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Dan Savage on Calling the Christian Teen Walkout 'Pansy-assed' and on Calling Religion 'Bullsh*t'

Yesterday, Dan Savage reacted to the conservative fury over his remarks at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, which Brandon featured over the weekend and which you should surely check out HERE.

Nea_savageWrites Savage at Slog:

I would like to apologize for describing that walk out as a pansy-assed move. I wasn't calling the handful of students who left pansies (2800+ students, most of them Christian, stayed and listened), just the walk-out itself. But that's a distinction without a difference—kinda like when religious conservatives tells their gay friends that they "love the sinner, hate the sin." They're often shocked when their gay friends get upset because, hey, they were making a distinction between the person (lovable!) and the person's actions (not so much!). But gay people feel insulted by "love the sinner, hate the sin" because it is insulting. Likewise, my use of "pansy-assed" was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong. And I apologize for saying it.

As for what I said about the Bible...

A smart Christian friend involved politics writes: "In America today you just can't refer, even tangentially, to someone's religion as 'bullsh*t.' You should apologize for using that word."

I didn't call anyone's religion bullsh*t. I did say that there is bullsh*t—"untrue words or ideas"—in the Bible. That is being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue. I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised. I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against—and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying "motivated by faith")—because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong. Yet the same people who make that claim choose to ignore what the Bible has to say about a great deal else. I did not attack Christianity. I attacked hypocrisy. My remarks can only be read as an attack on all Christians if you believe that all Christians are hypocrites. Which I don't believe.

He adds: Screen_savage

 ...while those slamming me most loudly for "pansy-assed" may be on the right, they are also in the right. I see their point and, again, I apologize for describing the walk-out as "pansy-assed." But they are wrong when they claim that I "attacked Christianity." There are untrue things in the Bible—and the Koran and the Book of Mormon and every other "sacred" text—and you don't have to take my word for it: just look at all the biblical "shoulds," "shall nots," and "abominations" that religious conservatives already choose to ignore. They know that not everything in the Bible is true.

All Christians read the Bible selectively. Some read it hypocritically—and the hypocrites react very angrily when anyone has the nerve to point that out.

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  1. I agree with Dan completely.

    Posted by: Chad | Apr 30, 2012 8:38:53 AM

  2. Mr. Savage SHOULD apologize for calling religion "bullsh*t". It's an insult to bulls, who routinely crap out more truth than any religion on earth.

    Posted by: Ron Oliver | Apr 30, 2012 8:46:18 AM

  3. Good for Dan Savage.

    Posted by: AG | Apr 30, 2012 8:48:24 AM

  4. Right on, Dan! Don't back down now, you've brought us too far to stop now. You are speaking publicly what I have privately been telling friends and family for years!

    Posted by: Hoyle McCain | Apr 30, 2012 8:50:43 AM

  5. So much babble indicates your lack of expertise about ANYTHING! The mistake was choosing you to speak before a group.

    Posted by: Larry Mastel | Apr 30, 2012 8:53:18 AM

  6. His ideas are sound, but he should not be put in a position to represent anyone but himself. Savage has proven time and again that he is a provocateur who does not have control over his verbal impulses.

    Posted by: happyday | Apr 30, 2012 8:56:57 AM

  7. Unfortunately if the christers are good at anything it getting outraged and convincing the media go along with their outrage hook line and sinker. Dan will have to learn to be more Obama-ish if he's going to go whole hog on embracing the media exposure he seems to be setting himself into (the TV show, the increase in news show appearances).

    I agree with him wholeheartedly but he's putting himself in a higher league now and he'll just alienate the on-the-fence folks.

    Posted by: Jersey | Apr 30, 2012 8:57:21 AM

  8. i agree with Dan but you are opening up a whole pandoras box if you start criticizing the Koran !! Honestly Dan you really don't want a fatwa on your head !! I actually don't think he really needed to explain what he meant.....everything he said was perfectly acceptable. If the room was potential 'journalists' they are going to have to get used to a working world where people argue and insult each other all the time. Most of what he said was far less offensive than anything we hear from the right wing on a daily basis. The rhetoric used to describe gays, Obama, the unemployed and liberals generally has ranged from the ridiculous to the offensive FOR YEARS. I guess us gays are a lot tougher than people think...we tend not to walk out of rooms when faced with this nonsense.

    Posted by: paul | Apr 30, 2012 9:14:26 AM

  9. Frankly, I agreed with Dan the first time - the ones who walked out are pansy-assed. They can dish out their criticism of others, but, hooo boy, don't be criticizin' them!

