Dan Savage, the founder of an anti-bullying campaign that has reportedly reached more than 40 million viewers, and has contributors that include President Obama to Hollywood stars, dove into unexpected territory while giving a speech at a high school journalism conference Friday.
There, instead the planned discussion on the dangers of bullying, Savage seemingly turned into a "bully" himself, albeit a powerful, adult one.
Reports say Savage's speech quickly turned from the subject of anti-bullying into an event in "Christian-bashing," causing as many as 100 students to simply walk out of the event.
Here's a clip of the speech (Warning: Adult Language):
Savage noted that Americans disregard much of the "bulls*it" in the Bible, from laws about shellfish to those about slavery, and we just need to clear one more "hurdle" in disregarding writings about homosexuality.
"The Bible says that if your daughter's not a virgin on her wedding night-- if a woman is not a virgin on her wedding night-- she shall be dragged to her father's doorstep and stoned to death," he says, yet "Callista Gingrich lives."
Then, seemingly unable to resist a jab at Republicans, he added, "and there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they're not virgins. At least not yet-- we don't know where the GOP is going these days."
One student in the audience, Rick Tuttle, remarked, “I thought this would be about anti-bullying...It turned into a pointed attack on Christian beliefs.”
CitizenLink, which broke the story, interviewed a 17-year old girl who explained: “The first thing he told [us] was, ‘I hope you’re all using birth control!'"
He also reportedly told the students about how good his partner looks in a speedo, and called the students who walked out "pansy a*ses."
The National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association, who co-sponsored the event, responded in a statement that they did not have a prior transcript of the speech, and wished he had stayed more "on target." However, they wrote optimistically: "We have already heard from some advisers who have turned this into a teachable moment for their students."
One teacher was more condemnatory, saying the language and material was inappropriate for high school students, and if anything, Dan Savage was bully in this regard.
"If he was doing this with a bunch of college journalism kids, that would be a different story — that’s more rough and tumble. How many of the kids who didn’t walk out felt backed into a corner? To me, that’s bullying behavior. It has all the symptoms, as far as I’m concerned.”
Candi Cushman, a CitizenLink blogger, concluded:
“Using profanity to deride the bible – and then mocking the Christian students after they left the room — is obviously a form of bullying and name-calling,” she wrote. “This illustrates perfectly what we’ve been saying all along: Too many times in the name of ‘tolerance,’ Christian students find their faith being openly mocked and belittled in educational environments.”