Religious Hatred Redux: Dan Savage is a Genius.

by f


Dan Savage


I’m sorry I’ve been away. Though my stomach problems have continued through the week, I think I’m starting to recover now. (Knock on wood — I was bad and had a limoncello mousse with graham cracker crust, though, so my progress remains to be seen.)

I’ll get back to the business of writing about things in earnest.

Before the hour strikes midnight, though, I want to share two important things with you.

Three days ago, Dan Savage answered a question from a Christian reader who claimed that although he condemned homosexuality, he did not support violence against gay teens. Savage’s response was swift, brutal, and awesome.

A question: Do you “support” atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All are legal, all go against Christian and/or traditional ideas about marriage, and yet there’s no “Christian” movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or people divorcing and remarrying.

Why the hell not?

Sorry, L.R., but so long as you support the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, it’s clear that you do believe that some people—straight people—are “better or more worthy” than others.

It gets better from there. Savage also says that considering gay people as “unworthy of full civil equality” is equal to the claim that gays are unequal and therefore less worthy than straight people (countering an assertion made by the OP in the last line of his letter).

It’s easy for folks to make abstract assertions like these: “we hate the sin but not the sinner” and “it might be an abomination, but my heart goes out to these troubled people who’ve made bad lifestyle choices“. The reality is dangerous: children take these attitudes and attack their gay peers. These attitudes kill people. It also means demanding that gay teenagers withhold a crucial part of their identity to please others. This feeling of isolation drives many to the brink of total collapse.

It’s simple; to be anti-gay means supporting teen suicides.

I gave Savage a big ol’ hurrah when I read his last two paragraphs:

Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?

Did that hurt to hear? Good. But it couldn’t have hurt nearly as much as what was said and done to Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and Cody Barker and Seth Walsh—day-in, day-out for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God, but in the image of the hateful and false “followers of Christ” they call Mom and Dad.

A radio host named Michelangelo Signorile similarly handed a caller’s ass back to him wrt a similar question.

I urge you to please watch the whole thing. He says what Dan Savage wrote, and the cluelessness of the caller speaks volumes. You can see him trying to justify his own bigotry and hatred to a man who just isn’t having it anymore.

This is what change looks like. It’s happening over the bodies of dead teenagers. It’s a cause that’s producing many young martyrs and it has got to stop.

2 Comments to “Religious Hatred Redux: Dan Savage is a Genius.”

  1. We’ve let people get away with these veiled, backhanded insults for too long. Lifestyle choice, hate the sin but love the sinner, sanctity of marriage, protect the children. All just sterilized ways of saying unclean, immoral and inhuman.

    This poison doesn’t only infect the kids who are queer or just come off as queer or the kids who bully queers. It tells all the other kids that they must never, ever step outside the norm. They must never even approach the line between normality and abnormality. They watch, every day, as their friends, family, and peers perpetuate this cycle of punishing those who are different. It is stifling, and I’m sure it’s killed the hopes, dreams and imaginations of more young people than we can ever apologize to. This quashing of individuality ultimately hurts our entire society. Don’t dare to think outside the box, kiddo, or this could be you hanging from a rope in the backyard.

    People are upset by what Savage and Signorile say only because they know it’s true, and they know that deep within themselves they still harbor these prejudices. If a little verbal smackdown can help shift their primitive views, then lets go for it.

    The caller in this clip says he’s showing respect, but he’s actually showing a sort of controlled tolerance. This is better than being hostile, but it’s still far from good. In order to continue to think that homosexuality is morally wrong and that all those who practice it are going to hell, this man has to distance himself, he has to turn off his full compassion for such people. If he didn’t, he would never be able to simultaneously believe in a loving and just god.

    As Signorile says, churches can and do change. They change, or they die out. Catholocism has dug its heels in (minus Vatican II) and it is suffering for it. The rest of Christianity will find itself slipping as well if it doesn’t keep up with the times. We as a society now condemn oppression and bigotry, and we’re peeling away the ways in which these things have been institutionalized.

  2. I totally agree with you and D! You can’t claim that you aren’t being bigoted and hateful and hurtful, just because your holy book says it’s okay to do so. Things just don’t work that way, not in reality. You can claim that in the physical, but it doesn’t make it true just because you said it. And, I love what Savage and Signorile said to the people who tried to tell them otherwise. People don’t like to be called bigots, they don’t like to think that they really are bigots. So, they look for ways to justify their prejudice. Many find justification in their religion. I love that Savage and Signorile aren’t wasting time saying that that just doesn’t wash, that no matter what you use to justify prejudice and bigotry it is STILL prejudice and bigotry and it is STILL harmful and as long as you adhere to and support prejudice and bigotry, you are supporting all the terrible acts that occur in the name of that bigotry and prejudice. If people don’t like hearing that, I think that’s a good sign. Maybe some of them will think deeper and change their ways. Many won’t, but some probably will. That’s a good thing. And it draws a line in the sand for those who don’t.

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