Sic et Non
FollowPatheos Mormon on:
The St. George Utah Templeof The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintswas dedicated by Daniel H. Wells in 1877.(Click to enlarge. Click again to enlarge further.)
An interesting article about an interesting question:
Posted from St. George, Utah
Why is okay to mock Mormons and other faiths in America? Because the whole purpose of free speech is to protect unpopular, heretical and even vulgar views.
Unfortunately, we in the LDS faith have also been guilty of mocking other faiths in our past. There is plenty of blame to go around.
What is very commendable with our Church and other Christian faiths is we cannot be goaded into frenetic mob violence on the slightest provocation. I think the true test of religious maturity is indifference, not susceptibility, to mockery.
I would certainly defer to Dan and his expertise on Islam, but it seems to me, all one has to do is watch the images coming out of Benghazi, Cairo, Tunis and many other places in the Middle East to see what happens when a religion cannot handle even the slightest mockery.
I choose free speech, rather than mob violence.
And what is wrong with exercising free speech to defend one’s faith from mockery?
Why must Mormons, and apparently nobody else, be expected not only to be happy to be mocked, but even be expected to financially support the mockery of our faith?
kiwi57 wrote: “And what is wrong with exercising free speech to defend one’s faith from mockery?”
Nothing is wrong with exercising our free speech. Indeed, it’s our right under the Constitution to exercise our free speech to defend one’s faith from mockery.
kiwi57 wrote: “Why must Mormons, and apparently nobody else, be expected not only to be happy to be mocked, but even be expected to financially support the mockery of our faith?”
Mormons should not be expected to be happy to be mocked, but neither should we be goaded into frenetic mob violence on the slightest provocation. Indeed, I think it’s a sign of our religion’s maturity.
From the article:
“If you doubt that [it is okay to mock Mormons], look no further than the Broadway stage, where an extraordinarily vulgar musical portraying Mormons as deluded, albeit well-intentioned imbeciles is the toast of New York, hauling in big box office and winning hordes of prestigious awards.”
Wow, why would he think that?
He must not have seen it.
kiwi57 wrote: “Wow, why would he think that?He must not have seen it.”
Based upon his review, I would agree with you that he has probably not seen the musical. It’s interesting the most negative reviews come from people that haven’t seen the play.
It’s kind of strange, funny and sad.
As I mentioned elsewhere: I won’t have an opportunity to see it, since I live in New Zealand, which is rather a long way off Broadway.
However, I’ve seen the gush pieces written by those who love it, and conclude that almost all the reasons they give for loving it are reasons I do not share.
For the sole and entirely sufficient reason that I am a believing Latter-day Saint and hold sacred many of the things that piece holds up to ridicule.
I’ve also seen some clips from it. I’m aware of the context of some of those clips, which mysteriously goes unmentioned by those who gush over it.
I’ve further read verbatim quotes from it. And I know about the song “Hasa Diga Eebowai.”
Perhaps you don’t find that “extraordinarily vulgar.” Perhaps in your world that kind of vulgarity is merely ordinary.
But it isn’t in mine.
Incidentally, a regular poster on one of the most hateful anti-Mormon websites I’ve ever seen chose “Hasa Diga Eebowai” as his screen name. He seemed to think that that song well represented his view of the Church of Jesus Christ.
I agree; it does.
It’s not surprising to me that people who aren’t Latter-day Saints, and who don’t particularly care when someone else’s ox is being gored, can see only the “entertainment value” in that piece, and miss what is utterly vile about it.
But I find it remarkable and incredible — meaning, non-credible — that a believing Latter-day Saint with a functioning conscience can see that garbage and think it’s worth promoting to other Church members.
kiwi57: “But I find it remarkable and incredible — meaning, non-credible — that a believing Latter-day Saint with a functioning conscience can see that garbage and think it’s worth promoting to other Church members.”
I might find it remarkable and incredible too, if I hadn’t actually seen the musical myself.
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
I suppose it is possible to become so thoroughly desensitised to such things that you just don’t get it any more.
But it would seem to require long and frequent exposure.
Once on a plane, I met a gentlemen who told me he would never read the Book of Mormon because he heard it was extremely violent, filled with war, death, decapitations and amputations.
Guess what? He was right, but unfortunately for him he missed out on some wonderful and inspiration stories and teachings.
It really does speak volumes about an individual who attacks something they haven’t read or seen. It’s even worse when someone has a myopic view and focuses only on the perceived bad and misses the forests of good.
Kind of sad, funny and bizarre.
That’s right. The foulness of Hasa Diga Eebowai is merely “perceived.”
It’s all a matter of perception.
The Book of Mormon (the real one) talks about war as a sad commentary on human depravity, and offers a solution, namely, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The nasty musical beloved by anti-Mormons and Dehlinites depicts the Gospel as futile, and religious belief as mere comforting stories that people make up, any one being just as good as any other.
Yes, it really is extraordinarily vulgar.
Yes, it really does depict Mormons as deluded, albeit well-intentioned imbeciles.
So you find it “sad, funny and bizarre” that anyone values anything more than idle, vulgar entertainment, do you?
