I’m glad I was bullied. There, I’ve said it. I’ve broken the politically correct cardinal rule; yes, Lady Gaga is gagging right now.
Now, I didn’t enjoy it at the time. I was terrified, of course. I cried at night. I spent days in actual terror. I was young, blond, white, and wearing green Dolphins shorts, leg warmers, and a lovely chiffon dance top with a leotard to an predominately minority inner-city school. The fact that I was gay was third on the bullies’ list of things to target me for: I was white first (not many kids were in my school), then really poor, then gay, a three-way bullying extravaganza, and lots to be “ashamed” of at school.
So why am I happy about it? Because I’m me. You see, I like being me. It’s been a blessed life. I have the best friends in the world. I had the best husband anyone could ever marry (even though we couldn’t legally do so when he was alive).
By Spencer Dewitt
I typically respect fellow spewers of vitriol. After all, slinging mud is hard work, and heaven knows you acquire enough calluses from washing your hands of your own filth so much.
With that said, there’s one variety of mud slinger I absolutely despise, will not defend, and frankly find more repulsive than the righteous squealing pigs that frequently are the targets of us professional procurers of obloquy. And that is the idealistic mudslinger.
I despise this breed of vermin for a very specific reason. Most honest malcontents toil away in earnest hatred of all that the human race, which has for millennia attempted to reduce itself to the level of the average drooling half-wit, has ever produced. Not this lot. Instead, the idealistic malcontent believes that, provided he can only fling the contents of his own bowels at the right targets, humanity might suddenly wise up, wipe its mouth and finish its math homework. He indulges himself with nastiness not because there is nothing he can think of worth praising, but because he is too lazy and/or cowardly to advance the cause of that which he likes, and so would rather denounce that which he dislikes. In the almost inevitable event that he does decide to advance constructive arguments for that which he likes, they almost invariably will be both mind-bogglingly vapid, and infuriatingly smug, as if the idiot in question believes that whatever meaningless cliche has managed to ossify inside his otherwise poisonous cranium is incontrovertible truth. Needless to say, it is no such thing.
Which brings us to Dan Savage, the subject of this article, and perhaps the perfect example of an idealistic malcontent trapped in his own absurdity.
Unlike many other conservatives, I had rather liked Mr. Savage once upon a time. He was funny, he had managed to puncture the Jupiter-esque gas giant that was Rick Santorum’s ego and force the hot air inside to fart itself out, and he was (seemingly) self-aware that he was good for nothing other than witty and gratuitous cruelty. But now he has turned himself into the avatar of something which, while theoretically noble, benefits not at all from his presence and, in fact, suffers from it precisely because he is not fit to advance ideas. I refer to Savage’s cloying, saccharine vanity project, “It Gets Better.”
My indictment of “It Gets Better” can be advanced using three points:
1) It is, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, an outright lie.
2) It gives false hope to those who it should be trying to help.
3) Because of points 1 and 2, it discredits itself and, in fact, makes the prospect of achieving its goals less likely.
As I have alluded above, in theory, “It Gets Better” should be a moral, if impractical, idea. In a perfect world, the organization’s goal would be to stop bullying. Period. However, the organization bills itself as only caring about the bullying of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) youth. Now, before we get into the question of why it limits itself this way, let us pause to remark on a problem which makes the necessity of such an explanation even more pressing – namely, that the formation of cliques is itself a time-tested form of bullying. In the absence of an explanation, Savage’s group seems to be implicitly setting up a hierarchy of oppression such that the smart kid who gets his head dunked in the toilet, or the fat girl who has to suffer constant degrading remarks about her appearance, or the weak boy who gets picked last in gym class and pelted with dodgeballs afterwards are effectively being told, “You’re not oppressed enough for us to care. Now, if you were doing X, Y and Z with your genitals, on the other hand…”
For heaven’s sake, it’s not as though “bully victim” is a coveted label. Why colonize it for homosexuals? In point of fact, even some of the bloggers on the damn organization’s site admit this isn’t the primary reason they were bullied. See also:
You may consider this notice that this blogger, whoever he is, will be a Republican one day. Being bullied for being white will not get him the same fawning attention as being bullied for being gay, even if it’s just as foul.
So is there an explanation for this “no one but gays allowed” exclusionary principle anywhere on the organization’s website, or in its paper trail? Good God, no. That would require actual philosophy behind the organization, and its supporters are likely too busy masturbating over Lady Gaga videos to waste time thinking of that. As far as I’m concerned, this means that their interest in bullying is entirely superficial, and indeed, the organization’s spokespeople and general zeitgeist bear me out.
The spokespeople especially make the whole thing laughable, as a quick glance at the people who have come out supporting the organization shows that they tend to come from the absolute upper echelons of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. There is no universe in which these people can be seen as the put-upon bully victims in American society, nor as effective spokesmen against it. For one thing, you cannot be a victim of the culture if you create it, and for another, Hollywood’s entire business model relies on rendering some things “cool” and other things “not cool,” arguably the central distinction that leads to bullying in secondary education, and if you don’t believe me, consider that media equivalent of wars have been fought over this-or-that starlet’s dress. I cannot be alone in thinking that, “You can still be a victim even if you’re part of arguably the most exclusive industry in American culture, and even if you still laugh at all those squares who don’t understand fashion, because you’re special and they’re not” is a message that does absolutely nothing either to damage the stereotypes surrounding the gay lobby, or to assuage the fears of bullied young people.
In fact, however you slice it, this message, and the organization spouting it, is disingenuous. Moreover, in creating a clique of people who are allowed to be bullying victims, and trying to center all conversations about bullying on those people, the group is lying about its essential purpose. They are not interested in stopping bullying – they are interested in making sure no one criticizes them for being beautiful, unique snowflakes. Personally, I hope someone puts these snowflakes through the nearest radiator.
