Dan Savage is a nationally syndicated sex advice columnist and author of several books. His readership is enormous. He is also a hypocrite.
On a recent blog post, Savage published a painting by Russian artist Raoef Mamedov. The painting, a recreation of the Last Supper, uses men with Down syndrome in replacement of Jesus anhd his disciples. The problem with Dan Savage’s blog post lies not in the artwork, which is, in it’s own way, beautiful; the problem is in the title Savage chose. His choice? “The Tard Supper”
For those of you not familiar with Dan Savage, I’ll take this opportunity to tell you that he is an openly gay man. He has written repeatedly on gay rights, and against the use of hateful language. That alone should have given him enough knowledge to stop him from using such a hateful word in his title, but hey; maybe he wasn’t aware. People make mistakes, perhaps all he needed was a gentle nudge. A reminder that the words “retard” and “tard” are offensive to some people, especially those with mental handicaps.
I am part of a group called the Oz Squad. This group works as an Internet watch dog, and when it finds information that is incorrect and/or offensive to people with Down syndrome, we make it our mission to correct the wrong. We don’t seek to be bullies; we peacefully appeal to the authors, explain the offence, and move on when the offensive material has been removed and/or apologized for.
Our group leader brought this post to our attention. He also very elequently and respectfully approached Dan Savage and told him that his word choice was offensive. When our leader was ignored, he asked us to help. Many in our group wrote Savage, and explained how offended we were by his title. Has Mr. Savage apologized? Changed the title to his post? The answer sadly, is no.
Why does this make me so angry? I’m angry because this is something that is so simple, so easy to remedy. Let’s say I give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he wrote the word “tard” not realizing how offensive others might find it. Fine, I can do that. But as I’ve said before, “when we know better, we do better”. This man has been told repeatedly that his words cause us pain. We’ve written heartfelt letters pleading our case, and told him about our beautiful loved ones with mental handicaps. We’ve opened our hearts to this man, and he just doesn’t seem to care. I’m mad because we are merely asking for an apology, and we are being refused.
To add insult to injury, shortly after this occurance regarding the use of the word “tard”, Savage wrote a response to reader who was shocked by a coworkers use of different hate words. The words discussed were “n*gg*r” and “f*gg*t”. Savage’s response: the person should log a complaint with his HR department, as these two words are unacceptable. Wow! I couldn’t agree more! Those hateful words are unacceptable, but Savage’s hypocricy astounds me. Why is bigotry towards African Americans and homosexuals unacceptable, if it’s acceptable towards those with mental handicaps?
This whole situation makes me sad. When will people realize that hate is never funny?