Noted sexpert Dan Savage, whom we may remember from an earlier, slightly less grotesquely-exaggerated comic, is back in the news, and once again it’s for displaying a massive degree of say-versus-do hypocrisy.
Speaking before a gathering of teenage journalists earlier last month (but captured on a video that was only widely circulated this weekend), Savage delivered the sort of speech he has become increasingly famous for — an hour-long appeal to end bullying and gay-bashing. And kudos to him for that. Trouble is, as I discussed in my last column on the matter, Dan is stubbornly incapable of promoting his cause as anything less than total warfare against a subhuman foe. Thus, in the most quotable moment of the hour, Savage’s lecture contained a long rant against all the “bullshit” inherent in Christianity.
“We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the bible about gay people the same way we learned to ignore the bullshit in the bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation,” he said. “We ignore bullshit in the bible about lots of things. The bible is a radical pro-slavery document. Slave-owners waved bibles over their heads during the Civil War.”
And so on. I’m sure you know all the cliched places this line of argument goes. As Dan’s rhetoric got snarkier and angrier, a bunch of Christian students ostentatiously began to leave the auditorium, and it’s the captured footage of this children’s revolt that has given the story such legs. Noticing his audience rebellion, Savage sniped that it was amusing “how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.”
“Push back,” is the key phrase, since it sums up the Savage approach so well. His basic strategy for making America a safer, jollier place for GLBT youth is to make it a much more hostile place for everyone else, where he personally enforces thought compliance by emphasizing the vicious consequences of dissent. It’s that underlying rule-by-fear agenda, already manifest by his cruel campaigns of personal destruction waged against Rick Santorum and Marcus Bachmann, that explains why the man is rapidly starting to fall out of favor even amongst allies, and why this latest “bullshit in the bible” episode should be troubling regardless of your personal views on the actual “bullshit” in question.
It’s not a very controversial observation, after all, that no one really follows the bible to the letter. That’s one of the complexities of any modern faith based on millennia-old scripture, and it’s why we have theologians and clerics in the first place. There are tons of gay-friendly Christians (not to mention gay Christians themselves) who have made some manner of peace between their faith and their views on homosexuality, sometimes after a great deal of serious thought, and sometimes just through strategic indifference. To summarize this whole situation as little more than evidence that the bible is full of “bullshit,” however, is to jump to the most mean-spirited and intentionally offensive, generalized conclusion just for the sake of sadism. It reveals a lack of interest in engaging with, or converting critics through any sort of tactic other than evoking their fear of public shame or belittlement. It is, in short, bullying.
The consequences of playing to type have been predictable. Christian leaders, unsurprisingly, have not been particularly won over by this fresh line of attack, and have instead simply gained a new piece of evidence to cite in future allegations of collusion between homosexuals and the larger far-left campaign against the validity of their faith. Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign, previously one of his few almost universally-applauded, non-ideological achievements, is now likewise in significant danger of being undermined. “Dem elites team with anti-Christian bully” says FOX News, referring to the Obama Administration’s backing of the anti-bullying initiate, which, for all we know, they may soon be forced to recant.
Since his video went viral, Dan Savage has (sort of) apologized for his comments, at least for the “pansy-ass” line, but it’s clear he is still a man lacking much sense of introspection or empathy. The idea that equal rights for gays will arrive on a jet fighter after an endless barrage of profanity, vulgarity, and personal attacks have thoroughly decimated not only all critics, but all those who waver or moderate, too, is still the underlying motivator, and will no doubt be the instigator of many more headline-grabbing moments to come.
Which should cause anyone who truly values the cause of homosexual acceptance and dignity to shudder.