Still Savaging away

Still Savaging away
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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.


  1. Paul

    Oh, Dan Savage, how you soothe me so.

  2. Jon Bennett

    Civility for me, but not for thee

  3. Kristan Overstreet

    When I start seeing some civility on homosexuality from the right, then I'll start insisting on civility from Dan Savage et al. Until then, so long as we have pastors advising parents to beat the gay out of their kids, I'm behind Savage 100%.

  4. Dan

    Because OBVIOUSLY the best way to deal with the homophobia issue is through escalation.

    I mean, just stop and think about this is a purely utilitarian way for a moment: If the ultimate goal is to end hate and discrimination, and promote tolerance and equality… how does this sort of behavior help us do that? Does this get us closer to the goal, or pull us further away from it?

    We really have to start thinking of homophobia (and sexism, racism, ect…) with an "end game" mentality. Anything that does not help us get there is just enabling more homophobia… and this is just as much a part of the problem as anything else.

  5. Dan

    So why not say "Child abuse is bullshit" instead of "The Bible is bullshit"?

  6. Jon Bennett

    Been going to church for over 30 years, and never has a pastor said to beat gays.

  7. B5C

    You never been down to the Bible Belt.

  8. Etc.

    Funnily enough, I live right at the buckle of the Bible Belt and I've never heard a command even somewhat like this from any of my many pastors.

  9. J.J. McCullough

    It's interesting, because I'm curious to know who the Christian right equivalent of Dan Savage would be. I mean, even his mortal enemy Rick Santorum doesn't go around yelling and swearing and telling people to die and suck him off and things of that nature, which is what Savage routinely does.

  10. Dan

    I would think his Christian Right equivalent would be, coincidentally enough, Michael Savage.

  11. @ThePsudo

    Speaking as a former fan of Michael Savage, that's pretty plausible. Which is a little odd, since he's Jewish by heritage and doesn't attend regularly attend church of any kind.

    Amusing trivia: Michael Savage's son Charles created Rockstar, the energy drink.

  12. @Cristiona

    Pat Robertson, maybe?

  13. Dan

    Pat Robertson doesn't swear or tell people to suck him off, so he doesn't work.

  14. B5C

    Pastor Orders His Flock to Beat Gay Couple Arriving At Church

    North Carolina Pastor Sean Harris: Parents Should 'Punch' Their Gay-Acting Children

  15. @Cristiona

    There's roughly 300,000 churches in America. Smearing all of them for the extreme comments of a vanishingly small percentage of them seems a little excessive.

  16. B5C

    It's all about religion. Religion poisons everything. Conservatives use religion as a tool to control people to follow their morality. Religion is the wall that is preventing equality in America. In the Tennessee, there were laws trying to pass prevent even talking about homosexuality.

  17. @ThePsudo

    Are you going to argue that the relatively secular parts of history were more tolerant, civil, or peaceful than the relatively religious parts? I'd like to hear that argument. Tell me about how Puritan New England and Quaker Pennsylvania were worse for minorities than relatively secular Virginia or Barbados, for example. I'm all ears.

  18. B5C

    Puritans and Quakers mostly stay out of politics. It's the religious people who use their religion to control people while they are in power.

  19. Dan

    How does one reconcile Puritans and Quakers staying out of politics with the colonies that became Pennsylvania and Massachusetts being founded as Quaker and Puritan settlements?

  20. ThePsudo

    So, "Religion spoils everything except…"

  21. Jon Bennett

    Puritans and Quakers were the driving force behind the Abolitionist movement.

    For that matter, Baptist Churches were the bedrock behind Desegregation and the end of Jim Crow (ie, the REVEREND Martin Luther King Jr).

  22. Dan

    I suppose you also think all Muslims are terrorists because a very very small handful don't like the USA.

  23. Canadian Voter

    The problem is that it's indirect and religious people are oblivious to the damage they do.

    Often, Christians will focus on homosexuality more than any other sin, because it's the most threatening one. For other sins, there are real reasons to avoid them. But for being gay, there's no real reason. So, they'll overcompensate by really ramming it though.

    When parents repeatedly, and forcefully drill the message into their kids that being gay is evil and an abomination, the kids will naturally become hostile towards anyone who is gay. And, it will go beyond that. Human propensity to target outsiders and destroy them is very hard to overcome, especially for kids.

    These Christian kids go to school with all this baggage and they target gay people and bully them. Or, they will use every opportunity they have to denounce, ostracise, and generally be disgusting towards them.

    Most parents don't actually see the monsters they create, because they don't recognize the slippery slope. So, the hatred continues and they begin to gay bash and commit atrocities such as Matthew Shepard:

    Most churches are completely oblivious to this pattern and then when something horrible does happen, they spew out the "hate the sin, not the sinner" mantra, even while being 100% the cause of it. They completely absolve any wrongdoing they have.

    Meanwhile, gay people everywhere are being beaten, raped and murdered.

    This kind of moral recklessness is typical in religious places, and it's infuriating when you're at the brunt end of it.

    If I were gay, I'd be quite irate at Christians too.

  24. ThePsudo

    "The problem"? There's more than one.

    Another problem is that some defenders of gay rights think the only way to achieve their goal is by denouncing Christianity as a whole. When faced with the clear truth that they're generalizing billions based on the actions of a fraction of a million, they (you) play innocent and change the topic reiterating how evil that micro-minority are.

    That micro-minority does contain parents who tell their kids that gays are monsters and other such horrible things, but the other 99+% of Christianity says everyone without exception is a sinner and you're supposed to treat your gay neighbor just as kindly as you're supposed to treat everyone; love thy neighbor. Lumping the two groups together as morally equivalent is no better than Christians who take a few stories of gays with reckless sexual habits and claim that all gays bring STDs upon themselves, or of a few faked hate crimes against gays to claim that all hate crimes are faked, or whatever other idiot generalization is convenient to their argument.

    You are participating in the very behavior you denounce as indirectly damaging in Christians, but because it goes the other direction you feel your own moral recklessness is harmless. That's ridiculous.

  25. Canadian Voter

    Did I denounce Christianity as a whole? Did I say that parents tell their children that gays are monsters? Actually, I didn't. You said that. Don't put words in my mouth.

    What I did say is that parents teach their kids that being gay is evil and it's an abomination. It also says it right in the bible.

    There are modern churches that affirm homosexuality, and it's probably gotten better over the last decade. But in three separate churches and two bible camps, I've witnessed this from religious leaders. It was prevalent in our family, and family friends. This was in BC and Alberta. Also, keep in mind that Dan Savage is south of the border.

    Sure, I could have had a streak of bad experiences. I also should have used Sometimes/Some when I said Often/Most. But I'm pretty sure this isn't a Christian micro-minority of 1%, or even 10%. Have you gone to a few different churches and seen what happens when the subject comes up? Was your experience different?

    Also: participating in the very behaviour I denounce? I'm definitely not telling children that Christians are evil and are an abomination. You need to learn to make proper distinctions.

  26. ThePsudo

    What you specifically said was, "When parents repeatedly, and forcefully drill the message into their kids that being gay is evil and an abomination, the kids will naturally become hostile towards anyone who is gay."

    The passage I dispute is "repeatedly, and forcefully drill the message in," which sounds like dangerous, long-term indoctrination. In my experience, Christian parents don't do that. I'm sure it happens sometimes and somewhere (Westboro, for example), and I know there are jerks in the world who will take homosexuality as an excuse to express their ugly nature (like those who denounce one of my favorite actresses, Ellen DeGeneres, as "Ellen Degenerate"), but my experience tells me it is vastly removed from typical.

    The evidence I've accumulated in life has Christian parents typically mentioning homosexuality in a religious context during The Talk (TM) and when there's a real-world event that makes it relevant (eg, if the kid asks), and maybe if family scripture time crosses the topic, and that's about it. I've never met a self-described Christian that spent their time seething and plotting about how to derail the Gay Agenda ™.

    It's very typical for Christians to believe homosexual sex is wrong, sure. If you bring up homosexuality in a Christian church, there's a very high likelihood that they'll say so, perhaps with rhetorical flourish. But it's not something Christians sit around seething about every Sunday.

    This is in the US Mountain West. Maybe in certain enclaves along the coasts or in the American South are different; I have no experience there. Maybe our experiences differ by coincidence. Given a particular statement, maybe you are more likely to see it as "drilling it in" (ie, damaging) and I'm more likely to see it as "mentioning it once in passing" (ie, harmless). Maybe our different approaches produce different results because you're pressing the subject and I'm passively allowing them to direct the topic of discussion. But if it is dependent on all those maybes, your affirmative argument that Christians as a class are responsible for damage they don't see is inherently suspect.

  27. Jon Bennett

    I live in the Bible Belt

  28. Nick Wood

    Well, Dan Savage can say whatever he likes, and walking out of the auditorium isn't going to magically wash away all the justification for genocide and racism heartily advocated in the Bible. There seems to be a strain of atheism, however, whose proponents delight in being pointy-headed elitists whose pastime is harangueing religious people into becoming atheists, because it's so obviously correct to eschew religion. Being a nonbeleiver myself, and while having plenty of critiques and resons why I think the Bible isn't nearly as nice and ethical as people think it is, I understand that I am not Christopher Hitchens, and that religious people don't want to hear my personal philosophy any more than I want to hear theirs… That is, unless the debate is consentually initiated…

    I don't agree with Dan Savage, but if you go to his speech, you get what you signed up for. He lives up to his last name. Also; there are indeed lots of gay-friendly Christians, but it seems to me that this liberalism is directly tied to the adherent's de-literalisation of scripture. In a philosophy that extolls moral absolutes, it seems ironic that its least radical followers must apply such a relativistic analysis of their own holy books in order to function in modern society.

    Of course, you can't ever reach people if you're busy yelling at them for being "stupid". Atheists in general need to stop doing that.

  29. Nick Wood

    I meant the obvious part sarcastically.

  30. RJC

    Heh, as a Christian myself I am always impressed by how others of my faith white-wash the book, so your not alone in that. And I do agree that liberalism is often connected to it, though I think that is more the paired realization that the book itself never says it's 100% true and accurate, and that it's "inspired by" and written by a bunch of different people. So we choose not to throw out the baby with the bath water. For a good metaphor, it's kinda like just because my grandfather is kinda a racist and jerk at times, doesn't mean that I discard everything he says ever. You just have to bring your brain to the table, which is part of what makes it so interactive and fulfilling for me. Though if you ask 1000 different christians, you will probably get 1000 different answers… ah, humans.

    And I definitely agree on the last line, though I wish that christians would stop throwing around the word 'sinful' like it was going out of style. Especially since by their measure, we are all piles of sin. It confuses me.

  31. ThePsudo

    You think Christianity is a philosophy that extolls moral absolutes? Why do you think that?

