Wednesday, May 02, 2012

May Day Mayhem in Seattle and Redeeming Dan Savage

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While the 99% smashed windows in businesses, destroyed cars and generally disrupted Seattle and cities across the country yesterday, the Seattle Times appeared to be busy trying to redeem Dan Savage.

I had planned to write about how a few are breaking laws, claiming entitlements, advocating redistribution of wealth and presuming that everyone else has no rights on their "occupy" days.

I really didn't plan to say much more about Dan Savage and his bully attack on 3000 high school kids at the journalism convention in Seattle in that we wrote about it twice this week and our blogs have been widely circulated and quoted by some in the media, but yesterday, the Seattle Times rose above the smoke in the streets in an attempt at some kind of redemption---or at least explanation, for a man who clearly stepped over the line and blew it. And is now trying to, as I said yesterday, walk back the whole episode.

I have linked the Times article, but the evolving version of what happened and what was said---and why it was said, is important.

A few more things you should know about this event.
  • Dan Savage still stands with the idea that his tirade was not directed at the students, but at the Bible saying, "I have a right to defend myself and to point out the hypocrisy" of biblical commandments.

This is not unlike what many homosexuals say they believe and often express--even on this web site. It is, however, usually not so forceful.

It was difficult to see any empathy toward the Christian kids who walked out on his speech. And had Mr. Savage not verbally assaulted the kids, bullied them and blasphemed the Bible, there would be no need to "defend" himself. The kids did not attack his beliefs. He attacked theirs.
  • He says he regrets his vulgar terms, but stands by his description of the Bible.
  • Savage says he asked the organizers of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association if he should "moderate" his speech. He says they said, "No, be yourself; do what you do."
  • Now that this story has become a major national story, the organizers have issued a statement saying Savage "veered from the topic" of bullying. They are saying student journalism "should not shy away from controversial topics and viewpoints. But it should promote and engage in civil discourse. Mr Savage's speech fell short of that standard, and for this our organizations apologize."

It's very difficult to understand how an organization that lives off their relationship with public education, and the paying students it provides for their events, could tell a man who has defined himself by giving the very speech he gave at the convention to, "Be yourself, do what you do" and expect some other result.

It is also odd their apology is for lack of civil dialog and engagement, when the organization themselves created the uncivil environment by inviting Savage to be a keynote speaker and telling him to "do what he does."

Savage thinks the Bible is filled with hypocrisy. I think the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association is hypocritical. Based on all I've read and comments sent to me from people who were actually in attendance, I also believe they generally knew what Savage would say.

What was unexpected, was the public response and push back.

These beliefs regarding the Bible and Christianity are not foreign in the public school classroom. The difference is that it is spoon fed over 12 years, rather than force fed in a few hours.

And finally, I doubt that I would send my kid to anything these folks were sponsoring in the future, knowing what we know now.

Thanks for helping us keep the light on.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.