Who is Dan Savage?

Sunday’s New York Times magazine featured a cover story that approvingly discusses sex columnist Dan Savage and the propriety of consensual adultery. There is so much to say about the piece that I almost don’t know where to begin. Let’s first note that the piece is very nicely and ably presented by the paper’s religion writer Mark Oppenheimer and editor Vera Titunik. The quality of the writing is great.

And another thing that’s good about the piece is that it implicitly addresses something that’s been woefully undercovered by the mainstream media — how redefining marriage from a procreative union based on the complementary nature of the sexes into something based on personal fulfillment could radically alter the social norms that accompany that institution. It provides part of the answer to the supposedly rhetorical question, “How could legalizing same-sex marriage affect my marriage?”

This puffy discussion of the benefits of consensual adultery could be seen as part of the political and cultural movement to divorce marriage from the purpose of the creation, care and raising of children, but at least the topic is broached of how social norms change as laws governing sex change. But this biological reality of how intercourse and intercourse alone result in procreation, around which the institution of marriage has traditionally been based, is only given the briefest possible mention — a phrase — before being basically ignored for the rest of the piece in which monogamy is characterized as little more than “boredom, despair, lack of variety and sexual death.”

If you are looking for a more balanced exploration of Savage’s sexual ethics, one that also praises his writing while asking some pretty tough questions about his views on what sex is and what it means, you’d be much better served by reading the Washington Monthly piece by Benjamin Dueholm.

In the New York Times hagiography of Savage, we’re told that he’s best known for creating the “It Gets Better” campaign to support gay teens.

In the Washington Monthly piece, you’ll be reminded of Savage’s “Germ Warfare” when he was so obsessed with physically harming Gary Bauer that he infiltrated his campaign and then set out to get as many of “his people” sick as he could, hoping that one of them would infect the candidate. He licked office doorknobs, bathroom doorknobs, staplers, phones, computer keyboard and the rims of all the clean coffee cups. Later he sucked on a pen and gave it to Bauer to sign a photograph with. The New York Times‘ Ethicist column defended this as a justifiable political act. Now the Times just ignores it.

Savage also engaged in voter fraud in Iowa, and his lawyer noted that not a single member of the media noticed it when he plead guilty to the charge.

When Sen. Rick Santorum suggested that the arguments being made in the Lawrence v. Texas case on gay sex might lead to the idea that all consensual sexual activity, from bestiality to adultery to polygamy, etc., should be legal, Savage got so mad that he asked his readers to come up with a disgusting definition for which the word “Santorum” would be used. I will never understand how people think this makes Santorum, and not anal sex, look bad but the definition he chose was “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” This wasn’t mentioned in the Times piece either.

He was so mad at Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren for supporting Proposition 8 in California that he defined “saddlebacking” as “the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities.” He vowed to boycott Utah for similar reasons, writing “F— you, Utah — we’re going to big, blue Colorado.”

What else? He once said a political candidate he didn’t like should be “be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.

And at this point, I’m assuming you get the idea. Savage is a very engaging writer and his sexual ethics have taken the country by storm, but the hatefulness of his speech is staggering. I guess this piece on how awful the norm of monogamy is and how awesome consensual adultery is wouldn’t quite have worked if we’d heard some of this. Instead, we’re told:

Savage was raised in ethnic-Irish Chicago, one of four children of a cop and a homemaker. He did some time in Catholic school, and his writing bears traces of the church’s stark moral clarity, most notable in his impatience with postmodern or queer theorizing or anything that might overturn the centrality of the stable nuclear family.

Savage is not a churchgoer, but he is a cultural Catholic. Listeners to “This American Life,” which since 1996 has aired his homely monologues about his family, might recognize the kinship of those personal stories to the Catholic homilies Savage heard every Sunday of his childhood. Less a scriptural exegesis, like what you get in many a Protestant church, the priest’s homily is often short and framed as a fable or lesson: it’s an easily digested moral tale. You can hear that practiced didacticism in his radio segments about DJ, the son that he and Terry Miller, his husband, adopted as an infant, and you can hear it in the moving piece he read about his mother, who, on her deathbed, said she loved Terry “like a daughter.”

And you can hear it in the It Gets Better project, Savage’s great contribution to family values.

All I know is that I want Mark Oppenheimer writing an article about me. It reminds me of this time I sat on a jury and couldn’t stop thinking about how I would want Billy Martin to be my defense attorney if I ever committed a serious crime. But such a glowing description of a man like Savage is, again, more hagiography than journalism.