  32. Dan

    I'm still waiting for Dan Savage to attack the Torah and Koran in front of Jewish and Muslim students.

  33. Jon Bennett

    I'm guessing he was bitching about Leviticus, which is more associated w/ Judaism than Christianity. Jews'll sit back and take it just as much as Christians.

    Now, criticizing the Koran in front of Muslim students, that would take a bit more balls.

  34. Dan

    Considering how anti-homosexuality the Koran is, we'll have to wait and see just how big Mr. Savage's balls are.

  35. Lord Zentei

    Since he was talking about stuff in the Old Testament, and since the OT contains the books of the Torah, and since the audience probably included Jewish students too, he's technically covered one of those things already.

  36. Hugh

    Congressmen don't swear on the Koran, 99% of American aren't muslim and consequently Islam plays a very small role in US politics in comparison to the massive role Christianity plays. This obviously wasn't about Dan Savage selectively attacking a religion but talking to the large majority of religious people in the US.

  37. Dan

    Umm, this is a picture of a Congressman being sworn in on the Koran. This must be awkward for you.

    If the attack was against religions that speak out against homosexuality, he should have no problem speaking out against Judaism and Islam.

  38. Hugh

    Actually congressman aren't sworn in on bibles, they just raise their right hand and recite an oath. The picture you linked is actually Keith Ellison posing with the then speaker of the house after he was sworn in. Most congressmen choose to carry in a bible and Ellison carried in a Qu'ran. source:

    Regardless my point is that the majority of congressmen, and Americans, are christian. The vast majority of religious opposition to homosexuality in America is by christian religions. Is Dan Savage a bigot, by your logic, because he didn't mention Zoroastrianism or Jainism?

  39. Dan

    Not a bigot, just disingenuous. He could have just said "religion" and covered all his bases.

  40. Hugh

    There's nothing disingenuous about choosing an example.

    Frankly the knee-jerk pretension that christianity is being singled out for attack is ludicrous. Christianity is the majority religion in the US with a powerful lobby. Stop detracting from the actual victims in this debate: the people who have fundamentalist views forced upon them.

  41. Dan

    There's plenty disingenuous about singling out the same example all of the time.

  42. Lord Zentei

    As I commented on your last Dan Savage cartoon, it is ridiculous to disparage someone for being hypocritical when he is aggressively criticizing intolerance of the magnitude displayed in many circles in America; I'll refrain from copy-pasting that comment, even though it's still completely apt for this cartoon. While yelling after those Christian students who left the room was not in good taste, it's hardly comparable to the magnitude of vitriol routinely directed against GLBT people in America from religious organizations who can routinely throw around millions of dollars worth of lobbying dollars at politicians, and the number of suicides people are driven to as a result. It's just not comparable at all.

    Besides which, Dan Savage's comments were OBJECTIVELY TRUE. The Bible does indeed contain bullshit about all the things mentioned, such as shellfish, menstruation, virginity, and masturbation, etc., and it IS pro-slavery. More to the point, people DO ignore the Bible on all of those things – but for some reason they don't ignore its homophobic rants. Calling a spade a spade should never be anathema.

  43. Dan

    I don't think you can objectively call anything bullshit unless it is feces from a bull.

  44. Lord Zentei

    OK, that's funny. Though of course, given the fact that expressions have more than one meaning, not entirely true.

  45. chris

    No, the point is that "bullshitness" in the sense of 'complete rubbish' is a value judgment. It's always going to be subjective – Unless you believe moral absolutes (perhaps defined by some sort of omnipotent, omniscient deity)

  46. Lord Zentei

    You miss the point. The point is that it's objectively true that the Bible contains moral statements on shellfish and menstruation which are regarded as bullshit by modern society, including Christians. Therefore it's hypocritical for them to use other passages in that same book to justify the discrimination of a particular social group.

  47. Les

    That word, 'Objectively', I do not think it means what you think it means.

  48. Lord Zentei

    Yes, as it happens, I do.

  49. ThePsudo

    Say that a blind person holds an apple for a sighted person to see. It is objectively an apple — the same regardless of observers. The impressions of the two people, red for the sighted person and firm for the blind person, are subjective — different for different observers.

    If you use the phrase "regarded as," you are referring to observers and, thus, referring to subjective judgements.

  50. Lord Zentei

    The veracity of the value judgements are not the same as the fact of the presence of the passages in question. You're applying the word "objective" to parts of my statements which I did not apply it to.

  51. ThePsudo

    The passages are objectively present. That they are BS is subjective and disputed.

  52. Ahem

    Just because you put in all caps, let me be the truth police for a minute. Please show me where in the Bible there is bullshit regarding masturbation, something which you claim to be OBJECTIVELY TRUE.

    Here's hint: Onan didn't masturbate.

    Not the biggest deal in the world, and the slavery issue is much trickier, but the masturbation one is simply false. The Bible doesn't address it – whatever you want to make of that fact.

  53. Lord Zentei

    No, he just spilled his seed on the ground, and this was apparently a sin… which happens to cover masturbation. BTW, I noticed that you didn't comment on any of those other things mentioned.

  54. Lord Zentei

    Correction: you did mention the slavery thing. My bad (that's what I get for responding too hastily).

  55. Etc.

    The sin wasn't masturbating or anything of the sort. The sin was disobeying his father and taking advantage of his brother's widow.

    In those days, the custom was that the brother of a deceased, childless man would marry his widow (if he had one) and make her pregnant. The firstborn child from that relationship would count as the brother's, which would allow for the widow and her child to inherit the land and have a chance at life while being protected by the brother. (This is called a Levirate marriage, for the record.) His father told him to go ahead and do this.

    Onan went with the marriage for the sex, but didn't want to get her pregnant because it would have been a hassle and the kid wouldn't have been regarded as his, so he pulled out… which, of course, was directly disobeying his father, putting his brother's widow into an awful situation, and was entirely against the purpose of such a marriage. Old Testament God then smote him.

    People always seem to go off of what they heard from someone else on this, but it's pretty clear if one just looks at the text.

  56. Lord Zentei

    Except that masturbation is criticized by Christians by referencing the Bible, and the Onan passage is not the only passage so cited (see Corinthians 6:18). In any case, I find it hilarious that people are getting bent out of shape about refuting the masturbation thing, but no mention of the shellfish or menstruation.

  57. Etc.

    The passage you gave me does say to flee from sexual immorality, but that act is never described as immoral. The worst thing you could really say on anything approaching it is that Leviticus calls for a ritual cleansing when one has had any sort of emission.

    Shellfish is no concern. In the Old Testament, yes, it was a no-no; however, the New Testament provided an update saying that it was fine to eat what was edible. In fact, let's read 1 Timothy 4:1-5; I think you might find it interesting.

    "1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."

  58. Lord Zentei

    The Corinthians passage must be seen in the wider context of other passages, such as Ephesians 5:3, Job 31:1-4; Proverbs 6:25, Matthew 5:27-30 and the injunction against extramarital sex. And regardless, this has been the assertion of theologians and clerics for thousands of years, so It's rather odd for Christians to try and back away from it now.

  59. Chris

    I'm not entirely sure you're actually looking for answers to the other "bullshit", but here's one:

    Shellfish are just one of a large group of animals that the Jews were commanded not to eat for reasons of ceremonial uncleanness. Other animals include pigs, eagles, hawks, bats, and flying insects. Turns out, these creatures have some of the filthiest eating habits of the animal kingdom, and prohibiting the Jews from eating them had nutritional benefit, likely contributing to their race's survival.

    Does that possibly satisfy as a reasonable answer?

  60. Kwyjor

    "Filthiest _eating_ habits"? Come on, the means by which an animal eats doesn't really have much bearing on its nutritional quality. (Cows regurgitate their food and chew it a second time!!!! Isn't that, like, totally grotty?)

    I have seen some insightful arguments for religious prohibition against eating pork; unlike ruminants, they consume the same grains that humans can eat, and thus however tasty they may be, they would be unsuitable animals for desert nomads. There might be similar anthropological arguments regarding shellfish; I doubt they are related to their "eating habits", however.

  61. ThePsudo

    I'm pretty sure he meant "filthy" in the sense of spreading disease, not just grossing people out.

  62. @Kisai

    I'm not going to look it up, but if you think about the reasons why we cook food, it's primarily to kill pathogens, with a side effect of making it taste better. If you eat shellfish or pigs uncooked, you're very likely get sick. Even the natives, who had no scripture to back this up, told us not to eat shellfish.

    We now know what causes these sicknesses, so there's no longer a reason not to eat these things other than adhering to scripture or just making a personal choice not to, like eating a puppy.

  63. Lord Zentei

    No, it doesn't. Moreover, it fails to address the fact that people ignore these injunctions, but people like Santorum want to set the clock back and treat gays as second-class citizens, justifying their bigotry with the Bible. And apparently, flaming them for this is being a "bully". It's such a false equivocation that it's outright grotesque.

  64. ThePsudo

    Flaming children at an assembly is bullying. If they were actually addressing their comments to Santorum, it wouldn't be.

  65. Hentgen

    The thing about the bible being pro-slavery is kind of open to debate. The British Abolitionist movement was a decidedly religious one.

  66. Lord Zentei

    They may have justified abolition with religious arguments, but that doesn't change the fact that the Bible clearly condones slavery, in both testaments, and that homophobes among Christians cite the Bible to justify their homophobia.

  67. ThePsudo

    The Bible contains philosophical arguments undermining slavery, which arguments were fundamental in abolishing slavery in the USA, Britain, and Ancient Rome.

    "Pro-" indicates favor, advocacy, or some kind of positive support. "Condones" indicates something from apathetic neutrality to helpless acceptance. The Bible overtly condones slavery, while quietly undermining it. The statement "The Bible is pro-slavery" is false.

  68. Lord Zentei

    The bible only "undermines" slavery if you interpret passages in it to that effect, with the predisposition that slavery is bad, and you must then also ignore the *explicit* statements supporting the institution of slavery. It is the claim that the Bible is not pro-slavery which is false, any etymological wrangling to the contrary. Any other document which would make such explicit statements to support slavery while allowing for vague "interpretations" to undermine itself would not be let of the hook by anyone – so why should the Bible be let off the hook?

  69. ThePsudo

    No passage in the Bible praises slavery or commands slavery occur. Some passages regulate slavery. Regulation is not advocacy; it is slightly closer to its opposite. "Pro-" indicates positive support, not just insufficient opposition. Thus, the Bible is not pro-slavery.

    The Bible contains clear commandments obligating its adherents to be compassionate and fair in their treatment of all. Christians are not obligated to engage in all condoned behavior. For anyone who thinks slavery is callus and unfair (which is essentially everyone living), the obligation to obey the commandments overrules. I called that "undermining" slavery because it did undermine slavery in actual history. This reasoning is not the result of a selective interpretation of the Bible, but of a complete and literal interpretation of the Bible.

