The report is difficult to believe: A paid “anti-bullying” expert is caught on video ranting at a national convention of high schoolers and is recorded bullying the Christian kids who were offended by his obscenities. They quietly follow his advice to homosexual youth in his “It Gets Better Project”– to passively walk away from bullies, but instead of praising them, he mocks them.
It seems that at the National High School Journalism Convention, author and sexual advice radio host Dan Savage was offended when a bunch of teenagers got up and walked out of his speech as he berated the Bible, repeatedly calling it a street obscenity for bovine excrement. When one by one, a number of kids silently stood and left the auditorium, he then called them another offensive street obscenity.
The ironies are incredible. Confronted with the video – which has gone viral on the Internet – the anti-bullying role model refused to recant, apologizing only for the obscenity he called the kids who walked out of his address.
The controversy raised by Savage’s tirade has raised so many questions on so many levels. Has the national anti-bullying initiative been hijacked by activists who have only one message – U.S. teens must be tolerant of homosexuality? That anybody who disagrees with that message must be bullied by peer pressure into compliance? That the tyranny of political correctness must be wielded against any teen who dares to dissent — particularly on moral or faith-based grounds?
Christian kids have grown used to nobody worrying about their rights in academia – where it is perfectly kosher to attack biblical teachings, church history and personal beliefs, but “unconstitutional” to pray, evangelize or defend the faith.
However, this time, incredibly defenders of the kids who walked out on Savage have come from across the spectrum – prominent rabbis, Southern Baptist theologians, Mormon commentators, Catholic academics and even gay rights activists.
“As an Orthodox rabbi with a gay Orthodox Jewish brother, I have endeavored mightily to reconcile the dictates of my faith with the most human, loving and respectful approach to homosexuality,” writes the Huffington Post’s Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. “I have counseled hundreds of gay men and women of faith who seek to find their place in G-d’s love amid a gay lifestyle.
“But such efforts at reconciliation are undone by the gratuitous hate-filled bigotry of people like Dan Savage whose response to prejudice against gays is to offer insulting and degrading prejudices against religion. Just what Savage felt he was accomplishing by irresponsibly using obscenities about the Bible at a journalism conference for high school students is beyond me.”
Under a headline “Dan Savage Was Right” on the website “On the Square,” Joshua Gonnerman writes: “He rejected the Bible as ‘bullshit’ in a keynote address to high-school journalists, and then described students who chose to walk away as ‘pansy-assed.’
“His hypocrisy is painfully evident.”
“Sadly, far too many voices telling people to quit judging, be more tolerant, and love more are the voices of individuals who judge the most, are the most intolerant, and full of hate,” noted Mormon writer Ryan Jenkins. “It is very troubling, especially given what he is supposed to be speaking about. He should think some personal things through before his next public speaking opportunity.
“I think one lesson we can learn from this incident is the importance to read the scriptures and liken them to ourselves for our own profit and learning. Scripture is given ‘for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’ (see 2 Timothy 3:16). As is evident from this public incident some people see the Bible as a threat to their lifestyle rather than spiritual guidance in mortality.”
Gay rights proponent Andrew Kirrel adds:
“As a proudly heterosexual libertarian committed to advancing gay rights, I think Savage does a lot of good. His ‘It Gets Better’ campaign is an inspiringly non-aggressive response to the anti-gay prejudices of bullies and politicians alike. We need more hopeful messages like that.
“But when Savage behaves this way, he does more to hold back the equality movement. I understand he has no interest in converting Bible-thumpers to see the world his way, but when gay rights activists stoop to the same level as gay-bashers, and become religious-people-bashers, they polarize the debate even further. The word ‘tolerance’ should always be Savage’s greatest weapon.
“All of this only makes the gay rights movement look hateful in the eyes of our opponents.
“And in America, It does seem like Bible-bashing is met with significantly more an outrage than are generic homophobic remarks. But those ‘Bible guys in the hall’ didn’t beat you up, Dan. They are just Christian students who feel unwelcome during your speech’s aggressive Bible-bashing. You really didn’t need to insult them after they had already left. Besides, you can’t fault the students for doing exactly what you would tell bullied homosexuals to do when they felt bullied: walk away.”
Jake Naman, an 18-year-old Christian from Redlands, California, was in the crowd before Savage’s words turned ugly. In an interview with FOX News, he described what Billy Hallowell at The Blaze called “the lewd and inappropriate commentary Savage presented to the students.”
“But while Naman was becoming more and more uncomfortable throughout the speech,” noted Hallowell, “there was a specific point at which he knew that the rhetoric would come flowing — when Savage mentioned ‘the Bible.’
“The very second he said the Bible and paused, I knew it was going to get ugly,” Naman told Fox News. “It was about to be a bashing.”
In a show of courage, Naman, who says he felt bullied — ironic, considering the catalyst’s ‘It Gets Better’ efforts — stood up and walked out of the event, reported Hallowell.
“I felt like in my heart I couldn’t just stay there at all. It was a really weird feeling I just had to get out,” Naman said. “I didn’t want to cause a scene but I really could not stand to be in that room anymore.”
“If Dan Savage had gotten up there and said ‘God hates homosexuals and they’re all going to hell,’ there would have been huge outrage from that crowd,” Naman said. But on the other hand, “When our faith is attacked like that — we are ridiculed for taking a stand against it.”
Although Naman thought he was alone in walking out of the event, when he got to the lobby, he realized that others had joined him. Among them was 17-year-old Haley Mulder.
“I never felt more hurt, felt persecuted,” Mulder told Hallowell. “For me, my faith is what I want to be defined by. For someone to say it was B.S. is really hurtful. I felt put down and bullied.”
Why Savage would be chosen as the keynote speaker is questionable. On the one hand, his anti-bullying program’s website declares: “Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that ‘It Gets Better.’”
However, this is the same Dan Savage who in 2000 gained notoriety by posing as a supporter of conservative Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer during his primary campaign and bragged to the news media of trying to give Bauer a cold by sneezing and licking items which Bauer might come in contact with.
Currently Savage maintains an attack website deceptively called www.santorum.com in which he defines Santorum in the filthy, shock language and posts sophomoric graphics that depict the former presidential candidate as bodily waste. Such a lack of judgment would seem sufficient to disqualify him from being put in front of a convention of high schoolers – and prompts concern about the wisdom of the sponsors of National High School Journalism Convention.
“They used to arrest middle-aged perverts who get their jollies from talking dirty to children,” writes Matt Barber. “Today, they get a television show, a nationally syndicated column, a lecture circuit and multiple visits to the Obama White House.
“The irony is palpable.”