I’ve gone on too long here, so we’ll address the substance of the piece in a subsequent post. But how do you think someone such as Dan Savage should be presented? Should his vile words and actions be ignored? Do you think the Times would perform similar dramatic absolutions on people who support traditional values? For what it’s worth, in an online addendum to the piece, Oppenheimer confesses his love for Savage and his values and even praises him for some of what I mentioned above.

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  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    “Go to Colorado”? The “hate state”?(http://www.google.com/search?q=colorado+hate+state&ie=UTF-8). It’s so hard to keep track of what’s Politically Correct.

    To tie in with another recent topic: some years ago Savage was the target of an orchestrated mail campaign from anti-circumcision militants after one of his columns suggested the procedure was not such an outrage. (He noted that some of the mail came from areas where he is not syndicated.)

  • Bram

    “All I know is that I want Mark Oppenheimer writing an article about me.”

    Oh, no you don’t, Mollie. Oh, no you don’t. Be careful what you wish for.

    My guess — based on Oppenheimer’s treatment of the aptly named Savage — is that Oppenheimer’s article on you would be derogatory indeed.

    That’s what one would expect — given your “ignorant” and “bigoted” views — from a left-liberal polemicist, as opposed to a journalist.

  • Corita

    I think that the reporter is bringing up religion in a general sense to set up a positive, halcyon glow over the ensuing topic: “family values,” homilies, etc.

    What Savage represents, however, is more like the abusive moralizer found in amongst religious people. Read his columns with anything like a critical eye and you will see that.

    I am sitting here trying to imagine what would happen if a pro-life activist advocated “germ warfare” against an abortion doctor. I think s/he would be considered nothing less than a terrorist.

  • Harold

    What does the “hatefulness of his speech” have to do with his opinions on monogamy in relationships, as part of a larger story about monogamy? We get you don’t like Savage and what he says, but I’m still not sure what that has to do with a column/magazine article about monogamy.

  • Mark

    I read the article in the Times and was greatly saddened to realize that what was once proscribed is the new normal. The economic woes of our country pale by comparison with this moral disorder.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Harold,

    As Oppenheimer himself notes, this was a profile of Savage and his views on consensual adultery.

    And the question in this post is how one should present someone such as Dan Savage. I pointed out how he was presented in the Times and how that ignored some pretty significant examples of hate speech and violence.

    I can see where fans of Savage and his morality would be jubilant over a piece that presented him as a family values conservative, but is it good journalism?

  • Bram

    Harold,

    Presumably, the hatefulness of, say, Fred Phelps’s speech has no bearing, for you, on his opinions about, say, homosexuality. We get that you don’t like Phelps and what he says, but we’re glad that you would nonetheless give Phelps’s views the same kind of sympathetic airing in an article that you yourself wrote as Oppenheimer gives to Savage’s opinions here.

  • Dale

    What does the “hatefulness of his speech” have to do with his opinions on monogamy in relationships

    That’s not an accurate description of the article. The article is clearly about Savage, and uses his unconventional opinions about monogamy as a jumping off point. When Oppenheimer whitewashes Savage’s bigotry and hate, he becomes dishonest.

    We get you don’t like Savage and what he says

    Sorry, Harold, but this is not a matter of opinion. Savage uses vile, hateful language repeatedly in a public forum. Oppenheimer clearly doesn’t want people to know that this “expert” on sex and bullying is a world-class bully towards anyone who disagrees with his sexual ethics (or lack thereof).

  • Bram

    If anyone has ever doubted that left-liberalism can be an extremism, a fundamentalism, and a fanaticism, I submit Harold’s defense of a man who compared one person to fecal matter and fantasized about killing another person by dragging him behind a truck until his body was reduced to shreds of flesh and shards of bone. Apparently such evil and/or psychopathic hate-speech is A-OK if one belongs to the left and holds liberal views on politics and especially religion and — above all — sex.

  • Martha

    What struck me about the piece was that it was written from the male view: men are not naturally monogamous, men can easily separate sex and love, stick together for the kids, etc. etc. etc.

    How about women? How many of the men who would find no difficulty with the expressed “she meant nothing to me, honey, it was just sex” view would be as understanding if it came to the wife? I think I remember, from years back, a poll or article which said something to that effect: men who were asked should adultery be grounds for divorce were majority in favour that it was no big thing – unless it was the woman, not the man, having the fling.

