Lesson two.

Loyal readers may recall my post from the other day, entitled An object lesson, in which I responded to a heretofore unknown commenter who was very, very upset about my earlier post regarding Dan Savage and Bullshitgate.  It is always good to get feedback from our volunteer research subjects, and our new friend Jason Parsley has graciously obliged.  Predictably, he does not respond to a single one of my substantive criticisms directed to his earlier fallacious, wholly unsupported and fact-free rantings, yet Jason now seems to want to appear more reasonable and accurate.  Alas, his reading comprehension failures, illogic and detachment from reality are again on full display.

Jason’s recent comment is posted below in its entirely, interspersed with my responses thereto. As a general note, I cannot help but get the impression that Jason really, really wants his fantasies about what Dan Savage said to be true.  Why that might be, I have no idea.  Perhaps he will enlighten us by addressing it.

* * * * *

Thank you!!

My pleasure.

It looks like you took alot of time to respond to my post, and I appreciate the effort you put into it.

Not really.  It didn’t take very much time or effort at all.  This response took much more, in part because your comment was significantly longer and in part because I felt like digging in a bit more more.  As I pointed out to a loyal reader who emailed me with what amounted to a plea for mercy on your behalf, it is good practice for me to be thorough in responding to arguments with which I disagree.  So — and I am not being facetious here — I thank you.

I still have one nagging question,

I count six, but whatever.  (One):

if Dan savage says (I am not going to take the time to link or paste, so I’ll paraphrase) “we can ignore the parts of the Bible about shellfish” and such, why does he assume the Christian members of his audience have not also ignored many other parts of the Bible that they, or he, might not care to follow?

Short answer:  He doesn’t.  There is not a shred of evidence or any reason whatsoever to believe that Dan Savage assumes any such thing, and in fact, the opposite is demonstrably true.

But before we get to that, just a small matter of housekeeping.  If one wishes to disagree with my personal opinion about the words of Dan Savage at a recent student journalist convention, which is the subject under discussion, that is perfectly fine.  Encouraged, actually.  But since we are discussing the words of Dan Savage, the very least we can do is take the time to quote, paste and/or link, rather than paraphrase—or worse, make things up.  In my previous posts on the topic, I have provided (a) video of the portion of Dan Savage’s speech we are discussing, (b) a link to a written transcript of it, and (c) text quoting verbatim the beginning section of the speech, during which all of the students walked out of the room.  I provide the link to the video and transcript again here, for the convenience of those who may be interested in discussing what Dan Savage actually said.

So.  It is of course blindingly obvious that all Christians — every single one of them — ignore inconvenient parts of their Bible.  And it is a very good thing for all of us (including other Christians) that they do, too.  Let’s face it: if Christians went around stoning to death gays, uppity women and people who work on Sundays as their book commands them to, we would have to lock them up.  Everyone in the world who has even a minimal familiarity with the Bible knows this—except perhaps some Christians themselves, who are notoriously ignorant of what their favorite book says.

Thus it escapes me how anyone could get it into their heads that Dan Savage, of all people, assumes otherwise.  Indeed, there is no reason whatsoever to assume otherwise, because IT IS THE VERY BASIS FOR DAN SAVAGE’S ENTIRE POINT.  To wit:  Christians ignore the biblical stoning and slavery commandments, i.e. the “bullshit,” so they can ignore the gay hate too.  That’s it.  Frankly, I cannot understand why Christians would find this the least bit offensive—unless, that is, they truly believe that their god meant every word of the gay hate (but not the words about slaves and shellfish), and they fully intend to embrace it and enforce it.  Regardless, they found it offensive for whatever reason, and had every right to walk out.  But the point is this: it is just a given that the Christian students who walked out on the speech ignore many, many parts of their Bible, and that Dan Savage and everyone else in the room (if not the entire Western world) is well aware of this.  I just cannot fathom where this idea comes from that the reality is somehow otherwise.

Question two:

I understand that Dan Savage isn’t much a fan of Christianity, or Christians for that matter, but does he think hes going to change the minds of Christian students simply by calling them bullies for having faith?

Once again, here we see the total reading comprehension failure and bizarre delusions typical of Conservative Personality Disorder on vivid display.  If one had bothered to read or listen to Dan Savage’s actual words, one would be well aware that nowhere does Dan Savage call any students in the room, Christian or otherwise, “bullies” — and certainly not “bullies for having faith.”  That is just complete fiction, entirely fabricated out of thin air.  Wait. Isn’t there something in the Bible about bearing false witness something-something?  Nah, I’m probably just misremembering my indoctrination.

