Savage Love Episode 292


If he balks at coming to your house for some reason, remind him that jesus hung out with a whore and had meals with tax collectors. And the context on the tax collector thing since he might not know.
Yes!! Dan! I am so proud of you! That is the perfect setting for this "debate." I too was afraid it would get too gladitorial - thanks for bringing some civility to what might have otherwise been, as you said, all heat and no light.

Might I also suggest that you agree upon a more concrete thing to debate, rather than just "The Bible" or "religion"? I'd hope you could come up with a specific question to debate, like "True or False: The Bible can reasonably be used to defend national U.S. policies that exclude homosexuals from civil institutions and activities, such as marriage, child adoption, and workplace protection." Or something like that. But if it is to be a debate, you've got to have a specific question, not just a topic, otherwise there's no focus.
Great episode, very informative re sex toys...I was wondering why some of my old sex toys smelled like fishing tackle. What's the responsible way to dispose of these toys?
Please set a time limit on answers so we get to hear the response to a number of questions.

Ms(?) Giraffe - I agree that some civility is a good thing, but isn't his own home after dinner conceding too much? What that tells all straight people is that all non-straight people will always be okay with accepting third-class or even fourth-class treatment and always be the ones to cave first and turn the other cheek. Every single time. They have no incentive to treat us decently when they can be that outrageous and still be invited for dinner. Beyond that, this invitation gives homophobes everywhere a powerful card to play if they want to demand similar meetings with those they've already wounded. And the unilateral disarmament in the form of pre-emptively agreeing to demeaning conditions - no homosexual will be involved in the preparation of his food? That just conceded the point that queers can't be trusted to handle food without making him manifest bigotry by demanding the point.

I agree with the high road, but this is the saint road or the martyr road, just more difficult with no particular extra benefit. Sometimes We Can Be Friends is the right message, but isn't that hour gone by now? I see it as somewhere between We Don't Have to Be Friends and We Don't Want to Be Friends at this point in the discussion.

I just hope at least that Mr Savage fils is spared the presence of the malevolence(s). I always took that sort of thing very hard at that age.
Dan, your response to Brian Brown's debate challenge is incredibly classy. You're amazing.
I too love your idea about how to handle the debate. Makes me want to be a more diplomatic person. Can't wait to see what happens.
That is brilliant, Dan. What a perfect response to Mr. Brown.
Vennominon: I see your points, but I totally disagree. It's not turning the other cheek, exactly. It's a total win-win and a surprise attack of kindness - BB was expecting fire and brimstone, and instead he got the unexpected reaction of civility and generosity, which is more more difficult to remain righteously indignant about (and righteous indignation is all he has). If Brian Brown refuses, he will be correctly perceived as a coward and a hypocrite. There's no good excuse for not taking Dan up on this. If he accepts, he is forced to confront the humanity of a homosexual on camera, and he will also lose the debate since we both know his position is indefensible without a barricade of screaming homophobes to protect him. Forcing the bullies to acknowledge LGBTQ people's humanity is the way to win this war - meeting them at the level of hatred and yelling only allows them to remain self-righteous. I don't think the message is "Sometimes we can be friends" or "I tolerate your viewpoint" - the message is, "I am classy enough to acknowledge your humanity, which only highlights your hatred and bigotry." Dan wins no battles by playing BB's hateful game in a circus ring.

also, the "no homosexual will handle your food" was obviously tongue-in-cheek. If you recall, Savage has a track record (that the bigots LOVE to recall) of doing things like licking doorknobs to get legislators sick. Given that, I don't think it's totally ridiculous to assure his guests that he's taking steps to make sure their food isn't spat in or anything.
Time for baseless speculation on the identity of the "famous actor" drama queen!

I'd vote for FAKE, but it was obviously KILLING the caller to not be able to name him.
A stroke of genius on many front. At the very least middle America will see that we don't have our boyfriends making dinner chained to the walls of our dungeons next to a hot plate and a sink. Next they can see that other straights really can coexist and, gasp, even LIKE us. And thirdly, he would look bad as a guest to deny this opportunity solely so that he could find a different venue to manage the whole spectacle. Now if you could only get FOX to be there with a continuous feed of their man discussing with our man. But, they aren't really after "news" so who am I fooling. So proud of you, Dan. Greg Rogers
Dan, I really admire your choice of debate setting. It sounds very fair and civil, which is something we sort of miss out on as Americans paying an inkling of attention to the media. I hope he agrees. Can't wait to watch it.
I like the idea of your debate location and your rationale, but I would have loved to see the debate in front of the congregation of a gay-welcoming christian church which has an out gay preacher.