    So I wonder about heterosexual consensual adultery – can it really work that easily? Also, I would really liked to have seen more about Savage’s husband, who had to be convinced by Savage that affairs on the side were okay; was this the same thing as women who were talked into things because of fear that if they refused, their lover/husband would leave them? We don’t get anything other than “I was old-fashioned until Dan explained everything to me”.

  • Bill

    The whole piece seemed rather puerile. Some people find monogamy inconvenient because it limits their sexual freedom. And that, we’re told, is very, very bad. It leads to boredom. So let’s just admit that indiscriminate bathhouse sex is equivalent to and compatible with monogamous marriage. If you can’t whip the one you love, whip the one you’re with.

    Savage “did some time” in Catholic school, but thankfully has recovered and is now ever so sophisticated. Why, only a rube can’t see the truth in what he says.

  • Jerry

    And the question in this post is how one should present someone such as Dan Savage. I pointed out how he was presented in the Times and how that ignored some pretty significant examples of hate speech and violence.

    When there is an elephant in the room, any story has to mention the elephant, at least in passing. In this case the elephant is his hate speech etc.

    monogamy is characterized as little more than “boredom, despair, lack of variety

    And I wish that any such comment on the part of someone would be balanced by those like me who find decades of marriage anything but boring and full of despair not to mention the endless variety of my wife’s thoughts and changing feelings. This is a sex-obsessed age so there needs to be a counter to those whose view of humanity is so narrow as to reduce a rich fabric of a relationship to an impoverished level of mere sexuality.

  • Harold

    I’m curious whether Mollie would classify Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh as also using “hate speech” since Savage is clearly in the same tradition? To compare Savage to Fred Phelps is just ridiculous, not matter how critical one may be of Savage.

    He is provocative and over-the-top, in the same way Coulter or Limbaugh or an array of conservative figures are.

  • Bram

    Harold,

    It doesn’t surprise me that “tu quoque” is the best you can do. Defending the indefensible is hard to do. In any case, the “you too” comeback would only work if (a) Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh were the subjects of the conversation here, (b) Coulter or Limbaugh had compared anyone to fecal matter or fantasized about anyone’s body being torn to shreds of flesh and shards of bone by being dragged behind a truck, and (c) Mollie or anyone else here were defending that kind of evil and/or psychopathic hate-speech — as you seem to do — on the basis of some sort of extremist, fundamentalist, and fanatical ideology. But Coulter and Limbaugh are not the subjects here — Dan Savage is. And whether or not Coulter and Limbaugh have ever compared anyone to fecal matter or fantasized about anyone’s body being torn to shards and shreds, I can’t say, never having paid much attention to either one’s work. But Dan Savage clearly has engaged in that kind of evil and/or psychopathic hate-speech, as Mollie’s post makes clear. And based on the utter and unconditional abhorrence that Mollie and everyone else here is showing toward Savage’s hate-speech — and btw Fred Phelps’s hate-speech — I see no reason to think that she or anyone else here would ever apologize for hate-speech — as you seem to do — on the basis of an extremist, fundamentalist, and fanatical ideology.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Also, he seems chronically unable to remember whether “Savage Love” is supposed to be a sex advice column or a Political Correctness advice column.

  • http://Faith&Reason Cathy Grossman

    Taking off from this point in Mollies’ piece….re: “redefining marriage from a procreative union based on the complementary nature of the sexes into something based on personal fulfillment could radically alter the social norms that accompany that institution. It provides part of the answer to the supposedly rhetorical question, “How could legalizing same-sex marriage affect my marriage?”
    Actually, the redefinition of marriage swept the country in the 70s advent of no-fault divorce. By the early 1980s when I did a state-wide survey in Florida to measure the impact of divorce, we found one in four Floridians had either been divorced themselves at least once or experience the divorce of an immediate family member — parent, child or sibling.
    You really cannot assume that the complementarian view of marriage, the one upheld by traditonalists, even still dominates the egalitarian view.
    Marriage as a matter of personal fullfillment has been well under way for decades now and gays are just catching up with their neighbors.

  • Mark Baddeley

    The basic answer is no, the record isn’t supposed to be whitewashed in a profile piece by a ‘newspaper of record’. And that is especially the case when the person being profiled is on ‘the same side’ as the journalist and editorial policy. Then it is even more important to play it straight and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Journalists shouldn’t have to need to take an oath to tell the inconvenient truths, that’s part of the core business.