    It takes Confederate-style distortion to argue the Bible supports slavery.

    You say the Bible is given leniency other ancient arguments would not be. What of Thomas Jefferson's advocacy that gay men suffer castration and lesbian women have a hole drilled through the bridge of their noses as punishments for their sexuality? Taken out of its historical context (as you think Biblical passages ought to be) it sounds like horrible, torturous punishment far out of proportion with their behavior; a terrible affront to gay rights. Yet I've heard gay-rights advocates argue it was the only policy that would save their lives and, thus, an early milestone in American gay rights. Putting an argument into its historical perspective does not obscure it's meaning, it reveals it's meaning. That same treatment is appropriate for the Bible, and for any historical argument.

  70. Zulu

    A "Don't take the Bible literally, including the anti-homosexual parts" would of sufficed. Savage likes to shock people to draw attention, like celebrities.

  71. Jill

    Dan Savage is a lot like the Bible. You have to sit through a lot of rambling, outdated arguments, and outright offensiveness before you get to the rather poignant point.

    Most people won't sit through all the extra crap though, and it's unfortunate that Mr. Savage expects people to not only sit through it, but embrace it.

  72. Sad

    I was really annoyed by the prior comic, and this one, for much the same reason. Perhaps Canada is a more open country, but in America homophobia is aggressive and pervasive. Santorum – a man who was a frontrunner for the GOP nomination – likened gay sex to bestiality. And Dan Savage responded by calling him a dirty word. And you called Savage's insult bullying? Are you shitting me? Santorum seems to believe that gays should be legally considered second class citizens, who, at best, should be allowed to live, but not seen, spoken of, or given equal rights.

    What do you think well known members of the gay community should do? Argue whether or not they are people? By even engaging in the kinds of debates Santorum is provoking, they would acknowledge that gay rights are a point of contention. It isn't hypocrisy. They really have no other viable avenue to respond. I can assure you that homophobia is not based in reasoned argument, from the Bible or elsewhere. It is blind hate.

    Get a gay friend, or go somewhere that isn't so open-minded, because right now you seem to have absolutely no perspective on the two sides.

    As a side note: not every Christian or Christian group is homophobic, and I don't think Savage has said that. But there is a large and vocal minority that is aggressively homophobic and very well funded. And the shit they are putting gay kids through is substantially worse than the abuse Christians receive about this or any issue.

  73. Dan

    I'm fairly certain J.J. is gay.

  74. J.J. McCullough

    I am gay, but I guess I don't get it.

    I think mainstream American society is, by all available measures more tolerant of homosexuality than ever. I mean, polls show a majority support gay marriage now. Even Santorum, despite the popular caricature of him as some gay-hating ogre, has actually gone out of his way to frame his views as not being personal, and targeting hetrosexuals as well as homosexuals. He's claimed to have gay friends and has asked for gay votes, which is more than George Bush Sr. ever did for atheists. I mean, Santorum still has very regressive, backwards opinions, but even someone like him feels the pressure to exist in a universe that demands a very nuanced and delicate attitude toward homosexuality. That's something that a lot of people just really really don't want to observe, because they're so wedded to this all-or-nothing, with-us-or-against-us culture war caricature idea of how Americans actually engage with this issue.

    That's part of what I detest about Dan Savage. He is coming into this delicate moment of evolving social attitudes and swinging the biggest club he can find. He's a caricature who fulfils every possibile stereotype of gays being destructive, hedonistic, nihilistic far-left deviants, and he's happy with the label. The right approach at this moment is modelling good behaviour and maturity and taking advantage of the fact that, to the vast majority of mainstream Americans, homosexuality is simply not scandalous or scary anymore. Not picking brutal fights with the most extreme members of the religious right (who are probably not even that extreme if you look close enough) and catching all sorts of other people in the crossfire (for example, all Christians or all Republicans).

    Now, are there crazy horrible child-beating homophobes out there? Obviously. But they'll always be there, just as there will always be racists and misogynist serial killers and all sorts of other terrible wicked people. But they're never going to be converted to the side of light anyway, and it seems incredibly pointless to me for all of our arguments about homosexuality to focus on the stubbornness of the most hopelessly obstinate segment of society, rather than seek to further the gains made with the broad, mainstream majority.

  75. Kristan Overstreet

    Which American society do you refer to?

    There's Hollywood and New England, which are highly tolerant and open.

    And then there's rural America and the deep South, where police routinely use "public intoxication" laws to raid gay bars and beat up gays under the color of law. There's towns where anyone even suspected of being gay is bullied, ostracized, and tormented to the point of suicide. And everywhere there are churches where hate and fear are preached to the multitude as coming from the mouth of Christ Himself.

    The Republican Party is the voice of that other American society. They're the people who, were it not for the 2004 Supreme Court ruling Lawrence v. Texas, would have kept being gay- just BEING gay- illegal in at least 22 states. They're the people who, except for their female members, refused to vote to renew the Violence Against Women Act because it would also protect lesbians. They're the once who forced the senior foreign affairs advisor of their presumptive presidential nominee to resign for the sole reason that he is openly gay. They're the ones pushing a state constitutional amendment in North Carolina that would not only ban gay marriage but any other form of family relations aside from heterosexual marriage- no common-law couples, no parental rights for unmarried parents, none of that, JUST SO THEY CAN PERSECUTE GAYS.

    And their hatred of homosexuals grows stronger every single day.

    And yet you point to Dan Savage- one man with no political following, no governmental power, nothing but a crude voice- and say he is a bigger and more dangerous bully than the people who form half our nation's system of government.

    Your priorities, sir, are very badly skewed.

  76. Dan

    Would you not describe Iowa as rural?

  77. Kristan Overstreet

    Iowa's gay marriage legality was decided by the state supreme court. Three of the justices who ruled in favor were promptly voted out, and campaigns are underway to remove the rest of them. My personal expectation is that, within four years, not only will gay marriage be outlawed again in Iowa, but all the gay marriages performed there to date will be annulled. The Republicans are working VERY aggressively there towards this goal.

  78. Lambda134

    Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! You pretty much nailed why I hate the western half of Iowa! As an Iowan (a decidedly Keynesian Iowan, I might add), I was pretty excited that MY state was one of the first to open the doors to marriage equality, and I'll be thoroughly disappointed when my state most likely takes away that right only a few short years after the fact :/ Honestly? Outside of Johnson County/Iowa City…Iowa kind of sucks!

  79. @Cristiona

    Lawrence vs. Texas struck down sodomy laws, not "being gay" laws. And it was in 13 states, not 22.

    As for the Violence Against Women Act, I'm sure Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Scott Brown (R-MA), Daniel Coats (R-IN), Bob Corker (R-TN), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Dean Heller (R-NV), John Hoeven (R-ND), John McCain (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), and David Vitter (R-LA) would be surprised to learn they're females.

  80. Kristan Overstreet

    Tell it to their 31 colleagues who voted Nay.

  81. Dan

    Um, even noted prostitute patron David Vitter voted to extend the Violence Against Women Act, and he's most definitely both Republican and male.

    If you want to influence people to agree with you, lying is a bad strategy.

  82. ThePsudo

    You say, "Their hatred of homosexuals grows stronger every single day." What? Tolerance of homosexuality grows stronger every day, both within the Republican Party and in wider society. The Republican Candidate for US President employed an openly gay foreign policy adviser, and sought to retain him even in the face of criticism from the narrow group of people your broad generalizations might possibly apply to. This is a gay Republican milestone. GOProud is another. Fred Karger is another. The inroads vastly outnumber the backslides. Hatred is losing by every conceivable measure. You could not be more wrong.

  83. Jbot

    *Sad's head explodes*

  84. Jill

    Acting like adults led to gay marriage being legalized in New York state.

  85. Tom

    “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. [Marriage] is one thing.” – Rick Santorum in 2003 defending his view of marriage.

    He didn't equate homosexuality and bestiality and this quote has been twisted by his opponents since then to suggest something that he never said. He specifically went out of his way to say he wasn't picking on homosexuals, he was supplying his own view on what marriage is and should be.

    "Homophobia" doesn't mean 'someone who disagrees with me on the definition of marriage' no matter how hard you wish it to be so.

  86. Kristan Overstreet

    Santorum put gay marriage in the same "not real marriage" basket with pedophilia and bestiality- as he also did, quite explicitly, with incest and polygamy earlier in the same interview that quote is taken from.

    Santorum hates gays. He just smiles when he expresses his hate, the same way a lot of Southerners down here smile and say things like, "Well, I guess those black people have souls too, bless their hearts." (Note: "bless her/their heart" in Southern-ese means, "I hope they die in a fire, but I want to be nice about it.") It is possible to smile, be polite, be cordial, and still be a flaming bigot.

  87. Dan

    You'll also note that Rick Santorum also lost the Republican Party nomination, and lost it quite badly.

    It's hard to say that someone is the voice for a party when the party isn't very fond of him.

  88. Kristan Overstreet

    What I notice is that Santorum won eleven state elections while being outspent by Mitt Romney by (counting PACs) about eight to one- and he came very close in at least two other elections (Michigan and Ohio).

    I also notice that, after Santorum dropped out, Romney STILL couldn't get over sixty percent of the vote in most of the states following.

    Romney's buying the nomination, full stop. Santorum got as far as he did, despite having no direct money and not much PAC spending behind him, because his extremism speaks for the Republican Party base. His misogyny, his gay-bashing, his calls for theocracy, are what the Republican Party actually believe in.

    And as Romney's utter failure to defend Grenell shows, Romney is going to toe the line every time that rabid ultraconservative intolerant base gives an order.

  89. Dan

    Did you consider that perhaps the Romney campaign fired Grenell because he's a rather noted misogynist? The Romney campaign should have known that before the hiring, but I'll call Mr. Romney out of touch long before I call him hateful.

    Just check out this selection of tweets from Mr. Grenell

    Regardless of his sexual orientation, Mr. Grenell's character is more than enough to justify his firing.

  90. ThePsudo

    Are you sure, Tom, that Santorum meant "[Marriage] is one thing." there? I always thought he meant homosexuality, ie:
    "That's not to pick on homosexuality. [Homosexuality]'s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. [Homosexuality] is one thing."
    With so many people already looking to portray Republicans as homophobic, I took this to be his disclaimer that he certainly was not making those kinds of dubious comparisons. Also, "man on child" and "man on dog" sound more like descriptions of sexual acts than of marriage arrangements, which I would have expected to be phrased in the "man and wife" form; ie, "man and child" and "man and dog." But because he used a pronoun, it's not entirely clear.