While I do not know Dan Savage’s views on Christianity per se, I’m willing to bet he’s a huge fan of many Christians, as am I.  There are many who profess that particular faith who share my beliefs in social justice and tolerance, and who are deeply committed to many important causes I care about.  I happen to think that they have it completely wrong about the supernatural, among other things.  And since I am aware of no evidence to the contrary (and neither are you), I would think it’s a safe bet that Dan Savage feels exactly the same way.  If he is an atheist, he probably feels like the vast majority of atheists do:  that we share many secular values with many Christians, and are happy to work with them on common goals (provided that their faith gets no credit for our own good works).  But Dan Savage and I are not big fans of violent homophobes, or of bigoted @$$holes generally.  If there happens to be a significant overlap between Christians and violent homophobes, or Christians and bigoted @$$holes, needless to say this is not the heathens’ doing or our responsibility.

Further, there is ample evidence that Dan Savage is in fact doing an excellent job of convincing Christians to change their views about gay people.  Take a look at some of the It Gets Better videos from allies, and you can watch Christians tell you that themselves.  But — and this is important, so pay attention! — Dan Savage is not accomplishing this by “calling them bullies for having faith.”  He is making a passionate plea for compassion, urging Christians to be better than their book.  Many Christians, perhaps even most, already are.  Like all the other Christians who stayed in the room and applauded him. But the ones who left?  Well, I just don’t have a lot of hope for them.  I wonder whether they honestly do not think the bible is truly hateful when it comes to gays, women, non-Jews, etc.  In that case, either (a) they are very much in need of hearing speakers like Dan Savage discuss the horrible stuff the bible actually says and the terrible repercussions on peoples’ lives as a direct result of Christians who believe some of the worst of it, or (b) they are sociopaths.

He didn’t distinguish between the students in this class and the folks whom he claims are bullying people.

This is correct:  Dan Savage did not make any explicit distinctions between the students at the conference and violent homophobic bullies.  He had no need to, because — get this — he did not accuse anyone attending the conference of being a violent homophobic bully. He neither said it, nor implied it, by any stretch of the imagination (well, except Jason Parsley’s, apparently.)   The distinction between “students at the conference” and “violent homophobic bullies” is implicit, basic and obvious.  Why on Earth should he have to spell this out?

He doesn’t know a single Christian student in this seminar, and frankly doesn’t know 99.99999999% of any Christian students in any school. Somehow he certainly does know that the bullying of gays is coming from the Christian students

Okay, I am literally laughing now.  (Is that mean?  I am sorry if it is, but I cannot help it!  This statement is hilarious!)  Because I just cannot believe anyone is seriously pronouncing that Dan Savage believes that “the bullying of gays is coming from the Christian students” who walked out of his speech.  I am mystified as to how, after reading that transcript or watching that video, anyone could think that.  This statement is completely false, based on absolutely nothing that happened in the real world.  Whether it is made out of mendaciousness or delusion, well…I shall let the reader decide.*

Question three:

(did you see how evil the pansy-assed students that left the auditorium appeared?)

The students who left appeared smug and self-righteous, exactly as one would expect.  Most of them were smiling.  (I try to avoid homophobic slurs such as pansy-assed.)

of course they were filled with Christian hatred of gays, it’s common sense!

No one said that.  No one implied it.  That is just pure speculation from someone who apparently really, really wants to believe these kids were some kind of victims here, when they were not.  They apparently could not bear to listen to someone suggest, without accusing anyone in the room of anything, that we could all learn to ignore some hateful shit in the Bible just like we ignore some other hateful shit in the Bible.  (The fact that they walked out at this suggestion—and again, they had every right to do so—does say something about them, however, and it isn’t good.)  At any rate, some Christians are filled with hatred of gays and use the Bible to justify it.  That is just a fact, whether or not one wishes it to be so.  Stating this fact does not mean that the students who left the room were among these gay-hating Christians, and no one said or implied that they were.

Your definition of hate speech fits Dan Savage’s rant perfectly, instead of naming individuals by name he simply labeled all Christians as bullies.

Wait, are we even talking about the same speech?  This one?  The one at a recent high school journalism conference in Seattle, where Dan Savage did not label any Christian students in attendance bullies— much less all of them?  Because WOW.  That is either a deliberate lie, or a rather troubling delusion.  He did call the students who walked out “pansy-assed,” which, as noted above, is unfortunately tinged with homophobia and would not have been my preferred word choice.  Regardless, “pansy-assed” means “cowardly.” It does not mean “bully.”  Here is the exact quote:

It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.

