Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hear, Hear

Jonah Goldberg decries the "ugly attack on Mormons" that was financed by opponents of Proposition 8 in California and countenanced by their "liberal" supporters.


Blogger Reagan said...

The Mormons have been getting flayed by the media, and noisy, ignorant activists ever since the vote.

Activists ignore the actual exit poll statistics, and pin the "blame" on conservative Christians. It's gotten to the point that I don't think I'll find Jack Black's "Prop 8: the musical," on, very, well, funny. The liberal illuminati can attempt to shout one thing over their mainstream megaphone, but anyone who puts forth even minimal effort will find that the facts just don't support it.

And that's not even mentioning the fact that the majority spoke; vote over. It seems nonviolent resistance has gone out the window...

December 05, 2008 6:18 PM  
Anonymous SC said...

It's hard to know even where to begin with this issue. First, addressing some inaccuracies in Goldberg’s piece. It is simply untrue that, “nearly every demographic slice of voters” voted in favor of prop 8. A majority of white voters voted against prop 8, a majority of Democrats voted against it (68-to-32), a majority of people who do not go to church voted against it (84-to-16). There are several other examples. It is easy to “slice” the voting pie in a way that suggests demographics in all categories, or “almost all categories” voted similarly but that statement is simply untrue.

Goldberg writes that the protests against prop 8 are an organized campaign against religious freedom. He further argues that people in favor of marriage equality believe that, “traditional religion is the enemy anywhere it runs afoul of complete social acceptance of homosexuality.” These statements are not just wrong but they miss the point entirely.

I am gay. I am a Christian. I pray to God every day. I am a member of a “traditional religion,” and even though I differ from my religion on many issues, I do not consider religion an enemy. Most of my gay friends are also Christians or Jews (and some are even Mormons) and every one of them would argue that religious freedom is one of the great things about the country where we live.

The issue with proposition 8 is not one of religious freedom. Should religions be allowed to operate freely without government interference? Of course they should. If a church wants to keep me from being a member because I am gay, I think they should be allowed to do that. They should even be allowed to support discriminatory propositions if that is what they want to do. But if that church supports bigotry and discrimination, they should expect to be called on it. Religious freedom does not trump freedom of speech.

The issue here however is not one of religious freedom at all, it is one of civil rights. People in favor of marriage equality are not hate-filled wackos. They largely respect religion, probably in the same numbers as those on the other side of the marriage issue. What they resent is a group - any group - whether it is a social club, guys who wear blue shirts, or people who go to church together who organize, conspire and scheme to deny them from having the same rights as the majority of people in the place where they live. That is what the LDS church has done with proposition 8.

Calling the church out on proposition 8 is not an attack on religious freedom. It is holding the LDS church and other organizations accountable for their actions. Actions that include intimidation of business owners and blackmail (“Make a donation of a like amount to which will help us correct this error. Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. ... The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to but have given to Equality California will be published”). Believing in religious freedom does not mean that one should be silent about a religion that organizes discrimination efforts against him.

Religious freedom, and freedom of speech are not in conflict with one another.

An exercise of due process is not thumbing a nose at the democratic process. It is participating in it, in its richest sense. Peacefully protesting discrimination is not the same as, “attacking traditional religion.” There is a history in our country of asking the court to prevent the majority from discriminating and taking rights away from a minority. Just because the majority spoke, does not mean the vote is over. I will resist the temptation to point out that it is painfully still clear to liberal democrats and others that a majority of people voting for something (or someone) is not always the final result.

I am a member, I suppose, of what some readers of this blog would meanly call the “liberal illuminati.” A term that I think is downright rude. But even minimal effort by this self-confessed and very proud liberal democrat reveals the facts of proposition 8.

December 09, 2008 10:02 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

SC, thank you for your thoughtful comment.

I think you have responded more to the Prop. 8 issue in general than to the rather narrow point made in Goldberg's piece -- which, as I understand it, is that the Mormons have been scapegoated by supporters of Prop. 8 because they are the most vulnerable of conservative Christian groups, and that the ad which aired in California traded in stereotypes that were meant, not to "call the Mormons out" about their position on Prop. 8, but to inflame religious bigotry against them.

As a member of a group which has had a long history of being unfairly targeted and branded with ugly stereotypes, surely you can see why that particular ad was beyond the pale. It is perfectly legitimate for the opponents of Prop. 8 to criticize its supporters, including the religious groups who supported it. You're right about that -- there is, or should be, no conflict between religious freedom and freedom of speech as far as legitimate debate in the public square goes. But that ad wasn't about debate. It was about bigotry.

FWIW, I'm (tentatively) about where Jonah Goldberg is on the issue of gay marriage. I'm uncomfortable, however, with some of the absolutist "equal rights" arguments in which the case for gay marriage has been made -- partly because that's the kind of argument (along with a "religious freedom" argument) that the Mormons themselves could have used about a century or so ago.

December 09, 2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Correction: My second paragraph should say, ". . . that the Mormons have been scapegoated by *opponents* of Prop. 8 . . ."

December 09, 2008 10:51 AM  
Anonymous sc said...

Kate Marie:

I agree that Goldberg’s article implies that the main point is Mormons are unfairly attacked by opponents of proposition 8. But wouldn’t you agree that Goldberg provides no support for this opinion?

