Todd Starnes of Fox News reported that a speaker at a national journalism conference for teens shocked and offended the Christians in the audience when he started cursing their beliefs and mocking their faith in the middle of what should have been an anti-bullying speech. Officials at the conference said they did not expect Dan Savage of the anti-bullying campaign “It Gets Better” to deliver a talk openly criticizing Christians and the Bible using expletives and sexual innuendo organizers said was inappropriate for the teenagers in attendance. Rick Tuttle, one of the journalism advisors in attendance, said it felt “hostile as they were sitting in the audience.” Some of his students, he said, were made to feel like the anti-bullying representative was indeed the bully in this instance.
A joint statement was made by the National Scholastic Press Association who hosted the event and the Journalism Education Association after several complained about Savage’s speech: “We appreciate the level of thoughtfulness and deliberation regarding Dan Savage’s keynote address,” the NSPA wrote. “Some audience members who felt hurt by his words and tone decided to leave in the middle of his speech, and to this, we want to make our point very clear: While as a journalist it’s important to be able to listen to speech that offends you, these students and advisers had simply reached their tolerance level for what they were willing to hear.”
The NSPA said they did not know what Savage’s speech would include and they would have liked to see him “stay more on target for the audience of teen journalists.”