Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
When a gay activist started bashing the Bible and Christian beliefs at a national high school journalism conference, as many as 100 students walked out in protest.
Fox News is reporting that Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign became the bully during an address to students attending the National High School Journalism Conference in Seattle on April 13.
Savage, who writes a sex advice column called “Savage Love,” gave a speech to a crowd of several thousand students that was laced with vulgarities and sexual innuendo many said was unsuitable for the age group.
Rick Tuttle, journalism advisor for Sutter Union High School in California, told Fox that Savage’s speech was a “pointed attack on Christian beliefs” that made many students uncomfortable enough to leave.
“It became hostile,” he said. “It felt hostile as we were sitting in the audience – especially towards Christians who espouse beliefs that he was literally taking on.”
A 17 year-old girl who was in the audience that day told CitizenLink the first thing Savage did was tell the audience: “I hope you’re all using birth control.”
“He said there are people using the Bible as an excuse for gay bullying, because it says in Leviticus and Romans that being gay is wrong. Right after that, he said we can ignore all the (expletive deleted) in the Bible,” she said.
Nearly 100 teens decided to walk out, and as they did so, Tuttle said Savage began heckling them and calling them pansy-assed.
“It’s funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how pansy-assed people react when you push back.”
While he was heckling them, the other students cheered him on.
Christian bashing appears to be standard fare for Savage. In a video published last year by AOL.com, Savage directly addressed “religious people” who use the Bible “to justify their anti-gay bigotry.”
“There’s so much in the Bible that we’ve learned to ignore,” he said. “The anti-female, anti-woman stuff in the Bible. The stuff in the Bible that forbids us to eat lobster. The stuff in the Bible that justifies and defends the institution of slavery,” he said.
“We’ve learned to ignore what the Bible has to say about pork, what the Bible says about polyester. We’ve learned to ignore all of that. We can also get over the anti-gay stuff in the Bible in the interest of justice, fairness and equality for LGBT people,” Savage said.
His comments were just as vitriolic at the journalism conference and after a number of people complained about his remarks that day, the executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association issued a statement to Fox News acknowledging that some audience members felt hurt by his remarks.
“While as a journalist it’s important to be able to listen to speech that offends you, these students and advisers had simply reached their tolerance level for what they were willing to hear,” the statement read.
They said they wished Savage had “stayed more on target for the audience of teen journalists” and said they believed the whole episode provided a “teachable moment” for students.
Savage issued a diluted apology, then proceeded to use the Bible as an excuse just as he slams Christians for doing. “But I have a right to defend myself and to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible and insisting we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.”
Savage, and his “husband” have been guests at the White House for President Obama’s 2011LGBT Pride Month reception. He was also invited to a White House anti-bullying conference.
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