The Economist raps Dan Savage over the knuckles.
Mr Savage was making one valid point and one sloppy one. The former: people who justify anti-gay bigotry by brandishing a Bible but ignore other, less convenient biblical prohibitions (the list might also include mixed fabrics and divorce) are hypocrites. The latter: people quick to condemn ought not to be so quick to take offence. The problem with the latter point is that however true it is in the abstract, it was not necessarily true in the particular. No evidence exists that the students who walked out ever condemned or bullied anyone. However poorly Mr Savage may have been treated in high school, it was not by the students in the audience, and they deserved more from a famous and accomplished journalist than derision.
But the point wasn’t that the students themselves are quick to condemn, it was that many Christians are and they justify it with the Bible. The walkout started as soon as he said that, before he even said “bullshit,” so the students were making a show of disapproval for Savage’s claim. That’s the point. Not that they themselves bully, but that they’re demonstrating support for those who do. They’re walking out in solidarity with the principle of bible-based bullying.
And they didn’t really deserve more than the very mild derision of Savage’s remark. They did stage a showy and often giggly walkout by way of dissent from what he was saying, and they did deserve a little derision in return.
The Economist almost concedes as much right after the knuckle-rap.
(He could, of course, have opted to make a broader point: that nobody should be so quick to take offence; that journalists will hear a lot of things over the course of a career that they find offensive and even hurtful, and walking out anytime that happens will result in a short career and a narrow mind; that, however ugly his language Mr Savage was at least advancing arguments, and that surely at least one of those offended souls hoping to make a life out of words could have found a few to hurl back at him rather than just flouncing out in a huff.)
“Bullshit” really isn’t all that ugly, and “pansy ass” isn’t really all that insulting in response to people flouncing out in a huff.