what I like about your articles/cartoons.

  192. Ernie Dunbar

    As Savage has pointed out on numerous occasions, the real bullies always act shocked and appalled when someone actually stands up to them for a change after years of abuse. They wag their finger at the object of their derision and say "How dare you!"

    It's called just deserts, asshole. Suck it up.

  193. Dan

    Yes, vindictive justice. Thanks for stopping by Dubya.

  194. Ernie Dunbar

    Who's that guy who just laid out Biff Tannen? What an asshole!

  195. Dan

    When you see Mr. Santorum is about to rape a woman and there is no other way to protect her safety, then you may punch him.

  196. Jake

    Marriage is a religious institution. One of the few things the Europeans got it right is to completely take marriage out of the equation. Call it a civil union. Do w/e you want in a church but then it won't be recognized. Go to city hall and sign the documents for a civil union. Then your you have all the legal rights, regardless if you are straight, gay, or w/e else.

    Why do people continually want to define something that is religious? It is must easier to legislate it from a CIVIL rights position if you call it a CIVIL union. It's the same rights, just a different name for BOTH straight and gay and w/e else. But you do not violate someone's religious RIGHTS as well.

    Take the religion out of it and you only have one thing left, and that's civil rights/discrimination. Simple. Just stop using the word marriage regardless if its straight, gay or something else.

  197. Mike

    Why not use the word marriage for a civil union? Marriage has a much better ring to it.

  198. Jon Bennett

    Because marriage is a religious term, and the US Government should avoid such terms when possible

  199. SES

    If churches want a term to monopolize, they should create religious unions. Marriage has been a civil institution for as long as it has been a religious institution.

  200. Chris

    It predates Christianity, at any rate

  201. Leon

    1- Marriage has been a religious institution as well as a civil institution before the separation of church and state.

    2- If you say a marriage is a civil institution before a religious institution then the cross is a civil symbol as well. Because Romans executed criminals on the cross long before Christianity came around. If that's the case then the cross should be put on every prison, grave site,etc.

  202. Chris

    But with regards to the cross-as-a-symbol, there isn't really any continuity, from Ancient Roman times to present. Its present symbolism is a complete reversal of its Roman symbolism, when crucifixion was pretty much only for the scummiest non-citizen traitors (so putting it on every prison and grave site would be a bit weird).

    Whereas marriage has a continuous history going back to the dawn of history.

    That doesn't mean it was a civil institution before it was a religious one, because I don't think those distinctions make much sense that far back. And if one does try to apply them to Ancient Greek marriage then one finds that marriage was neither a religious matter nor a civil matter, but a private one. As long as the groom and the groom's father consented, it was a valid marriage. No priests involved and no government clerks, either.

  203. SES

    Marriage is a civil and social institution, in addition to a religious institution. It is not and has never been a purely religious institution, and calling a marriage a marriage does not violate anybody's religious rights. Many couples are married, and regard themselves as married, and are regarded by all other reasonable people to be married, without having ever set foot in a church.

    And "the Europeans" have civil marriages. It is true that in many countries, the church ceremony is irrelevant. That is because many countries consider a couple legally married once they get the civil paperwork. If that was translated to a US perspective, it would be the equivalent of couples becoming legally married upon the issuance of a marriage license. If anything, that further entrenches the existence of marriage as a civil institution, rather than confirming the unfounded argument that marriage is purely a religious institution. A same-sex marriage in Spain is called a "matrimonio." In French-speaking Belgium, it is a "mariage." (As far as I can tell, the terms used in Dutch, (both for Belgium and the Netherlands) Icelandic, and Swedish are also used to describe both the civil and religious institutions.

    In fact, in many European countries, there are marriages (the civil institution) for opposite-sex couples and civil unions for same-sex couples, as there are in some US states. So I'm not getting how a) marriage is solely a religious institution, or b) how "the Europeans" don't have civil marriages.

  204. Jake

    Calling it a civil union would completely nullify the entire debate. It removes religion in anyway from it. For those that believe marriage is a religious institution you are saying what it is.

    – Just like when Illinois said that a moment of silence is prayer. When it clearly isn't.
    – An San Francisco trying to ban circumcision because it is a medical procedure and not a religious one. Although many consider it to be a religious one also.

