Dan Savage Apologizes for Bullying During Anti-Bullying Speech

The 'It Gets Better' founder is backpedaling -- sort of -- after a speech to high school journalists turned into an anti-Christian screed.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Columnist Dan Savage accepts a special recognition award for the "It Gets Better Project" during the 15th annual Webby Awards in New York June 13, 2011.

Advice columnist Dan Savage, the founder of the ‘It Gets Better’ project — a series of web videos devoted to helping victims of bullying — is facing charges of bullying himself after a speech to a group of high school journalists in Seattle turned into a rant at several students who walked out in protest mid-speech.

Focusing on what he called the “hypocrisy” of Christians who wouldn’t condemn anti-gay bullying because of Biblical strictures on homosexuality, Savage said:

“We can learn to ignore the bulls— in the Bible about gay people… the same way we have learned to ignore the bulls— in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bulls— in the Bible about all sorts of things.”

(MORE: 10 Questions for Dan Savage)

That was the point at which a group of about 20 or 30 students and advisors quietly stood up and walked out of the auditorium. “It’s funny, as someone who is the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back,” Savage said after they had left.

One of the attendees, Rick Tuttle, a journalism advisor from Sutter Union High School in California, told Fox News his students were surprised that instead of an anti-bullying message, they received “a vulgar, profanity-laced attack on Christians.”

On Monday, the event’s organizers, the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association, called out Savage for having “belittled the faith of others.” Student journalism, they said,  “should not shy away from controversial topics and viewpoints. But it should promote and engage in civil discourse. Mr. Savage’s speech fell short of that standard, and for this our organizations apologize.”

In a statement published on the website of the Seattle newspaper The Stranger, Savage tried to make amends, sort of:

I would like to apologize for describing that walk out as a pansy-assed move. I wasn’t calling the handful of students who left pansies (2800+ students, most of them Christian, stayed and listened), just the walk-out itself. But that’s a distinction without a difference — kinda like when religious conservatives tells their gay friends that they ‘love the sinner, hate the sin. They’re often shocked when their gay friends get upset because, hey, they were making a distinction between the person (lovable!) and the person’s actions (not so much!). But gay people feel insulted by ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ because it is insulting. Likewise, my use of ‘pansy-assed’ was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong. And I apologize for saying it.

He also claimed that he was not targeting Christianity, as some said, but “hypocrisy.” NewsFeed thinks he probably also shouldn’t have used the term ‘bulls—‘ quite so often in a speech to a group of teenagers.

VIDEO: Dan Savage Leaves Colbert Speechless