    Posted by: KEVIN | Apr 30, 2012 9:23:34 AM

  10. It seems the walk out was planned anyway. The group obviously objected to Savage, asked a question and planned a walk out. You can even see them smiling. Savage speaks to schools and colleges all around the country, speaking to young people as they themselves discus among themselves. This was a "Journalism on the Edge" program, one of the reasons Savage was invited. Like having an "edgy comic" night and then crying over Lisa Lampanelli or Wanda Sykes being rude.

    Savage was spot on with his remarks, something no one has challenged. Another typical straw man moment. This handful of "young journalists" will fit right in at Fox. Hell, this walkout probably got them all their own talk show.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Apr 30, 2012 9:33:21 AM

  11. I waded in the murky waters of MSN comments yesterday. I know it's pointless to try to say anything and it's painful to see the amount and depth of ignorance plus animosity thrown onto that site.
    Many posters got off on a tangent to squawk about the biblical justification of slavery. It was intriguing that nobody referred to the curse on Noah's son Ham. He was darker than his brothers and therefore all dark skinned peoples were fair game to become slaves. The kidnapping and enslavement of black Africans was thus "justified" and their need to obey their masters was reinforced by the NT.
    This is probably more proof that many "bible believing Xtians" don't actually read the source but rely on what their preachers tell them.
    I like and respect DS but he talks before thinking. the hypersensitive rightist will pounce on any crumb that they can magnify into a loaf of persecution.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Apr 30, 2012 9:36:30 AM

  12. THAT is how you apologize, Christian conservatives, not, "I'm sorry you were offended" from the Monica Crowley's of the world.

    Posted by: kpo5 | Apr 30, 2012 9:53:21 AM

  13. And yes, I agree with MichaelandFred - this looked very planned. They all came from the front (as to make a scene), they came in a wave, rather than out all at once (as to make a prolonged scene), and they were smirking the whole time (knowing what they were doing was planned).

    Posted by: kpo5 | Apr 30, 2012 9:55:25 AM

  14. Good. I'm glad he apologized for "pansy-assed" but is sticking to his guns otherwise.

    The Right-Wing outrage machine is going to keep characterizing this as "Gay activist ATTACKS Christians, calls religion bulls**t!" but that's a deliberate misreading of what he said, an attempt to keep people FROM reading the actual content of his speech, which was completely true. I've looked at a few Religious Right articles and posts about this and NONE that I've seen have have actually quoted what DS said. They can't really, because it's clear he didn't say the Bible is bulls**t, he said there's bulls**t in the Bible, which isn't the same thing at all and inescapably true.

    They're using it as a distraction so they don't have to address their own hypocrisy. It can be argued that by using the word "bulls**t" Dan Savage gave them something to use as a distraction, but on the other hand if he'd treated the subject with kid gloves then it would have been ignored. I'm not sure that the "outrage" over this doesn't just spread the actual content of Savage's words wider instead of letting it just sink like a stone.

    And let's get real. Isn't it time we STOPPED treating religion and religious folk with "kid gloves"? They're too used to being coddled and deferred to, treated with a hands-off approach they've taken advantage of for far too long, that if you put "The Bible says" or "My religion says" in front of a hateful statement it's magically off-limits for criticism and debate.

    Posted by: Caliban | Apr 30, 2012 10:11:49 AM

  15. Clearly your parents failed...if your idea of ending bullying is by bullying yourself. Doing the exact same thing you are preaching is wrong will gain you absolutely no respect. All it does is show the childish, immature nature and lack of class you have to stand up there and take advantage of an opportunity to make a positive difference in that many young students' lives. Your type of hate breeds ignorance. Well done Dan, if you ever were seen as credible...it's gone now.

    Posted by: SpeakingOfHypocrit | Apr 30, 2012 10:33:41 AM

  16. That was the most irrational and crude speech I have heard in a long time.

    As much as you want to like it, this is only going to encourage anti-gay attitudes more, instead of looking at it like that, one has to look at individual identity and keep traits like sexual preference or race as mere traits, nothing more.

    This guy completely get's the history of slavery wrong as well, it was not until Christianity became romanticized did slavery have an impact, but most christian sects which were derived from Jewish sects were anti-slavery.

    If he wanted an intellectual challenge, I would be more than happy to do it.

    Posted by: Zong | Apr 30, 2012 10:38:06 AM

  17. He SHOULD have attacked Christianity. Why worship a flesh-eating zombie? Talk about "sick."

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 30, 2012 10:49:15 AM

  18. SpeakingOfHypocrit - Calling people out for hypocrisy is not bullying. Try some argumentation and logic then come back. Thanks for playing.