Again:  unlike all of the other Christian students in the audience (and can anyone doubt that there were many?), this particular group of Christian students could not bear to listen to someone suggest—without accusing anyone in the room of anything—that we could ignore some hateful shit in the Bible just like we ignore some other hateful shit in the Bible.  These kids made a public spectacle of their refusal to seriously consider this idea or to even hear it, and so to “cowardly” I would add “@$$holes.”  And then “who are in no way suited to careers in actual journalism.”

The definition of hate speech you refer to from my earlier post is this one:

Hate speech is a communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence.

There is simply no way anything Dan Savage said could be interpreted as hate speech, except, you know, by changing his actual words and substituting something completely different. Noting that people are behaving like cowards is not hating them.  He did not express hatred of anyone or any group, and he did not express anything that could be construed as provoking violence—quite the contrary, in fact.  This, on the other hand, is a textbook example of hate speech:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
-Lev. 20:13.

This is why in Europe, where robust speech protections do not exist to the extent they do in the United States, Christian groups lobby fiercely against hate speech legislation.  They believe, correctly, that such restrictions would prevent certain portions of the Bible (like Leviticus 20:13) from being preached.  Since I am a liberal, you might think I would be in favor of that, but I am not.  Personally, I believe government restrictions on hate speech are subjective, foolish and counterproductive.  I think society is better off when we can hear hate speech, denounce it, and counter it with more speech.

Question four:

Your point about it being a journalism class and the students leaving was correct, it shows a bias in their journalism, but so does applauding anything Dan Savage had to say. Right?

Well, yes.  I suppose that depending on your definition of “bias,” one could look at it that way.  The students who applauded at various statements Dan Savage made can be said to show a “bias” for a more just, more fair, more tolerant, less dogmatic and less violent world.  That is a “bias” one would think we would demand of journalists, since obviously the alternative is a bias for a “less just, less fair, less tolerant, more dogmatic and more violent world.”  I mean, really, is that who we want investigating important stories and writing the news?  Again, as I said, I have absolutely no problem with students walking out of any speech they find offensive.  But doing so says something about them, just as the applause says something about the applauders.  There are consequences to behavior, and people will form impressions based on it.

The problem with dan Savage’s argument, and likewise yours, is you find correlation where there isn’t any.

Really.  Do tell.

Dan Savage will say “gays are being bullied and sometimes committing suicide” then he thinks “hey wait, there are Christians in schools” so he connects the two, “it must be the Christians bullying the gays to commit suicide”.

This is yet another complete and utter fabrication with absolutely zero basis in reality.  Not only does the person making it presume to know, without any basis, what is in another person’s head, he also presumes, again without any basis, that the other person employs the poor reasoning abilities and logical fallacies typical of conservatives.

Perhaps a refresher in reality is in order.  Three minutes and twenty-one seconds of a much longer speech that Dan Savage gave to high school journalism students addressed the biblical bases that bullies themselves provide to justify their anti-gay bullying. His opening sentences, which I quoted in my post, refer to the specific Biblical chapters that Christian bullies themselves have used to justify their behavior.  As Dan noted at the very beginning of the speech:

The Bible, we’ll just talk about the Bible for a second ah. People often point out that they can’t help it – they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.

Does anyone have reason to disbelieve him?  Because one would have to be living under a rock to deny this.  Here is an unremarkable, representative sample of Christian love from Dan’s inbox recently:

Enjoy your brief season. Soon you shall be in hell-fire for not receiving the only payment possible for your sins—the shed Blood of Jesus. Every unbeliever will spend eternity in a lake of fire. Even believers who do not turn away from their sins (like your vile sin of disgusting, unnatural sodomy, wherein you live like a filthy dog), will go to Hell 1000 years…

Anti-bullying legislation is fought tooth and nail in state houses like Michigan’s by Christian groups who refer to such measures as “a Trojan horse for the homosexual agenda.”  On these @$$holes’ behalf, Michigan Republicans attempted to incorporate into anti-bullying legislation special exemptions for religiously-motivated bullying.  It failed when Democrats, who long championed the legislation, voted against it as a result of the get-out-of-jail-free-card demanded by ChristiansIn Arizona recently, the Center for Arizona Policy, a Christian lobbying group, successfully pressured lawmakers to kill a bill that would have required Arizona schools to train teachers and administrators in how to recognize bullying.  The group’s president called the legislation “agenda-driven propaganda,” even though the bill did not even refer to sexual orientation at all.

Just the other day, we learned of a Christian pastor telling his laughing congregation to beat their gay kids:

Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.

(There is audio of the sermon at the link if you can stomach it.)

And loyal readers of this blog are also aware of what prominent American Christians have been up to in Uganda. (See e.g. here and here.)