    And if Oppenheimer thinks some of what is listed is praiseworthy (and that staggers the mind – trying to deliberately infect people?) then even more reason to put it in the profile.

  • Bill

    What struck me about the piece was that it was written from the male view: men are not naturally monogamous

    Don’t despair, Martha. (#10) Not all males are rutting hogs. Quite a few agree with Jerry (#12).

    As we say out here in the dry country, you won’t get good water by drilling a thousand wells two feet deep.

  • Dave G.

    Presumably, the hatefulness of, say, Fred Phelps’s speech.

    In this case the elephant is his hate speech

    This does my heart good. I was starting to think it was me. I’ve seen Savage interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, and of course a darling of Bill Maher. I started thinking it was just me wondering if Fred Phelps would get the same kudos and high-fives as Savage. Then I wondered if there was actually anything wrong with what he was saying – after all, he seems to be pretty popular in not a few media outlets. I’m glad it’s not me. I don’t care for Fred Phelps in the least. And I don’t care for Savage. Now if CNN, Anderson Cooper, the NYT, or any other show/outlet gives Phelps the same treatment, then that’s consistency and fairness and neutrality in action. If not, I’m afraid it goes a long way towards showing what so many in the media seem desperate to deny.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    Isn’t it assault to deliberately attempt to spread infection? If he were HIV positive, it would be attempted murder; surely the flu is a misdemeanor. So Oppenheimer is ok with assault?

    I agree with Cathy Grossman that no-fault divorce redefined marriage in this culture, but contraception preceded no-fault divorce.

  • Bram

    Dave G.,

    Anderson Cooper and much of the rest of the MSM have no problem comparing millions of Americans who disagree politically with the MSM to men who take other men’s scrotums in their mouths. I hate to have to be that graphic, but that’s what the oft-repeated “tea-bagger” means. Anyway, given that scatalogical bent and that lack of civility, that lack of common decency, one can’t expect Cooper, The New York Times, or their whole corner of the MSM to be overly concerned about Dan Savage comparing another human being to fecal slime or leering at the thought of another human being being killed in an almost inconceivably sadistic way. Not when that human being is an orthodox Christian or political conservative — in which case that person seems to be no human being at all, at least in the eyes of this large and growing corner of the MSM.

  • George Harper

    When I read Dan Savage’s NY Times Magazine article, I couldn’t help associating it with this NYT news article from January of last year:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/us/29sfmetro.html
    What Scott James merely reported, Savage now advocates. I haven’t seen anyone else make the association.
    Also, I noted that the very same issue of the Sunday Times offering Savage’s article in the Magazine included in the Book Review a review of a self-identified “john’s” memoir by self-identified long-time prostitute, porn star, and sex therapist Annie Sprinkle.
    No wonder Bill Keller decided to hang it up!

  • bob

    Passing By, As I recall Savage actually plead guilty to a minor charge for his episode with his bodily fluids (I don’t think zealous incontinence is too strong a term to use) and the Gary Bauer office workers. It speaks volumes that he is continually trotted out as a moral figure. He doesn’t want marriage, he just doesn’t want anyone to have it. If he has to be around it, he does what he can to degrade it. A couple of years ago in Seattle he “married” a lesbian in the courthouse in Seattle. To show that “non-same sex” marriage meant nothing. It was annulled later. Read The Stranger, the online Seattle site to get the real Dan.

  • Dan

    The New York Times Sunday Magazine loves to try to provoke with ultra-liberal cultural ideas but it does so so predictably that, to any regular reader, the efforts long ago lost their shock value. If it really wants to provoke, it should run an article sympathetic to the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality and same sex marriage.

  • Martha

    Bill, I am sure there are good guys out there :-)

    But phrasing the story in terms of “if only they had the chance, all men would be at it like rabbits with any women they could find” – um, did it strike no-one that that wasn’t a particularly flattering way to represent men in general?

    Also, compulsory monogamy may be part of what makes a marriage hard-going, but what about other stresses on marriage, such as money troubles, family disputes, having/not having kids, job stress, lack of (perceived) fulfillment, and so on and so forth?

    I do generally agree that putting all one’s emotional eggs into the marriage basket can lead to disillusionment and disappointment, but surely the answer is not ‘seek sexual variety’ but ‘maintain bonds with friends, family, and outside interests to meet all your emotional needs, and don’t expect romantic love to solve all ills’.

