I like Dan Savage. Well, I used to. Until this week. Dan is on a roll. If anything, I think maybe Dan’s upset that he’s not the one who got kicked out of an Ottawa college speaking invitation. But Dan Savage is using anti-gay slurs to insult the same people who are targeting the LGBTQ community. And that is unacceptable.
So, let’s play a game. Name the author of the following statements:
- Al Gore is a “total fag.”
- “…but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I’m – so, kind of at an impasse, can’t really talk about [John] Edwards…”
- “Ken Cuccinelli Is a Fag.”
- “Transgendered Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna Betrays His Community.”
Are you sure?
OK. Well, probably it was pretty easy for you. #1 and #2 are from conservative author Ann Coulter, and they’re from my piece last year, “The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Ann Coulter And The Business Of Anti-Gay Hate Speech In America (Part One).”
Sadly, #3 and #4 are from liberal, gay author and activist Dan Savage.
#3 is the title of Dan’s column today in The Slog.
#4 is the title of Dan’s column yesterday in The Slog.
See where I’m going here?
Savage is doing this on purpose. Yesterday, in response to the immediate uproar his column received, Dan wrote this:
UPDATE: I’m getting some very angry emails about this post. What can I say? I’m so sorry. I wrote the post in a hurry but that’s really no excuse. But I promise that in all future posts about Rob McKenna I will not fail to include a link to the Facebook page “Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s Lawsuit.”
So, what’s the big deal here? Well, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is NOT “transgendered.”*
Savage, evidently, thinks insulting someone by calling them a “fag,” or “transgendered,”* is funny.
Trans people and the entire LGBTQ community have enough challenges without having those in a leadership position offering our identifications as insults. “Fag” and “Transgendered”* (as Savage wrote) are not intrinsically insulting — except when they are used as insults.
Yesterday, a great number of the comments in Dan’s post pointed out how Dan had crossed a line and pointed out how offensive it was. In “How to squander your credibility as a civil rights advocate,” Lurleen of Pam’s House Blend weighed in:
Dan Savage is a gifted Seattle-based gay writer who has done so much wonderful advocacy for our community. Steven Colbert refers to him as “the spokesgay”, a role he seems pleased to fulfill on national television and in The Stranger, the newspaper he writes for. People speaking from such powerful platforms have a special responsibility to not embarrass and misrepresent the people they purport to speak for, and today Dan has greatly embarrassed and misrepresented this lesbian with this diary at The Stranger’s blog, the SLOG.
With action on ENDA hopefully right around the corner, I can only wonder how Dan could possibly think it was reasonable to use a negative and baseless accusation of transgenderism and transexual history against an elected official who he has a political disagreement with. This absolutely sickens me. Major fail, Dan. Shame on you. You make LGB people look like the very homobigots you rail against daily.
And here’s another real danger. Abdication of leadership and responsibility.
Dan Savage is a recognized LGBTQ leader. People listen to him and assume what he says is be “OK.” So, while yesterday Dan took some heat in his column’s comments, today, with the following disclaimer, a great many of his readers just laughed it off.
For the record: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being gay. I mean, obviously. So while this particular state attorney general—this bigoted douchebag—might not like being called a fag, I trust that my fellow fags aren’t going to think I’ve insulted them by calling this guy a fag.
That’s the danger of taking your role in a community for granted. As members of the LGBTQ community with a platform, we all have a responsibility to uphold higher standards and to be role models for the people we serve. Dan abdicated his leadership and responsibility when he chose to use those words. He discredited his great work when he did it twice.
Using “fag,” or “transgendered,” is the same offensive concept that says it’s OK for blacks to call someone the “N” word, because they’re black.
Well, it’s not OK.
It’s not OK to use labels to insult people, labels that relate to the the very “who” of who someone is.
I expect it, unfortunately, from the Ann Coulters of this world, and I’m prepared to fight back. But I’ll also fight the Dan Savages if I have to, although I’d rather be fighting with them than against them.
*For the record, Savage uses the word “transgendered.” It’s actually inappropriate, and he should have used the word “transgender.” My use of it is in quotes, as I am quoting him.
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