In short, anti-gay, explicitly Christian bullying (and societal support for it) is a real problem in, you know, reality.  There is a freaking ton of evidence of anti-gay Christian bullying.  Dan Savage has been exposed to some of it personally, and much of it can readily be seen in the thousands of tragic stories of victims of anti-gay Christian bullying, whom he encounters in his outreach work.  There is so much evidence of Christians bullying gays, in fact, that in a speech about anti-gay bullying, it would be simply inexcusable not to address it.  And yet still, neither Dan Savage nor anyone else I am aware of has said that “all Christians are bullies,” or that “all bullies are Christians.”  It is quite perplexing when people fabricate statements like that out of thin air, followed by bizarre conjecture as to how a person used fallacious reasoning to arrive at those (false) statements.

This starts from his personal dislike for Christianity, not from aquired evidence.

Citation needed, since, as discussed above, the evidence is in fact overwhelming.  Also,  you cannot read Dan Savage’s mind.  In fact, you suck at it.  Perhaps you have other talents?

I’m sure your argument will be “but the majority of students in school are Christian, and most likely the students engaged in bullying are Christians”.

Nor can you read my mind.  I would never make such a stupid statement.  I make statements more like this one:  “there is a ton of evidence of explicitly Christian anti-gay bullying.”  And then I recount some of that evidence and link to it, as I did above.  If someone wishes to credibly disagree with my statement, the burden is on them to show how I am wrong.  (I am not wrong.)

This could be true, as the statistics would show, but that does not mean it is because of their faith they bully gays.

Tell it to the Christian bullies, who say it themselves.

Five:

Handicapped kids are bullied too, so are nerds, geeks, dweebs, ugly people, fat people, etc. Can we blame all of that bullying on Christians too, just to pile on? (I’m sure Dan Savage is already working on it)

I’m not sure where scripture supports violence and death for nerds, geeks, dweebs, ugly people, fat people, etc.  Does that god call them all abominations, too?  (Not that it would surprise me…)  Perhaps someone could point those passages out to me?  I would be most grateful.

School is a secular environment full of secular cliques, it’s not like the outward Christian students in school are the big bad tough guy bullies, they are bullied as much as the next bunch. I don’t see alot of hard core Sunday school kids roaming the halls and streets looking for fights! Give me a break.

There will be no breaks given by the Palace to those making factually unsupported and/or fallacious arguments.  For the love of dog, no one is saying that all Christians are bullies or all bullies are Christians.  It is just a fact, however inconvenient it may be, that some anti-gay bullies are Christians who use explicitly biblical rationales to justify their violent homophobia.  If you have a problem with that, your problem is not with me, it is with reality.

I apologize for attacking your intelligence, or any personal attack i leveled at you, it was not appropriate and my emotions got the better of me.

No apology necessary.  Whenever my intelligence is attacked by someone with positively ghastly reading comprehension, who makes completely fabricated statements, and factually unsupported, fallacious arguments, well… let’s just say I am not insulted.

You labeled me a homophobe, which is hilarious, considering I live in Rehoboth Beach, DE,

I labeled you a homophobe because you used a homophobic slur.  If you do not like being called a homophobe, then I suggest you cease from doing that.  Rehoboth Beach is a lovely, gay-friendly town.  I myself live at Gay Ground Zero:  New York City’s West Village.  But because I live in a gay-friendly place, it does not follow that I am not a homophobe or that there are no homophobes here.  (See: “fallacious arguments.”)

and I support gay marriage on Constitutional grounds. It is getting more difficult to support marriage equality as the crusaders for all things gay attack everyone who isn’t in complete agreement with them.

Because Constitutional rights definitely should not apply to people who disagree with you.  That’s the way Constitutional rights work.

Six:

I have a novel idea, how about instead of focusing solely on hristianity as the focus of evil in the world, you actually try to get to the root of the problem?

Here, I’ll help you out:

IF ANYONE IS FOCUSING SOLELY ON CHRISTIANITY AS THE FOCUS OF EVIL IN THE WORLD, PLEASE STOP IT!!!  THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER EVILS WE NEED YOU TO FOCUS ON IN ADDITION TO THAT ONE!!! 

Like conservatism, for just one example.  And what, pray tell, is “the root of the problem” we should all be focusing on instead?  Should we not focus on Christianity when, as in this case, its scripture is used to justify violent homophobia?

As the numbers of people who claim Christianity as their faith dwindles, it seems violence against gays, and violence as a whole is INCREASING in public schools.

Which is, of course, exactly as social scientists expect.  Right-wing violence becomes more virulent, not less, when wingnuts perceive (correctly or not) that their power and privilege are being diminished.

Have a good day, Iris!

Thanks!  I almost always do.  Same to you.

And again, I do genuinely appreciate the dialogue.

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