  91. @ThePsudo

    If you actually read Santorum's quote, he's drawing a parallel between homosexuality and polygamy, and explicitly declaring a significant difference between homosexuality and bestiality. A friend of mine from the forums who is pro-polygamy, pro-gay-marriage, and gay himself says Santorum is right about that. And trust me, it's not because he likes Santorum at all.

  92. Dude

    I thought he said he was gay in the 1st savage thing that he did.

  93. Chris

    And the response from every Christian should continue to be "Love your neighbor".

  94. @Cristiona

    That was in the Bible too, so it must be bullshit.

  95. Hugh

    If the only reason you act like a human being is an ancient rulebook you have some serious issues.

  96. Jill

    What makes you think that is the ONLY reason? That's a bit like saying the only reason a purely secular reason doesn't steal is because it's against the law.

  97. Jill

    Person. A perfectly secular person.

  98. Hugh

    I apologise. What I meant to say was that people shouldn't need to justify acting like human beings to each other with passages from the bible.

  99. ThePsudo

    The only reason you think treating other people lovingly is self-evident morality is because of the influence of the Bible and its scholars on the culture around you.

  100. Hugh

    If you weren't so emotionally invested in 'your side' winning you would realise that this is a completely ridiculous statement. Altruism, sympathy and compassion exist independent of Christianity: they are basic human emotions.

    Frankly it is this sort of arrogance, to claim that morality was somehow invented by your religious text, that leads religious people to believe they have the right to force their unfounded beliefs on others.

  101. ThePsudo

    Mine is an argument based on the history of philosophical thought, not some imaginary theory that the Bible invented morality.

    For example, government limited by individual rights was first argued by John Locke, whose political beliefs arose from his Christian religious beliefs. The ancient Greeks developed democracy, and Kong Qiu (Confucius) championed consent of the governed, and many pre-Columbian American Indians governed by broad popular consensus, but none of these ever developed the idea that all people had a natural dignity that their governments ought never be allowed to take from them (ie, human rights). They allowed for governments to harm minorities for any justification or even as an end unto itself if it was sufficiently popular to do so. But John Locke, the Bible-inspired political scholar, established the philosophy under which minorities have rights and argued it so well that it seems self-evident today. Dan Savage benefits from that insight even while denouncing the Bible that inspired it.

    I don't think, as you claim I do, that morality was invented by the Bible. I think moral philosophy improves more quickly in it's presence than in it's absence. I expect other philosophy would eventually have produced similar theories, but later and slower. Also, I do not expect you to adopt my beliefs when you consider them unfounded. But we do live in a culture that has benefited remarkably from Biblical reasoning; that is well-founded whether there exists a deity named Jesus or not.

  102. Erick

    He seems like a real jerk. While I think it's wrong to persecute homosexuals, I also think it's distasteful that the people who promote gay marriage label Christians as a bunch of hateful bigots. I agree with Chris. Love your neighbor.

  103. Nicolasrll

    To be honest, I think the pushback against Dan Savage comes much closer to hysteria than his actual rant did. I mean, "total warfare against a subhuman foe"? Did you watch the same video I did? We're talking about three minutes where he, rather calmly, points out that there's a lot of things in the Bible which by today's standard are either absurd or morally repulsive. The point is that, if your judgement can overrule the Bible on those points, it can do it on the question of homosexuals too. It's not an especially original argument, but it's a valid one. People may not like being told that their holy books contain absurdities, which is a shame, but not a good enough reason not to point out these absurdities when they affect people's lives. The only thing in there that I guess could be considered offensive is the word "bullshit"; that is admittedly rude, but I'd like to see anyone try to convince me with a straight face that teenagers today are shocked by that word.

    So come on, stop rending your shirt over what was really a rather tame and cliched attack on religiously motivated bigotry, especially when Dan Savage already says plenty of other stuff that's genuinely controversial.

  104. Dan

    JJ's piece focuses on Dan Savage's words to the students who walked out, especially his use of the words "push back." These are rather odd words to hear from an anti-bullying advocate, and they show the motivation behind Mr. Savage's rather tamely-worded speech.

  105. J.J. McCullough

    It's also just the totality of it all. Savage just keeps doing this, he keeps being over-the-top offensive because he doesn't believe Christians and Republicans are motivated by anything other than pure evil. I do think he regards them as something less than fully human, as I think anyone would regard people as evil as Savage imagines conservatives to be.

    This is but the lastest example in his larger, ugly body of work. If this was just an isolated episode I wouldn't have commented on it.

  106. Nicolasrll

    You're exaggerating: I don't think you honestly believe that saying that there is "bullshit" in the Bible and that some people are "pansy-assed" is being "over-the-top offensive". The guy can be pretty crude and juvenile, and like I said he has deployed pretty vicious rhetoric against opponents of Gay rights, but it seems like in this particular case you're using a very unremarkable event as an excuse to vent your dislike of him and his methods.

    I also think you're letting your imagination get the better of you when you try to divine Savage's inner thoughts and motivations. He has stated pretty directly that he is not at all anti-Christian, that he does not wish to be seen as anti-Christian, that he has nothing against Christianity, etc. etc. I certainly can't find any instance of him actually referring to anyone as "less than human". You rightly criticized the way some people exaggerate Santorum's position on Gay marriage to try to make him into some sort of homophobic monster; don't make the same mistake yourself with Dan Savage.

  107. J.J. McCullough

    Fair enough, I guess. You're right that his position on Christianity is at least as measured as Santorum's is on homosexuality.

    But I do think by any objective standard Savage carries himself, in his day-to-day activities, as a much more actively angry, vulgar, crude, and vicious person than most of the Christian right politicians we'd consider his parallels. I do reject the idea that he's merely "just as bad" in terms of tactics or rhetoric, even though I'm gay myself and supportive of the broader agenda of increased tolerance for gays in schools, etc.

  108. Les

    I live in Oklahoma.

    I used to have a barber, he was a good-ol-boy, a real southern charmer. We got along pretty well actually, very personable and charming, it was a joy to chew the fat with him while waiting for my haircut and while I was sitting in the chair.

    He dissaproved of homosexuality. I disagreed with him, and he understood that, but I understood that this was a free country and he was entitled to his opinion even if I thought wrong of it. We simply didn't address the topic and continued a cordial barber/customer relationship over the years.

    Then one day while chatting with someone else that was in his shop while he was cutting my hair, all out of the blue he says in a jocular tone.

    "Hey, wouldn't it be funny to take a couple lariat-ropes up to New York and hog-tie some homosexuals and castrate 'em?"


    I used to have a barber.

    I do believe Dan Savage is infantile and counter-productive, but having had homosexual friends in other cities who Were hog-tied, who Were castrated, and who Bled-Out and Died from it.. no, no I can't fault Dan for being that way.

  109. Dan

    And when your barber has a large media voice, your comparison will make sense.

  110. Les

    ..And you missed the point.

    The above cartoon is lambasting Dan Savage for his tone, for being full of petty vitriol and crass invective when none such are evident in his opposition. My barber never cursed, never swore, and never used crude innuendo, he continued to sound perfectly pleasant and reasonable right up until the point he out-of-the-blue joked about how entertaining it would be to maim people he disapproved of.

    My example shows that Dan Savage's opponents don't need to be crude or offensive in their tone and language to be damned scary, and after the above example I lost not only my barber but also my ability to tolerate the 'I disapprove of homosexuals/homosexuality' viewpoint.

  111. Dan

    First, no one's going to weep over the fact that you had to go to a different Barber. Second, your barber was an adult, just like you; you weren't calling a child a pansy-ass.

    Your comparison falls apart on so many more levels than just the fact your barber doesn't claim to fight for respect and civility or have a large media presence.

  112. Les


    I'm talking about a man casually joking about attempted murder, and your response is…

    "Wah, poor baby, you had to find some other way to get a convenient haircut, my heart bleeds…"


    You seem to be fixating on this matter of scale, which is irrelevant to the point I was trying to make.

    I'm not trying to paint my former barber as being a direct comparison to Dan Savage, he's not. He's what Dan Savage is fighting against, and why I think Dan Savage is such a goddamned troll.

    If you were an advocate for X, and you encountered people who were all smiles and charm and could casually say, "Well he needed killin', he was X" and go right back to silky smooth smiles I'd be surprised if You didn't turn into a rampant ball of rage who'd lost all ability to treat their opposition as if it had a legitimate perspective.

  113. Dan

    You put so much focus on losing a barber that I surmised it must have been a painful time in your life.

    Here's another place where your barber comparison falls apart. These kids just walked out. Didn't say a word, just stood up and walked out. Was that worthy of bullying? Definitely not.

  114. ThePsudo

    That, Les, is terrible. I'm irritated that the barber said it, and you have my sympathy for having to hear it. My feelings are of the same type but much deeper in regards to your friends who actually suffered harm. May the perpetrators endure justice and the victims find peace.

  115. bificommander

    I would disagree with you on the idea that he's worse than "just as bad". For starters, I don't believe Dan Savage is a politician, he's an activist. And if we compare his statements with what passes for activists on the religious right… yeah, that's not looking good for his opponents. Plenty of them call any open homosexuals active supporters of Satan who want to destroy America. I wonder if you may be weighting his admittedly crude and confrontational wordchoice, like calling Bible passages bullshit or the suck-me comments. Now if someone said that to me, yes, I would probably not like that person. Santorum, meanwhile, would never use such language. He just says gay marriage would end society, and promised that if he were to become president he would use the power to 'protect' the good American families from the radical homosexual activists. Not a swearword used, but frankly I would rate the comment "I find your views bullshit" less troublesome than "I strongly believe your views are incorrect and that they are inspired by the devil himself, whom you serve either willingly or in ignorance. I will try to obtain political power and prevent you from doing what you want to do."

  116. Dan

    I would have to ask you, why do you think Rick Santorum both lost his Senate seat in Pennsylvania and lost the GOP nomination?

  117. Nicolasrll

    I thought the motivation was to counter the "homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so" argument; that's what he says right at the beginning of the video. Look, there's no question that Dan Savage as had some pretty vicious words and deeds for the opponents of gay rights in the past, and probably will have more in the future, but I really don't see why this video is being included among them. Calling the students who walked out "pansy-assed"? That's somewhat rude, but he did apologize for that. Does this deserve a representation of Dan Savage as a crazed maniac spitting invectives all over the place, as shown in the cartoon, or as some sort of shadowy puppeteer making America "a much more hostile place for everyone else", as described underneath? Please.

  118. Dan

    This is a guy who once wrote an article about trying to purposely infect a political opponent with the flu. That's not something a stable person does.

  119. Dan

    Mr. Savage needs to decide if bullying anyone is bad or if bullying is bad just against gay kids. If he decides on the latter, he's message is consistent with his goals. If he decided on the former, he needs a new public relations strategy.