Ms Giraffe - Going backwards, it was a missed opportunity. Make the opponent put himself on record as thinking the invitation is issued in bad faith. Besides, Mr Brown is sure to inflict some conditions of his own, and this would have been one of the first bargaining chips. If he had to make a pre-emptive offer, he could have gone the quasi-Holmesian route of offering two plates and volunteering to eat himself from one plate first.

I didn't say play a hateful game. There were plenty of ways to take a high road; this goes too far. Mr Savage has many admirers with whom he would never share a meal for less than a seven-figure fee(perhaps five is a more realistic demand, but I feel expansive), yet he will invite that person into his son's home? Showing that there is no limit to one's tolerance only invites bullies to double down and keep multiplying.

The one part about the offer of dinner that's clever is that Mr Brown can always claim that he agreed to a debate and only to a debate. He has an instant out which will not cost him with his followers, and perhaps Mr Savage, by upping the ante regarding location, expects him to take it. But a meal in a neutral setting is quite enough to indicate acceptance of humanity - even if the opponent has forfeited that acceptance, which we can agree to call debatable in this instance. It could be some sort of ploy to force some sort of equivalence of spouses, but, as much as Mr Savage may derive personal enjoyment from watching Mr Brown force himself to be civil to Mr Miller, that doesn't really gain any points for the side - and it subjects Mr Miller to the severe unpleasantness of the occasion. I would maintain that setting the dinner in one's own home is indicative of at least a hope or wish to overcome enmity, and both participants know that isn't going to happen. Watch Mr Brown gain points with his base by framing the situation as Mr Savage expecting him to back out, but he is so sure in the righteousness of his purpose that he will even subject himself to the depravity of breaking bread with perverts.

As for the debate itself, I think you'd be right if such a debate were likely to be readily winnable. But any half-baked Biblical sophist can tie such a debate into a Gordian knot in moments. I suspect that at worst Mr Brown will be able to claim that Mr Savage just doesn't get it because he isn't a born-again Christian - and that baseline works quite well enough for them. They may lose a little polling support, but they don't lose an appreciable number of votes.

Civility and generosity would be, say, going back to the location of the original schemozzle and letting Mr Brown fill the audience, or something of that sort. I agree with you that Mr Brown probably expected something mean-spirited. But this is so nice that it looks fake, and, in a way, has to be. Neither of the two can really want to get along with the other, as everyone knows that there will be no change of either mind or heart in play.

This would be easier with which to live if it didn't set such a discouraging example. It's all very well and good for Mr Savage to advocate "taking yes for an answer" as he often does, a position with which I mostly agree. But this puts nonstraight people in the position of not even being able to ask for yes. In fact, this could boomerang into a huge weapon for the NOM forces, as Mr Brown could urge his followers to take the battle into the enemy camp and force themselves on people they've already hurt badly.

It would be lovely if you were entirely right, but, given that the whole exercise is going to prove virtually nothing if the invitation is accepted, I wish it weren't offered in such a submissive frame. More than anything else right now after all the battering taken from rights being continually put up to the disgrace of a public vote, we need self-respect. I think, in the end, the best outcome possible is that the invitation will be accepted in principle and have to be abandoned due to inability to agree a date, letting both sides claim victory, as both will anyway.
I appreciate that you are responding to the challenge with an invitation. I think that speaks more than the outcome of a debate, which clearly will have no victory. That is, he will claim vicotry regardless of what happens. Kindness still matters though and the humanity you offer is unavoidable.
I once got fired from a job for trading biblical references with the foreman.
Re:Sodom and Gomorrah doesn't anyone remember that God lived with their same-sex ways for years with no thunderbolts. Only when Lot gave the crowd his daughter to rape to death (evidently not by lesbians) did God destroy the city. So why did Lot's wife get punished instead of Lot? Maybe a pillar of salt feels better than staying married to someone who sent your daughter out to be raped by heterosexuals....
Bravo Dan for your offer of hospitality! You're such a gentleman. I can't wait to see the DVD.
Eeek! Now I'm saddled with sex toy paranoia!! OK, I wish that they had identified what the "smell" should actually smell like for PVC toys...mine is made by Doc Johnson which she said was known for making silicone toys--so that's good! But it definitely smells like rubber. It reeks of rubber...which I thought was normal....because it's made of rubber. Would anyone like to help me out with that one? I'm confused....It doesn't smell like "chemicals" smells like rubber.... :s

I know I should buy a new one because it's deteriorating anyway, and it's like 7 years old, but i love it! It's like your favorite pair of dread trying to find a pair that fit as well.
@18: If it's clean, and it has a smell, ditch it. Silicone has no smell.