  • http://brentwhite.wordpress.com Brent White

    I’m glad you covered this! Why does the “paper of record” devote a feature-length article to the opinions of someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about? Savage is entitled to his opinions, and God bless America and the First Amendment and all that. But really… What qualifies Savage as some kind of expert? He holds no credentials. He hasn’t studied sex or marriage. He can cite no peer-reviewed research.

    Moreover, you’d never know from the article that most marriages (at least the first part of marriage—the wedding service) take place within a religious context. In other words, most Americans don’t believe that the boundaries of the covenant into which couples enter is (mostly) negotiable. Except for this glance back at Savage’s religious background, and about two other sentences, there’s no reference to religion. What a distortion of reality!

    I’m an ordained United Methodist minister, and I wrote a post about it on my blog, if you’re interested.

    http://brentwhite.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/marriage-and-monogamy-in-the-world-of-the-new-york-times/

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Um, I’m not a fan of anal sex either, but you might as well quote the ‘definition’ of santorum correctly: “The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” (Emphasis added on word that was missing.)

    (Gotta say, I find it an amusing and non-violent way to deal with an opponent, actually. I suppose I should be grateful that “Ingles” is taken, though we do get the occasional Spanish telemarketer.)

    BTW, as to Carl Romanelli and the ‘dragged behind a truck’ quote, Savage wrote shortly afterward, “I regret using that truck metaphor, and didn’t mean it literally, and it was in poor taste, and I regret it.”

  • http://jochopra.blogspot.com/ Jo Chopra

    Hidden due to low comment rating!

    What a strange thing to do to a comment. I can understand censoring hateful speech or nasty, personal remarks which are not to the point, but Harold’s comments are calm and interesting. Why should they be “disappeared” because so many dislike them?

  • Bram

    Ray Ingles,

    Should we assume, then, that were Rick Santorum to call Dan Savage a “fudge-packer,” you would find that to be an “amusing” and “non-violent” way for him to respond to being compared to fecal slime?

  • Corita

    @Ray Ingles, “amusing” and “non-violent” are two words some abusive people like to use to refer to their verbal violence against others. As in, “What? I didn’t hit my wife! I just told her she should shut her fat mouth because all she does is hassle me!”

    Dan Savage is an abusive moralizer whose politics are different from the abusive moralizers we like to put down…like, say Mel Gibson, or Newt Gingrich… but he is no less like them.

  • Dave S

    Jo Chopra says, “What a strange thing to do to a comment. I can understand censoring hateful speech or nasty, personal remarks which are not to the point, but Harold’s comments are calm and interesting. Why should they be “disappeared” because so many dislike them?”

    It was pretty easy for me to click on “click here to see” and read Harold’s comments. They were hidden and not “disappeared,” a term that comes from the practice in Central American wars of taking people from their remote villages and killing them. That seems to be an over-the-top way to describe what the program does to Harold’s comments.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Bram –

    Should we assume, then, that were Rick Santorum to call Dan Savage a “fudge-packer,” you would find that to be an “amusing” and “non-violent” way for him to respond to being compared to fecal slime?

    Gotta say, I don’t think comparing someone to the incestuous, or someone who practices bestiality, is a huge step up from ‘fudge-packer’, if it comes to that.

    In other words, I don’t see Savage as the one who started the name-calling, there.

    And the word wouldn’t have spread the way it did, and become the top hit on Google, unless a fair number of people agreed…

  • Bram

    Ray Ingles,

    To paraphrase:

    Gotta say, I think comparing someone to fecal slime and fantasizing about someone being killed by being torn to shreds of flesh and shards of bone is a big step *down* from acknowledging that homosexuality, like incest and bestiality, is a sexual practice of which most cultures at most times and in most places have disapproved.

    Santorum did not deny Savage’s humanity or wish to see him killed in a sadistic way.

    In other words, Santorum behaved in a far more civilized way than Savage Dan, with his “amusing” and “non-violent” death-wishes and reductions of other human beings to fecal slime.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Bram – Um… Savage never “wished to see [Santorum] killed”. That was a different guy, and I never defended that in the slightest. (Also, you’ll note Savage swiftly and explicitly apologized for saying it.) Odd that you would conflate them so, the text above was pretty clear that those were two separate incidents.