    Therefore marriage is the same thing. Why not just remove the religious aspect? That is something that you can do with marriage unlike circumcision and the sort.

    If the government can call it w/e it wants, why even have the fight to call it marriage? Why not just call it a civil union and be done with the issue.

  205. Nasty Alaskan

    I have two responses to this:

    1) There are religions, even branches of Christianity, that DO recognize gay marriage as marriage. Because the United States is supposed to treat all religions (and their sub-branches) equally, there is no reason for US marriage laws to make the assumption that no gay marriage will ever be a religious marriage.

    2) The US does not treat marriages and civil unions equally. The word marriage is not only a religious word here; it is used as a legal term that doesn't necessarily require a religious dimension; even non-religious marriages between straights are legally called "marriage."

    I would argue that a "Civil Union" should legally be exactly what its name implies: a marriage that doesn't involve religion. I would also argue that religious gays from pro-gay churches should legally be able to get a religious marriage. So separating "marriage" from "civil union" would not necessarily mean separating "marriage" from "gays."

  206. Jake

    Response your first point: Thats the exact problem. Government shouldn't be defining it either way. If one church allows for it then that's fine. That's their beliefs. This is not about gays, this is about religious beliefs. Government cannot define marriage period.

    2) I agree. That's the problem. Do away with the word marriage altogether. And only ever use civil unions. Promote civil unions the same status as marriage in terms of the eye of the law but then never use the word marriage. Civil unions will be the ultimate union for rights between a couple and not marriage.

    If a pro-gay church allows marriage that is their belief. If a pro-traditional church doesn't its their belief. Frankly, both don't matter. Both shouldn't be viewed as anything by the government. W/e someone does or doesn't do in a religion setting is no issue to the government.

    Get rid of the word marriage for EVERYONE and ANYONE, just replace it with civil union and allow gays, straight, whomever else to have it. Put civil union at the same level and marriage and stop calling all marriages, marriages. Marriages the should not exist to the government. Elevate the word civil union to marriage status and stop using marriage. Simple.

  207. drs

    Uh, several European countries have "gay marriage", and had it before the US. And AFAIK the ones that just have civil unions didn't remove 'marriage', they just have gay civil unions alongside normal marriage. Maybe there's an exception but I don't think it's a norm.

    Also, marriage is not a religious institution. It's not an institution invented and propagated by religion (and which religion?) Pair-bonding and -contracting is nearly worldwide, though somewhat variable in details. Religion's often invoked to bless it but then, religion was often invoked for *everything*, including business deals.

  208. Job

    Of course marriage isn't a religious institution! Tell me, can atheists get married? Or would that have to be a civil union? Holy matrimony may be religious, but marriage AS A LEGAL ENTITY WHICH CAN BE ENTERED UPON BY TWO PEOPLE has nothing do do with religion. Governments have recognized marriage without regard to religion for about a century now.

  209. @ThePsudo

    It amuses me that the new readers have flooded this comments system, but completely ignored the Facebook page and forums.

  210. Marty

    I tried the forums ages ago but found the Anti-American, Canadian sentiment hard to stomach. I had no idea about the Facebook page though. Thank you for the heads up.

  211. @ThePsudo

    Glad to help.

  212. Victor J Kinzer

    This would be sad if it weren't so laughable. One bullying a CHILD to the point of death isn't in the same league as poking fun at public figures, no matter how strongly you poke fun at them.

    Second, don't pretend that Dan Savage did the Santroum thing after anything related to same sex marriage. He DIDN'T. He facilitated the Santorum prank, after a reader proposed it in response to Santroum saying that he didn't think same sex SEX should be legal, and comparing it to bestiality and incest. The whole thing started back when Santorum was still in office and Lawrence v. Texas came out. So don't write this up as some modern act, and compare it to what is unfortunately a common opinion of the time. This was in response to something far more odious than anything Santorum is spewing now.

    Also, when you enter public life you are saying to the world "I've got a thick skin, bring it". Like it or not that's the public forum, and Santroum LOVES bringing up his Google problem when he's fund raising. So don't pretend like he's a victim, because that's just disingenuous. Seriously.

