So by now I’m sure all of you have heard that Dan Savage – sex columnist and founder of the It Gets Better campaign – spoke at the National High School Journalism Conference the other day. Here’s a video clip and a transcript of part of his speech:
SAVAGE: We can learn to ignore the bullshit about gay people in the Bible the same way 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. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waived Bibles over their heads during the civil war and justified it…We ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong. …If the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery. What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100 percent.
I chuckle when I read this because I said essentially the same thing yesterday without being aware of this having happened. The odds are very good that the bible, as a whole, gets everything wrong. True, there are parts that speak of loving your neighbor, caring for the sick, and praying in a closet, but when the rest is riddled with genocide, slavery, and the command to punish a rape victim for not calling for help loudly enough, I tend to agree that it is a failed moral document.
Apparently several kids got up and left in protest. I assume they were a few of the more devout types who were fed up with hearing the basis for their faith ridiculed like this. Later on some conservative sites started attacking Savage for “bullying” them, in part because of what he said after he was done speaking about the bible in particular:
“You can tell the Bible guys in the hall, they can come back now because I’m done beating up the Bible,” Savage said before moving on to his next topic, “It’s funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-ass some people react when you push back.”
Now, I can agree that the snide comment may have been unnecessary – and Dan apologized for his choice of words – but I can’t feel too sorry for them. The bible has been used for centuries to justify some pretty horrible things, and even though their severity has dropped precipitously in recent years because of the ever-forward movement of modern society and secular law, it’s still being done … albeit in a comparatively subtle fashion. All you have to do is look at the way most republicans view cosmology, evolution, abortion, gay marriage, and female sexuality as a whole and you’ll see a reflection of evangelical religious thinking staring back at them.
So while these kids may not have been responsible for any discrimination, bullying, harassment, or mistreatment of their peers – I personally have no idea and won’t say one way or the other – I can’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for them if they take offense at the vocalization of only rational response one can have to a book that modern society has collectively agreed we can dismiss as obsolete.