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May 02 2012

Dan Savage is Right

The right wing is throwing a fit over Dan Savage calling the Bible’s statements about homosexuality “bullshit.” I think everything he says here is absolutely right and on point. And the students who walked out of the speech are walking away from the truth, literally and figuratively.

Savage apologized for calling the students “pansy-assed” but defended the rest of what he said. Kind of.

A smart Christian friend involved politics writes: “In America today you just can’t refer, even tangentially, to someone’s religion as ‘bullshit.’ You should apologize for using that word.”

I didn’t call anyone’s religion bullshit. I did say that there is bullshit—”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.

I think this is the wrong approach. Why can’t you refer, in America of all places — you know, where we have freedom of speech and all that — to someone’s religion as bullshit? And what is wrong with “attacking” someone’s “faith”? Let’s rephrase that from “attacking someone’s faith” to “criticizing someone’s religion” — which is what it really is. Why should religious ideas be protected from criticism? Why can’t you say of someone’s religious beliefs that they are being inconsistent and hypocritical? No one would suggest that you could not point out absurdities and inconsistencies in someone’s political views; I see no reason at all why their religious views should be protected from the same criticism.

The problem is not that Dan Savage criticized the Bible’s disgusting statements about homosexuality; the problem is that we live in a country where it’s not only considered controversial to do so, but where it’s seen as a terrible character flaw to have brazenly “attacked” those vile ideas.

56 comments

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  1. 1
    Brony

    Agreed. It’s been difficult to do well but on Facebook I have been refusing to avoid religiously controversial issues because this has to change.

    Now if I can keep my parents from leaving FB for “spiritual reasons”. I think exposure to my ideas has made them think logically and that is apparently really bad for religion…

  2. 2
    augustpamplona

    I do not think that he should have apologized. He has nothing to apologize about. It is true, however, that he did not attack Christianity. That much is clear if you listen to his speech. I guess the Christian right types just want something to throw a fit about.

  3. 3
    teawithbertrand

    No reason for Dan to apologize. The bible is loaded with bullshit. Bullshit is also the word for the idea that bigots and bullies get a free pass because of their nutjob religious beliefs.

  4. 4
    Chiroptera

    I think this is the wrong approach.

    It’s the wrong approach only if he really did intend to attack Christianity and is now back pedalling.

    If he really did only mean to attack the hypocrisy and not Christianity itself, then he has every right to try to get people to understand his intent.

  5. 5
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    The hypocrisy of all his critics is ridiculous. Many of them have no problem telling me that I live a “lifestyle” that is immoral and unnatural (whatever the hell the latter means is still beyond me). I’m a living breathing human being who happens to be gay. Being discriminated upon or dealing with anti-gay bigotry is a very real thing that I and many others in the queer community have to deal with. Criticizing Christianity OTOH has no victims. Telling Christians that their holy book is vile and filled with hate is somehow seen as infinitely worse than telling queers they’re going to hell, preventing them from visiting loved ones in the hospital, preventing them from getting married, discriminating against them, and more.

  6. 6
    harold

    I am not religious, but it is not true that the Bible is clear about homosexuality.

    He does make a valid point about the cherry picking by “literalists”, but he overstates their justification for homophobia.

    The Sodom and Gomorrah story is brutal but condemns attempted gang rape.

    Leviticus puts “man lying with a man as with a woman”, in the seventeenth century English translation, at exactly the same level of wrongness as eating shrimp or wearing a garment made of more than one type of material.

    Romans is a somewhat incoherent rant originally written in a crude form of Greek. Like Leviticus, it may be interpreted as condemning homosexuality, but only to the same degree as innumerable other common activities.

    On the other hand, David is strongly implied to have homosexual relations. Arguably the language about David is more clear.

    There is a similar situation with regard to female sex workers in the Bible. Words that could refer to female sex workers are sometimes used as symbolic insults to institutions or places. On the other hand, female sex workers are often positive characters in both Testaments, and visits by male characters to female sex workers are sometimes described in very positive terms, especially in the Old Testament.

