Facebook Slurs and Dan Savage

By Katelyn Jones, Contributor

Browsing Facebook earlier this week, a shared feed thread pertaining to Dan Savage got my attention. Some friends were trying to plan a group outing to see Savage’s show coming up on Feb. 7.  As I read the comments though, a few of them left a bad taste in my mouth. Someone made a light jab about starting a flame war on that thread, and someone named Andrew McConnell replied with the following: “Faggy McHitlerpants up in here ^”

Someone told McConnell and said that it was impolite to reference Hitler on a “Jew’s” post, he amended, “My bad. Faggy McStallinpants.”

Unfortunately, seeing someone drop that particular slur is not extremely uncommon. So while it’s something I never like to see, that comment by some random college student on Facebook certainly doesn’t warrant an opinion piece all on its own — until it’s taken into consideration that Andrew McConnell is the USUAA vice-president.

So am I right to be angry? That someone in a relatively good position of power over the student body, someone who makes decisions pertaining to my school, could so callously drop homophobic slurs and not be reprimanded for it?

In the last edition of the paper there was an article about Dan Savage’s show that invited people to voice their concerns about the man. The article lauded praise onto the show that has graced UAA’s stage on four different occasions. About halfway though the article, there was a small part that mentioned that controversy had been raised about Dan Savage. When Michael McCormick, assistant director of Student Activities, was asked about racist, misogynistic, ableist, and transphobic comments made by the speaker, he had never heard about it — which is somehow almost unbelievable for anyone who has bothered to do research on Savage.

Savage has written a play about a deaf, blind drag queen that is described by him with comments such as, “This play will be deeply offensive to the deaf/blind community, so please don’t tell them. Keep your hands shut!” and,  “She can’t hear the music and she can’t see the stage, so you can imagine what her dance routine must be like. Or then again, maybe you can’t. Let’s just say, she has to wear a dog collar that zaps her whenever she gets too close to the edge of the stage.”

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If the problems in these quotes are anything but entirely apparent, then I’m not exactly sure what to say.

If anyone Google searches “Dan Savage” with the words “transphobic,” “misogynistic,” or “victim blaming,” afterward, they will find plenty of likewise unsavory quotes by the man. Which brings us back to Andrew. This all started on a thread about going to see Dan Savage. Two problematic individuals looping back into a similar issue.

I can’t say I want Andrew McConnell to lose his job, nor do I think he will. That is just not the world we live in. It’s not that easy, I know. Just in the same way, I know that it is highly unlikely that I alone can get a man such as Dan Savage, someone steeped in privilege and unapologetic sexism, ableism, and transphobia to be knocked down from his seat of power in the community.

What I want is for people to stop, take a moment, and just consider the fact that something is going on here that isn’t right. That there are people who are being ignored for the sake of what is popular and glib and flashy on the surface.

Just maybe, if we strip away that surface and look at the ugly underneath for long enough, we can start uncovering some things and people that have gone unnoticed.