  120. Hugh

    Calling somebody religion bullshit is hardly bullying on the same level that denying homosexual people the right to marry is. The catholic church and other denominations aren't vulnerable targets, it would be very rare for a Christian to be beaten or refused a job because of their religion.

  121. Dan

    That dodges the question. You're saying that some bullying is OK and some is not. That's hardly a stand against bullying in general.

  122. Hugh

    I'm saying that discussion about the bible isn't bullying. Beliefs aren't so sacred that they are automatically above questioning. Especially when they influence public policy.

    Is it bullying when Jenovah's Witnesses try to convert me? No.
    Is it bullying when I question why Jenovah's Witnesses think homosexuality is caused by demonic possession? Apparently.

  123. Dan

    If you're an adult, the Jehovah's Witness is a child, and you call the child "pansy-assed" as she walks away, then yes, it is bullying.

  124. ThePsudo

    Asking why Christians believe what they do is not bullying. Calling children names in the process is.

  125. MisterFC

    This entire line of thinking is caught up in attacking the tone of Daniel Savage rather than what he actually said. He called the Bible full of "Bullshit." What does that word mean in the way he used it? A lie, falsehood, a belief based on something that is untrue. So what is he saying? He believes, quite accurately in fact, that the Bible is a two thousand year old book with an outdated and incorrect understanding of morality, history, science, and any manner of things.

    He's right, by the way, the Bible supports slavery (Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Luke 12:47-48 New Testament by the way) genocide, (Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18, Deuteronomy 20:10-14) rape and general misogyny, (Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, 2 Samuel 12:11-14, Exodus 21:7-11, Judges 5:30) and a whole range of other awful things.

    Furthermore, it is factually wrong on several counts. Genesis, even taken as parable, has Earth and plant life and LIGHT exist before the sun and stars. The Bible is factually wrong on so much that the Skeptic's Annotated Bible has upwards of four hundred verses which contradict our knowledge of reality. ( So, clearly, when Daniel Savage says that the Bible is untrue, he is correct, but this can be argued. And, to be clear, the Bible is not entirely free of merit. There are excellent passages and stories throughout that aren't an affront to humanity.

    Calling something offensive or bullying is the best way to disregard someone's argument without actually countering it. This is not bullying, this is using salty language to put extreme emphasis on a point. You are getting caught up in the fact that Savage is extremely emotional and motivated and that he expresses this excitement with 'mean' language. Instead of getting up in arms about his choice of words, how about actually determining if what he says is true or not? If he's wrong, well then he's wrong and needs to fess up to that. If he's right, well then who cares? He didn't try and assault these students, he didn't attack them personally or call them morons, he used a couple of curse words to make a point that Biblical justifications for homophobic behavior are garbage. Calling someone's beliefs untrue or harmful is extremely different from an ad hominem.

    There are no good evidence supported, scientific or moral arguments against homosexuality. Everything we understand about biology, human society, morality, and reality indicate that homosexual behavior is one of many in spectrum of human sexuality and that openly same-sex couples or actions are no worse than those between heterosexual couples. Religious justifications for homophobic behavior are even less viable than any other. They are based on nothing but scriptures that claims it is infallible because it says so. In a secular society like the United States or Canada (Though I'm unclear on the exact nature of church/state separation in Canada. Your guide is likely worth a look for that info) these justifications are meaningless and non-applicable to our Government. Calling them 'Bullshit' sounds harsh, but so what? How about instead of declaring someone too smug, or too angry, or too whatever, how about we determine whether or not they are RIGHT first?

    Then we can call them smug jerks if we really want.

  126. Dan

    He's a grown man who called teenagers "pansy-assed" for not listening to his speech. Not for bullying other kids, just for walking out of the room. Where does that fit into an anti-bullying campaign?

  127. MisterFC

    That is, at worst, childish name calling. He apologized for that statement. Bullying would be him following those students home, spreading rumors about them to other students, assaulting them, stalking them, continually verbally harassing them and then turning their peers and people in authority against them. Watch the damn video. LOOK HOW OPPRESSED AND SAD THOSE CHRISTIANS ARE. SO SAD. SO UPSET. CLEARLY, THEY ARE ON THE BRINK OF SUICIDE.

    He criticized religious individuals for exploding in rage and offense whenever they are criticized, and rightly criticized I should add. Yet many Christians will turn the other way when some demagogue stands on his pedestal and declares gays, transsexuals, atheists, other brands of Christians sinners worthy of eternal damnation. Not all, of course, but there are plenty. Calling a group of people easy to offend, which is basically what he said language aside, is not bullying. It is a statement that can be judged on its merit, not on its tone. Jen McCreight from BlagHag has a good take on this:

    "You see, it’s exactly the same. On one hand, we have someone pointing out that certain ideas of an oppressive majority group are wrong. On the other hand, we have that oppressive majority group bullying children until they commit suicide because those children have a biological trait that the oppressive majority finds abhorrent because their invisible sky daddy told them so in a really old book. And Focus on the Family is pro-dialogue because they’re allowed to talk about their beliefs, but you have to shut up about yours.


  128. Dan

    You're not considering that Mr. Savage is a fully grown adult, and these teenagers are minors who most likely can't even vote. Mr. Savage also had the pulpit in the room, and when students didn't want to hear the rest of his speech, he decided it make it a bully pulpit.

    When you're an adult talking to minors, you're expected to put on your big-boy pants and act like a grown-ass man; something that has regularly eluded Mr. Savage.

  129. MisterFC

    And when you're a student at a lecture you're supposed to show the speaker some damn respect. Not orchestrate a walk out to create fake controversy so you can feel oppressed. Again, what did his words MEAN. By calling them "Pansy-Asses" he pointed out how religions create a pedestal for themselves and force all others to respect it for no good reason. It is not Mr. Savage's job to make sure no one is offended by what he said, which I will continue to assert was TRUE. If Christians who claim to believe the Bible are so offended by an accurate summation Biblical teachings then clearly there is a disconnect. Furthermore these are STUDENT JOURNALISTS. Journalism by it's nature must be exposed to and create offensive content.

    Who cares if it's an adult criticizing minors? Did he call them scum? Did he insult their intelligence or declare them inhuman and deserving of death? No, he called them thin skinned using dirty words for increased affect.

    What would YOU call an individual who flees in a huff when you declare slavery and rape and genocide "Bullshit?" I imagine my own language would be far more colorful than even Savage's savagery. If I, as an adult, saw minors up in arms over my declaration that homophobia justified by nothing of substance is bad then it is my DUTY to educate them. To declare that they are behaving in an ignorant and harmful fashion.This is a fundamentally important issue in our society, and allowing anyone regardless of age or legal status to wallow in hateful ignorance is harmful not only to them, but our culture at large. If these journalists are here to learn then they should sit their asses down and LEARN.

    Listen to Dan. Does he raise his voice? Does he scream and spit like some of the less tasteful preachers in their pulpits? Does he declare them monstrous people unworthy of education or discussion? Did he call them faggots, queers, kikes, niggers, micks, gooks, spics? (Are there Christian slurs? I cannot seem to find any that carry the same sort of weight.) Did he use language that no matter how nicely coated in flowery words means something hateful and derogatory? NO. He calls them pansy asses, unwilling to learn or hear what offends them, regardless of how truthful it is. He was rightfully criticizing the behavior of these minors while couching it in language they know better than anyone. You think those kids never heard the word ass before? Or been called worse even by adults? By middle school I knew the whole gamut of filthy words and used them gleefully. Savage swears like a sailor because the audience he needs to reach, high school and college kids, talk like that ALL THE TIME.

    Compare this to the hellfire and damnation some children are taught from before they could even roll over. Declarations that they are worthless sinners, saved from the lake of fire only by the grace of which we are unworthy. Calling urges every living being has been compelled by for billions of years sick and vile, worthy of death. Delivered by smiling, squeaky clean preachers in words so chaste that Sesame Street seems like South Park in comparison. You tell me which is worse. Being called a pansy ass, or a wretch unworthy of salvation?

  130. Dan

    That was quite a rambling rant; one worthy of Mr. Savage.

    Should there even have to be a question about which is worse? If Mr. Savage just stuck to his notes and ignored the students that walked out, like an adult wood (it was a assembly, not a class), there wouldn't be a controversy.

  131. Dan

    would* curse you autocorrect.

  132. Guest

    To be honest, he sounds not very subtle and not much of a tactical thinker, and that's about it. I don't know anything about him except through Filibuster, though.

    He's putting his arguments crudely, which makes great for caricature, of course. But unless I've missed something, Savage's concern with homophobic interpretations of the bible isn't that homophobia is somewhat impolite.

    The difference between one person calmly telling someone they should be socially shunned and legally discriminated against because of their sexuality, and them rudely dismissing them by swearing is not, in my mind, primarily to do with manners.

    Sadly, it makes a better news story, cartoon, etc. to focus on who broke the unspoken rules of civility than on what the actual effects of someone's ideas, methods, or policies are. You wouldn't want to attract controversy, after all. That would risk not being polite.

  133. Lancelot

    What he said was crude, yes, and he did go too far by insulting those who were leaving, but overall he was correct. The religious right likes to use the anti-gay passages in the Bible to justify their social agenda but conveniently ignore other passages which justify other things, such as slavery, as it is not socially acceptable in this day and age to justify those things in that manner. As time passes, more and more Biblical laws are rendered obsolete as societies evolve and are ignored, even by followers, and it's just a matter of time before this debate is put behind us as a regrettable attempt by some people to justify their abuse of minorities through their beliefs.

  134. A. Apolis

    Filibuster Cartoons: "whom we may remember from an earlier, slightly less grotesquely-exaggerated comic"

  135. @MHR_Topher

    Reading the comments here, it's clear that many here are not commenting based on bullying, rather they are just supporting Savage because he is secular. The supporting of a person just because he believes an idea we like and then supporting negative policies and actions just because of that one item is a huge reason for the political divide in the United States.

    When I see people dismissing bullying because it's done by Savage in his secular mindset, that bothers me, bullying shouldn't be determined by the content of why the person is being bullied, and dismissing bullying because we agree with why the person is being bullied (religion) is bad. Don't let bullying be overlooked just because you think it's okay to mock those who are: religious, gay, secular, or anyone else. It's a sad state when those self-proclaimed liberals to be the ones bullying, that makes real progressives look bad. What Dan Savage did hurts the anti-bullying cause, even if you don't like religion.

  136. Les

    What is 'Bullying'? That I think is the sticking-point. The divide on this debate I think is coming down on who sees what Dan Savage is doing as Bullying and who don't see it as bullying.

    Bullying as I define it is using a position of superior power to intimidate and/or physically or emotionally brutalize someone in a position of inferior power for one's own entertainment.

    Dan Savage, as I see it, is a random advice columnist attacking something that causes real and terrible harm on all levels to people of all ages; and is attacking it through what he sees as it's chief advocate, one of the largest and most powerful religious institutions in the world.