    If you “interpret the Bible literally”, then you have to believe, among other things, that within historical times, at around the time of Homer by many approximations, Jonah was swallowed by a whale that was simultaneously a fish but lived many days inside it.

    However, a “literal” translation does not lead to a clear picture with regard to homosexuality or professional sex work.

    I am not religious and would consider “Biblical literalism” absurd even I were religious, but let’s not give the cherry picking hypocrites more credit than they deserve.

  7. 7
    matty1

    Part of the problem is the way people identify with their religion in a way they don’t with politics. If someone says “the Catholic Church is evil” they hear “Every Catholic person including you is evil” but if someone says “The Republican Party is evil” they hear “This organisation promotes evil views, you should stop supporting it”.

    I don’t know how you get people to switch to the second way of hearing arguments against religion but I do know it is not the fault of the critics that people think like this.

  8. 8
    reasonbeing

    The only problem I have with this story is that Savage back-pedaled a bit after saying what he did. The idea that we cannot criticize religion is bullshit. Everything Savage said was a fact. If people do not want to hear facts, how the hell does that become our problem?

  9. 9
    abb3w

    But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” — Judges 6:31

    If their God is real, why can’t he respond to the religious criticism himself?

  10. 10
    slc1

    Re Harold @ #6

    On the other hand, David is strongly implied to have homosexual relations. Arguably the language about David is more clear.

    David and Jonathan anyone.

  11. 11
    d cwilson

    What kills me is that the same people who are demanding an apology are the same ones who are quick to whine about how they are being “silenced” by the “homosexual agenda”, even though no one is stopping them from talking.

  12. 12
    frankniddy

    American Christians have delusions of victimhood, and wouldn’t last five seconds in places where Christians really are persecuted. But they wouldn’t realise that because they have all of the self-awareness of an eraser head.

  13. 13
    Leo Buzalsky

    I did not attack Christianity. I attacked hypocrisy.

    OK, Dan (who is likely not going to read this, but to whom I am still going to address). Here are my thoughts: if you are going to reject huge parts of the Christian Bible for being bullshit — er, untrue — then isn’t it hypocritical for one to call themselves a “Christian”? Seriously, what percentage of the Bible does one have to reject to still non-hypocritically be a Christian? In my view, if you’re attacking hypocrisy, then you are effectively attacking many Christians because most, if not all, are hypocrites to some extent. From what you say, the only Christians that could not be hypocrites are the ones who accept what the Bible says on slavery, farming, menstruation, dinner, and whatever else you all mentioned in your speech. The other alternative is the Christians who completely reject all the bullshit in the Bible. But those Christians would have to reject the idea of Jesus as god, because that’s bullshit. Then why call them Christians?

  14. 14
    pacal

    The Fox nerws story at their website covering this teapot tempest is a riot. In it there are lots and lots “Christians” whining about being bullied because they herd words they didn’t like. The article quotes Dan Savages comments about the cherry picking people do with the Bible and the students quoted or the article don’t bother to refute the comments; instead they get all upset about the tone of Dan Savages speech and the use of the word “Bullshit”.

    They seem to have absolutely no idea what being bullied meanns. Going to a speech you don’t have to attend and hearing someone criticize your beliefs it NOT being bullied. THeir whining trivializes actual bullying. It all seems to part of the meme “We’re being persecuted when people criticize our beliefs in public”. Talk about entitlement syndrome.

    The article can be found at:http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/dan-savage-accused-bullying-journalism-conference-article-1.1071153

  15. 15
    Forrest

    I agree that Dan Savage should be able to call Christianity bullshit as well as the ideas of Christianity but if he hopes to change the minds of Christians, do it in steps. Get them to realize that they don’t follow all of the Bible literally and they can do the same concerning homosexuality. Criticising their religion from the outset is more likely to turn them off from your message but if you get them to accept this idea, they are one step closer to seeing it is all bullshit and there is less hate towards homosexuals in the meantime.

