Recently, FoxNews.com contacted Dr. Jay Banks to comment on Dan Savage’s “anti-Christian tirade” during a national high school journalism conference earlier this month. Mr. Savage – the founder of the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying project – called teenagers who walked out of the speech “pansy-assed,” were appropriate for his audience! Below is Dr. Banks’ response…
It’s apparent Dan Savage’s professional etiquette while addressing audiences, especially high school students lacked good judgment (maybe even what we use to call common sense) at several levels.
1. As a speaker…Mr. Savage should have focused on bullying, and shared whatever expertise might educate and encourage his high school audience. However, with his comments during and since the speech gave a pretty good example of verbal bullying. I believe if he had apologized immediately, or even after the speech he would have gained more creditability as one who struggles (like many do) with the temptation of getting caught up in the moment and making poor decisions (which is what a lot of social bullying is). Instead, he continued his malediction at the expense of some students who had the courage to silently and non-violently oppose the methodology of his message.
2. As an educator…Mr. Savage showed a lack of seasoned discretion. You educate by sharing information that is ACCURATE, CLEAR, and PRACTICAL. His message to those who oppose his beliefs on the Bible and Christians is INACCURATE. While the Bible does not condone homosexuality, it also does not condone hate for homosexuals, but to love everyone as “God so loved the world.” For Mr. Savage to berate members of his audience, and a larger audience reduces his effectiveness as an accurate teacher. What was CLEAR was his malevolent agenda for God-believing citizens who (for the most part) are moral, law-biding, stakeholders and role models in the American ideology, both Democrats and Republicans. Mr. Savage’s lesson was not very PRACTICAL!
3. As a leader of an organization that promotes anti-bullying messages and strategies…Mr. Savage’s message and strategy was, “If someone doesn’t agree with you, publicly and pervasively ridicule (tease) and discount them.” Unless I missed part of the speech that shows otherwise, he gave us a perfect example of social bullying. I believe anyone who has spoken in public has been “caught up in the moment” and said things that were misguided and later regretful. This is a good time for Mr. Savage to recant and strengthen the human aspect of his “It Gets Better” campaign. His ideology is correct; it usually DOES get better…but not like that. It gets better via carefully chosen words that challenge and soothe, and correct application of life-skills that exemplify tolerance and acceptance without exception.
4. As an philanthropist…maybe Mr. Savage should take a crash course in cultural anthropology!
Jay Banks, PhD