By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The manufactured outrage over Dan Savage’s remarks about the Bible that inspired what appears to be a staged walkout at a high school journalism conference may appear on its surface mostly to be a last stand of the anti-gay movement to regain ground by attacking one of the most compelling pro-gay activists in the country. And it is, but winning the immediate battle is really only the tip of the iceberg of what the right is trying to accomplish with this feigned outrage and claims that Savage is a “bully” because he accurately recounted what is in the Bible. It’s an attempt to redefine acceptable discourse so that statement of uncomfortable facts is considered off-limits, and, in fact, is redefined as “bigotry.” Unfortunately, some people are taking the bait, such as Jay Michaelson writing for the Daily Beast, in a tone that made it clear he would prefer to write from a prone position on his fainting couch, smelling salts strapped to his laptop. See, Michaelson is incredibly concerned that criticizing Christian teachings on homosexuality is bad for the gays.
Michaelson would be easy to write off as a concern troll, but to make things worse, he speaks a falsehood about Savage’s remarks. He says Savage’s remarks “represented a notable gay leader affirming that one must choose between sexuality and religion, between God and gay.” This is demonstrably untrue. In fact, if you actually read Savage’s remarks, he said the opposite:
We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people. The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.
What Savage was clearly saying was that it’s homophobes who are presenting a false dilemma with their claims that you have to denounce homosexuality to be a Christian. He was pointing out that it’s easy to reconcile pro-gay sentiment and Christianity by just doing what Christians are already doing when it comes to shellfish and slavery, which is preferring their own moral judgment over the Bible. So either Michaelson is lying about what Savage said, or he didn’t bother to read the comments he’s denouncing, or he has poor reading comprehension.