Fun with confused and sometimes creepy people

I tend to binge on podcasts when I get bored. I do a lot of walking, and there are generally half a dozen of the things on my MP3 player. Lately, I've been listening to Dan Savage's Savage Love podcast, dragging through the archives from the beginning. I go on and off of Savage Love; I listen for a while, get distracted, and eventually get back around to it and remember, hey, I think I liked this one! The content is not a problem for me; when you go into the social sciences, out of sheer necessity you develop the ability to do things like listen to people ask some guy on the internet how to find the best brand of anal lube for a bisexual threesome where one of the participants is a virgin with gluten allergies on the subway during rush hour without batting an eye.

Dan Savage is a Gay. I phrase it this way for two reasons. One, I have an irrational hatred of those who incessantly push 'person-first' terminology. I have a friend who has, hands down, the most non-standard brain wiring I have ever seen on a functional human being. She's epileptic, fibromyalgic, depressive, dyslexic, dyscalculic, intellectual, empathetic, a beauty, and a musical talent -- and I deeply resent the implication that describing her that way necessarily means I have forgotten that she is also a human being. I am insulted that other people have gotten the idea that I cannot possibly hold any information in my head that is not also, right this moment, falling out of my mouth. I am also depressed to think that if this is true for the people around me, then Ford Prefect's assessment of humanity was right on the nose.

The other reason is that Dan Savage would personally find it hilarious. Part of his schtick is being absolutely blunt and honest with his callers, and often this means saying the thing all your friends are thinking but are too kind to tell you to your face. If he thinks you're a lovesick moron, then he will call you a lovesick moron. He has a tendency to refer to himself as "some fag with a podcast". There is actually a reason for this, and that is that Savage is vehemently opposed to political correctness for its own sake. There's remembering to not be intentionally and needlessly cruel to people, and then there's censoring the language to prevent discourse you're afraid someone might find distasteful. Censorship makes his blood boil, and he makes that crystal clear.

If you've never listened to the podcast, you might also be surprised to find out it's pretty intellectual. When Savage brings up scientific studies, which is fairly often, it's pretty obvious that he's read the actual study and not just the press release. He throws in some $10 words from time to time, because being snotty is always funnier with a collegiate vocabulary. (Savage went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where, hilariously, Rick Santorum was one of his roommates.) I'm guessing that the smarts run in the family; he doesn't mention it much, but another of the Savage brothers teaches in the English department at Northwestern, where he specializes in a lot of modern media and metatext, and occasionally sits in on one of Dan's talks if he's in the neighborhood.

One of the most fascinating parts of the podcast is when someone actually manages to squick Dan, who promptly backhands the caller with a reality check. When you live on the internets as much as I do, one of the things you start to notice is that some people have no concept of boundaries or normalcy, and when they hang around an online community with other people who have no concept of boundaries or normalcy, they lose track of that very long list of things you are not supposed to do to other people in a civilized society. Very rarely is it any kind of sexual kink that does it; usually the callers who get bitch-slapped are the ones going, "I had one blind date with this girl and she hasn't answered any of my 467 calls or emails since, plus her friends don't talk to me anymore, so I'm not sure how she felt about it. I really like her and I think we'd be great together, so my question to you is, should I play The Cure or My Chemical Romance when I go to serenade her with a boom box?"Dan has made it one of his missions in life to teach these people to either ask outright or take a fucking hint, which I support, because I spend an awful lot of my time doing the same damn thing.

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