  16. 16
    Randomfactor

    Here are my thoughts: if you are going to reject huge parts of the Christian Bible for being bullshit — er, untrue — then isn’t it hypocritical for one to call themselves a “Christian”?

    Dan’s not here, but the answer to your question is “nope.”

    If you follow what CHRIST is reported third-hand to have said about homosexuality, you’re wide open as he did not address the subject.

    You could toss the whole of the Old Testament and Christianity would be light-years ahead morally (though their donations would probably plummet.)

    Paul said some unkind things, but he was in the closet himself. Nowadays he’d be a Republican one airport-restroom-incident short of a scandal.

  17. 17
    Chiroptera

    fsamuels, #15: …but if he hopes to change the minds of Christians, do it in steps. Get them to realize that they don’t follow all of the Bible literally and they can do the same concerning homosexuality.

    Well, I didn’t watch the entire video, but in the part that I watched that was exactly what he was trying to do.

    Did you watch the entire video? Did his speech change into one where he was saying that Christianity itself was bullshit?

  18. 18
    iknklast

    ” condemns attempted gang rape.”

    Really? If you read the story carefully, Lot, the only righteous man in Sodom, offered up his virginal young daughters to the crowd for rape. This didn’t seem to make a problem for the angels in his living room, but the crowd wasn’t interested. Lot remained a righteous man; later, the story gives a very unconvincing tale of his daughters “raping” him, possibly to cover for the actual story of him raping his daughters?

    It wasn’t condemning gang rape…it was only condemning gang rape of the men, since there seemed to be no problem if Lot had tossed his virgin daughters to the mob. Was it because the men were angels, and therefore exempt? Possibly…nonetheless, it was still apparently not horrifying to offer up young virgin WOMEN. Maybe not a statement about homosexuality so much as a statement about how little women count…misogyny, at the very least

  19. 19
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    iknklast – bingo. That story doesn’t condemn gang rape. it condems raping men. bitchez, of course, ain’t shit.

  20. 20
    jerthebarbarian

    Leo @13

    if you are going to reject huge parts of the Christian Bible for being bullshit — er, untrue — then isn’t it hypocritical for one to call themselves a “Christian”?

    I’m an atheist, but the answer to that is “nope”.

    It would be hypocritical to call yourself a fundamentalist Christian if you’re rejecting huge parts of the Bible, but I don’t see how it would be hypocritical to call yourself a Christian.

    Now if you reject the basic premises of Christianity then you’d be a hypocrite for calling yourself a Christian. But of course you’d have to figure out what the basic premises of Christianity actually are. And there’s argument about THAT – is it following the teachings of the character of Jesus as presented in the Gospels, or is it follwing the teachings of Paul as presented in the letters of Paul to the various churches, or is it adherence to the tenets of the Apostle’s Creed, or is it following the traditions that have built up around the Catholic Church? All of those have some claim to being “Christianity” (though if you were raised as a “fundamentalist” you’d recognize only one of them – the one where Paul’s letters trump everything else).

  21. 21
    Forrest

    Chiroptera, #17 – I’ve watched the video several times. I find it inspiring. But yes, that is exactly what Savage was doing and I was agreeing that is the best way to change minds and cause a change in actions. He never called Christianity BS, just some of its ideas. I disagree with Ed’s view that “this is the wrong approach.” and Savage should have called religion BS. He certainly shouldn’t be afraid to but I don’t see that as productive. Aside from Savage calling those who walked out pansy asses and those who are offended by the word bullshit, conservative criticism of Savage’s speech rings hollow.

  22. 22
    eric

    Harold @6:

    Leviticus puts “man lying with a man as with a woman”, in the seventeenth century English translation, at exactly the same level of wrongness as eating shrimp or wearing a garment made of more than one type of material.