    Larry Mastel - GFY. Seriously.

    Posted by: Kevin | Apr 30, 2012 10:50:55 AM

  19. The pansy assed comment went right by me--my family gatherings feature some very earthy language that makes this sound Disneyesque.

    However, as far as Dan's comments about the BS, he is 100 percent right. Every single one of the things he mentioned, plus many, many more, are condemned in the Bible; so the obsession with homosexuality always seems like just that...an irrational obsession.

    Anyone who has more than a passing knowledge of the Old Testament, from which the homosexuality strictures are taken, would know that if they are determined to follow the letter of the law, they should also working to outlaw:

    Wearing of gemstones (no adornment for women),

    Bathing suits of any sort (women should be covered up)

    The use of any form of contraception (yeah, I know, they're trying)

    Divorce and remarriage (one ticket only, no returns)

    I could go on, but between picketing Tiffany, California Sunshine, second marriage celebrations, and the condom aisle at Walmart, who knows? They might be able to pass up an occasional Pride parade.

    Posted by: Kathleen O'Neill | Apr 30, 2012 10:53:00 AM

  20. There is a group of "Christian" trolls apparently googling this manufactured "incident" and leaving comments in gay blogs to the effect of how much this is somehow hurting our cause. Invariably, these people tip their hand by accusing Dan of being a bully, or accusing him of saying things that were not said. They also seem incapable of leaving alone his supposed theological inaccuracies - as though we're all going to consult the biblical commentaries we just happen to have in the living room once we're all done clutching our pearls on command.

    Look. This is a transparent and organized attempt to discredit Dan by somehow painting him as a bully. Why? Because he's the one man in the country who has done more to halt Christian bullying in our schools than any other. OF COURSE he's their target, and for those of you who are falling for this manufactured outrage operation, shame on you.

    For those of you who organized this ridiculous and clumsy political op, GFY. Dan's the one gay activist that you're not going to get to shut up with this pansy-assed nonsense you're peddling. He's a different breed of liberal, one unafraid of "offensive honesty" - that's what scares you about him. Good.

    Posted by: Joshua | Apr 30, 2012 10:53:59 AM

  21. Well done. Thoughtful, and reasonable reaction to trumped up outrage.

    By diffusing this unfortunate sideshow, he has helped move the conversation back to where it belongs: people need to stop cherry-picking which religious text to read literally (eg the homophobic bits) and which to 'interpret away' (eg the slavery-affirming bits).

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 30, 2012 10:54:13 AM

  22. We in the Reichsamt SS fully support and agree with Dan Savage's attack on Christians and/or Jews. They are the scourge of society and the cause for all our ills. Bullying them is not bullying, rather it is telling the truth. The SS is gay friendly and will not tolerate.anyone who does not agree. The Fuehrer and the Party applaud him.

    Posted by: Heinrich Himmler | Apr 30, 2012 10:55:29 AM

  23. The people saying "this hurts the gay community" are obviously completely mentally controlled by the right-wingnut machine in America. First of all, a ton of self-identifying Christians agree with Dan Savage. Secondly, everything he said was right, and thirdly, the right-wing bigots are being exposed for their utter contempt and hatred towards the gay community with their reaction against Dan. Everything Dan said is made CLEAR with the reaction by right-wingers against Dan. So, let's get real.

    Dan is 100% right. Someone had to say it. We should really stop putting religion on a pedestal. No-one is special solely because they happen to believe in a 2000+ year old story book.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 30, 2012 10:59:41 AM

  24. Mr. Savage, the Bible does not condone judgment nor violence directed toward any one. Misguided believers do. To say that ALL Christians read the Bible selectively is no better than saying that ALL LGBT community members are damned to hell. The Bible says that one who says, I love God but hates his brother is a liar for how can he hate his brother, whom he has seen, and love God, whom he has not seen? 1John 4:20. You do good work and many, many suffering children and adults from all walks of life need you. I wish someone stood up for me when I was younger. Please don't let ignorance on either side of this issue distract you from what you do. ...then evil really wins. Christ came to serve, not be served, and to teach us love and understanding for others. Whether you or anyone else believes it or not, what you do for others embodies His teaching... at least that is what my Bible says. :)

    Posted by: Marsha_isms | Apr 30, 2012 11:00:36 AM

  25. I only wish the majority of queers had half his intelligence, balls and radical consciousness

    Posted by: jw | Apr 30, 2012 11:01:20 AM

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