On Tape: Peterson as Deputy Minister of Propaganda, Useful Idiot, and/or Mercenary Hack


Add 600 pounds, a propeller-beanie, and a clown costume — and take away this guy’s intellectual integrity and rollicking sense of humor — and you begin to approach Steve Benson’s depiction of me.


It seems that an audio recording is now up of the panel discussion on “Satire and the Sacred: From Muhammad to Mormon Underwear” at the 2013 convention of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists.




I was one of the three participants on the panel; the other two were Pat Bagley (of the Salt Lake Tribune) and Victor Navasky (former long-time editor of The Nation).


Steve Benson has announced, on the anti-Mormon message board where he holds court, that my remarks were essentially nothing but whining and complaining, and that it’s my goal to shut down free discussion.  Feel free to listen to the recording and, thereby, to judge for yourself:


I apologize for the fact that the cartoons I used to illustrate my points don’t come across very clearly in audio.


Posted from London, England



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  • Steven Montgomery

    I wouldn’t worry about anything that Steve Benson says. Who even reads him? Too bad he doesn’t take after his paternal grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson.

    • DanielPeterson

      He strikes me, candidly, as somewhat unhinged.

      I’m entirely serious.

      I suspect that he actually believes what he’s written, but it gravely distorts what happened — which is easily available online — even with regard to the most trivial things. For example, he says that he introduced himself to me when he posed his question/objection at the AAEC convention. Actually, though, he described us as old acquaintances when he began to speak. And, indeed, we had already met.

      I mean, some of his distortions are clearly driven by analogy. But he distorts even when there’s no apparent point . . .

  • Scott_Lloyd

    So Benson did show up then? I think I predicted, some weeks ago when you announced this, that he’d be there. By way of reminder, Benson, Bagley and I worked on the editorial page of the Daily Universe together at BYU (I wasn’t a cartoonist though, just a writer/editor).

    • DanielPeterson

      Oh yes. He was there. And polite enough when one on one.

      He tried to pick an irrelevant fight during the Q&A, but then was silent about the episode for about two weeks before he could muster up the chutzpah to set forth a grotesquely distorted portrayal of our exchanges for his adoring audience over at the atheist message board where he reigns supreme.

      He’s a real piece of work, I’m afraid.

  • Scott_Lloyd

    At position 1:02:24 on the recording, Benson, having asked an ostensibly reasonable question and having been disarmed by your response that you have no problem with the cartoon in question, slips into hysterical polemicist mode and starts sniping about Masonic symbols on Mormon underwear. Then Bagley, wisely and, for Benson, mercifully, because it saves Benson from further embarrassing himself, hastily moves on to the next questioner.

    I think you’re right about him being unhinged. It’s sad to see for someone like me who knew him when he wasn’t like that.