  137. Jill

    Would you say that the children who walked out had more power than Dan Savage, with a microphone, speaking behind the lectern?

    Though if Dan Savage ran an anti-gay-violence campaign instead of a broad anti-bullying campaign, none of this would be an issue.

  138. @MHR_Topher

    You make a key point about definitions, and I like your definition. I also like the idea of spreading anti-bullying messages, I was bullied as a child, so I support Savage in that sense, but when someone sinks to the level of the bullies to make a point, saying "they do it so it must be okay for me to do it" that taints his message and really hurts the anti-bullying cause. You can get your point across equally effective without sinking to the level of the bullies, sadly Savage struggles with that, having listened to a number of his talks, this isn't a one time incident.

  139. @LadyMellM

    Point out FACTS about The Bible is NOT bullying. This is just another FAKE backlash whipped up by Fox News and Conservatives to rally the mass against gays.

    Savage's point remains: Don't use the Bible to justify homophobia because it's hypocritical, since there are many things in the Bible you IGNORE. If you can ignore The Bible's stance against premarital sex, slavery, etc, then why not ignore its stance against gays, also?

  140. @MHR_Topher

    Did you watch what he said? Remove the bible talk from this, because what he says to the student was using his authority to try and intimidate the student. You really are making the point I was making when I said those who are against religion/gays/secularism use, that it's okay to mock if I agree about the mocking. Remove the reason for the bullying, and if you hadn't heard the beginning of the clip, you'd be upset, but the fact you personally are in agreement with Savage on the bible you overlook the bullying because you like the point he's making. If someone does this about gays, imagine the outrage then.

  141. @LadyMellM

    You missed Savage's point. He's CORRECT about the Bible. The majority of Christians engage in premarital sex, and no longer practice slavery, yet they are homophobic because the Bible condemns its. The Bible condemns premarital sex, but they IGNORE that part of the Bible, along with other parts. It

  142. ThePsudo

    Your reasoning seems to be "Many Christians are already hypocritical about their beliefs. Why can't they be hypocritical in our favor?" I'd rather people were simply not hypocritical. Christian criticism of premarital sex and homosexual sex (and other related issues) ought to be about the same, and that level of criticism ought to start with personal observance and never rise to the level of discriminatory laws. This Christian view is defended by the Biblical reasoning that Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), which means he came to suffer the punishments all sinners deserved. This changed the convict-and-punish mode of religious law into inform-and-advise, since the punishments were already paid. Christians would be wise to remember that Christ already suffered for those sins, but Dan Savage would be wise to note that Christian views of right and wrong are not nullified by the vacation of the prescribed punishments. He and they have equal right to speak their minds, and are equally jerks if they unnecessarily offend the other.

    But Dan Savage is not "CORRECT about the Bible," as you say. Some examples:

    He says, "The Bible is a pro-slavery document." Where does it advocate slavery? Slavery exists in the stories told by the Bible, but slavery happened all around abolitionists, too; proximity does not prove advocacy. There are scriptures declaring a regulated form of slavery to be permitted by law. Is that advocacy? Surely Dan Savage doesn't believe legal permission for homosexuality is advocacy to participate in homosexuality; by that same reasoning, legalized slavery is not advocacy to participate in slavery. The Bible tolerated slavery as a common practice of the time(s) it was written, but there is no commandment to own slaves in the Bible. There is, however, a story of freeing the Hebrew slaves from their Egyptian masters; it is told as an epic, righteous achievement made possible by divine intervention.

    He says, "Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War." So did centuries of abolitionists. In either case, the behavior of people who read the Bible is not proof of the nature of it's contents. 19th century slave owners also waved the writings of Plato and Aristotle over their heads. Should we denounce science for its ties to slavery? Rationalization, by it's nature, adopts any respected material it can in hopes of gaining respectability for itself. That slave owners rationalized is not proof that their sources shared their views.

    He says that slavery is "the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced." When slavery replaced human sacrifice in ancient cultures, it was not so simple an issue. In 17th century America, black man and former slave Anthony Johnson sued his white neighbors demanding the return of his stolen slave and won; slavery was not so simple then. When black freedmen bought their families as slaves in order to keep the family together, it was not so simple. Slavery is only simple in hindsight, after it is gone and foreign to us. We are informed by how unnecessarily grotesque it got and how hard our favorite ancestors fought to end it. Most eras of history were not. It is absurd to demand they adopt or champion ideas that they were typically never exposed to or, if they were, only through a seemingly lunatic fringe of society. One who champions logic that is so convenient to his own circumstances ought to ponder whether he would adopt logic that is severely inconvenient if it were also correct.

    What other Biblical topic is he "CORRECT" about?

  143. Nicolasrll

    There's no commandment to own slaves. What there is is a guide regarding how you're allowed to acquire slaves, sell your slaves, and treat them. There's also an injunction for slaves to serve their masters with "deep respect and fear". What there isn't is a single word that points out that owning another human being is bad thing. This is clearly a pro-slavery document here. Not that I'm particularly blaming the Bible about this: it's just a reflection of the era it was written in. Which is clearly Dan Savage's unoriginal but valid point: if you can ignore the nonsense (if you want to be edgy you can say "bullshit" here) about how to sell your daughter into slavery, or about how abominable it is to eat shellfish, you can ignore the nonsense about putting homosexual to deaths.

    You say that you wish Christians were simply not hypocritical and criticized all things such as pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and so on equivalently, but not to the point of passing discriminatory laws. Well, I'm sure Dan Savage would also be pretty happy with that, especially the part about discriminatory laws. So would I. But that needs to come from inside Christianity, not from outside it.

  144. ThePsudo

    US law does not ban homosexuality; does that mean US law wants more people to be gay? Of course not. Legalization is not advocacy. By that same principle, Biblical legalization of slavery is not advocacy for slavery. If you disagree, take it up with the "end the War On Drugs" crowd and their claims that decriminalization of marijuana (for example) will not advocate it's use.

    Why wouldn't the Bible ban slavery? There are lots of possibilities. For most of history, prisoners of war were all executed. Slavery was introduced as an alternative. Such slaves often earned their freedom and became influential in the societies that captured them. This led to cultural exchange and, in the very long term, to philosophies of cultural tolerance. If slavery had been banned early on, it's possible that policy would have regressed back to executions and cultural tolerance might have been delayed for centuries. That's one theory.

    One can only call parts of the Bible "nonsense" if one has decided to believe they are. Many Christians have worked to understand those old commandments in their context, and have derived valuable moral reasoning from that work. Dan Savage is calling that work and those conclusions "nonsense." Those Christians are reasonably insulted by his dismissive attitude.

    I am a Christian. Thus, my argument for how Christians should treat sexual sin comes from inside Christianity. I can defend it with the Bible. People often forget to distinguish between "wrong" and "ought to be illegal," but otherwise I think it is pretty mainstream within modern Christian thought.

  145. Nicolasrll

    If a book is going to give people an instruction manual telling them how to own, buy and sell slaves, and then tell slaves to be respectful and fearful of their masters, I think most people would put it in the "pro-slavery" column, especially if this book is also claiming to lay down the absolute moral laws of the universe to all of humanity. I mean, it wouldn't have been that hard for someone in there to mention that treating other people as objects is bad, instead of saying that it's ok to beat slaves with rods because they are "your property".

    Here's another theory for why the Bible wouldn't ban slavery: because it was written at a time when slavery was commonplace. It was also written at a time when people had basically no knowledge of medicine or physics or biology and when it was considered ok to do horrible things to people who weren't part of your tribe. Of course there's going to be a lot of nonsense in there. I'm sorry if Christians feel insulted at being told so, but ideas are not people: they can, and ought to, be criticized and discussed and dismissed when found to be lacking.

    I understand, though disagree with, your position that what you call sexual sin is immoral, without wanting to legislate on it. But you should also understand that people are under no obligation to have any deference to ideas which they find to be ethically and empirically invalid. When Dan Savage called the people walking out "pansy-assed", that was rude, and he rightly apologized for that. When he said there was "bullshit" in the Bible, he was being vulgar, but he was also right, and I would think that anyone who sees slavery as morally repulsive would agree with that.

  146. ThePsudo

    US law contains information about what qualifies as a justification for murder — things like self-defense or lacking the mental capacity to tell right from wrong. It goes into specifics, about whether self-defense applies if you wrongly believed he was going to kill you or if abstract fear and stalking constituted a imminent threat. By your reasoning, US law contains a handbook on how to commit murder and, thus, is pro-murder.

    The Bible tells it's contemporary audience to be less horrible than they were before. That it doesn't exactly predict our contemporary moral outlook is not a mark against it. People in a thousand years will look back on modern assumptions that aren't even controversial and call them barbaric, too. This idea that the Bible is valid or not based on its compatibility with modern societal norms is absurd.

    That said, there are profound arguments against slavery contained within the Bible. An obvious one: "If ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40) So, any slavery counts as enslaving Jesus, and any mistreatment of them counts as mistreating Jesus. How can slavery possibly be justified in the face of that reasoning?

    I understand that people have no obligation to adopt others' ethical rules when they don't agree with the reasoning behind them. Under that principle, the people walking out were justified in leaving an arena where their reasoning is treated as nonsense or worse for reasons presented only in the vaguest and most insulting terms. If Dan Savage were capable of speaking civilly to them perhaps it would be worth listening to him.

    What is insulting is not that you call Biblical ideas nonsense, but that you neither specify nor reason why they are nonsense. It's just namecalling. When there are specifics, there are responses. But there's no reasoning with "You're just wrong."

  147. Nicolasrll

    Come on, you're smarter than that. The US law cannot be pro-murder because murder is *defined* as being the taking of human life which is *not* acceptable by law.

    That the Bible cannot predict our contemporary moral outlook absolutely is a mark against it, because some people are using it *today* as a basis for their moral judgements. That's the whole point! It might have been a great moral advance back in the day to tell people that, when they were beating their slaves, they were forbidden from killing them; but today, some two hundred years after a bunch of guys wrote this other text about the self-evident rights of all men, the kindest thing that you can say about the Bible slave-handling manual is that it's obsolete. So people have moved on to ignoring the parts that talk about that and are now concentrating on the parts that are more in line with modern ethics, like that line from Matthew you quoted. Which, again, is exactly what Dan Savage was saying: since Christians are already selectively obeying the injunctions in the Bible, they can't use "the Bible says so" as a justification for disapproving of homosexual relationships. Not that the "Bible says so" is a compelling argument in the best of times to begin with, mind you.

    Look, I'm not even sure why we're arguing over this, because I'm pretty sure you agree with me: you don't own any slaves and you probably find the whole concept to be morally repugnant. If you don't, I'll be happy to explain why I do, and then you can stop pretending that what I'm doing is namecalling.