Or: Do like we did, and absent-mindedly store your toys in a big zip-loc bag for a couple of months, and watch what the cheap ones do to each other when the fumes can't escape. That was the moment we pitched the lot and vowed to only buy the good stuff.
@2, @6 What you guys said, absolutely!

As for the toxic toy @18, maybe you could just stick a condom on it?
Just by the way, in regards to the sex toy material:
Dan mentioned marble and stone, marble is actually very porous and I would not recommend using it. Other stones also vary in thier porosity and should warrant additional research.
And I have come accross some dicey glass toys with pieces that stick out from the shaft can snap off and should be avoided.

Also in the interim of going and buying non-toxic toys, slip a condom over your toy. This also works well for sharing your toys.
Have fun!
#16 God was already preparing to destroy Sodom before Lot offered to let the men rape his daughter. If I recall correctly, Lot offered his daughters in liue of the angels (whom the Sodomites wanted to rape), the Sodomites refused this offer, and the angels intervened to prevent either rape from occurring. I don't think you can blame the destruction of Sodom on Lot's offer of his daughter for rape. Lot's family was offered the opportunity to leave Sodom before it was destroyed. Lot's wife was punished for looking back toward the city as they were leaving, not in connection with the proposed rape of their daughters.
Hmmm...condoms, I don't know about that. I need to be skin to fake skin bonded to my toy. But ok...poo! I guess I have to buy a new one. I suppose it will also help me avoid that face I make when I open the drawer and the smell smacks me in the face.
@5: I am straight, and I did not draw this conclusion at all.

Tactically it's masterful. There is a Biblical instruction to socialize politely with your neighbors, living and converting by example and not by trying to be too pure to break bread together. (So long as the tofu isn't consecrated to Ba'al. If the cook does that, you're supposed to skip that part of the meal.) And as Dan said, they can each fill a stadium with screaming monkeys. Let's bypass that.

Turning down the screaming monkey option Mr. NOM might have some ground to stand on. Feeling that he cannot defend the Bible and its teachings over dinner with no hordes? Much harder case to make.
I had no idea my sex toys had that level of toxins. Just bought my first silicon toy-- guess I'm not going back.
God: I could live with the sodomizing, but the gomorrahizing had to stop!

Marilyn Manson: What's gomorrahizing? (God whispers in his ear) Dude, that's SICK!

#14 Technically, I think it was left up to Dan Savage to pick the date. I would consider that part of naming the time and place. As for sharing a meal, Mr. Brown could certainly choose to forego dinner. I'm not saying he will, but he agreed to participate in the debate, not the meal.
#24 I don't know that it's relevant in this case, but there are reasons you might not choose to eat with someone, besides thinking that you're "too pure." I would be nervous going to a stranger's house alone for dinner. That's without assuming they are gay and, while it might have something to do with their morals (if I knew for sure that they were trustworthy, that would make a difference), it's not simple hautiness.

I am a former "Ex-Gay Ministry" group leader. I have a degree in theology. Now, being that you are one of the most intelligent men I have heard, you more than likely know the information on my little blogspot. However, I know that there will be biblical rhetoric. This blogspot explains the most oft used scriptures from a linguistic and social context. Feel free to use this if you would like to. I think you'd stump him if he understands that there has been major misinterpretations based on 21st Century society.

If you have any questions or anything at all, I am on facebook under Tymm Conner. My email is…

I am a former "Ex-Gay Ministry" group leader. I have a degree in theology. Now, being that you are one of the most intelligent men I have heard, you more than likely know the information on my little blogspot. However, I know that there will be biblical rhetoric. This blogspot explains the most oft used scriptures from a linguistic and social context. Feel free to use this if you would like to. I think you'd stump him if he understands that there has been major misinterpretations based on 21st Century society.

If you have any questions or anything at all, I am on facebook under Tymm Conner. My email is…
@18 - totally get rid of it. Doc Johnson is actually known for making really crap-tastic toys BUT Have RECENTLY released a line of good silicone toys!! The toy you have is jelly- or it wouldn't deteriorate. Also, the "rubber" smell you are talking about is the chemicals leaching out of it. Condoms have not been tested to protect against the dangers of these toys. Seriously- get a new toy! Try one of these brands: Tantus Silicone, Fun Factory, Vixen Creations Silicone, Vamp Silicone, Happy Valley Silicone, Fuze Silicone. Check on the Progressive Pleasure Club website for a store near you OR take this list to your local store and ask for help. Be aware, though, that they may NOT be familiar with the toxic toys issue.
I have repeatedly said to take the high road and am getting a little testy at all the inferences that I advocate a circus or a shouting match.