When Goldberg uses statements such as, “Traditional religion is the enemy anywhere is runs afoul of complete social acceptance of homosexuality” and, “an organized campaign against religious freedom of conscience.” Isn’t he inviting a wider a discussion about the role of religion, not just Mormonism? It seems to me that Goldberg is sort of lumping all “religion” together.

For the sake of the discussion, maybe we should just talk about the role of the LDS church and whether Mormons have been unfairly the scapegoats in the debate over proposition 8. I suggest however that Goldberg is trying to bring in more all “traditional religions,” with his statements.

Mormons are singled out, according to Goldberg, because they are, “the most vulnerable of the culturally conservative religious denominations and therefore the easiest targets for an organized campaign against religious freedom of conscience.”

Mormons were not, in my opinion, singled out because they are vulnerable. They were singled out because they took an aggressive and visible position, as an organization, in support of proposition 8. In June 2008, leaders of the LDC church called on California Mormons to donate resources to the Yes on 8 campaign. The estimate I have seen is that $26 Million was given by LDS members to support proposition 8 as a direct response to the call to action by the church leadership.

You can read the church’s letter and call to action here:

In October 2008, leadership from the LDS church issued a broadcast to California Latter-day Saints asking that members of the church vote Yes on 8. That broadcast can be viewed here:

In November 2008, the managing director of public affairs for the LDS Church said in an interview in the New York Times, ““We’ve spoken out on other issues, we’ve spoken out on abortion, we’ve spoken out on those other kinds of things but we don’t get involved to the degree we did on this.”

The Yes on 8 campaign estimates that Mormons were 80-to-90 percent of the door-to-door volunteers for the campaign.

Were Mormons singled out because they are an easy target, vulnerable and religious pariahs? I see no support for that conclusion given by Goldberg in his article. He suggests that we should just take his word for it, “Trust me. They are preying on the Mormons because they’re the vulnerable group.”

The facts actually support that the LDS church has never been involved in a social issue to the degree that there were in proposition 8. If Mormons are a target now of protests and other demonstrations about proposition 8, I suggest to you that it is only because of the position they took before the vote: with publications, broadcasts, official church messages to members, donations of money and time, etc. It is absolutely not, I suggest, because the religion is vulnerable or weak.

December 09, 2008 3:24 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Dear SC,

We may have to agree to disagree about whether Goldberg provides support for his assertion that Mormons were targeted. For me, the ad that he refers to speaks for itself. That ad is, as I suggested before, not about debating the Mormon position on Prop. 8, but about making people afraid of a group that they are probably already inclined not to trust or understand.

I'm sure you're correct that the Mormon Church donated a lot of time, money, and energy to passing Prop. 8, and as I said before, it's certainly legitimate to debate them and argue with them. That they were a driving force behind support for Prop. 8 makes them a legitimate target of attacks against their position; it does *not* make them a legitimate target of attacks against their Mormonism. The ad that Goldberg refers to crosses the line into attacking Mormons for being Mormon.

I have to deal with dinner for my daughters, but I do have more to ramble on about. I'll check back later.

Thanks for the discussion.

December 09, 2008 4:09 PM  
Anonymous SC said...

Mmmm... what's for dinner? I just mowed the lawn and I'm starving.

When I jumped into this discussion, I first wrote, "It's hard to know even where to begin with this." But I went ahead anyway and said my peace.

You responded by steering the discussion back to what you thought was the main point of the Goldberg article: that Mormons were scapegoated because they are a vulnerable religious group. And that an advertisement that ran in opposition to proposition 8 inflamed religious bigotry.

So I tried to respond to those issues. I illustrated why, in my opinion, Mormons were targetted in the response to proposition 8 passing. I think there is a lot of support for focussing on the LDS church because of their support for proposition 8.

I really thought this was the issue that Goldberg was making. That Mormons are targetted unfairly in this debate and I disagree with that opinion.

But turning to the advertisement itself: does it cross the line? I think if a person accepts the premise that the LDS church is a main driving force behind support for proposition 8, then the advertisement does not seem irresponsible.

Goldberg suggests a replacing the villains in the commercial with Jews or Muslims who "pinch pennies" or who "blow themselves up." The problem with this analysis is Judaism and Islam do not take organizationally sanctioned positions in favor of penny pinching, or of suicide bombing. The LDS church, on the other hand, does take a position in favor of proposition 8.

So is it playing on a stereotype when Jews ransack a house and find piggybanks and "pinch pennies?" Of course. Is it an irresponsible to show a commercial that suggests Islam sanctions suicide bombing? Yes. That would be disgusting, insulting and wrong. But is it wrongly playing on a stereotype to portray Mormons taking away a couple's wedding rings and tearing up their marriage license? Sorry, but this is not the same.

The LDS church says that what is expressed in the commercial is exactly what they want: they want to keep loving same-sex couples from marrying. Illustrating this the way that is done in the commercial seems, to me, distinguishable from the idea of illustrating stingy Jews, or murderous Muslims.

December 09, 2008 6:36 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Hi, SC. I'm not sure dinner would have satisfied a hungry lawn-mower's appetite -- soup, corn, "dinosaur" chicken, carrots. :)

Let me ask you this about the ads. Believing/practicing Muslims want to keep loving same-sex couples from marrying, and I don't know whether there are any studies done of that particular demographic, but I'd bet that Muslims voted in almost as large numbers for Prop. 8 as Mormons did. Would you be comfortable with an ad that depicted Muslims (dressed in some stereotypical manner) ransacking a gay couple's house to take away their rights?

December 10, 2008 9:54 AM  

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