    Harold, I do not think Dan would disagree with you here. I think, in fact, that if you listen to what he’s saying, you’ll find that he’s saying exactly that. His complaint is basically that conservative christians treat the proscription against gay sex differently than they treat the proscriptions against wearing mixed clothes, etc. He may think all of Lev is bullsh*t – and maybe saying that clouds his message – but what he asks of his audience is for christians to treat this one particular bit of bullsh*t the same way they treat all the other bits of bullsh*t.

  23. 23
    matty1

    What I’ve been told is that the story of Sodom and Gomorah* is actually about an issue that isn’t thought about much today. The key point was the Lot had accepted the angels as guests, in the ancient near east the responsibility of a host was taken very seriously so much that it would have been seen as moral to let your own family suffer before a guest. The story reinforces that by suggesting that God supported Lot’s decision to offer his daughters and rewarded him with an escape.

    The harm in question being rape or the sex of the victims is incidental to this view of things and the compilers would probably have looked elsewhere for their views on those issues.

  24. 24
    Spanish Inquisitor

    “Bullshit” is a colloquialism, a shorthand way of saying “that is not true – and I’m calling you on it!” Everyone, and I mean everyone, already knows what the word is trying to convey, with just a hint of vehemence. It’s a universal way of calling out falsehoods. Just about every one of those students that walked out used the word more than once that very day, in a different setting, and they would be lying if they said they didn’t.

    I get so sick of false modesty.

  25. 25
    matty1

    *Funny how we never hear about the sin of Gomorahy, wonder what they did?

  26. 26
    augustpamplona

    Conservative Christians occasionally claim that the sin of Gomorrah is homosexuality. What the sin of Gomorrah is is not made clear. The destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah is ordained before the meeting of the angels with Lot, however, so it doesn’t make sense that it would be as punishment for the specific behavior of wanting to gang rape the angels at that specific time (it might be that that is sinful but Sodom & Gomorrah were already doomed for previous sins).

    See http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/interp/sodom.html

    Sodom & Gomorrah had a way to avoid their destruction, however: God had agreed to Abraham that it would not destroy them if 10 righteous men could be found. So Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed because 10 righteous men could not be found. I would assume that the reader is intended to infer that Lot & his family were righteous since they afforded hospitality to the angels (but they must have numbered fewer than the required 10 –or maybe they were not all righteous).

  27. 27
    cptdoom

    It would be hypocritical to call yourself a fundamentalist Christian if you’re rejecting huge parts of the Bible, but I don’t see how it would be hypocritical to call yourself a Christian.

    It’s even more interesting when you consider that neither Jesus nor any of the writers included in any version of the Bible, actually demand that people read something called “the bible” in order to be right with God. There are all kinds of requirements, rules and regulations in both the OT and NT about how to be the kind of human God wants us to be, but nowhere, IIRC, is there a requirement to follow specific religious writings. I don’t have the history memorized myself, but it was something like the 3rd century before what most people refer to as “the bible” was created. Anyone who watches the History Channel also knows there are plenty of writings by the early Christians that did not make the cut for “the bible.”

    Thus there is no requirement to even follow “the bible” to consider yourself a Christian – it only requires you to follow the teachings of the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth, and I don’t think he would have walked out on Dan Savage, any more than he refused to be around lepers.

  28. 28
    lofgren

    Fuck, now I’ll end up reading 2,000 comments from tone trolls all weekend.

  29. 29
    Michael Heath

    Leo @ 13,

    Did you watch the video prior to writing your post to Dan Savage? It appears not.

    Mr. Savage’s argument was that all Christians ignore parts of the Bible, including parts contained within the New Testament. So he wasn’t claiming it’s unchristian to ignore parts of the Bible but instead hypocritical to persecute gays while ignoring the other evil bits God commands or OKs humans to do. It’s a good argument worthy of any moral person’s consideration.

  30. 30
    Michael Heath

    I think the students who walked out on Mr. Savage all demonstrated cowardice, which is exactly how they’re indoctrinated to act.

    The sects within Christianity who promote bigotry of gays systemically attempt to transform their young people into reality deniers who also avoid confronting the logical contradictions of a Christian worldview. E.g., their celebration of a god who is evil, or more relevant here – their institutional bigotry towards gays while other biblical passages demand they treat ‘the least among us’ as they would treat their god.

