Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dan Savage and F-Word: The Responses


So I wrote a piece about Dan Savage and his use of the F-word. I had a lot responses via e-mail and Twitter, but a good chunk of them were defending Dan.

I have to say I was shocked, mostly by the reasons they were giving me.

- Some were saying that it was fair because it was a gay man addressing another gay man.
- Or that Dan has done so much for us that he can say whatever he wants.
- And he should go after GOProud, they deserved it.

Well, that's cute, but not good reasons. In fact, they are cheap excuses I have to address.
  1.  I think it's horrible for a gay person to attack another gay person with the F-word. It's done out of anger and it's geared to hurt.
  2. Dan is not the gay messiah, so stop treating him like one. He's just an outspoken sex columnist. There are far more effective leaders in our community with more accomplishments and less foot-in-mouthritis.
  3. And this ain't about GOProud. It was interesting to see how folks blamed GOProud on why Dan used the F-word. It's not their fault, it's Dan's. He wasn't thinking and he said something stupid. Pure and simple.
  4. Stop trying to make Dan the victim, just hold him accountable.
  5. Defending him opens the door to the Double Standard room. And there's no integrity in the Double Standard room.
 I know he's a hero to some, but heroes have their flaws. In order for them to be better at their game, they have to grow from their mistakes. And if you are a true fan of his, you should help him do better.

7 comments:

WilsonW said...

I agree with ya Vik. I think we have to be vigilant with this kind of thing. Just because we "think" we are right doesn't give us the right to drop to the same level of our enemies. Otherwise we do as Dan did and turn into a hypocrite. You can't chastise the far right or anyone for calling us the "f-word" if you are willing to turn around and do the same types of things they do. While you think you're right, guess what, they think they're right too. You have to be better than your enemies.

Sean said...

Dan is one of our most effective leaders, much in the same way as Larry Krammer, you either love him or hate him. How he came to be noticed (sex columnist) shouldn't matter.

It was about GOPicks - from my understanding, he used the slur referring to them in much the same way they had used it.

Say an think what you want, but he is smart, calculating and media savvy and what ever he does is on purpose.

Lucifer Arnold said...

Sean has a point, I agree with him.

WilsonW said...

Let me frame this in the same way that Dan did. He used a historical reference for his "house faggot" term. He drew it from the term "house nigger". Which I'm sure you know historically is used to refer to black people who stood with master against their own for any number of reasons. Of late it is used to refer to any black person who would dare be anything other than a Democrat. With that justification is it ok for black leadership to openly and publicly call any black person who has a view different from the majority of the community a "house nigger" or an "Uncle Tom"? How about any Mexican or Latino, can we call them "house wetbacks"?

Are there acceptable situations for our community leaders to use these terms against those who disagree with them? Is the fact that our enemies have used the terms justification for using it ourselves? If it is, then how are we any better than them? You can't get upset for someone calling you a faggot, kike, nigger, wetback, bitch, whore, slut, or whatever if we freely use the terms ourselves as a community to label them.

It is only the lowest and most ignorant of our enemies who use those terms. Which is exactly the reason we shouldn't be using them.

If we accept that Dan Savage is a leader for our community then we have to hold him to a certain standard or his effectiveness is lost. He just becomes a bigot speaking out against another bigot, which makes him a hypocrite. His actions teach those who follow him what is ok to do and not ok to do. He is human and not infallible, he makes mistakes and I'm sure harbors some of his own personal demons and prejudices as do we all. But when what he says is denoted as being representative of the community and not just his personal opinion some filtering has to occur and we as a community need to hold him accountable. If he accepts that he is one of our voices then, in my opinion, he has to execute some prudence. If he makes a mistake it's a great opportunity to learn and teach his followers how to be better than their enemies. Otherwise what's the point of fighting and winning if the result is you turning into the very thing you hate and oppose.

fetaby said...

@ Wilson

I'm glad someone else picked up on his use of "house ___" . But I'm less upset at his use of faggot and more upset at there being a "house".

I do feel betrayed by gay republicans. And when asked how they can value their dollars over my rights they draw blanks.