Try as I might, I can't see this as anything likely to have a better than neutral outcome at best. It can be seen and/or presented as some kind of trap, a sign of a genuine desire to get along, so nice it has to be fake, or an attempt to outChristian the Christians.

Of course it will be presented to the NOM base as a trap. Mr Brown will find some way to manufacture a basis for complaint, or if there is none will only claim that this was only because of his eagle-eyed diligence or divine guidance.

I shudder to think of how, if they choose, NOM can spin the angle of how desperate we are to get them to like us. Have we no dignity left at all? I have been experiencing something in almost exactly this line for about a week, and expect the unsolicited Bible verses and reactionary articles to start arriving at any moment from people I have cut off as far as I can but who constantly latch onto anything like encouragement they can get and whose thriving on any time I am less than perfectly composed in the face of their LMB conduct is the only thing that helps me keep my composure.

While it is clever to be too nice to be true in that it will likely throw Mr Brown off his game, even that can be spun to advantage. If he comes off looking bad, that could gain him more from the base than he loses from the great middle, which, as we have seen time and time again, might sympathize with but doesn't vote for us.

Even if we actually succeed at outChristianing the Christians, they'll never admit it, and they control the Book, thus gaining control of the dialogue as well. At best, if Mr Savage clearly knows that of which he speaks, he will be dressed as Satan using Scripture to his own evil ends. And at worst - if Mr Brown somehow emerges with anything that looks at all like a win to Fox News, then there go the last fifty years of progress. I'm too old for prison, thanks very much, though if my digestion keeps acting up I might not object to a humane execution.

I'm not really as crabby as I'm sure I sound - more worried to death and tired of putting up with people who treat us like filth. It just guts me to see someone of that ilk rewarded.

But, in order to be able to sleep, I shall recall lines spoken by Josette Simon: "Men always think that sheer persistence will get them what they think they want. It has no dignity and it does not work."

Dormez bien.
Why the hell does it seem to me that gay men are 1000% more likely to say "between you and I"
Rebecca F @ 28
Very true, there are reasons to be cautious about going to a stranger's home for dinner some evening, but they don't apply in this case.

One of the first rules for visiting a new aquaintance is to let someone know where you're going and when you'll be leaving- that's definitly covered here. Should this invitation be accepted, it'll be common knowledge- Dan'll post to say that the debate is going ahead, Brian Brown will declare that his challenge has been accepted.
Also- a dinner invitation that involves not just him and his host, but also their respective spouses, a third party moderator and his spouse, AND a camera crew is streatching the definition of 'alone' a bit....
bravo dan! can't wait to hear what he says.
Use condoms with your penetrative sex toys! They'll protect you from leeching chemicals AND any lingering bacteria.
Also, that guy worried about his niece should check out (and direct his niece to) Scarleteen. They basically suggest the same thing as you - respect teen agency, but apply an extra degree of scrutiny to much older partners, and their staff is good at helping people think through decisions.
I really don't think you'd need to edit the tape to make you look good and to make him look stupid. I'm glad you didn't go the coliseum route - very surprised, but glad. This is unexpected, and by acting more civilized it really highlights how much of a bully he is. I wonder what you're going to serve for dinner?
Also, I agree with #2 - prepare questions beforehand, though I'm sure you're already doing that :)
@ 14 & 32

Vennominon, you couldn't be more right -or- more wrong. Of course the nut jobs over at NOM will spin the shit out of Dan's cordial invitation. They spin the shit out of -everything- with no regard for reality or even the scriptures by which they claim to lead their lives.

BUT they aren't who any of us should concern ourselves with. The real people whose hearts and minds we should care about aren't 100% in the nut job camp. Once people have gone completely off the deep end there's no talking to them. Nothing you say will ever matter to them. The only chance they have of swimming back to shore is if they make their minds up and do it themselves.