  213. @ThePsudo

    Santorum wasn't in schools browbeating children. He was addressing the political issue of gay rights when it came up as part of his job as a politician. I doubt even he considered his statements child-friendly. Also, in the Santorum quotes I've read he draws a moral distinction between homosexuality and bestiality.

    I don't particularly think Santorum is a victim, but that doesn't prevent Savage from being a crude jerk.

  214. Canuck Pride

    I'm Canadian and JJ usually comments on Canadian issues, so I read JJ's work regularly. One of JJ's themes has been disspelling the belief that all Americans are rude, crude, igorant, humourlesss, combative fools. Watching the discorse from both sides in the USA, including on this forum, I don't think JJ will ever convince people the stereotypes about American aren't 100% true.

    We all know Santorum and Bacmann are Americans. Dan Savage may have moved to Canada, but his actions outside the It Get Better Campaign show he's still a True-Red-White-and-Blue American at heart.

    You Americans fancy yourselves as members of the civilized world. You really should act like it.

  215. Kento Ikeda

    Hey world, do you want to see what Canadians are really like? Take a look at Ralph Klein!

  216. SparcVark

    Feeling superior to Americans is the Canadian national pastime. We don't have the heart to deprive you of that.

  217. Taylor

    I'd feel superior to any country that produces responses like this cartoon did. God, people, there's grey in this world.

  218. Canuck Pride

    Not in 'Murica. There's only Red, White, Blue! Yee Ha!

  219. Marty

    Oh dear, you seem to be objectifying an entire country based on individual comments. I bet any hockey forum after a Redwings victory would be a great place to analyze Canadian decency? How about the forum this comic is affiliated with? The commentators there are always open minded, objective, kind, Canadians aren't they? All, countries, have, jerks; especially when they are given anonymity. Sadly, there are just a bunch more Americans in the world than Canadians. P.S. If you want to even "try" to appear impartial to your country of origin: don't post with a name which is equivalent to waving a flag with one hand whilst slurping a bottle of maple syrup in the other.

  220. Canuck Pride

    I think your confusing Canadian Superiority with being extremely thankful I don't live in America, where people like Santorum and Savage roam free. You'll find this sentiment all over the civilized world.

  221. Damien RS

    Holy c-! 182 comments.

    “But it’s also true that an honest, unemotional spectrum of opinion exists on the issue of homosexuality in modern America,”

    And it was probably true that an honest and unemotional spectrum of opinion existed on slavery or the equality of black or that of women. “Honesty” and “sincerity” and “genuine religious faith” don’t cut much slack when you’re genuinely hurting people. Honest(?) and ignorant bigotry is still bigotry.

    Ideally, education is better than silencing. But it’s not always possible, and I’ll cut Savage some slack for fighting for his civil right to exist and be equal.

  222. @ThePsudo

    Part of the problem in the slavery crisis that culminated in the civil war was the absolute refusal to consider any reasoning that came from the other side. If Yankees attacked slavery their reasoning was deemed flawed for that reason alone regardless of merit, and the same with Confederates and their secessionist arguments. And now, with Savage's ilk on one side and homophobes on the other, we're rediscovering that same lousy reasoning, where disagreement automatically proves evil intent.

    Yes, please defy bigotry, but do it rationally. To do otherwise risks the term "culture war" becoming literal.

  223. Jake

    Response your first point: Thats the exact problem. Government shouldn't be defining it either way. If one church allows for it then that's fine. That's their beliefs. This is not about gays, this is about religious beliefs. Government cannot define marriage period.

    2) I agree. That's the problem. Do away with the word marriage altogether. And only ever use civil unions. Promote civil unions the same status as marriage in terms of the eye of the law but then never use the word marriage. Civil unions will be the ultimate union for rights between a couple and not marriage.

    If a pro-gay church allows marriage that is their belief. If a pro-traditional church doesn't its their belief. Frankly, both don't matter. Both shouldn't be viewed as anything by the government. W/e someone does or doesn't do in a religion setting is no issue to the government.