  31. 31
    Eric R

    I did not attack Christianity. I attacked hypocrisy.

    Excellent snippet of the talk, couldnt agree more. One thing though. Christianity, is nothing if not hypocrisy. ALL Christianity is hypocrisy. I would be gobsmacked if someone could produce a single Christian who isnt a cafeteria christian. In other words one who picks and chooses the bits they like in the bible and ignores the nasty bits.

    Shame he felt he had to apologise, he might have phrased the “pansy assed” comment differently, but it wouldnt have changed anything, and it wouldnt have altered the truth of what he said.

  32. 32
    Michael Heath

    fsamuels @ 15:

    I agree that Dan Savage should be able to call Christianity bullshit as well as the ideas of Christianity but if he hopes to change the minds of Christians, do it in steps. Get them to realize that they don’t follow all of the Bible literally and they can do the same concerning homosexuality. Criticising their religion from the outset is more likely to turn them off from your message but if you get them to accept this idea, they are one step closer to seeing it is all bullshit and there is less hate towards homosexuals in the meantime.

    From my perspective he did what you advised, though I watched the video a day or two ago and perhaps forgot since I’m not a “pansy” (other pejoratives apply but not this line). Did you watch his speech prior to criticizing him?

  33. 33
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Well, Savage should have known better than to let a hat fall somewhere in the world.

  34. 34
    Michael Heath

    Eric R @ 31:

    I would be gobsmacked if someone could produce a single Christian who isnt a cafeteria christian. In other words one who picks and chooses the bits they like in the bible and ignores the nasty bits.

    You could even tighten your standard and still not find one Christian adult who isn’t a hypocrite, unless they’re a recent convert clueless on the dogma. So for example, after you’ve filtered out the one who believe what is convenient for them to believe, consider the rest, would there by any left who isn’t? I think so because of all the logical and textual contradictions that require certain behavior or beliefs which violate other biblical edicts, e.g.,
    a) thinking critically while slavishly submitting like a child,
    b) demanding a certain objective standard of morality while proclaiming, celebrating, and worshipping the worst violator of that very standards, and
    c) believing in a god who is all-knowing – including the future, and all-powerful but is too weak to deal with weaknesses of humans which we deal with on a daily basis, these being examples of logical contradictions.

  35. 35
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    A couple things:

    The Talmud thinks it’s pretty clear that the sin of Gomorrah is disrespect of the taboo on guests. A guest in one’s home, especially one with whom one has broken bread, is sacrosanct in semitic tradition, Jewish and Arab (which then got communicated to a lot of others through Islam, though the tradition was not as successfully passed on to Christians). Lot owned his daughters and thus could consent for them (I am not defending this misogynistic crap, just stating what was going on from the authors’ point of view). It likely would have been the same if Lot had been described as having sons…for he had the power to consent for his sons as well. But violating the sanctity and safety of a guest? That was a grave sin.

    Apparently graver than gang rape that is rendered into group sex by the legal code of the time, even though group sex is condemned as well. Anyway, the people from the same cultural context as the authors, writing much closer in time to the book’s authorship than we are today and after much less cultural change, had a very specific take on the story. Even if one concedes that it isn’t automatically true that this is the sin the authors had in mind, it should be persuasive evidence (just not necessarily dispositive).

    Second:

    Lashon Hara (“evil tongue”) is the sin of speaking true things in a way that tends to hurt or defame another person. Lashon Hara is often translated as “gossip”. It is forbidden many, many more times than homosexuality. Moreover, the Leviticus codes didn’t (necessarily) apply to the entire population. Lashon Hara is forbidden outside of Leviticus, the sex lives of gay men? Not so much.

    Note that lesbians are not condemned at all, apparently the patriarchs are all about the woman-on-woman action (f*ing straight men, every time).