Dan's act of charity and hospitality was kind and generous and fair. The people whose opinions matter (the ones who would maybe reconsider their views given the right set of circumstances) will see it for what it is. And it will give them pause and make them think. And if they see Mr. Brian Brown respond with inhumanity and venom, as he likely will, well that will give them pause and make them think, too. And that's a start.
Dan, listening to your response about the debate just reminded me why I admire you so much. I can't WAIT. He better follow-through!!
Ms Kitty - Excess in kindness, generosity and fairness comes across as none of the above. Would you be comfortable accepting an invitation to dinner at the home of a person you had always considered and called irreversibly wrong-thinking and dangerous to society and humanity (and whom you knew to have been at least as vehement about you)? This isn't Cal Thomas and Teddy Kennedy or Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan, who could have friendships across the aisle that would often rankle the respective bases on both sides. Messrs Brown and Savage are never going to be friends, which makes friendliness pointless.

While I grant that this may move undecided opinions in a favourable direction, it won't gain much in the way of actual votes, because we are way too far down the priority list when people reach the voting booth. It might be different if this were a winnable debate, but all Mr Brown has to do is keep his temper, tie the whole thing up in semantics, mistranslation and ancient languages, and claim that any true believer would have had a personal divine revelation that the NOM position is Truth with a capital TRU. People won't be able to decipher the gobbledegook, and the main point that will come across is that we are all desperate for every hateful person to like us.

There were more effective ways to take the high road. Offer to debate live on Fox News and let Mr Brown select the size and composition of the audience, or something in a setting where Mr Brown would be comfortable. That might come across as a sign of bravado, but it wouldn't appear to be seeking approval or trying to outChristian the Christianists.

With any luck, Mr Brown will decline the invitation in a hateful manner that will win about as many points as are truly in play here without the necessity of following through on a gesture that can at least be portrayed as insincere.

And it is vitally important in general to make a strong statement to bullies that they can't impose themselves on our lives without sincere acts of contrition at a minimum. This just throws that out the window unnecessarily, but I'll allow that the invitation might have seemed as the high-road path least likely to prove acceptable to the opposition. Should Mr Brown decline, I shall allow that the gamble came off well, but my nerves are shot after decades of these unnecessary games, and I just want this whole fight to be over without having to sacrifice any more of what remnants of dignity I have left. Every concession to the hateful gnaws at my soul, and soon the damage will be irreversible - although I suppose everyone here thinks it probably is already.
vennominon - If I was a public figure and the dinner was moderated and on film (like this one), you're damned right I would accept. Especially if I had already said I wanted to have a debate with my host. Are you saying you wouldn't? Sitting down to dinner with someone isn't about being friends. It's about a show of civility. And it speaks very poorly of anyone who can't muster a bit of civility for the few hours it takes to sit down and have dinner and a debate.

Gay marriage is going to continue to show up on ballots all across the country as an issue unto itself. If someone is already voting, they'll vote on that issue regardless of how low it is on their priority list. Because it's on the ballot. And they're already there to vote anyway.

Showing up on fox news with Mr Brown's audience of choice is an invitation for disaster. Not only are you suggesting that Mr. Savage play sacrificial lamb (oh look! there's a bit of out-Christianing the Christians for you) but it would be futile. Who do you think would watch something like that? Certainly not anyone who is standing on middle ground. And why on earth do you think that inviting someone to dinner under these circumstances means you're trying to act like a Christian. Last I checked, there aren't a lot of Christians inviting people they don't particularly like into their homes to have dinner and a filmed and moderated debate. Or do you know something I don't?

What is "insincere" about forcing someone else to acknowledge that you are a human being? If you recall, Dan didn't say he wanted to have dinner so they could be bestest of buddies. He said he wanted to have dinner so that Brian Brown would have to acknowledge his humanity by accepting his hospitality. That seems pretty straight forward to me.

No. It's vitally important for bullies to be stripped of their power. And if Brian Brown can make Dan Savage meet him on his level, he is exerting power. The dinner table takes power away from Brian Brown. Going on Fox news in front of who knows how many frothing screaming hateful bigots gives Brian Brown power served up on a silver platter.

You don't want to sacrifice your own dignity but you begrudge Dan keeping his own? There is nothing dignified about appearing on Faux News to be pummeled by the mindless hoard. Self sacrifice is not the same thing as dignity.
Ms Kitty - Well, that was just a wild thought off the top of my head. Go back to the site of the original offense. Give Mr Brown home field advantage so that he'll have no excuse for being off his game. Let him pack the audience or not, as you please. You're probably right about power, although I would contend that Mr Savage is in his second-best element in an adversarial situation with the odds stacked against him. He has shown many times that he doesn't value that sort of dignity, having many other things that he prizes more, and for him, that's fine.

