Bullying… At An Anti-Bullying Conference

From Todd Starnes:

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 assed.”

Writer and speaker Dan Savage was apparently asked to give a speech on anti-bullying at the National High School Journalism Conference. Instead, it turned into a “pointed attack on Christian beliefs.”

See the video clip below (language warning):


There’s so much in this tirade that ought to be addressed. So much. For now, however, I’ll content myself with making one observation: isn’t it a little ironic that this anti-bullying activist is using the very tactics he supposedly decries?

Linden Wolfe observes,

No one feels bullying is more wrong than I do (I know what it feels like to be bullied). So for all of us, Dan Savage included, I thought I’d share some information from a US Government website on bullying (Bullying Definition | StopBullying.gov). According to this group there are 3 types of bullying; verbal, social, and physical. Here are the some examples of the first 2:

Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm

Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

Based on this, I think it’s safe to say that Dan Savage was acting the bully or, at the very least, using bullying tactics. Yes, there is such a thing as righteous indignation but I don’t think this tirade qualifies.

Nope. Nothing righteous about it at all. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)

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27 thoughts on “Bullying… At An Anti-Bullying Conference”

  1. I got this through my email (through WND). I was thoroughly disgusted. I just couldn’t believe how disrespectful he was of the Bible (or at least what he called the contents.). I didn’t end up watching the video but just read what was in the report.
    So, what I’m still trying to wrap my mind around is the fact that they can say those things about Christians and not get banged up for it. If we Christians say ANYTHING against them, even if we just say we disagree, the media is all over us, protesters rally, and it’s one chaotic mess. What’s wrong with that picture?

  2. Wow. I, for one, could write papers upon papers on why he was so mistaken. (Unbelievers that “quote” the Bible crack me up sometimes…)

    But I’ll just say, “Wow,” for now, and eagerly await the rapture. For real :| That whole thing made me sad, but I’m proud of the people that walked out. I would have done the same I think.

  3. That’s incredibly sad. Yes, what he did was very wrong, but what sort of background with Christianity does he have? Lately, as a Christian, I’ve been going to the meetings of the local Athiest discussion group just to listen, see what they believe and why, and to show that we, as Christians, actually do care about them. I discovered that the only interactions they’ve had with Christianity is judgement, hypocrisy, and condemnation – bullying, in a sense. They don’t know what true Christianity is about. They don’t know about the old covenant – new covenant thing. They’re fighting fire with fire, as some of them would put it. Really, if we look deeper, it seems as though they’re actually asking us why we believe and follow this stuff. Why so many seem like (and are) hypocrites.
    I’m not making excuses for his behavior, I’m just sharing something I’ve noticed so others can better understand perhaps why he acted this way.

    1. Hi Pathfinder! Thanks for stopping by! :) Hypocritical Christians do indeed bring much shame to the cause of Christ, and we should guard against that. I think the reason for his lashing out goes deeper than that, though. His “temper-tantrum” is a manifestation of the truth of Romans 8:7: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

      It’s apparent that Savage has a problem, not only with bullying, but with the Bible’s stance on homosexuality as well. Hence his vulgar advice: just ignore the **** in the Bible.

  4. Thanks for sharing this video and comments on it… I’m so proud of those students who walked out! Awesome… and yes, it’s true that there are some Christians who need to show more love, acceptance and forgiveness to sinners (Jesus was called, after all, the friend of sinners), it’s so ironic that this speaker did the very things he accused Christians of having done to him… hypocrisy at its worst!

  5. Okay, I guess I’ll be the lone dissenter. :)

    First of all, I don’t consider it good form to walk out on someone just because you don’t agree with his position. If we don’t listen to those who disagree, how will we ever know our position is the right one? Granted, if he had avoided using the bs term, more people may have continued to listen with an open mind. I think he should have been more tactful.

    I read this entire post before I watched the video, so I had expected screaming and irrationality. Except for the vulgarities, I didn’t find much to complain about. He’s right about what the Bible teaches. And he’s right that it’s a major contributing factor to the mistreatment that gay people face. I know that the NT also teaches against homosexuality, but I hear many Christians refer back to the passages in the OT. So he’s right to point out the hypocrisy in which some of those Christians so vociferously condemn homosexuality, but they’ll wear clothing with mixed fabrics, they’ll eat shellfish, they’ll handle dead pigskin (like a football). His complaints are spot-on, even if you don’t like the way he presented it.

    The one place he stepped out of line was in referring to people as “pansy-ass.” But I wonder if everyone would be so upset if he had said that in reference to a bully that had beaten smaller children, but then cried out and whimpered when someone finally had the nerve to stand up to him. Do any of you feel that Ralphie was out of line for finally standing up to the bully in A Christmas Story, or do you feel a sense of satisfaction? Isn’t “pansy-ass” a pretty appropriate description of that kid, after the way he mercilessly treated Ralphie? From Dan Savage’s position, he was doing no different. Countless people have been bullied severely for being different, whether it’s because of their sexuality, their interests, their mannerisms, or their appearance. I can assure you that Savage has also faced persecution for being gay. In his mind, referring to these religious people as “pansy-ass” was simply a way of pointing out their hypocrisy. Was it over the top? Maybe so. But reacting against him in this way just seems to show an unwillingness to deal with his actual comments. Why should he be expected to show reverence to a set of teachings that says he’s evil and deserving of death? How many of you show reverence to the Islamic teachings that say Muslims should kill Christians? Let’s try to have a little more perspective here.