  148. ThePsudo

    You're arguing that twelve minus six is different than three plus three because one subtracts and the other adds. They're both six! But I should provide some context for that.

    "The Bible says so" is not nearly enough proof of anything, I agree. Even Christians will criticize Christians who do what one verse of scripture says with complete disregard for what other verses say. Yet both sides will still use the Bible as a basis for their moral judgement.

    The Bible allows for slavery, but contains arguments that it is wrong. Great minds found those arguments and assembled them into the "self-evident" modern argument against slavery. That document you mentioned? The Declaration of Independence. Fun fact about that: Thomas Jefferson originally wrote it to say "sacred and undeniable" rather than self-evident. Sacred. Possibly the least religious Founder of them all used a religious term. Why do you suppose that was? Could it be related to the edition of the Bible he published? Benjamin Franklin, who proposed the final wording, said of Biblical advice, "probably these actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us." The source for the idea of natural rights that Jefferson was describing, John Locke, was himself a Christian and it is generally accepted by historians that his political views arose from his religious views. Using the Bible and the Brain for moral judgement resulted in the human rights declaration you advocate to replace the Bible. Then the abolition of slavery was derived from that.

    US law advocates against murder, but offers exceptions. The Bible overtly tolerates slavery while philosophically undermining it. One is white with black stripes and the other is black with white stripes. They're both zebra print. They are the same form. And neither is advocacy.

    Calling the Bible pro-slavery is inaccurate and highly insulting. That inaccuracy undermines the argument "Dan Savage is a jerk, but he's right." Instead, he's a jerk and he's wrong. I condemn when Christians try to remove the Brain from that magic formula, or read the Bible selectively, or otherwise act hypocritically. But when Dan Savage is hypocritical, you stand up for him and blame the Bible. Your side, yourself included, blames its faults on my side. That is why we are arguing about this.

  149. Hugh

    Your linkage of the bible to the declaration of independence is rather ironic. Jefferson was a deist who coined the phrase "seperation of church and state", was attacked as "an infidel and screaming atheist" and rejected the new testament as "so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture".
    Thomas Paine, another major contributor, rejected organised religion in common sense and the age of reason. The declaration of independence has as much to do with the bible as modern chemistry has to do with alchemy.

    As to your analogy about US law and murder there is a clear difference between

    We agree that the old testament of the bible tolerates slavery. Equally there are no passages encouraging Christians to own slaves and owning slaves is contrary to the message of the new testament.
    Today, however, we do not tolerate slavery. If we were literally interpreting the bible, the kind of literal interpretation used to argue that homosexuality is immoral, we would tolerate slavery. That is Dan Savage's argument. It is hypocritical to read the bible metaphorically, to love thy neighbour means that slavery is wrong basically, while at the same time reading the bible literally on the 'issue' of homosexuality.

  150. ThePsudo

    The Declaration's identification of human rights that ought to limit government power was borrowed from the philosophy of John Locke, whose political ideas stemmed from his Christianity. Jefferson (and Franklin, who edited the wording) could not have written of rights held self-evident if Locke had not found in the Bible reasons to believe they existed.

    The line "howling atheist" (not "screaming") came from a political opponent (Hamilton, i think?) being intentionally inflammatory for rhetoric effect. It was a dubious accusation, not a demonstrable fact. Jefferson published a version of the New Testament with the miracles and mysticism taken out and only Jesus' moral philosophy remaining; he greatly respected Biblical moral philosophy even while he rejected claims of Jesus' godhood and dismissed miracles as superstitious nonsense. He wasn't a Christian, but he was influenced by the Bible.

    As for slavery, see my reply to Nicolasrll below.

  151. Nicolasrll

    I think the poster beneath me (under me? not sure how the layout will be) raises a good point about how much credit the Bible should or should not get for the Declaration of Independence, or really, human rights as a whole, but in the interest of keeping the conversation on point I won't add to that.

    Your comparison of US law/murder with The Bible/Slavery just doesn't hold, and not just because, again, you're using the word "murder" where you should be using "killing". US law specifies what murder is, specifies that it is a crime, and (I assume, not being an expert in the domain) specifies the punishment for it. In doing so, it effectively separates "good" killing (i.e. killing in self-defense) from "bad" killing. The Bible, in contrast, gives instruction on how to practice slavery. This separates "good" slavery (slavery done according to the Bible's rules) to "bad" slavery. But guess what? Good slavery is still slavery, and it's still awful! US law condemns murder, but tolerates violence leading to death if done in self-defense; the Bible condemns one kind of slavery but rather enthusiastically back up another kind of slavery. If it insults people when this is pointed out… Well, hurting feelings isn't the goal here, but hurt feelings shouldn't stand in the way of what's true.

    I'm glad that you agree that using one verse of the Bible for moral justification is bad, but I'm sad to see you contrast that with what basically means "using many verses". But on this we'll have to agree to disagree I'm afraid.

    Tell you what, let's try to agree on this: parts of the Bible are evidently pro-slavery ("slaves should be respectful and fearful", "this is how to sell your daughter into slavery", etc.), and other parts contain philosophical arguments that can be used to undermine slavery. Modern Christians choose to emphasize the latter over the former, which one might call "reading the Bible selectively". The argument, once again, is "since you can choose read the Bible in such a way that the pro-slavery passage do not affect your moral outlook, you can also choose to read it in such a way that it does not condemn the existence of homosexuals." Personally, I'd go one farther and say "why take your marching orders from the Bible at all?", but that's a debate for another day; I'd be happy if we could just find on the middle ground on the fact that the above argument has merit.

  152. ThePsudo

    If you can show me a single verse of scripture that calls any form of slavery good or any part of US law that calls killing in self-defense good, you might have a point. But you won't because they don't exist. There is no good killing and there is no good slavery and neither document will claim otherwise. They are, at best, temporarily endurable (ie, a weak kind of bad). In both cases, your taking "not expressly condemned" to mean "advocated as good" and that just isn't true.

    You're also making the assumption that Christians are selective because some stuff in the Bible makes sense and other stuff doesn't. There are Christians who think that way, but it is not the proper expectation of Christians. One is expected to be "selective" only in that one ought to follow the commandments; the rest is food for thought. As there is no commandment to own slaves but there is a commandment to love thy neighbor, then Christians are expected to obey the commandment even if it prevents them from owning slaves. That is not being selective, that is being obedient.

    Another illusion of selectivity arises from the Old Testament law and Jesus fulfilling it. The specific punishments prescribed no longer apply to the sinners because Jesus suffered those punishments by proxy. The debt owed to the law is paid in full, and need not be paid again. Self-described Christians who take it upon themselves to mete out those punishments are the ones reading the Bible selectively, not the ones who remember the rest of the story. That is the meaning behind the line "Hate the sin, love the sinner." It is a call to abandon selective readings of the Bible.

    The argument to be selective in a new way would have a little merit if it were limited to criticizing certain selective readings of the Bible. Instead it denounces the Bible as inherently requiring selective reading, thus both undermining the internal Christian mechanism for reigning in fundamentals who embrace selective readings and denouncing a proper reading of the Bible as flawed. It denounces mainstream Christianity because of those outside the mainstream. There is no merit in that.

    When you combine that with objectionable language, rude treatment of minor children, and other easily criticized behaviors, the combination serves to arm the kinds of fundamentalism you oppose with new rhetorical tools and hides their lies behind a shiny veneer of truth. It makes things worse for Christians, for gays, for everyone. It's a terrible, terrible strategy.

  153. Cull

    lord, if your going to post a long rambling sermen like this at least get your facts straight. The students didnt leave BECAUSE of the speech, there was a plan before the even by the students to stage a walk out BECAUSE he is known to insult the bible. The kids just waited for a excuse to walk out, they didnt leave because they were all horriblly offended they left because anyone who insults the bible should be shamed.

  154. ThePsudo

    So they didn't walk out because he was a jerk in this video, but because he was a jerk many times before. How does prove he isn't a jerk?

  155. Pat Gunn

    It's an interesting challenge, for those of us who are not straight, anti-christian, and want to talk about the problems inherent in the christian texts and practices that are harmful as well as advocate a long-term end of faith, to remember that limiting/ending homophobia and other social harms are short-term concerns and ending religion is a long-term one. The two causes are ones probably best advanced separately. Even if one challenges them together, getting the tone right so one actually weakens faith rather than galvanises it is not an easy thing to do.

  156. ThePsudo

    One could say something similar for people who think homosexual lifestyles are a social harm but don't want to be jerks about it. Some topics are just minefields.

  157. St Ulfsten

    What a ridiculous cartoon. It is obvious that Savage directed his remarks at the fundamentalists, who as we all know started as a reaction to the liberal christianity that had emerged during the enlightenment. The fundies reject the last three-four centuries of theological research, in particular that related to the questions of who wrote the bible and when.

    All those crazy idiots who believe that the Jews were held in slavery in Egypt, that Abraham existed or that the conquest is an actual event, they use the bible to justify their homophobia and misogyny. I have no problem at all if Savage wants to mock them a bit for their massive fail of logic.

  158. Jill

    So, bullying is OK in the right circumstances?

  159. St Ulfsten

    No, bullying is never right. The "pansy-ass" comment was unnecessary and wrong and he apologized for it. But calling the fundie kids pansy-ass is not what his speech was about and not what jjs cartoon is about. For the right but especially the religious right, facts are meaningless. That why they see a 3000-year tradition in marriage despite the obvious fact that marriage today is nothing like a marriage 3000 years ago, even 150 years ago it was fundamentally different from today. Pointing this out is not bullying.

    You also have to look at the power differances. The FSA and Syrian Govt Army are both shooting and killing but that doesn't make them equally responsible.

  160. ThePsudo

    So anyone who believes the other side has no respect for the facts is allowed to be a jerk? Or ignore the facts as well? The problem is that both sides think the other side is ignoring the facts. That justification gives society license to fight harder and dirtier than ever. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

  161. St Ulfsten

    Who has said anything about being a jerk? Or is pointing out the obvious (that the bible is a misogynist, racist and homophobic text) suddenly being a jerk?

  162. ThePsudo

    Again, you're using the same reasoning as the other side. "Is pointing out the obvious (that God and biology favor heterosexual sex) suddenly being a jerk?" What you call obvious isn't.

    Note: I'm not making the argument in quotes. I'm just pointing out that it and your argument are remarkably similar.

  163. St Ulfsten

    You have to separate facts from opinion. "God loves gays" or "God hates gays" or any variant of those are opinions. Nobody knows what God thinks. However, "the bible interpreted literally is homophobic" is not an opinion, but fact. It is clear those who wrote the bible(OT in particular) did not think highly of gays or women.

    And yes it is true that all advanced spieces have sexual reproduction as opposed to non-sexual but what relevance does that have to this discussion? Are you suggesting that gays can't have het sex? Or that homosexuality is hereditary?