But forcing him to eat a meal in the home and company of a pair of "perverts" (not to mention trying to force him to acknowledge their couplehood) hands Mr Brown an automatic excuse for however badly off his game he might happen to be. Dine with him by all means. But setting the dinner where Mr Brown will have every reason to claim discomfort and unilaterally adding a spouse to the mix whose presence will immediately raise a point of contention really is striking me more and more as an attempt to make the setting so sweetly unpleasant that not only will Mr Brown have to back out, but he'll look churlish in doing so. If that is how it comes off, well played.

I have no quarrel with dining at a neutral site. But my mother isn't allowed in my home, nor do I set foot in hers, although we meet on occasion in public. Mr Brown is on quite a short list of people who are more homophobic than she is. So, no. No homes involved. Dinner at a neutral site is on the correct side of the line.

I can acknowledge that it's possible my standards are a little old fashioned, and that people who have no concept of privacy, as seems to be the growing custom, might not regard the home as sacrosanct and inviolable.

And personally I'd have no problem at all being the "sacrificial lamb". But then I'm much more meek and lowly than Mr Savage; the sight of my being pummeled would appear even to many of those on the NOM side as going too far. I'll agree it's the wrong approach for him. It was just a thought.

You appear far too insufficiently outraged about the prospect of my rights being submitted to public vote for us to be able to have any sort of constructive conversation about that matter. I hope that you never have to undergo that extremely unpleasant and highly degrading experience.

I consider it insincere to force an insincere acknowledgement. And it would be an insincere acknowledgement, if it were even given. Should the dinner to occur, it wouldn't suprise me in the least for the meeting to sour in the first five minutes over terminology. Adding spouses to the mix seems almost like poisoning the pill - will Mr Savage play by homophobic rules and retreat into the closet about the relationship, even for one meal? And if he doesn't, will Mr Brown be able to refrain from responding to what he'll perceive as such an insult to God and a threat to humanity? The meeting could end long before any meal might be served.

I'm sure anyone here could spin being invited into one's enemy's home into an attempt to be, if not bestest buddies, then on acceptably friendly terms - at least well enough to convince people who don't really care one way or the other. I hope for your sake that I have far more experience in dealing with homophobes than you do, and in my experience nothing gives them anywhere near as much power as being asked either explicitly or tacitly for approval

I can accept that our main point of contention is the home, as dinner does not bother me, though we might also disagree about whether tacking on the spouses can be spun as a dirty trick.

Hmm... Famous actor... west coast. Well, that narrows it down.
can we please get rid of the out of tune jingle at the beginning?
@vennominon, I think you are right in that the main point of contention here is home, not friendliness. Your home is sacrosanct for many a reason, and I am sure that your desire never to invite the likes of Mr Brown to your home is more than defensible and correct. But it is Mr Savage who is inviting Mr Brown to this intimate tête-à-tête, so it is Mr Savage's concept of home and the importance of domestic privacy that is involved. He made the offer; I assume this means he is OK with the implications.

I assume he is going to make sure that Savage fils is conveniently in a play date or sleepover at a friend's house for the night of Mr Brown's putative visit.

I agree with the view expressed by other commenters that the point of being civil is precisely showing that one is human enough to be capable to do that, no matter the circumstances. Either Mr Brown is human enough to be civil in the kind of meeting Mr Savage proposes, or then he isn't. Mr Savage is claiming he, Mr Savage, is human enough to do that -- to completely disagree with everything Mr Brown says and does and reperesents, and yet to be human enough to acknowledge Mr Brown's own humanity and dignity. Can Mr Brown afford not to show himself as human as Mr Savage has?

If Mr Brown wants to keep the image that he is not being unreasonable; if he wants to claim that it's the 'homosexuals' with their 'hidden gay agenda' who are being too demanding; then he'll have to either accept the invitation, or concoct some excuse. Either way, this is not going to be good PR for him, for the group that matters most -- the undecided, or those whose opinions are 'evolving.' (People like your mother, or Mr Brown's screeming supporters, are simply not going to change, no matter what; they could never reasonably be the target group.)

Mr Savage's invitation may result in a dismissive refusal as you suggested, with all bad PR consequences -- in which case, well played, as you said. It may also result in Mr Brown accepting it -- and no matter what happens there, there is no way the Roman Emperor will come out of the Christians' den without implicitly acknowledging that the Christians aren't simply food for lions, if you allow me the mixed imagery -- and on video, in YouTube. In these times in which politicians are beginning to acknowledge that gays can be parents and to feel they have to somehow qualify their anti-gay beliefs and statements, this does feel to me like a step forward, in the right direction.

