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April 19, 2012 Print

Savage incident shows why we need the Day of Dialogue

by Candi Cushman

You might have noticed the sobering story in the CitizenLink Daily Update e-mail yesterday about how a gay activist speaking at a high school journalism conference used profanity to describe the Bible—prompting several Christian students to leave the room.

One of the students told our reporter that after they left the room, they were mocked. “He was calling people that walked out pansies,” the student said. 

It’s important to note that Savage is no small player in the cultural scene: He created the nationwide “It Gets Better” campaign, which even President Obama joined by contributing a video. Many schools have participated in the campaign. (Read more about Dan Savage and his campaign here.)

So it’s significant—and extremely ironic— that Savage would feel the freedom to display such intolerance during a speech that was supposed to be about bullying prevention.

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. 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. Incidents like this one stand in stark contrast to the principles we’ve continually espoused on our Web sites, truetolerance.org and dayofdialogue.com, which call for a free exchange of ideas and respect for different viewpoints, including those that are faith-based and socially conservative.

It also powerfully illustrates why there is a need for events like the Day of Dialogue, which is taking place today, with thousands of students in at least 40 states participating. The Day of Dialogue creates a much-needed safe space for students of faith to feel welcome to articulate their point of view in a loving and respectful manner when these topics are introduced in their schools.


  • Gwlavoie

    Excellent, well written report! Thank you.

  • Tom Smiley

    Sounds like the students participated in the Day of Silence.  They were offended, they were slient and they left. How much better this is than confrontation.

  • Guest

    Let me get this straight, Candi.  High school students attending an optional conference in Seattle called ‘Journalism on the Edge’ chose to attend a keynote speech by Seattle-based Dan Savage, whose subject matter and tone is well-known and potentially controversial.  What exactly did the students who walked out expect to hear from him?  

    And other than employing coarser language than you’d like him to use, what did he say that was so wrong?  As he pointed out on his Twitter account, “Daddy was a Catholic deacon, I went to a seminary, thought about priesthood.  Familiar with diff between Old & New Ts, thx.”  He seems to have some knowledge on the subject.  All it sounds like he did in his speech is point out that it’s a little hypocritical to excuse the Bible for its statements on slavery and misogyny and the proper way to clean or eat food, but follow it to the letter on human sexuality (or claim that it’s so clear on human sexuality in the first place).  

    If you take a closer look at Dan Savage, you might actually find that, beneath the bluster, he’s a pretty moral, conservative family man.  His love for his husband and for his kid is the same as yours or mine.  It’s nonsense to believe that his explicit but positive, funny, and sound advice and opinions do anywhere close to the harm to religious freedom that the ‘Day of Dialogue’ or ‘True Tolerance’ does to the self-esteem and self-worth of thousands of gay or questioning kids in this country, never mind the straight kids of gay parents or any straight relatives or friends of gay people.  In many ways, sexuality included, people are who they are, and there’s no use in or need to worry about changing them.  

    • Ckaplan

      There is nothing conservative about Dan Savage and his taunting of those who walked out was no less bullying than what he “preaches” against.

    • Quagmire

      Let me get this straight…after noting a book (the Bible) that disagreed with his lifestyle, Mr. Savage mocked it and and those who ascribe to its teachings.  I wonder why he didn’t include he Koran too; it’s not tolerant of his lifestyle either.  Or perhaps he’s just found an easy group to bully, one not noted for…retaliation.  Like most bullys, Mr. Savage is a coward too.  Using a podium to … act like Hitler; speaking to his “party” while the “Jews” have to decide how much to take.

    • Larenzo1

      Horse apples he is not a family man period. he is the bully

    • nobody

       Short version:  bullying is OK if gays do it to Christians.

    • Guest

      Well said, particularly about the piece concerning ‘True Tolerance’ and ‘Day of Dialogue.’ 

  • Steve

    The problem I have is Dan Savage “preaches” against bullying, but that is what he did to the Christian students by calling them pansies.

    Shouldn’t we say bullying of anyone is wrong and shouldn’t we treat everyone with respect?

  • Guest

    How dare you speak of intolerance when you advocate websites such as “truetolerance.” A website that utilizes language in such a manner as to appear tolerant, yet in reality, seeks to silence a minority and to have diversity of curriculum removed, solely trumpeting the Christian worldview and the traditionalist family unit instead. Savage mocked Christian students? Why ought religion (Christianity) to be allowed its own pedestal free from harsh criticism, specially earned criticism? 

  • Devout Christian

    I watched Dan Savage’s video in full.  If you want to educated yourself, you don’t walk out, you listen.  I found his argument persuasive.  It challenged my thinking.  If the Bible got slavery, shellfish, and virginity wrong, isn’t it possible it got homosexuality wrong as well?  Just sayin’…

  • Mullis

    He called them pansies? What did he expect? I think he wanted a confrontation so he could claim to be a victim of an attack from Christian high school students. But what did they do after he proverbally slapped them in the face? They “turned the other cheek.” It reminds me of the stoning of Steven, the more he spoke of Christ, the more he was hated. Jesus Himself said that Christians will be hated because He is hated and He is hated because He does what is right and gives His followers the power to do what is right.and BECOME God’s children. Only Christ was born the Son of God. The rest of us are born fallen and subject to the god of this world, Satan. We only become a child of God when we accept the price that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross and repent, after we realize that we are in sin and need a Savior. It is as simple as that. Everyone has a right to an opinion and to live however they wish. If a person believes the Bible and accepts Christ, they live according to the very scriptures that Mr. Savage had his tirate over. Christians didn’t make this stuff up and the scriptures have been accepted as truth by cultures (even non-Christian) for thousands of years. This may make people like Mr, Savage angry, but that doesn’t change anything. The Bible says the Children of God must be at peace with others if at all posible. That’s why he got the reaction he did from the students. Its too bad that Christians are expected to be reasonable and quiet, yet are ridiculed and called pansies for simply leaving a room.

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