Last week I wrote a blog about a speech on bullying given by Dan Savage during which he ridiculed Christianity and the Bible, and called the Christians who walked out “pansy-assed.” I pointed out the incredible hypocrisy of bullying Christian students during an anti-bullying speech. Numerous other commentators have also denounced Savage’s comments as being extremely out of line. Even GoProud, a gay advocacy organization, condemned Savage’s comments, stating,
“”There is nothing incompatible between being a Christian and believing that all people should be treated equally, and Dan Savage’s attacks on Christianity only fuel those on the extremist fringe who oppose gay rights…Dan Savage should apologize for his comments and should apologize to the high school students in attendance who he called ‘pansy-asses,’” continued LaSalvia. “It is ironic that someone whose claim to fame is fighting bullying would resort to bullying tactics in attacking high school students who were offended by his outrageous remarks.”
Now, in an April 30, 2012 article on the Huffington Post website, author John Shore defends Savage’s remarks. Shore writes,
The controversy is due to Mr. Savage calling bull**** those parts of the Bible that throughout history been used by “Christians” unworthy of the name to justify the Holocaust, condone slavery, oppress women, and victimize gay people.
I find it interesting that Shore never mentions the fact that Savage called the students “pansy-assed” for walking out. It would be difficult to argue that public name-calling is not bullying, so Shore conveniently ignored that part of the controversy.
Shore begins justifying Savage’s anti-Christian rant by pointing out that the conference was titled Journalism on the Edge. “And there, amongst all this journalistic edginess, was Dan Savage, being edgy.” Shore’s rationale for justifying Savage’s public ridiculing of the Christian faith is that he was being “edgy” and delivering the message he was expected to deliver. Savage was not being edgy; he was being a bigoted bully. This was not the message he was expected to deliver; the event organizers have issued a public apology.
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.
Shore seems to think that Savage’s rant was “journalism,” and that anyone who can’t see that must be ignorant. A bit more subtle than calling them “pansy-assed,” but name-calling nonetheless. Shore continues:
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. If that’s not what Jesus meant by, “The truth shall set you free,” I can’t imagine what he did mean.
Again, much more subtle than Savage, but still ridiculing Christianity. Shore is implying that it’s not OK to oppose homosexuality, but it’s OK to ridicule the beliefs of Christians. Am I the one who sees this as hypocritical?
By endorsing Savage’s bullying tactics, Shore also becomes a bully. The people who perform the actual attacks on the victims aren’t the only bullies; those who sit back and encourage them are bullies, too. Shore is just as much a bully as Savage; the only difference is that Shore is more subtle in his assault.
The most irrational part of Shore’s argument is the “P.S.” at the end:
P.S. What immediately become a meme amongst Dan’s critics is that those who walked out of his talk felt bullied by him. But that’s impossible. People get bullied because of who they are: how they look and act, what they say and do. Perceived as being in some critical way weak or lacking, victims of bullies are selected for persecution; they are pulled from the pack before being pointedly and repeatedly victimized. The people who walked out during Dan’s talk were not separated from their peers by anyone. They were content to do that themselves. They were not frightened or cowed. They were offended. They felt that by disparaging what amounts to their God, Dan had transgressed beyond their capacity for toleration. And they were pleased to show their intolerance of Dan’s words by protesting against them in the manner they did. Theirs was not an act born of suffering. It was a proud show of disdain.
Shore states, “People get bullied because of who they are: how they look and act, what they say and do.” The Christian students in Savage’s audience were bullied because of who they are: Christians; how they acted: they walked out; and what they say: they oppose homosexuality based on their Biblical beliefs. He states, “The people who walked out during Dan’s talk were not separated from their peers by anyone.” Not physically, but the Christians were emotionally, socially, and ideologically singled out by Savage’s abusive comments. He also stated, “Perceived as being in some critical way weak or lacking, victims of bullies are selected for persecution; they are pulled from the pack before being pointedly and repeatedly victimized.” Both Savage and Shore see conservative Christians as intellectually weak and morally lacking; both have singled out Christian teens as the targets of their comments; and now that Savage and Shore have teamed up in their bullying tactics, the Christian teens that walked out have been “pointedly and repeatedly victimized.“
Both Shore and Savage are correct when they assert that using the Bible to rationalize hatred, bigotry, and bullying is wrong. As a Christian, I agree that it is wrong for Christians to pull Biblical passages out of context to justify un-Biblical, un-Godly beliefs and behaviors, such as bullying. However, it is also blatantly hypocritical to use the same tactics to mock the Bible, call Christians names, and bully Christians both verbally and in written form.
Bullying is wrong, whether directed at LGBT people, at Christians, or at anyone else. My basis for making this statement is the Bible. Christians are told to “love your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18, Luke 10:27, Galatians 5:14). Attitudes like Savage’s and Shore’s really don’t surprise me, though. Both have rejected the authority of God’s Word. Shore calls himself an “Unfundamentalist Christian,” and rejects a literal, straight-forward understanding of the Bible. Savage calls parts of the Bible “bullsh**.” Without the absolute standard of the Word of God, they have no basis for their morality or ethics, other than themselves. And, when a person is their own ultimate authority, morality and ethics are whatever is convenient at the time.
Dan Savage did offer an apology for his remarks. But, he then defends his remarks. “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.”
That’s not what he said during his speech. He called the Bible “bullsh**,” which is an attack on the beliefs of all Bible-believing Christians.