And finally... Color me naive if you will, but a part of me wants to believe that at least a part of Mr Brown's anti-gay stance does come from him believing firmly that some of the quite normal things that happen in his household also happen in Mr Savage's -- and that being directly exposed to this fact, even under such stressful circumstances, both for him and for Mr Savage, might have some beneficial influence on Mr Brown. He might be, despite all his armor, despite his protective bubble, despite all his preparations and all his effort to harden his heart, still unexpectedly surprised, even moved, by something quite human in Mr Savage, in his husband, and in their house. Gandhi was a master at making this kind of thing happen. Mr Savage is certainly no Gandhi, but, in my own wicked, perverted way, I do have some faith in human nature. Even in Mr Brown's. He is, after all, human, just like you, me, and Mr Savage.
@venomminon, well, it is 2:00 am here too... I meant to say:

"[...] but a part of me wants to believe that at least a part of Mr Brown's anti-gay stance does come from him believing firmly that some of the quite normal things that happen in his household DO NOT happen in Mr Savage's -- and that being directly exposed to EVIDENCE OF THE CONTRARY, I.E. THAT MR SAVAGE'S HOUSEHOLD MAY BE AS NORMAL AS HIS OWN, even under such stressful circumstances, both for him and for Mr Savage, might have some beneficial influence on Mr Brown. [...]"
Mr Ank - Would you like to buy some real estate?

Mr Brown, unfortuantely, comes from my neck of the woods. He is case-hardened, and has withstood kindness assaults from lipstick lesbians in the now-disbanded group Love Makes a Family (one of those happy stories of an advocacy group being able to declare victory and disperse), only to emerge intact. If they couldn't win him over through allure, I don't see Mr Savage having much chance.

Personally, I have too much respect for genius loci to enter the home of someone who loathes me, unless the occasion were clearly designated as hostile or at a minimum adversarial, a distinction for which a debate clearly qualifies.

And, really, Mr Brown has an easy out, which doesn't strike me as generating bad press. He agreed to a debate. Had Mr Savage said, Debate Me in My Sitting Room, that would have been tough to duck. But by adding both family dinner and spouses, Mr Savage has made this much more than a debate. It becomes an apparent attempt to change Mr Brown's feelings.

Even if you're right, the effect on Mr Brown won't be to get him to recant. Yet. He'll double down and won't have anything resembling a change of heart for another forty years, when he tearfully admits in his memoirs that he was wrong, knew he was wrong, and wishes with all his heart that he could go back in time and ungive the testimony that has been credited with getting the FMA through Congress.

But, all novel plots aside (and this is nowhere near as good as the one I thought up for the weekly column), I don't like appearing to gamble that we CAN change the homophobes' hearts. It might be different if the antagonists were like Richard I and Saladin, who could respect each other. But these two clearly don't, which makes an over-the-top gesture at least a discarded opportunity.
@Mr Ven, I'm currently trying to sell my house; I'll be only buying afterwards... You may well be right. But frankly, if Mr Savage had offered a traditional debate, be it in his sitting room or in front of a neutral audience, wouldn't that be just the kind of thing that we're all tired of seeing -- a debate perhaps with some civility, but with lots of 'facts' thrown around without confirmation, at the end of which both sides claim unconditional victory to the applause of their respective supporters? (Prof. Dawkins has declared on a couple of occasions that he doesn't want to debate Creationists anymore because the screenplay is almost always the same and very little changes thereafter.)

Making a good display of civility is at least something new in this particular public debate. And given Mr Savage's track record -- his boyish, I-calls-it-like-it-is style of advice giving, his past doorknob licking and suchlike -- I am actually even slightly surprised that he, Mr Savage, should be the one who came up with this proposition. Maybe growing older really is bringing him into a wiser and more serene part of his life. After all, at least for character consistency, it should be the Christian who invites the sinner into his house to show him true Christian happiness... yet in this case, the Christian was the angry-looking cowboy who entered the saloon, guns in both hands, shouting 'Savage, you bastard! I'm ready to duel! Now you choose the place and the time!'

So, all in all, I think I'm still going to say 'well played' to Mr Savage. If Mr Brown declines, Mr Savages wins -- even if he says he had proposed a 'debate', and that Mr Savage is cheating by involving spouses and family life, this is hardly going to sound convincing to those still undecided or 'evolving.' If he doesn't, Mr Savage has a higher-than-average chance of winning, at least in the PR department, if not influencing Mr Brown's heart, by simply showing himself as a civil human being.

