Anti-Bullying Speaker Curses Christian Teens. Or Maybe not.
Through the years I’ve learned to keep an eye on people with different viewpoints. For one it exposes me to new ideas and challenges my own ideas and what I base them on. When done right this can create an interesting exchange of ideas.
But sometimes, like with what I saw in my twitter feed this morning, it makes me cock an eyebrow and wonder what really happened (retweeted by Steven Crowder):
Anti-Bullying Speaker Curses, Mocks Christian Teens | FOX News & Commentary: Todd Starnes http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/anti-bullying-speaker-curses-mocks-christian-teens.html via @toddstarnes
The anti-bullying speaker they are talking about is Dan Savage. For those not familiar with him he’s the founder of the “It Gets Better” project, an anti-bullying campaign that has reached more than 40 million viewers. A very effective project for raising awareness about the bullying gays experience. Which, not uncommonly, can get so bad that people commit suicide to escape the bullying they are experiencing.
This project has garnered the support of many famous and influential people, such as president Obama:
For someone like Dan savage, who is behind a project that is anti-bullying and does its best to spread a message of hope for victims, it’s very strange to bully himself. This is why I cocked an eyebrow when I saw the tweet.
And the article indeed makes it look bad.
As many as 100 high school students walked out of a national journalism conference after an anti-bullying speaker began cursing, attacked the Bible and reportedly called those who refused to listen to his rant “pansy asses.”
The speaker was Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better” project, an anti-bullying campaign that has reached more than 40 million viewers with contributors ranging from President Obama to Hollywood stars. Savage also writes a sex advice column called “Savage Love.”
Savage was supposed to be delivering a speech about anti-bullying at the National High School Journalism Conference sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. But it turned into an episode of Christian-bashing.
Rick Tuttle, the journalism advisor for Sutter Union High School in California, was among several thousand people in the audience. He said they thought the speech was one thing – but it turned into something else.
“I thought this would be about anti-bullying,” Tuttle told Fox news. “It turned into a pointed attack on Christian beliefs.”
Tuttle said a number of his students were offended by Savage’s remarks – and some decided to leave the auditorium.
“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.”
Tuttle said the speech was laced with vulgarities and “sexual innuendo not appropriate for this age group.” At one point, he said Savage told the teenagers about how good his partner looked in a speedo.
The conservative website CitizenLink was the first to report about the controversy. They interviewed a 17-year-old girl who was one of students who walked out of the auditorium.
“The first thing he told the audience was, ‘I hope you’re all using birth control,’” she told CitizenLink. “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.”
As the teenagers were walking out, Tuttle said that Savage heckled them and called them “pansy asses.”
The NSPA said they did not have a prior transcript of Savage’s speech and that wish “he had stayed more on target for the audience of teen journalists.” They also said it provided a “teachable moment” for students.
As for Savage’s attack on people of faith?
“While some of his earlier comments were so strongly worded that they shook some of our audience members, it is never the intent of JEA or NSPA to let students get hurt during their time at our conventions,” they wrote.
However, not once did the NSPA or the JEA offer any apologies to the students or faculty advisors or anyone else in attendance.
Candi Cushman, who writes a blog on CitizenLink, noted the irony.
“Using profanity to deride the bible – and then mocking the Christian students after they left the room — is obviously a form of bullying and name-calling,” she wrote. “This illustrates perfectly what we’ve been saying all along: Too many times in the name of ‘tolerance,’ Christian students find their faith being openly mocked and belittled in educational environments.”
Tuttle said that he “felt duped” by the event. “There were Christian schools who went to the conference. To have this happen was disappointing and shocking.”
And for some of his students – they felt like the anti-bullying activist was in fact – the bully.
Looks bad doesn’t it? Not the kind of behaviour and language you would expect from an anti-bullying campaigner. So to figure out what transpired I did something novel: look up video material form the keynote. And the first hit on YouTube was the section of the keynote that this article is about.
Now that paints a different picture of what he’s conveying and transpired.
The only explicit being used in that section is the word “bullshit”, referring to the teachings of the bible on shellfish, slavery, infidelity and your wife being a virgin or not on her wedding night. Often stoning, or some other form of death sentence, is mandated as punishment for these sins.
Except slavery, the bible there gives you instructions on how you can treat your slaves. For one you are allowed to beat them to an inch of their lives, as long as they live at least two more days.
The word bullshit might have been too strong to use. But the bibles position is just as wrong on human sexuality as it is on those other subjects mentioned. We now know better.
Unfortunately there is still a large part of the population that hasn’t come to terms with our current understanding of sexuality. Hence the bullying a lot of gays, or such as transgendered, are the victim of during their life.
It is not wrong to call out this behaviour. It is not wrong to call out the hypocrisy and sensitivity from certain believers on these topics. The “pansyness” as Dan Savage called it.
Someone challenging your position, or beliefs, isn’t fun. And can even hurt, depending on how invested you are in the belief/position. But that isn’t bullying.
And neither is what Dan Savage did. His only crime being that he might have slammed down harder on these beliefs than might have been necessary considering his audience.