  164. ThePsudo

    I think you are still classifying opinions as facts. The Bible certainly disapproves of gay sex. Is that disapproval automatically homophobia? That would be an opinion. Does the Bible equally disapprove of lesbianism? I've heard people make excellent arguments to the negative, so that seems to be an opinion. What exactly do you mean by "the bible interpreted literally"? I am of the opinion that a literal interpretation of the Bible inherently requires a literal interpretation of the entire Bible, not just few passages out of context. (Translation also matters.) Under that reasoning, selective readings of the Bible are the problem, and Dan Savage responds to that problem by calling for other selective readings — more of the problem, but aimed in a different direction. You have praised Dan's argument as "stating the obvious," but that is a matter of opinion — not fact. Treating Christians as stupid or biased if they don't agree about what is obvious is what I mean by "being a jerk." If we were talking about Christians being similarly dismissive of gays, you would agree with me.

  165. St Ulfsten

    The Bible doesn't recognize female sexuality at all, so it's not surprising that there's little about lesbinans in it. Of course there's a problem with interpreting the bible literally and selective reading. That's what Dan pointed out and of course he is not the first one to do that. The fundies claim that God has written every book in the Bible word for word and we therefore have to obey everything in it – but then they go and ignore large parts of it. That's the problem. The more progressive view of the Bible that developed during the last three-four centuries has a completely different view of the Bible. It is written by men, influenced by the attitudes and ideals of their time, and thus filled with crazy shit that no sane person would accept today. Just as old secular laws are completely unacceptable too. Would anyone today demand that if a house collapses we kill the son of the builder who built it as compensation for the loss the homeowner suffered? Of course not, but then we don't live in the bronze age.

  166. ThePsudo

    Dan only denounced selective readings of the Bible that come down against homosexuality, not selective readings in general. He then advocated selective readings that are tolerant of homosexuality as a cure to that problem. The net result is advocacy for people to pick and choose what to believe for whatever reasons feel right to them. That just makes the Bible more easily distorted than ever.

  167. St Ulfsten

    You still don't get it. The Bible is an old document, the OT written in a period of perhaps a millenium. Mainly edited ca 700-500 BC but with parts that go back into the bronze age and not entirely finished until hellenic times. Numorous re-writes and attitions have produced a text with lots of internal inconsistencies and a wide range of views on what and who God is. The NT was written in a much shorter time frame but also there you have a evolution on the nature of God.

    In the western world, we don't want to live in the bronze age. We get appalled when middle eastern fathers murder their own daughters in the name of honour or rape victims are stoned because there aren't four male witnessess to the crime. The question then is not IF we want to read the bible selectively but if we are intellectually honest about it.

    The Bible tells you to stone women who are not virgins on their wedding night, to stone rape victims if they have not cried loud enough and to force women to marry their rapist. You can't say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God valid for all times and then not do as it says.

  168. St Ulfsten

    When modern christians look at these passages, they igonre it as the primitive ramblings of a primitive people in primitive times. And if you view the Bible as a work of man (albeit inspired by the holy ghost) you have no problem with that.

    But the fundies don't see it that way. They see the Bible as written by God, the men who wrote it down merely as transmitters of a text they did not themselves come up with. That's why they are homophobes. That's why they are misogynists. That's why they don't see the absurdity in a three-time married man who travels the carribbean with a suitcase full of viagra calling a normal female student a slut. But even the fundies can't get away with the open misogyny that pours from the Bible, so they ignore those parts and focus on the group that it is still accepted to hate: gays.

  169. ThePsudo

    Christian theology says to ignore the Old Testament punishments, but not based on your theory that the Bible is obsolete. Those punishments have been paid in full by Christ; that is why. When you ignore that in your analysis of Leviticus or whatnot, your arguments turn into something mainstream Christians see as neither Biblical nor Christian. Whatever conclusions you take from that line of thinking is going to be unpersuasive to Bible-loving Christians for that reason.

    And, yes, your Caribbean vacation man is a hypocrite; so says John 8:3-11. This is another example where a complete reading of the Bible leads to more correct morality than a selective reading.

    I do appreciate the way you've motivated me to study the scriptures more. Our contest may make me a better Christian in the end.

  170. St Ulfsten

    What is Biblical and what is Christian has changed considerably during the 2000 years Christianity has existed. If you go back only 200 years, husbands had a right to rape their wives, beat them and steal all their property, in Christian countries in North America and Europe. Today I think any Christian would say that doing such things is evil and wrong.

    Our morals change all the time, the changes between 500 BC and 0 AD are reflected in the NT were some of the more absurd shit was thrown out. That change continued after it was settled what books should comprise the Bible in the late 4th century. That's why our standards of behaviour can be so completely different from people in late antiquity even though our canon is exactly the same.

  171. St Ulfsten

    Jesus said "What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them" and Paul said that "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love". Both are examples of the rejection of the primitive law and rule based religion that governed pre-enlightenment/assimilation Jews (and Muslims still today.)

  172. St Ulfsten

    That rejection is a continuing process; you might say that a woman doesn’t need to sacrifice to God after her period because Christ has already made that sacrifice but I think a more plausible explanation for why such rules are ignored is that they are embarrassingly stupid and makes anyone who takes them seriously look like a total and utter moron. Which of course is why modern Jews do not demand that non-virgins be stoned to death, even though they can’t use the “Jesus-did-it” excuse as they don’t believe in him. They simply recognize that stoning women is a really, really crappy idea. Also consider the question of slavery. As Dan points out, the Bible is not directly against it, but today everyone agrees it’s wrong. That change(like many others) can’t be attributed to Jesus sacrifice but is a result of a general shift in the idea of what God is and what she wants.

  173. ThePsudo

    Your reasoning is that Jesus had authority to overturn the old law based on the rationality of his arguments. I have two criticisms of that view: 1) when rational people disagree, that ceases to be a clear delineation of right and wrong, and 2) Jesus also had authority arising from being God, which authority we lack.

    You bring up modern Judaism, but I suspect many Conservative and Orthodox Jews would share my opposition to selectively eliminating commandments to fit with secular morality. I agree that liberal Christians, Liberal Jews, and Secular Humanists have much ideology in common, but I think they have less in common with scripture for it.

  174. St Ulfsten

    No, my reasoning is that Christians have used their brains (provided to them by God) to refine and deepen their understanding of their creator. The sacred texts remain the same but the interpretation differs. Your reasoning seems to be close to fanatical atheists like Dawkins, who argue that the only “true” Christians are the drooling nutcases who are against teaching science in schools or women working outside the home etc and that these Bronze Age loving crazies have only moderated themselves thanks to the influence of clear thinking atheists.

    That is not true.

    Christians have, among themselves, interpreted their sacred texts in a new light throughout history. The nature of the Resurrection, the divinity of Jesus and the role of rational reasoning (contrasted with mystic experience) in understanding the nature of God are only a few examples from the early Christian era.

  175. St Ulfsten

    Returning to the question of Marriage. In response to a recent court ruling Romney said that we shouldn’t change the 3000 year old traditions of marriage. Santorum went even further and said that our marriage has a 4000 year tradition. If we for a while ignore the majority of the planet and only look at Jewish/Christian marriage we see that this tradition is not as clear as they think. Firstly, Jews didn’t even exist 4000 years ago. In the oldest traditions in the bible, 3000 years ago, marriage was polygamous. One man owning several women, who had absolutely no rights whatsoever. Jewish polygamy continued into the middle ages so right there Santorum’s 4000 time span is cut in half. There were some Jewish sects who opposed polygamy, the Pharisees were one and the one Jesus belonged to was another. That’s why the Christian church from the start was against it. But as I mentioned earlier, the properties we now see as integral to marriage are less than two hundred year old. That wives should submit to their husbands traditionally meant that short of killing her, the husband could do as he pleased. So with only 200 years to go we have eliminated 95% of Santorum’s supposed “tradition”.

  176. St Ulfsten

    So what do you think ThePsudo? Are you for the real traditions of marriage as clearly stated in the BAHBL and practiced by Christians for almost 2000 years or are you one of those dirty libruls who want to REDEFINE marriage to suit uppity women?!?
    Or has Jesus sacrifice on the cross somehow changed the definition of marriage but with a time delay of 1800 years?

  177. ThePsudo

    I think the contrast between our views has been clearly delineated, and any reader already has enough information to make their own judgements on the issue. Have a good day.

  178. St Ulfsten


    God is much bigger than the zeitgeist of a particular era. The Bible is man's attempt to put experiances of the divine into words. We can be inspired by them but don't have to hang on every word. Selective reading is only a problem if you from the start have claimed that every letter is more important than your life. That's how you can have churches like mine, with homosexual priests and bishops, and where women are considered fully equal with men, because our goal is not to emulate the bronze or iron age.

  179. Alias

    As part of the transsexual T in LGBT, I think this is why the transsexual cause needs to be able to be advanced separately from the gay one. In states like Tennessee, transsexuals never have their birth sex changed even after the surgery. If Christian transsexuals could address conservatives on their terms, then there would be a chance of getting a bit more traction — pointing out how this makes a gay marriage the only legal one for transsexuals, and scriptures that can be interpreted to support transsexuals.

    My state political action committee heavily ties itself to liberalism by frequently injecting itself into matters entirely unrelated, like teachers' unions. Gays and lesbians certainly outnumber transsexuals by a large ratio, so usually it's been the gay community arguing on our behalf instead of ourselves. It's been mutually beneficial, because covering gender identity in things like hate crimes protects straight people assaulted for acting stereotypically gay.

    Obviously, Dan Savage knows nothing about tact — that, or he believes you can make inroads into the South by associating your cause with being anti-Christianity.

  180. Guest

    "My state political action committee heavily ties itself to liberalism by frequently injecting itself into matters entirely unrelated, like teachers' unions."
    Hi, I don't know what exactly your PAC does but I would like to point out that having autonomous LGBT networks/caucuses in unions is definitely a good thing (don't know if the PAC is the right way to do it, that's a question for you in Tennessee). Reason being, if your employer is messing you around while transitioning or fires you shortly after doing so, a PAC is not going to have anything like the power that a union is in getting you your rights. Especially in situations where those rights are not legally protected.

    (As an aside, the form of a PAC seems to me to be very much a liberal construction, while the labour movement by nature has little to do with liberalism, even if in practice it's been co-opted by liberals, but that's just me being a bit pedantic).

  181. ThePsudo

    This seems like an ideal place and time to invoke Wheaton's Law.

  182. MisterFC

    Yes because you get so far trying to upturn corrupt and irrational thinking through being nice. Rather than being occasionally confrontational. Never, ever rock the boat ever. It makes you a dick.

  183. ThePsudo

    Rocking the boat is fine. Being a jerk about it is not.