Very often, we are quick to criticize others based on our personal perception of things and the amount of religious enculturation we have experienced in our lives. For many it's hard to give into the idea that one can be wrong and the other person can be right. But once we face the same criticism that others are subject to, the moral perception of right and wrong can easily evolve through the power of empathy.
Dan Savage giving a lecture at the National High School Journalist Conference.
Recently, Dan Savage, a sex columnist and founder of the 'It Gets Better' project, gave a speech at a national high school journalism conference in Washington. The lecture was supposed to focus on anti-bullying, but the only thing that made it into the headlines was the fact that Savage had given his opinion about the Bible, some students did not agree with it and walked out of the conference, and following this, Savage called them “pansy-ass.” It did not take long for the gay Republicans of the GOProud (still confused on the gay and Republican thing) to make their comments about the lecture public, and, as expected, the combination between Christian and gay equaled a newsworthy story for Fox News. The 'conservative media' was making a rather amusing effort to portray Savage as the anti-bullying crusader who is a bully himself, and the message of progress and equality intended for the lecture was soon lost among the headlines.
Savage has since apologized for calling the Christians who walked out of the conference pansy-ass. The reasons why he apologized are understandable, but the apology itself may have been unnecessary in this particular case. To better understand why an apology was not needed, let us take a look at his exact words: “We can learn to ignore the bullshit about gay people in the Bible the same way have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waived Bibles over their heads during the civil war and justified it…we ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong…if the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100 percent.”
By this point in the lecture, a couple of dozen students walked out. Before going into the next subject, Savage said: “You can tell the Bible guys in the hall they can come back now because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-ass some people react when you push back.”
If anyone could point out the one thing that is incorrect about what is mentioned above, then the students were right to feel offended and by all means deserve an apology. It is important to note, however, that most students walked out as soon as Savage said “We'll just talk about the Bible for a second.” If you know that your religious views do not endorse slavery and the others mentioned, why feel attacked? Some will argue that he should not have called the students any names, but in the context given, he did not call them pansy-ass because they agreed with the Bible. He was referring to the act of walking out when they heard something they did not like. If anyone asks me, there's no doubt that I consider that a fairly pansy attitude.
In the end, Dan Savage did nothing more than give his opinion on a subject that should be a concern for anyone with the slightest sense of justice. If the Pope does not have to apologize for calling homosexuals an abomination, then Savage is within his right to call things as he sees them. Nobody is demanding an apology from Rick Santorum for accusing gay people of being pedophiles and zoophiliacs. Compared to that, pansy-ass seems more of a compliment than anything else. The fact that someone may not be willing to hear the truth does not mean that everyone else should stay quiet.