    Nor did I see Savage “deny [Santorum's] humanity”, either. Unless you think the ‘santorum’ definition was meant literally, which is… kind of a stretch.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Corita –

    “amusing” and “non-violent” are two words some [emphasis added - ed.] abusive people like to use to refer to their verbal violence against others. As in, “What? I didn’t hit my wife! I just told her she should shut her fat mouth because all she does is hassle me!”

    The one accusation of violent speech Savage has been accused of here, he apologized for the same day and clarified that he didn’t mean it literally. If you want to include Savage in that “some” that includes verbal assault, I think you’ll need to come up with a quote or two.

    Wait… do you think that ‘santorum’ thing was meant literally, or that anyone would actually think that it was meant literally?

    And yes, I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge that Savage is frequently obnoxious and rude. That’s not the same thing as ‘verbally violent’. Mel Gibson’s done actual physical threats – now that’s “verbal violence”. I’m not aware of anything like that in Gingrich’s past, though.

  • Bram

    Ray Ingles,

    So choice is metaphor is arbitrary and means nothing at all?

    If so, why did Savage Dan “apologize” for his sadistic fantasies about another human being being killed — torn apart, dismembered into shards and shreds — that is, assuming that Savage Dan’s fantasies were really metaphoric at all?

    What kind of person has feelings for which sadistic murder by dismemberment and the reduction of another human being to fecal slime are the appropriate metaphors?

    Maybe that kind of thing is “normal” on the liberal left — I don’t know — but it is aberrant and morally abhorrent everywhere else, including this thread.

    Defending the indefensible is hard to do.

    So, like Harold, you should quit — you should quit while you’re behind.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Bram – Wait, if Savage apologizes for something he said, then he actually meant it, but if he doesn’t apologize, then he actually meant it? Guilty until proven guilty, I guess.

    And besides, one episode of violent hyperbole (and if anyone has any other examples of Savage saying things like that, now’s the time to bring them up) does not a pattern of “sadistic fantasies” make.

    And finally, regarding “reduction of another human being”, is it your contention that when people use phrases like “a**hole” and “sh*thead” they also, inevitably, mean them literally? How literal was Dick Cheney being when he made his famous outburst on the Senate floor?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Friends,
    I think you’ve made your points. Let’s either retire this discussion or move to more fruitful discussion.
    Thanks,
    Mollie

  • Bram

    Ray Ingles,

    A**hole and sh*thead are “dead” metaphors — they no longer summon mental imagery.

    Savage Dan’s comparison of Rick Santorum to fecal slime, however, is a metaphor that’s very much “alive” — and it’s one that indicates a very vivid and intense kind of hatred in the heart of Savage Dan, one that, again, is not “normal,” save perhaps in left-liberal circles, and one that is aberrant and morally abhorrent to everyone else.

    I urge you again — don’t try to defend what no-one decent can. Just quite while you’re behind. Just let it go.

  • Bram

    Mollie,

    I’m done. Thanks.

  • Dave G.

    To Ray,

    Fine. And if someone who says the same things about a homosexual is given high-fives by various media outlets, that’s fair enough. But recent experience suggests that someone who would speak of Dan Savage because he is homosexual the way Dan Savage speaks of others would not be given a fair platform to vent. They would be skinned. And therein lies the point. If he apologized for one thing, I’ve heard him continue to say things not unsimilar. And why? Because the same media outlets that make it clear only the worst bigot scum would say such things about homosexuals, sit by, nod their heads, and give Savage the treatment owed a respectable commentator. Even in our post-Tuscon ‘can’t we all be friends’ society that the media seems anxious to build. Their ability to condone and excuse someone like Savage shows more about those media outlets and their biases, if not outright bigotry, than they probably care to admit.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Dave G. –

    If he apologized for one thing, I’ve heard him continue to say things not unsimilar.

    I was referring to the violent imagery he said once. If you have other examples of him saying things “not unsimilar” to violent imagery, let’s see ‘em.

    Mollie, this is my last bit on this. Bram’s already come full circle and admitted the ‘santorum’ thing was metaphor, so there’s no real point in continuing.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Let’s see. Dan Savage says we should reject monogamy. But equating his “lifestyle” with polygamy is an outrageous and unforgivable insult. Clear as Gowanus Creek.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Will – “incest and bestiality”, not “polygamy”.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    I did see any of the oh-so-indignant protests in the MSM make that distinction. Can you cite any of the angry editorials saying “we meant THOSE, not THIS”?

