In case you haven’t see this here is the video of the speech that the “anti-bullying” advocate Dan Savage gave at the National High School Journalism Conference sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press association. He was supposed to give a talk on bullying, but CitizenLink reports students were given an off-topic rant which led to a 100 or so students walking out as he mocked them as being “pansy ass.” You can watch his unfiltered comments below.
I’ve said numerous times that bullying needs to be addressed, but this is an example of how an important message has been hijacked. Unfortunately Mr. Savage and his program, “It Gets Better” has been endorsed by numerous celebrities, companies and even President Obama – see video below.
I’ll say again, bullying is wrong. It needs to be addressed with all students. But this linking suicide with bullying is making the reaction seem normal when it is anything but. I’ve written enough on that topic and don’t need to do so again.
Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition writes about why this incident should matter and gives details about Savage’s past that should make us ask why this guy is being taken seriously:
Despite being an "anti-bullying activist," Savage has a reputation for being a reprehensible bully who uses some of most disgusting tactics imaginable against people he hates. In 2001, during the Republican primary in 2000, Savage traveled to Iowa and became a campaign volunteer for Gary Bauer. During the trip, Savage became sick—"I had the flu in a big way"—and decided to use his illness as a bioweapon against Bauer and his staff. He boasts that he,
“. . . started licking doorknobs. The front door, office doors, even a bathroom door. When that was done, I started in on the staplers, phones and computer keyboards. Then I stood in the kitchen and licked the rims of all the clean coffee cups drying in the rack.”…
….In 2010, he garnered widespread acclaim for his "It Gets Better" campaign, an effort to prevent suicide among gay youth by having LGBT adults convey the message that the lives of these teens will eventually improve if they embrace their sexuality. The effort has been supported by dozens of influential politicians (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton), celebrities (Justin Bieber, Tom Hanks) and corporations (Google, Apple). The message is a worthy one—no young person should be bullied, much less be driven to suicidal angst over it—but the inescapable fact is that for those who follow Savage’s advice, heterosexual or homosexual, it won’t "get better."
"Our bodies are our own," he has said, "they’re ours to use, abuse, and since we’re all going to die one day, they’re ours to use up." Savage’s message to teens and young adults is that before they end their lives they need first to experience diseases, divorces, and drug overdoses. Your bodies are still young and supple, he implies, it would be a waste to shuffle off this mortal coil before you have a chance to trash it.
What is most depressing is not Savage’s message—that is standard hedonist propaganda—but rather the respect he is given despite being an amoral cretin. Savage is no longer just a guy who writes for the weekly tabloids. Now he’s taken seriously by political leaders, business executives, actors, and pastors. His influence extends from Hollywood to the White House….
Be sure to read the whole post. Pat Dollard posted a video of Rick Tuttle, the journalism advisor for Sutter Union High School being interviewed by Fox News’ Steve Doocy. He said as an educator he came to the speech thinking his students were going to here about bullying prevention, but instead some of his students were bullied themselves.
What little moral authority Dan Savage could be considered to have before this speech should now be considered gone.
A side note: I won’t address every issue that Savage brought up in his diatribe, but his comments on Philemon and how the Bible addresses slavery were simply ignorant. I’ve studied and preached on that book of the Bible numerous times. Paul was not encouraging slavery, quite the opposite. He was advocating for a runaway slave, something that was unheard of in the Roman Empire. It is obvious as well that Dan Savage is ignorant of history as the slavery in Israel can not be compared to what we saw pre-Civil War. Also, the Bible does not advocate slavery and in fact, again showing his ignorance of history, the first abolitionists were in fact Christian. During the Roman Empire the people who first spoke out against the carnage in Coliseum which would pit slaves against one another (many gladiators were slaves) were Christians. So if he’s going to go on a rant it would be great if he’d at least get his facts straight.