    Get rid of the word marriage for EVERYONE and ANYONE, just replace it with civil union and allow gays, straight, whomever else to have it. Put civil union at the same level and marriage and stop calling all marriages, marriages. Marriages the should not exist to the government. Elevate the word civil union to marriage status and stop using marriage. Simple.

  224. @ThePsudo

    This policy reinforces the perception that gay marriage advocacy detracts from straight marriage. After all, you just "demoted" their marriages to civil union status.

    I'm not saying it's a bad plan, I'm just saying it doesn't calm the controversy or settle the issue.

  225. @ThePsudo

    Congratulations, JJ, on breaking the 200 comment mark!

  226. DanSavageIsRight

    "Mocking a wealthy and powerful politician is not the moral equivalent of mocking a vulnerable and isolated teenager. Figuratively taking the piss out of a middle-aged man who has profited politically and financially from attacking a vulnerable minority group, a man who is surrounded by people who agree with him and support him politically and financially, is not the moral equivalent of literally beating the shit out of 13-year-old boy who is a member of that vulnerable minority group, has never sought to harm anyone, and is surrounded by people who loathe and despise him. Please make a note of it, bigots." – Dan Savage, rightfully calling out the bigots on their BS.

  227. Matthew Steele

    Its not the moral equivalent. THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

    And as I've said. Things like this HELP the very people we're trying to fight against. The people who deny gays the right to marry think we're going to do everything we can to shut them up. This makes them think they're right.


  228. Dan

    Tripping someone on the street is not the moral equivilant of running over a baby. I still think tripping someone on the street is a bad thing to do.

  229. JfC

    I don't like Dan Savage, albeit for very different reasons than you or your readership might. I'll plead no contest to the Rick Santorum stuff, but calling Marcus Bachmann gay could only be regarded as bullying if 'gay' is supposed to be an insult. If you're an open gay man, like Dan, 'gay' is a neutral value like 'tall' or 'stamp collector.' Because society is homophobic, asking if someone is gay or implying they might be is apparently always an insult. I have trouble asking out women myself because heterosexuals are so damn touchy if you even ask if they're anything but heterosexual. The only reason Marcus Bachmann finds it hurtful is apparently he believes it's a terrible thing to be gay. I don't think it is.

  230. @ThePsudo

    Outing a closeted person is frowned upon, though. If Dan Savage is right on the facts then he's wrong on behavior.

  231. Jbot

    He doesn't consider outing someone who is harmful to the gay community bad, however. It's the Frank principle, in that as long as the person who is closeted isn't trying to hurt other gay people then it's wrong to out them. Since some people, including Savage, view Marcus Bachmann as a closeted gay man who is trying to turn gay people straight, he's perceived as a harmful hypocrite.

    Make of that what you will.

  232. Jon Bennett

    I think part of the hypocrisy is that Savage calls Bachmann gay and means it to be insulting. In doing so, and by perpetuating the stigma of homosexuality, Savage is partaking the same gay-bashing that he shames others for.

    And the irony is, Bachmann believes he's doing a good thing. Bachmann isn't condemning the gays to Hell, or asking people to attack them; he's just offering to pray for them and counsel them. He believes they are sick and that prayer can make them well–No more; no less. The fact that every rational person this side of 1920 disagrees with him notwithstanding, there is no malice.

    Everyone who comes to him does so voluntarily.

  233. Marc Paradis

    i beleive it is wrong to place sole blame on the falling of the Liberal party on Chretien's lack of replacement. There are several isuses at the time, that were a result of a party in power for too long. I beleive that Chretien would not have fared any better then his first few replacements. Personnally, i will not take the Liberals as a party choice because of the sponsorship scancal.

  234. chris f

    I appreciate your perspective, but I think you ignore the elephant in the room: At the time of the campaign, Santorum was a public figure and one of the more powerful people in the United States.

    A power imbalance is necessary to establish bullying in the sense that you decry it. That didn't exist here, and still doesn't. Savage has a right to use the tools of rhetoric to combat those powerful public figures with whom he disagrees. So do Savage's readers. Their effort is not stylistically admirable, but it is certainly just.

    Further, I think your effort to read Santorum academically is misguided. Santorum is a politician who speaks to convince. To read his words with dispassion is to ignore their obvious intended effect — the marginalization of gays and their rights.