The author of a sex advice column is drawing criticism for his insulting comments directed at high school students who walked out of a talk he was giving at a journalism conference.
Known for his use of candid insults against those who oppose his views, homosexual activist Dan Savage is also the founder of the “It Gets Better” campaign to prevent bullying of gay youth.
However high school students reported being bullied by Savage in a talk given at the recent National High School Journalism Conference.
“We can learn to ignore the bullsh--t in the Bible about gay people,” Savage said in his talk.
More than 100 students walked out of the auditorium as he continued to mock the Bible. Savage then taunted those who left, calling them “pansy-a--ed.”
One 17-year-old student who was present during the speech told family advocacy organization CitizenLink that she recalled thinking, “This is not going a good direction at all.”
Although she describes herself as “shy” and not one to “stir up anything,” she eventually walked out of the talk as Savage proceeded to criticize the Bible and was among those called a “pansy-a--” for doing so.
The girl’s father, a public school teacher, said that Savage had exhibited “bullying behavior.”
“It has all the symptoms, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
The Media Research Center obtained comments from Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, who commented on the April 13 talk in Seattle, Wash.
LaBarbera said that Savage’s speech was strewn with “wildly inappropriate comments” and “gross, perverted jokes,” including lewd remarks about his own anatomy.
In addition to telling the students that America has a “Christianity and a Bible problem,” Savage also said that Pope Benedict XVI is “secretly gay” and proceeded to hurl vulgar insults at him, said LaBarbera.
Furthermore, he added, Savage acknowledged that the goal of his It Gets Better program is “to talk to kids whether their parents want us to or not. From the outset there was an outstretched middle finger.”
“Dan Savage is the face of progressive-hate and he himself is a walking hate-crime,” said LaBarbera.
Savage’s comments have also drawn strong criticism from other homosexual activists.
Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay-advocacy group GOProud, responded to the incident by denouncing Savage’s “attacks on Christianity.”
“It is ironic that someone whose claim to fame is fighting bullying would resort to bullying tactics in attacking high school students who were offended by his outrageous remarks,” he said in an April 28 statement.
Savage later defended his talk in a blog post, saying, “I'm not guilty of saying anything that hasn't been said before.”
LaBarbera also noted the irony of bullying behavior coming from a man who runs an anti-bullying campaign. He questioned why Savage was permitted to give such an offensive talk to a high school audience.
“Are there any moral standards or decency here?” he asked.