Standing up to bullies is offensive, but legal discrimination is not?

Standing up to bullies is offensive, but legal discrimination is not? April 30, 2012

So it seems a student journalism group invited Dan Savage to speak and then was shocked … shocked! … when Dan Savage showed up and spoke like Dan Savage.

The advice columnist and “It Gets Better” video pioneer didn’t say anything new or unusual or unexpected, and nothing he hasn’t said before in more prominent public forums. But the audience at the Journalistic Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association apparently included some members of the IndigNation — the sorts of Christians who don’t so much “seek first the kingdom of God” as “seek first and at all times some excuse or pretext, no matter how flimsy, to take offense.”

Savage was happy to oblige — in part by using the naughty word “bulls***.” But I call bulls*** on the faux horror expressed by the uptight umbrage-junkies who walked out on his talk:

One of the teachers attending the speech with his students told CNN’s Carol Costello on Monday that he was taken aback by the speech and that he supported the decision of some of his students to walk out of it.

“It took a real dark, hostile turn, certainly, as I saw it,” said Rick Tuttle, a teacher at Sutter Union High School in Southern California. “It became very hostile toward Christianity, to the point that many students did walk out, including some of my students.”

First, how awesome is it that this tut-tutting character is named “Tuttle”? And second, Tuttle here is just wrong to characterize Savage’s comments as hostile toward Christianity. Savage was certainly hostile, but he was not being hostile toward Christianity — he was hostile toward Christian hostility and its very real consequences.

As a high-school teacher, Tuttle seems to have fully internalized the moral imbecility so frequently spouted by teachers — “I don’t care who started it! That doesn’t matter!” — and has thus become unable to distinguish between bullies and their victims. Tuttle’s complaint boils down to the fact that Savage didn’t turn the other cheek the way other people are supposed to.

You should read all of John Shore’s deliciously sarcastic smackdown of the Tuttles and Tiskers and Fingerwaggers seizing on Savage’s talk as a pretext for their constant, pre-existing offendedness, but let me just quote from his P.S.:

What immediately become a meme amongst Dan’s critics is that those who walked out of his talk felt bullied by him. But that’s impossible. People get bullied because of who they are: how they look and act, what they say and do. Perceived as being in some critical way weak or lacking, victims of bullies are selected for persecution; they are pulled from the pack before being pointedly and repeatedly victimized. The people who walked out during Dan’s talk were not separated from their peers by anyone. They were content to do that themselves. They were not frightened or cowed. They were offended. They felt that by disparaging what amounts to their God, Dan had transgressed beyond their capacity for toleration. And they were pleased to show their intolerance of Dan’s words by protesting against them in the manner they did. Theirs was not an act born of suffering. It was a proud show of disdain.

And prideful disdain is, you know, a sin. Says so in the Bible. No B.S.

* * * * * * * * *

Relentlessly cheerful prosperity preacher Joel Osteen really doesn’t want anyone to take offense at his views, so he is careful to reassure LGBT people that he thinks they’re really nice and feels absolutely no personal animosity when he tells them they can’t have the civil rights he enjoys.

Or, as David Badash puts it, “Joel Osteen Doesn’t Hate You, But His Bible Really Hates Your Homosexuality.”

“I believe the Scripture says that being gay is a sin,” Osteen said on Fox News Sunday:

“But, you know, every time I say that, Chris, I get people say, ‘Well, you are a gay hater and you’re a gay basher.’ I’m not. I don’t — I don’t dislike anybody. Gays are some of the nicest, kindest, most loving people in the world. But my faith is based on what I believe the Scripture says and that’s the way I read the Scripture.”

Osteen added that certain rights and privileges should be afforded to gay couples, but he stopped short of saying that gays should have the right to marry.

“I think we shouldn’t discriminate against anybody,” he said.

“So, I think — yes, I don’t think there is an issue where somebody couldn’t go visit a gay loved one in the hospital. I don’t think that’s right. They love each other. So, I think there should be some. I’m not for gay marriage, but I’m not for discriminating against people.”

“We shouldn’t discriminate against anybody … I’m not for gay marriage, but I’m not for discriminating.”

As Scott Paeth writes: “Right. Because excluding an entire group of people from participation in a cornerstone social institution is … not discrimination?”

Osteen’s clueless reassurance that “I don’t dislike anybody” while simultaneously trying to deny them legal equality is the flipside of the same disdainful pride shown by those determinedly taking offense at people like Dan Savage when they demand such equality as their legal right. Osteen can’t understand why anyone could be upset with him when here he is saying that “Gays are some of the nicest, kindest, most loving people” and even conceding that they should enjoy “some rights.” And Tuttle et. al. can’t understand why Savage had to go and be all rude when they were ever-so-nicely denying him legal equality without using any profanity at all.

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