  • Mollie

    Ray,

    What Santorum said was that the reasoning being used in arguments against laws governing private sexual behavior could also be used to permit incest, bestiality and polygamy and other things as well. Basically all sexual behavior.

    There is, I suppose, an irony in the guy who led the campaign to vilify Santorum for these views also leading the campaign for adultery.

    One completely lost on the media.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Mollie –

    What Santorum said was that the reasoning being used in arguments against laws governing private sexual behavior could also be used to permit incest, bestiality and polygamy and other things as well. Basically all sexual behavior.

    Actually, he said people have no Constitutional right to privacy at all.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-04-23-santorum-excerpt_x.htm

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Let’s keep focused on media coverage here …

  • Bram

    Ray Ingles,

    I didn’t “come full circle” to acknowledging that Savage’s reduction of Santorum to fecal slime was a metaphor. I never denied that that reduction was a metaphor. There is always some distinction between tenor and vehicle in metaphor. The two are never exactly the same, otherwise there could not be comparison at all but only an identity. These are basic points about how figurative language works that you may not be sufficiently intelligent to grasp. If so, I apologize for taxing your brain, and recommend that you read at a level more appropriate for you than the threads here seem to be.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    A syndicated columnist is part of “the media”, no? So when we discuss him, we are discussing media coverage.

  • Dave G.

    Ray,

    I’m sure most have moved on, but just in case a casual reader comes by, let me clarify. I’m not talking about Savage’s one statement. Everyone says things at one point or another they shouldn’t. He said he was sorry. That’s good enough for me. I’m talking about his overall body of work. Savage is the gay rights equivalent of a radical, a Jack Chick for the homosexual movement. Maybe Fred Phelps is too harsh a comparison. But only slightly. It’s a testimony to our media’s narrative that someone like Savage would almost have to order the death of a person for us to consider him ‘hateful.’ While others, simply by disagreeing with the dogmatic narratives of non-heterosexual normality, are called nothing less. That is what Savage does, makes it clear that he has nothing but hatred and contempt for those who don’t conform to his world view. The big problem I have is that those like CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, and other outlets treat him like most honored guest, while a more traditional conservative counterpart would be torn to pieces. That shows the biases, if not bigotry, of those outlets.

    Oh, and I checked on the ‘mature and respectful dialogue’ slide-rule, and couldn’t find comparing a person to fecal matter anywhere on it. If we want our national rhetoric to improve, it means all sides, not just one.

  • Karen

    Savage has a column in the local free paper and I’ve occasionally read his column over the last 10 years or so. He started out very much more rough, but honestly addressed questions people weren’t likely to get answered, albeit sardonically and with attitude. Basically he incorporates everything Mollie mentioned, but he has enough redeeming value to get read. Since becoming a father, he has become relatively mellowed (if far from mellow) and more concerned about the effects of lifestyle on children. The news to me is that he dismisses the attitude of a transgendered parent who won’t wait three years for an operation and give the children stability as selfish. Or that people might not break up over sexual infidelity when they have children who need stability, so long as there is some honesty. The juxtaposition of his various ideas is interesting. As it would be if Phelps decided that it was more important to keep up a relationship with a gay child instead of condemning him.

    Wikipedia has an interesting article on him. His partner is a stay at home father, far from what one expect from Savage’s early years. That said, I was surprised to see him the subject of a NY Times Magazine article.

    Nice blog post Brent.

    As for the disappearing quotes, I was surprised that Harold’s quote, with a 20/36 vote ratio was hidden “due to low comment rating.” That is a lot of comments with a close enough positive to negative ratio- what kind of suppression algorithm do you use?

  • http://demographymatters.blogspot.com Donald

    While noting that the Santorum thing is problematic, that was a reply to Santorum’s argument that state governments were entirely justified in legislating against gay sex, hence against gay relationships, and the implications that gay people can’t form families or avoid legal persecution never mind enjoy anything resembling equality with their heterosexual peers.

    If I criticize the Santorum affair, will you criticize Santorum’s stand?

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Dave G. –

    I’m not talking about Savage’s one statement.

    To a large extent, I am.

    I’m not claiming Dan Savage is all sweetness and light. I simply felt one-and-a-half of the points raised against him were unfair or at least exaggerated, and I pointed out why.

    (And I’m puzzled why a site that’s a big fan of proper journalism still hasn’t corrected the misquote I pointed out in my first comment here…)

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Thanks, Ray! I forgot to fix it earlier but have since fixed the quote. Thanks.

    Mollie


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