    Moreover, if AIDS is the mark of God’s disfavor, and gay men in the US are assumed to be disliked because they contracted more cases of HIV disease per capita than straight people in the US during the 80s and early 90s…

    …then Lesbians are God’s chosen people, since the rate of woman-to-woman transmission was so very near zero that there isn’t any conclusive case of Lesbian sexual transmission of HIV.

    But back to Lashon Hara: even if everything ever said about being gay or lesbian or bi, or having sex while LesBiGay, by theocratic homophobes of any stripe, was determined to be true, it would be far more forbidden and unacceptable to God to speak ill of queer folk than it is to be queer.

    But don’t expect those folk to stop publicly bashing folks any time soon. The godly prohibitions don’t apply to their behavior because they are the good folk.

    It’s the worst version of virtue ethics ever.

  36. 36
    Gretchen

    Should Dan Savage be able to call Christianity bullshit, as in, does he have the freedom to do so? Sure. Should he be able to call Christianity bullshit, as in, would he be justified in doing so? Maybe. But was his intention to call Christianity bullshit, and does he believe it to be such? No, and portraying things otherwise (whether you’re gung ho about calling Christianity bullshit or adamantly against it) obscures his actual point, and is therefore counter-productive.

    His actual point was that Christians who are good people ignore or dismiss as irrelevant in modern times all of the crappy, silly, horrible stuff the bible says to do, because they are good people. So, being good people, why not ignore all of the crappy, silly, horrible stuff it says about homosexuality as well, in order to be consistent? He was paying all of those Christian students the consideration of assuming that they are good people, and therefore this appeal to their humanity should work on them. And for that, they walked out on him.

  37. 37
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    I’m going with the Gospel of George on this one, and say that religion is bullshit. Dan was quite right to say it, and shouldn’t be apologizing for using “bad werdz” in public.

    Oh, and the obligatory quoting of George Carlin:

    When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

    But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

  38. 38
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Blockquote fail.

  39. 39
    Chiroptera

    Eric R, #31: ALL Christianity is hypocrisy. I would be gobsmacked if someone could produce a single Christian who isnt a cafeteria christian. In other words one who picks and chooses the bits they like in the bible and ignores the nasty bits.

    It really is not hypocrisy if a particular Christian — say from a moderate to liberal church — is up front and honest and admits that she is doing that.

  40. 40
    Gretchen

    It really isn’t hypocrisy if a Christian accepts certain parts of the bible as doctrine but not others for reasons other than what’s “nasty” or not, either. Christianity ! = biblical inerrancy.

  41. 41
    regexp

    The problem with Savage is that he comes out as an arrogant ass in almost any live forum he’s part of. Especially in interviews. It doesn’t matter if he is right or wrong – its how he is delivering the message. And he sucks at it. PZ has the same problem.

    Personally I think he is a great writer but lousy representative of the gay cause and wish he just shut up and write.

  42. 42
    Rip Steakface

    @regexp

    What you’re doing is called “tone trolling.”

    Dispatches and Pharyngula both don’t like tone trolling. Hell, the very article you’re commenting on is asking for Savage to be more of an ass.

    Think about this – when it came to the early gay rights movement, did it work better for LGBT people to stay in the closet and quietly try to make people think that maybe gays aren’t pawns of the devil/Communists, or did it work for LGBT people to go out on the street and make some god damn noise and demand equal protection? The latter. We merely want to do the same as atheists since it clearly works faster and better than trying to work with the status quo.

  43. 43
    snebo154

    I have no problem with Savage referring to parts of the bible as bullshit. Actually I think he was probably being generous, he never even mentioned the parts that glorify infanticide or the parts that blatantly deny almost every field of science. Where I disagree with him is his apology for calling the students that left “pansy-assed. Wasn’t he there to teach these students that bible approved bullying was directly or indirectly (through suicide) responsible for the deaths of hundreds of young people whose only “crime” was being born with a with a less common genetic predisposition toward sexuality? He was there to try and save innocent lives and these students stood up and walked out because he said something disparaging about a book that their parents made them read and some preacher swore to them was inerrant. Sounds pretty much like a textbook example of pansy-assed to me.