If anything, I'm disheartened that the discussion has been diverted from what sparks the anger in Savage to the outburst. That's not apologizing for him, just a shake of my head at the whole damn thing. I agree that people who wish to be leaders of our movement should conduct themselves as such and take the high road in their words.

I think Savage has created the opportunity for other leaders to do that, and also point at the whole of the situation to highlight the injustices occurring.

WilsonW said...

@fetaby- I understand your sentiment. I don't understand their logic either. But I HAVE to extend them the right to their opinion. Otherwise I lose the ability to argue with someone that I have the right to mine. As logical as it seems to "us" that our rights as gay people should come before fiscal prosperity, there are many that just don't seem to agree. Being gay isn't monolithic and neither is being black. We are diverse in background, color, age, gender, financial prosperity and opinion. We are welcome to have as diverse a set of opinions as we have representation within our community. (Even when they seem(are) counter productive.)

I think the outrage you mentioned over Dan's statement and the words he used, points out how important it is to fight those who disagree with us in the proper way. If Dan had've addressed this situation properly, the focus would have been on the proper issue and not his syntax.

I don't disagree that Dan has opened many doors for our community. Which is why it is very important that we don't let him slide when he does something that is potentially harmful or hypocritical. I know you agree that achieving great things doesn't give you a pass to break from that path as you move forward. More often than not being better than your enemies is the harder path to travel.

fetaby said...

@ Wilson

On opinions and the right to have them...
I'm almost with you on this, but I have to throw my perspective out here. You don't have to "extend that right" out to someone. Their going to have their opinion regardless of your "extension" the same you're going to have your opinion regardless of their dissension. That's been a moot point since the inception of our country. And in this day and age a misnomer and a misdirection to avoid discussing the actual grievances that are occurring STILL.

The logic of the GOProud...

You touched on it a bit when you said that we aren't monolithic in makeup in regards to the characteristics the we are comprised. However, no monolith anywhere will stand if you "remove" one of the foundational bricks. We are human and human beings are sexual creatures. To deny this part of our nature is to deny a very basic fundamental of human nature. Now some people will choose to put it on the back burner and that is of course their right, but their individual right to conduct their life in that manner should not encroach on the individual rights. And there is no denying the LGBT do not enjoy equal rights under the law. And that is what is happening with the GOProud members. They have and will forsake matters of LGBT equality based on their personal opinion of how their life should be lived. The fact that they are doing so for financial prosperity is nothing more than insult to injury and isn't really relevant. They could be voting against gay rights in favor of furthering a religious doctrine and the result would be the same.

Unfortunately, I understand the logic behind their stances all to well. Personally I find them abhorrent. The idea that money matters is MORE important than humanity matters is another example of misdirection. They are BOTH important. Both have the potential to greatly influence a person's quality of life and both deserve to achieve the attention and action they need. This idea that we can only have one OR the other is ludicrous. If a run of the mill soccer mom can multi-task successfully, why can't the politicians we elect into office?



But back to Savage. I'm not one to try to censure anyone. Even if the words they use are hateful. That's fine. In fact, they've done me the favor of having to get to know them that much easier by identifying themselves as the haters they are. And Savage, it seems, is falling into that category. But I can't really blame him.

Instead, I take him for what he gives and peg him on the wall exactly as he displays himself. Everyone has their place. IIRC, while MLK is the one everyone remembers fondly, he wasn't the only civil rights leader of that time. There were others who were instrumental in bringing about change and each one brought a different vibe and energy. Malcolm X....

So Savage isn't the Gay MLK. That's fine, I won't try to shoe horn him into the spot.

I think the we could be taking more advantage of the fact that this is the information age though. The gay movement shouldn't have only a half a dozen leaders. It should have a half a dozen in each city, all being vocal, all making youtube videos. And out of all of those voices, how much do you want to bet that the unfortunate use of words by Savage would be drowned out.

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Viktor is a small town southern boy living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Twitter, writing about pop culture, politics, and comics. He’s the creator of the graphic novel StrangeLore and currently getting back into screenwriting.