    Thanks for hearing me out.
    /rantoff :)

    1. Hi Nate! I won’t try to address eveything in your comment, but here are a few thoughts… :)

      I don’t consider it good form to walk out on someone just because you don’t agree with his position.

      Good form or not, the students had every right to do what they did. Once the cussing started, Savage began slipping from cool-headed argumentation to vitrioloc ranting. It’s understandable that the students would choose not to give him any more of their time.

      He’s right to point out the hypocrisy in which some of those Christians so vociferously condemn homosexuality, but they’ll wear clothing with mixed fabrics, they’ll eat shellfish, they’ll handle dead pigskin (like a football).

      There’s a big difference between homosexuality and the other activities you mentioned. I believe it’s arguable (from scripture) that there are no longer restrictions on handling pork or eating shellfish. Nowhere, however, do I see homosexuality excused or condoned in the Bible.

      As for calling the students “pansy-assed”…

      I haven’t seen the movie you referenced, so I can’t really speak to that. :) However, I will say that there’s a difference between standing up to a bully and acting the bully yourself. It would be one thing for me to stand up to a bully, and if necessary, even fight him. It would be another thing entirely if I started using the same tactics I accused the bully of.

      Dan Savage’s insult was hurled directly at the students who were leaving. He then excused it by saying that he had a right to “defend” himself. To which I say… defend himself from what? He wasn’t being attacked, either verbally or physically, at that moment. The students weren’t causing an uproar. They weren’t shouting him down, throwing things at him, or namecalling. They simply picked up their books and left quietly. I fail to see how that merits such an insult.

      1. Hi Ink,
        Thanks for the reply.

        There’s a big difference between homosexuality and the other activities you mentioned. I believe it’s arguable (from scripture) that there are no longer restrictions on handling pork or eating shellfish. Nowhere, however, do I see homosexuality excused or condoned in the Bible.

        I agree with you. However, there are many Christians who still believe they are supposed to follow the OT. So for them, there should be no difference b/t homosexuality and all the other more mundane issues I referenced. The fact that they treat them differently shows their hypocrisy. And even if we were sticking to the NT’s prohibition against homosexuality, Christians shouldn’t view gays any differently than they view people who have premarital sex. But when was the last time someone was bullied for that?

        As to the pansy-ass thing, I largely agree with you. It was inappropriate. I suppose you could even make a case that it was bullying. However, when compared to the horrible things that have been done against gay people, it’s nothing. Plus, I do think that Savage was equating these kids (rightly or wrongly) with the religious people who have bullied others. If he had actually been addressing kids who had bullied others for their sexual orientation, then I could see how his term might be justified. In other words, I agree with you that it was inappropriate and not the best way to handle the situation, but trying to say it’s the same thing as what gays have faced from actual bullies is going too far.

        Regardless of where we sit on this issue, I think there’s a real danger in both sides losing sight of what’s important. Dan Savage is right to be upset about the horrible things that have happened to the victims of bullying. But he needs to make sure that in criticizing bullying, he doesn’t go too far and persecute an innocent group of people. At the same time, those in the religious community shouldn’t look for an excuse to dismiss what he’s saying. Discrimination against the LGBT community is a real thing, and it’s despicable. Christians have often used the saying “hate the sin, love the sinner.” And even though that rubs some people the wrong way, I understand the intent behind it, and it doesn’t really bother me. When I was a Christian, I personally believed that homosexuality was a sin. But I didn’t want to see a homosexual person treated differently because of it. And I was still friends with several gay people. Their lifestyle didn’t affect me, and they should have the right to live how they see fit. That’s where we should all be able to agree on this issue. What do you think?

        One last thing: if you’ve never seen A Christmas Story, TBS airs it 24 (or 48?) hours straight through Christmas. You should check it out this year… it’s a classic. :)

        1. Sexual immorality, in general, is treated far too flippantly by Christians these days. That’s a problem for sure.

          And I agree: bullying is never a good way to handle something. However, I’m also noticing subtle shifts in the way certain people define “bullying.” For example, if I were to tell a homosexual that his lifestyle was sinful, that it was wrong according to scripture – many would consider that to be bullying.

          Christians should be reaching out to homosexuals and showing them the love of Christ; to do otherwise would be unChristian. But it would also be unChristian to condone homosexuality and act as if it’s no big deal.

          On this particular subject, I really like this guy’s thoughts.

          And thanks for the heads-up about A Christmas Story. I’ll make a point of checking it out come the holiday season. :D

          1. I’ll check out the link — thanks.

            And I agree with you that it shouldn’t be considered “bullying” just because you tell someone what you think about homosexuality. Of course, neither is it bullying for a non-believer to tell Christians why they think the Bible is false. And I think you would agree with that.

            Thanks for the great conversation. :)

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