And what of the false hope it gives? Let’s leave the poor, abused souls who “It Gets Better” snobbishly refuses to help because Oh my GAWD have you SEEN that sweater, they DESERVE to be bullied for THAT. Instead, let’s talk about what the group actually does. I refer to the contents of their “Get Involved” page, which lists the following options:
1. Donate. Your support and generosity provide important resources for LGBT youth and enables us to raise awareness, as well as fund suicide prevention and anti-bullying programs.
2. Record. Send us your It Gets Better Video!
3. Share your Story. Don’t have a camera? Send us a note and we’ll share some stories in the coming months.
4. Take the Pledge. Take the pledge and get involved by helping spread our message of hope to LGBT youth: It Gets Better.
5. Wear your Support. Show others that it gets better. Donate to the project and get a free It Gets Better t-shirt!
6. Buy the Book. Get your copy of the It Gets Better book, in stores now.
7. Order the Book for your Hometown. For a $25 donation, we’ll send a copy of the It Gets Better book to your local library or school.
Sounds innocent enough, right? Well, it is, until you realize what options are missing:
1. Become an anti-bullying counselor
2. Find out your school’s policy on bullying
3. Find out what the law on hate crimes is in your state (Conservatives in the audience please note: I am not condoning using this as a method to fight bullying, but you would think a liberal website would have thought of it)
4. Connect with other anti-bullying activists
5. Learn martial arts
6. Read up on the psychology of bullying, so you know what you’re up against
7. Am I a bully? Take this simple test.
8. Resources to help you stop if you find yourself being a bully
The problem should be obvious – of the options listed on “It Gets Better’s” own web site, four are designed to get money, and the other four are designed to increase publicity for “It Gets Better.” None, on the other hand, give the reader any information on how to effectively fight bullying, enable the reader to examine their own behavior, or help the reader take proactive steps to help their situation get better. In fact, the slogan itself is passive – “It Gets Better,” rather than something like “Make It Better.”
This isn’t activism – it’s Rachel Berry’s half-baked attempt to get the Miss America trophy. They ought to just call the whole pointless thing “Homo 2012″ and complete the obvious and unflattering comparison. After all, Savage publicly masturbates to his own cleverness regularly, both in print and on radio. Congratulations, gay kids, you have a bunch of self-absorbed Hollywood stars and one perverse sex columnist spewing verbal diarrhea all over Youtube about how, if you just wait for it, life will be all pink sprinkles and rainbows after high school, with no requirement that you exert yourself in any way or learn how to fight adversity.
To say that this is false hope is putting it kindly. It is a cruel, narcissistic lie, and if homosexual children take it seriously, they will end up facing the worst disillusioning slap in the face from reality imaginable. “It gets better,” my foot. Follow this nonsense and it will get worse.
Put together, these two problems alone should discredit the institution. And given the extent to which “It Gets Better” has wrapped itself in the flag of anti-bullying, that is a terrible, terrible failure, because now every other potential anti-bullying group will have to prove it’s not a vanity project designed for vapid pop stars and the self-glorification of the President of the United States (who, by the way, has been making a habit of stealing America’s lunch money like any good bully). However, if “It Gets Better’s” only flaws were its lack of self-awareness and its triteness, that would be a burden that anti-bullying as a cause could overcome. Unfortunately, there is a third, worse problem, which brings us back to the title of this article:
Set aside everything that’s wrong with the pathetic pile of platitudes that is “It Gets Better” for a moment and answer one simple question – what on earth is Dan Savage, whose most famous achievement in American public life is turning a politician’s name into a demeaning neologism, doing leading an anti-bullying organization? Leave Santorum alone – what is a man who uses his anti-bullying platform to demean one of the largest religions on the planet doing leading an anti-bullying organization? No, let’s go even further – what is a man who has wished death on an entire political party doing leading an anti-bullying organization?
Savage’s presence takes the already Kony 2012-esque self-parodying closet clique that “It Gets Better” happens to be, and turns it into an open clique. Bullied for your religion? You deserve it, you homophobe. Bullied for your political beliefs? You deserve it, you fascist. Bullied for these things, plus being gay? STONE THE SELF-HATER!
Savage’s attempt at being a courageous crusader for the underdog would be garden variety hypocrisy under any other circumstances, but under these, it is brazen enough to discredit anti-bullying as a bad cover for gay pride extremism for years. Remember our poor, abused gay kid who also happened to be white and poor, and got bullied for all three? How much you want to bet his tormentors look at someone like Dan Savage and feel vindicated in bullying people like him? And how much do you want to bet that this kind of behavior makes those who might otherwise oppose gay bullying feel unwelcome because they’re not cool enough to be part of Savage’s crusade, and thus keep their mouths closed?
Thus, like so many malcontents who secretly hide a trace of idealism, Savage has exposed himself as far more absurd than all his previous targets. He should have stuck to mocking people from behind his mic, and in his column, instead he’s given false hope to an entire teen demographic and diminished the chances of justice for countless other teens who don’t fit that demographic. He is the Louis Farrakhan of gay people, and should be outed as such. He is a huckster, a bully, a fake, and a fraud. It’s even tempting to call him another word that begins with “f,” but that would be an insult to John Edwards, and more to the point, gay people don’t deserve to have Savage hung around their neck, however indirectly. He’s worth less than the frothy mix of well-lubricated hypocrisy and bullshit that his organization excretes on an almost daily basis.
And one thing is certain: once Dan Savage and his organization leave American public life, it will get better.