About those high school students walking out on Dan Savage when he started talking about anti-gay bullshit in the bible.
They were there for a conference on journalism, a conference for the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association.
Journalists need to be able to listen to things they don’t agree with in order to do their jobs.
That’s one thing. Another thing is that walking out sends a message. What message were these students sending? That harsh criticism of the bible is a bad thing, bad enough to be worth the disruption and message-sending of walking out on a speaker.
But what Savage was saying is true. It is true that the bible accepts slavery as a given. It is true that there is a lot of bad stuff in the bible. It’s true, and it has done harm and it continues to do harm. So why is it bad to say so?
I think it’s mostly because we’ve all been trained to think that religion deserves a lot of deference, and that refusing to pay it deference is shockingly bad; walk out of the talk level bad.
We’ve been trained to think that, but it’s bullshit.
One of the teachers attending the speech with his students told CNN’s Carol Costello on Monday that he was taken aback by the speech and that he supported the decision of some of his students to walk out of it.
“It took a real dark, hostile turn, certainly, as I saw it,” said Rick Tuttle, a teacher at Sutter Union High School in Southern California. “It became very hostile toward Christianity, to the point that many students did walk out, including some of my students.
“They felt that they were attacked … a very pointed, direct attack on one particular group of students. It’s amazing that we go to an anti-bullying speech and one group of students is picked on in particular, with harsh, profane language.”
Ah but they weren’t picked on. They’re not the bible, so they weren’t picked on. No group of students was picked on; no group of students was the object of a very pointed, direct attack by Dan Savage. Those students are not Christianity. People don’t get to consider themselves identical to an organization or institution so that they can consider themselves attacked when the org or inst is criticized.
I, for one, have no idea what the world has come to, when a person who has made his career out of speaking, in the most unadorned language possible, directly to great numbers of young people about some of the most important issues in their lives, dares to speak in unadorned language directly to a great number of young people about one of the most important issues in American life today.
Besides the fact that he was raised in a devoutly Catholic home and is the country’s leading gay activist, who is Dan Savage to say anything at all about the ages-old Christian condemnation of gay people? So what if his claim is manifestly valid that nothing contributes more to the destruction of the lives of gay people than do Christians falsely and hypocritically using the Bible as an instrument of brutality? So what if he believes that among the most egregious of all Christian sins is daring to proclaim that God’s love ends where their own fear and hatred begin? So what if every day, for decades on end, Dan Savage has dealt with young lives obliterated through violence informed and buttressed by the bedrock “Christian” view that gay people are less than human?
You know, it’s almost like the people who put on this conference, as well as a small but now (thanks, media machine!) significant number of individuals who attended it, don’t even know what the word “journalism” means.
Well, thank you, young people who walked out of Dan’s speech the moment he began talking about the parts of the Bible to which he takes exception, for reminding us of what beats so passionately in the heart and soul of every true journalist. Speaking as a person who for twelve years made his living as a journalist, I admire your dedication to the journalist’s creed: When you personally disagree with something someone is saying, get up and leave.
Well how else are they going to achieve martyrdom in this day and age?