  44. 44
    raven

    All xians are cafeteria xians.

    Anyone following an OT lifestyle would be doing multiple life sentences in prison. Warren Jeffs of the FLDS tried it and got life + 20 years.

    Very few xians have the slightest idea what is in the bible. The churches hide most of it and the fundies are among the worst. Mostly they have a few dozen or hundred carefully selected quote minded passages devoid of context and that is all they use.

    If you quote them the passage in Deuteronomy about stoning disobedient children to death or the one in Exodus where you can sell your kids as sex slaves for a few bucks they look blank. They’ve never heard them before and never will from their cult leaders.

    My natal moderate Protestant sect did exactly that with the best of intentions. They paid little attention to the OT. Revelation was treated like the crazy uncle locked up in the basement. They were supposedly Calvinist but I never heard anything about it and that includes confirmation classes.

    98% of what I know about the bible, I learned after leaving the religion. Reading that terrible kludgy book was part of the reason I’m no longer a xian/

  45. 45
    greg1466

    I thought exactly the same thing. I completely agreed with everything Dan said, right up to the point where he started apologizing. And once again, the great irony shows up as I watched David Barton on the Daily Show going on about how religious speech is the only form of speech not protected by the 1st amendment and how persecuted Christians are. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising coming from people who are delusional by definition.

  46. 46
    democommie

    “I agree that Dan Savage should be able to call Christianity bullshit as well as the ideas of Christianity but if he hopes to change the minds of Christians, do it in steps.”

    Oh, yeah, I know what you mean. The KKKristians pretty much stopped stoning adulteresses to death (not a lot of accounts of men who “stepped out” getting rock’n’rolled by the mob) by the early middle ages. In most places (the “country” of Africa being an exception) they stopped burning witches in the late 17th century. Why, in this very country it’s been almost 150 years since the owning of people (almost always darksome) was countenanced by the biblically inspired* plantationists. And, when was the last time you heard about a fag being lynched? Baby steps, people, baby steps.

    * I know, I know, they were FORCED to let THEIR PEOPLE go, but they seem to have gotten over that./s

  47. 47
    harold

    It wasn’t condemning gang rape…it was only condemning gang rape of the men

    Okay, fair enough, but my point was obvious not to deny that the Bible has brutal passages.

    As I mentioned, I’m non-religious, and I wouldn’t deny that even if I were religious.

    The shocking nature of the Old Testament may be news in some places, but it was widely admitted and discussed by religious Christians where I grew up.

    My point, and not everyone necessarily agrees with this, is that post-modern fundamentalists are still hypocrites, even if there are brutal parts of the Bible.

    They still ignore things from the Bible that are very clear, unambiguous, and consistent, while obsessively focusing on cherry picked issues.

    Now, I guess if you want to go with an “all Christianity is all evil all the time” meme, then there can be no such thing as Christian hypocrisy.

    To ever call any Christian behavior hypocritical is, I guess, sort of a low-level compliment to other Christians who don’t engage in that behavior.

    I do think that the religious right is hypocritical, however.

  48. 48
    Gretchen

    @regexp

    What you’re doing is called “tone trolling.”

    Dispatches and Pharyngula both don’t like tone trolling. Hell, the very article you’re commenting on is asking for Savage to be more of an ass.

    God, I wish people who say crap like this would restrict themselves to Pharyngula and leave Dispatches alone.

  49. 49
    velociraptor

    Did anyone else read #37 in George Carlin’s voice?

  50. 50
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    @velociraptor — erm, yeah, I was quoting the master himself, there. I just mucked up the blockquote function.

  51. 51
    hunter

    Apparently, at least according to some sources, the kids who walked out were planning to walk out, had met before the speech, sat together, walked out before Savage began talking about the Bible, and, strangely enough, there was an HD camera positioned to catch them perfectly on their way out — in fact, according to one report, some of them were high-fiving the camera as they passed.

