The patronising saintliness over a few bad words from Savage

I was reading a response to Dan Savage’s outburst against Christians, on a blog, and I was shaking my head so much over the patronisation going on where older teens were emasculated into that oh so flexible category of “children”.


It was bad for seventeen-eighteen year olds to hear words like “bull shit” because we’re oh so impressionable and vulnerable and weak. I’m surprised we can tie our shoe-laces and go out in public without adult supervision, not to mention that I live in another country than my parents, and that I’m engaged, and that we have a car and soon a house. Since we’re 17 we’re children, and incapable.

The thing is not really about the words that Savage used, but rather the message – a message that I find quite sympathetic, listening to it from across the ocean where I have this myopic prism attached to me when I read about US goings on in the LGBT-struggle. Kids hear a lot worse in school, particularly when they’re bullied.

Central to this LGBT-struggle is, of course, the churches of that nation. From the Mormons to the Southern Baptists to the Catholics. Savage’s message that the Christian can’t seem to pass that last hurdle, when they’ve learnt to ignore so many others that the bible not only allows but preaches support for – like the ban on mixed fibres and shellfish and slavery.

This message is what is objected to, not the bad words. By attacking his credibility for his use of language they attempt to destroy Savage’s credibility on the “rudeness front”. If they succeed in making him appear crude and rude, then the wider message about the Bible is gone too.

If the wider message is gone, then the Christians of the US does not have to look themselves in the mirror and ask ‘why do we obsess about this detail, when we ignore all the other details of Leviticus’? Why does those lines in that book cause such obsession among Christians, when barely nothing else in the Old Testament does?

The question of course has an untenable answer, an uncomfortable answer, and an answer that Christians do not want to hear or be reminded of. The resistance to gay rights is driven by hostility toward gay people; either consciously or unconsciously. Instead of facing the uncomfortable question, the Christians ignore it, and claim victimhood.

And so there is the patronising tone against nearly adult people and the use of fairly mild cursing in their presence. The emasculation of these near adults is useful to sweep the introspection and hard questions under the rug. It becomes another “won’t someone think of the children!’ defence.

And like I wrote in another blog-post, I’m sure it will be successful because the left in the US has cordoned off religion as a sacred cow that can not be debated or discussed or challenged in polite society, and therefore the hostility toward LGBT-people is also preserved, and therefore the left will try to find many other reasons for the hostility before contemplating a look at the organisations that always figure in the centre of the anti-gay policy drives.

The churches and the temples.

8 thoughts on “The patronising saintliness over a few bad words from Savage

  1. I agree with what you said here, 100%. I have to say that you are extremely well read for a young man (I hope it’s ok that I said I’m not sure where you are, but here in Canada most 17 yr old males can’t string more than a few coherent sentences together. :-)

    • I’m in England. Near London.:) And I have a pretty good education, I should think. I don’t agree that most my age can’t string a sentence together. In fact, I hardly know anyone like that, haha.

      • Then it must be the geography because are a lot here who don’t like to read (it’s work) so their vocabulary is very limited…and they use a lot of slang and abbreviations.:-)

  2. My experience with American teenagers (being one and teaching them) is that what people call Savage’s rudeness is actually what makes him most effective. You show American teenagers that you’re willing to treat them like adults by using words like bullshit in front of them and presenting them with the complexities of moral issues, and they will bask in the glow of having their maturity affirmed. According to John Taylor Gatto, one of the unspoken goals of the American educational system is to extend childhood indefinitely–looking at our political and cultural systems, I’d say it’s working. But as you point out, seventeen-year-olds are not children and object to being treated as such. If their parents and teachers tell them to ignore this guy, they will seek him out. There’s nothing quite as sweet as forbidden fruit.

  3. FWIW, the post that you linked to is an extension of an earlier post:

    And it isn’t that I think that 17-year-olds can’t handle that kind of language, it’s that there is an expectation of professionalism when speaking to a group of kids in a school-sanctioned setting.

    We wouldn’t allow a teacher to speak to students in that manner – as parents, we expect that to carry over to any school functions they may be attending.

    I know that I sound like a prude, but I always felt a huge responsibility while raising my children to ensure that the people that I entrusted with their care treated them with the utmost respect; I just feel that Mr. Savage stepped over that invisible “line”.

    Believe me, when I was 17, I never thought that I would be writing stuff like this – being responsible for the care and feeding of vulnerable little ducklings for 18+ years has a way of changing one’s tune…..

    (Meanwhile across the pond, our “right” side is apparently what you call the “left” over there – then again, you blokes do drive on the wrong side of the road…..😛 )

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