I understand that being civil enemies who disagree yet respect each other may be a practice that died with Generals Lee and Grant. But making a reference to this practice, and how beautiful it is, is, I think, a very shrewd gesture on Mr Savage's side. Can Mr Brown really avoid agreeing that civility with one's enemies is a good thing without looking bad to the undecideds? Only time will tell.
This reminds me of Charlotte Lucas accepting Mr Collins' proposal of matrimony all of two days after Elizabeth Bennet refused him. Elizabeth cannot believe that Charlotte could so degrade herself. When Jane ventures to hope that Charlotte might actually feel something more like esteem for their cousin than Elizabeth does, Elizabeth can only reply that that would be worse; she would then think worse of Charlotte's head than she currently does of her heart.

Your concluding paragraph misses that the respect comes first. This just looks like mockery trying to score points. It could well be a shrewd gesture. And as I don't think the debate actually occurring does us any good at all, if Mr Savage convinces Mr Brown to decline indignantly, that's as good an outcome as any.

The enthusiasm of all the straight posters here who so want this to take place has really stung me badly, in part because it's largely a circus to them and they don't have to be sick about their rights riding on such spectacles and in part because I think a lot of the undecideds don't really care much one way or the other about the merits of the situation but, especially in Bad Times, quite like having Teh Queerz in a subservient position. You were once big enough to admit that some minor part of you perhaps gets some old atavistic enjoyment out of hearing the F-word dropped, even if it's "really" done to "bully the bullies"; this strikes me as something in almost exactly the same line.
I'm sorry that the enthusiasm of straight posters (and quite a few gay ones, too, I should add) stings you, Mr Ven. I don't think it's anyone's intention. Nor do I think they (or at least I) really view the situation as a circus. I think of this as a situation in which Mr Brown would (in principle) be forced to publicly face the incongruity of some of his beliefs, and even if this fact did not influence him personally it would not go unnoticed by the audience (or at least the undecideds among them).

Maybe you're perceiving straights as somewhat lacking in empathy? As far as I can tell (which is basically about myself), I think we straights may lack certain experiences or certain knowledge, but not empathy (some individuals, yes, but not the group as a whole).

Having been myself a frequent target of certain words I wouldn't myself like to repeat, even under the protective bubble of a one-letter abbreviation (and even with the certitude that they, being in a foreign language, wouldn't be understood by most commenters here), I do think that your experience with the F-word is something I can relate to. And in that sense I do feel a little stung by the scare quotes you placed around "really" and "bully the bullies" (an expression I wouldn't have chosen).

My entire point about this is that it's not the word's fault, it's always the person's fault who uses a word (or a stone -- a natural object, without any indication in it that it should be used to hurt others) to hurt others. And even words who seem to be only usable to hurt may have other uses -- just as atom bombs, apparently created only to inflict horrible suffering, could also be used to destroy meteorites on a collision course with Earth, or to provide power for certain kinds of spaceships.

I have no pleasure in seeing the F-word specificially used to hurt anyone. But I do take pleasure when someone finds a way of using a word others had created for the purpose of hurting someone in an intelligent and innovative way that defeats this original evil purpose (and at the same time brings this original evil purpose to the conscious awareness of those who usually don't think about such things or dismiss them as unimportant). It is, to me, akin to re-claiming a word -- like 'queer' or 'slut' -- as a badge of honor.

I'm going to disagree with Dan when it comes to asking people how they got pregnant. I've had a straight single coworker announce her pregnancy. Obviously I wondered. But I didn't think it was my place to ask. I tested the waters by asking a neutral "how're you feeling?" She said she was okay with it so I said congratulations. If she had said she was super excited, I might have squeeed and gushed about with her. If she'd said she was struggling with it, I'd have offered hugs. But in none of those scenarios would I have asked how the pregnancy happened. If people want you to know that kind of stuff, they're not usually shy about telling.

Whenever anybody announces their pregnancy, there's always a small chance that the pregnancy occured due to an unpleasant experience... maybe an affair, or, heaven forbid, an assault. Now you don't have to assume that all pregnant women have had something bad happen. But most people who haven't had something bad happen will end up talking about their personal life in regular conversation. Best not to put them on the spot by asking. Let them open up at their own pace. Those who are comfortable sharing will do so.
Dan Savage made me boil my dick!
<3!!!! The Kitten is in my town; opened just after I moved here, originally in my neighborhood before they needed more space. Smitten Kitten *rocks* and I am so proud to see this awesome lady talk with Dan.