    The poor, persecuted darlings.

  52. 52
    augustpamplona

    Apparently, at least according to some sources, the kids who walked out were planning to walk out, had met before the speech, sat together, walked out before Savage began talking about the Bible, and, strangely enough, there was an HD camera positioned to catch them perfectly on their way out — in fact, according to one report, some of them were high-fiving the camera as they passed.

    What sources would you have seen which support this? I would be interested in a link or links. I too am of the opinion that this was a planned walkout but all that I have seen in support of this is speculation based on timing, general demeanor, etc..

    The people walking out were all (or mostly?) from one Christian academy, by the way.

  53. 53
    augustpamplona

    There’s a form at the National Organization for Marriage set up to e-mail the president & your representative. I think it would be good to make use of it. I would suggest a rewording it to show support for Dan Savage. It’s at http://goo.gl/rZAFW

    I reworded mine as follows (I added a sexual orientation category):

    Support Dan Savage against unfair, false demagogic accusations

    I see that Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign is prominently recognized on the White House website as a model for anti-bullying programs across the nation. I am grateful for the White House’s emphasis on creating a safe and civil school environment for children of all ethnic, social and religious backgrounds and sexual orientations as this is a goal that we all can share.

    This is why I was appalled at the obviously politically motivated accusations of anti-Christian bullying made against him mostly by conservative news outlets with regard to his recent speech at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention. No fair reading can construe his speech as an attack on Christianity or as “bullying” of Christian students.

    It is clear that certain parties are intentionally distorting the import of his speech for political gain to demagogically fabricate a controversy where none exists.

    I urge you to publicly support Dan Savage, making it clear that your administration stands on principle supporting Dan Savage and does not kowtow to pressures related to this politically motivated attack.

  54. 54
    samspade

    Would Savage go to a Muslim school and trash the teaching of the Koran? Indeed, would he trash the Koran at all?

    “We also sent Lut: He said to his people: Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds. And his people gave no answer but this: they said, “Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!”” (Qur’an 7:80-82)

    “Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)! They said: “If thou desist not, O Lut! thou wilt assuredly be cast out!” He said: “I do detest your doings:” “O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!” So We delivered him and his family,- all Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 26:165-175)

    “Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant! But his people gave no other answer but this: They said, “Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!” But We saved him and his family, except his wife; her We destined to be of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)!” (Qur’an 27:55-58)

    “And (remember) Lut: behold, he said to his people: “Ye do commit lewdness, such as no people in Creation (ever) committed before you. Do ye indeed approach men, and cut off the highway? – and practise wickedness (even) in your councils?” But his people gave no answer but this: they said: “Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth.” (Qur’an 29:28-29)

    “If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (Reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way. If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 4:15-16)

    of course, Savage will never publicly condemn the Koran (which condemns same-sex relationships far more than the Bible), as having his name placed on a death list will cramp his style, somewhat.

    Better stick to attacking Christians and their Bible, Mr. Savage. After all, they are a far easier target for a coward like you.

  55. 55
    Chiroptera

    samspud, #54: Would Savage go to a Muslim school and trash the teaching of the Koran?

    Maybe he would if he were invited to speak at a Muslim school. But he wasn’t; he was invited to an American high school journalism organization.

    -

    Indeed, would he trash the Koran at all?

    Maybe he would if the topic were how gay kids were being bullied by Muslims based on their Islamic beliefs.

    But it wasn’t. The topic is how American school kids are being bullied for being gay, and how most of that bullying is based on their school mates’ Christian beliefs, and how American Christian legislators are opposing anti-bullying measures because they won’t allow the bullying of gay kids.

    -

    Better stick to attacking Christians and their Bible, Mr. Savage. After all…

    …it’s the more relevant problem that they are facing right now.

  56. 56
    augustpamplona

    samspade:

    Better stick to attacking Christians and their Bible, Mr. Savage.

    I don’t think his comments can be fairly construed as an attack on the Bible, in the general sense. They are definitely not an attack on Christianity.

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