What a remarkable insight that is.
kiwi57 wrote: “The nasty musical beloved by anti-Mormons and Dehlinites depicts the Gospel as futile, and religious belief as mere comforting stories that people make up, any one being just as good as any other.”
Actually, it doesn’t. But again, you would know that if you bothered to see the musical yourself, like so many other LDS who have seen it and have completely different conclusion than you.
kiwi57 wrote: “So you find it “sad, funny and bizarre” that anyone values anything more than idle, vulgar entertainment, do you?”
No, I think it’s funny, bizarre and a little pathetic that someone would attack something without having seen it for themselves. And, also a little insane in the membrane, to quote a poet.
People really do need to independently think for themselves. Indeed, it’s a main tenant of our Gospel. It’s a little sad, but not surprising, to see such ignorance.
“My point is not to lobby for Mormon victim status.”
Frankly, I think that’s precisely the point. But I have a hard time swallowing that Mormons are uniquely singled out for ridicule.
Incidentally, I don’t think Jews are immune from that sort of “ridicule”. I can think of at least one Jewish joke from the Simpsons (but it’s been years since I’ve watched that show). Then there are all the jokes about the perfectly mainline Protestant Church the Simpsons attend, and their dorky, fundamentalist neighbor (Flanders, I think).
And if we’re going to bring up The Book of Mormon, The Musical (which I have not seen) can we also point out the “Jew on Christmas” song from South Park, and goodness knows how many other such jokes about Kyle and his family? Then there’s the entire episode on Scientology. Then there’s the Catholic priest in South Park and all the jokes related to him… it goes on and on with Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Humor can be tough to parse. What’s the difference between good-natured ribbing and serious ridicule? I guess the word “cult” is kind of a stink-bomb, but otherwise the joke doesn’t seem too harsh to me.
Incidentally, one idea I had during Romney’s campaign for presidency was a Satanic Mormon Metal Band with songs like “South of Kolob” and “Coffee-drinking-sinner”. The idea was to hire agent-provocateur “LDS” protesters to follow us around and cause trouble. Unfortunately, I have a job and couldn’t pull it off. That would have been awesome.
jafnhar: “Frankly, I think that’s precisely the point.”
Jaf, try to be just a little more subtle when you call your host an outright liar.
This may be difficult for you to grasp, but it is actually possible to reject the mentality that insists upon special protections for designated Victim[TM] and (c) groups, and propose instead a return to a more generally applicable form of civility.
I don’t know of any Latter-day Saint who wants us to be added to the list of those whom it is “politically incorrect” to offend. Social conservatives like Dan don’t, because such notions are contrary to their principles. And those trendy-lefties who are so desperate for acceptance by the “in” crowd that they’ll throw their co-religionists under the bus don’t, either.
Why? Well, OK… If I were calling him a liar I don’t know why I’d want to be subtle about it, but I don’t see that as my intention. I think the allure of victimhood is so hardwired into culture is one had to insert that line about “not seeking victim status” on an almost pro forma basis. But I can’t think of any other good reason to aire grievances than to elicit sympathy and put a damper on the jokes…. In short to have a sort of victim status.
And there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. Some people really are/were victims. Early Mormons certainly would have some legitimate complaints.
Actually the idea of designated “Victim” groups as a kind of protected class is a very recent feature of the cultural landscape. I don’t feel comfortable with getting kid-glove treatment, and I don’t think many people are.
That doesn’t mean that putting a damper on the jokes isn’t a good idea. But not because we should be treated as too fragile to have jokes told about us; rather, because people don’t tell those kinds of jokes about anybody else, so why should we be singled out?
Because in just about any other context, singling people out for abuse is generally considered uncool.
I think the idea of victimhood is at least as old as nationalism. The two go hand in hand. But it’s probably older… I mean, the prophets didn’t complain about the Babylonian captivity for nothing. It was at least partially about group solidarity.
But I think a more interesting question is why some jokes are taboo and others are not. Most any successful comedian in the modern world pushes the envelope of taboo. There’s that one comedian – can’t think of the name right now – who would talk about how much he hated his children when they were little. “My baby is an asshole”* more or less. That’s definitely crossing a line, but apparently not too far because he’s successful (just not so successful that I can recall the name). Babies are weak and defenseless so you’re not supposed to make fun of them, unless you can somehow get away with it like whats-his-face did. Getting away with it is the funniest part.
Various minorities are likewise defenseless, or at least have been in the past. That’s why a joke about, for instance, shooting Mormons in Missouri in 1838 wouldn’t be terribly funny (also nobody would understand it) and a joke about contemporary Mormons being conformists might be funny (not that it necessarily would be). Contemporary Mormons are relatively prominent and well-respected. If nothing else Mormons are in a position to defend themselves. So yeah, I think it’s totally ok to make fun of Mormons within the usual bounds of good taste and humor. Though I can’t think of how it would be especially funny either. The joke about America’s most acceptable cult is ok, I guess – not a gut buster by any measure. Most people just don’t have enough experience with Mormons to make it work. All they know is missionaries who dress the same, so they look conformist. But a lot of people know what taking care of a baby is like.
*Don’t know what the policy and profanity is; not gonna look either. Delete if you like. I think it’s topical.
Follow Patheos on
Copyright 2008-2014, Patheos. All rights reserved.