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Dan Savage's America

From the November 10 Washington Times: Dan Savage on sex (for it), conservatism (against it), and patriotism (surprise!).

11:00 PM, Nov 12, 2002 • By DAVID SKINNER
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Using CDC numbers, however, the only way to get such a figure is by including 15- to 19-year-olds, an age group that is responsible for more than its share of violence in our society. As Iain Murray of the Statistical Assessment Service puts it: "Calling a 19-year-old drug dealer a 'child' is definitely stretching the point." What's the number of "children" under 15 who are shot and killed on a daily basis? It's less than two--1.3 per day, when you control for suicides.

In the same chapter, Savage complains about the "NRA-backed" concealed handgun bill George W. Bush signed into law as governor of Texas. He doesn't mention that in the two years after this law took effect, the murder rate in Texas fell by 25 percent, much faster than it did in states without concealed weapon laws. In a similar vein, Savage states that in Texas, it is legal to carry a gun into a house of worship, yet another embarrassing-to-Bush story, this one circulated by the New York Times during the presidential campaign. Too bad it isn't true.

Sometimes this willingness to believe the unbelievable leads Savage to say the utterly ridiculous. In his chapter on sloth and marijuana use, he writes: "Personally, I would rather see a stressed-out teenage boy pick up a bong every once in a while than pick up a gun and shoot his parents, teachers, classmates, soccer coach, and piano teacher to death."

There's so much to laugh at in that statement, but perhaps funniest part is the opening modifier, "personally." It is to say: You, an unreconstructed caveman drug-warrior, right-wing virtue obsessive might prefer that people die by the dozen in regular serial killings than see a teenager get high, but I, the wise and progressive Dan Savage, see things a little bit differently.

Master of the anecdote, purveyor of leftist propaganda, and shameless producer of strawmen, Savage perhaps cannot be all things to all people. But there is one more role he plays in this book that is worth mentioning, that of the patriot. It may be telling of his overall seriousness that Savage sees this most public role, yet again, as a private matter, but let's not quibble too much. "Personally speaking," he writes, "I would rather live in a country where I can buy a drink, kiss a guy, and rent a hooker without risking a public beheading. I also think it's better for women to be free--free to get an education, to have a career, and obtain an abortion."

Unlike Susan Sontag and some other anti-American leftists, Savage is undivided in his affection for this country. He believes the United States is worth fighting for, just not some "1950s era dream of the United States." And, hey, that's seems fair enough.

David Skinner is an assistant managing editor at The Weekly Standard.