It was quite a Sunday. I went from a book signing for my friend Dawn Eden, a brilliant Catholic writer and chastity advocate, to watching (on YouTube) as Dan Savage harangued a group of students about the “bullshit in the Bible.” Talk about the two Americas.
Savage, a man whose toxic self-hate virtually oozes out of his pores, was addressing a group of high school journalism students — at, um, a Christian school — when, as is usually the case, his congenital hatred flooded his corpuscles and he began to rant. The Bible is wrong about shellfish and slavery, he announced, and therefore it is wrong about homosexuality. A bunch of kids walked out, and it is now a big scandal.
When the story broke, I was at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., seeing my old friend Dawn Eden. Dawn is a genuine countercultural figure. She grew up Jewish in New York, became a journalist and rock music writer (she wrote liner notes to a lot of great records), and then converted to Catholicism. She is the author of the books “The Thrill of the Chaste” and her new one, “My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.” It is a magnificent and moving work of great spiritual power and grace.
At this point I could offer a comparison between the enslaved and enraged Savage (who is a wonderful advocate for marriage; he’s only cheated on his partner nine times) and the free and joyful Dawn. But I actually feel sorry for Savage — and for the gay community, which has to suffer him as a representative. Because the truth is, gay kids do get bullied in school, and the change in consciousness and seriousness about the issue that, yes, Savage and others have initiated is valuable and worth encouraging. Somewhere out there is a kid who won’t take his life tonight, and Savage may be responsible for that.
Yet the same righteous fuel that made Savage launch his anti-bullying campaign seems to also work as a poisonous toxin. It’s like that episode of “Seinfeld” where a woman dislikes George Costanza and he simply can’t stay away from her. He chases her down, carries her bags, flags a taxi for her. He even dumps his own girlfriend to pursue her. Dan Savage cannot stand the idea that there is one person in this world who disagrees with him about homosexuality. Even people who think that homosexuality is innate and have no problem with civil unions but maintain that there is a difference between the male body and the female body are haters, outcasts, intolerant. He won’t rest until the last holdout is showered in condoms.
Savage’s insecurity runs so deep that any dissenter from his free love orthodoxy automatically becomes a hater, a bully, a Nazi. But beneath all of his rage may be an attraction to those same people — thus his declaration that he wanted to have sex with Rick Santorum. This hate-love dynamic seems to be common on the left. Liberals can’t deny the attraction of purity even as they attack it. When conservatives express desire for liberal women, it’s usually the actors — Jennifer Anniston, Angelina Jolie — and not the politicians.
When I saw the video of Savage attacking the Bible and bullying his audience, I immediately thought of Big Brother. Savage’s image, broadcast on what looked like a JumboTron, was cold, harsh, punitive. It was the book “1984” and he was our dictator announcing time for Two Minutes Hate. And the subject was the Christian. Contrast his granite visage with the smiling, almost carefree faces of the kids who were walking out.
Indeed, their faces were like Dawn Eden’s. They didn’t seem outraged or offended as much as bemused and bored. They’ve heard it before. It is the unchanging, utopian-demanding screed of the liberal in desperate need of therapy. Perhaps he needs to read Dawn Eden’s books.
Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.