Should Mormons Get With the Program?

by: FireTag

September 29, 2012

Not the program you might think. Rather, the kind of program some people had in mind for Salman Rushdie when he pointed out the contradictions of “The Satanic Verses”. Or, perhaps that should be pogrom, since there are death penalties involved.

Certainly, Mark Steyn is one who has had his proverbial skin in the game, and he wrote an opinion piece on September 21 that shows how far afield fundamentalist Islam is straying in its demands for blasphemy laws, and does so with a uniquely Mormon comparison [Emphasis added in quote].

“I fought a long battle for freedom of expression north of the border when the Canadian Islamic Congress attempted to criminalize my writing, and I’m proud to say I played a modest role in getting Parliament to strike down a shameful law and restore a semblance of free speech to a country that should never have lost it. So I know a little about how the Western world is shuffling into a psychological bondage of its own making, and it’s no small thing when the First Amendment gets swallowed up by the vacuum of American foreign policy…

“Last year Hillary Clinton went to see the Broadway musical ‘Book of Mormon.’ ‘We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others’? The Book of Mormon’s big showstopper is ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai,’ which apparently translates as ‘F*** You, God.’ The U.S. Secretary of State stood and cheered.

“Why does Secretary Clinton regard ‘F*** You, God’ as a fun toe-tapper for all the family but ‘F***, You Allah’ as ‘disgusting and reprehensible’? The obvious answer is that, if you sing the latter, you’ll find a far more motivated crowd waiting for you at the stage door. So the ‘Leader of the Free World’ and ‘the most powerful man in the world’ (to revive two cobwebbed phrases nobody seems to apply anymore to the president of the United States) is telling the planet that the way to ensure your beliefs command his ‘respect’ is to be willing to burn and bomb and kill. You Mormons need to get with the program.

“…The embassy-burning mobs well understand the fraudulence of Obama and Clinton’s professions of generalized ‘respect’ for ‘all faiths.’ As a headline in the Karachi Express-Tribune puts it:

‘Ultimatum To U.S.: Criminalize Blasphemy Or Lose Consulate.’

National Review author Mario Loyola  provided another stunning comparison here, again with emphasis added in bold:

“As if by divine intervention, the revoltingly sacrilegious ‘Piss Christ’ portrait will be going on display this Thursday at a ritzy Manhattan gallery right around the corner from the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly. For those who don’t know, this particular instance of free speech consists of a photograph taken of a crucifix floating in the artist’s urine. It caused a stir in the late 1980s and 1990s because the artist (Andres Serrano) had been subsidized by NEA and other public grants.

“Coming so soon on the heels of Obama’s condemnations of the Mohammed spoof trailer, Representative Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.) is calling on President Obama to condemn the Piss Christ exhibit.

“That’s wrong. First of all, the president shouldn’t be condemning any work of art. But if you really want him to condemn the Piss Christ, this is what you have to do: Find an enterprising young artist willing to create a ‘Piss Mohammed’ version of Serrano’s work, and ask the museum to hang it right next to the Piss Christ. It could be part of a ‘Piss Religion’ exhibit. If the gallery declines (as it surely would), then perhaps one could gather together a small group of Manhattan atheists to march ‘piss portraits’ of Mohammed and his fellow deities / prophets right up 1st Avenue past the United Nations, in homage to the First Amendment.

“Every last person who complains will have to explain why they said nothing during the 20-plus years that the revolting Piss Christ has been touring art galleries around the world. They will be forced either to treat Islam and Christianity the same (i.e., stop trashing the latter) or finally admit the cowardly truth, which is that their degree of respect for any given religion is proportional to its proponents’ propensity for violence.”

Doesn’t that effectively make free speech, which includes the right to criticize one’s own religion as well as any other religion, subject to a hostage crisis? I find it hard to think of very many religious blogs I’ve read that somebody wouldn’t find blasphemous about some religion — and probably those who made comments saying blasphemy was impossible because there was no Divinity to be blasphemed would be regarded as blasphemous by most everyone else.

Wouldn’t liberal and conservative Mormons be among the first to suffer, since, of course, such blasphemy laws would first make their appearance in the form of blasphemy against Christianity, Islam, and Judaism (any LEGITIMATE Abrahamic religion) and then further restrictions endorsed from there? For example, such as speaking out against religious leaders, or opposing policies endorsed by religions? Think of Prop 8, with blasphemy laws in place to censure either side.

Jonah Goldberg notes:

“And yet, it seems you can’t turn on National Public Radio or open a newspaper without finding some oh-so-thoughtful meditation on how anti-Islamic speech should be considered the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a theater.

“It’s an interesting comparison… You know why? Because Muslims aren’t fire, they’re people. And fire isn’t a sentient entity. Muslims have free will. If they choose to riot, that’s not the same thing as igniting a fire. Indeed, the point is proven by the simple fact that the vast majority of Muslims don’t riot. [EMPHASIS ADDED.] More than 17 million people live in greater Cairo. A tiny fraction of a fraction of that number stormed the U.S. Embassy to ‘protest’ that stupid video. And yet, the logic seems to be that the prime authors of Muslim violence are non-Muslims who express their opinions, often thousands of miles away.

“Our devotion to free speech can cause headaches and challenges. But so can any number of non-negotiable facts of life. There’s nothing wrong with exercising sound judgment, even caution, when it comes to offending anybody’s most cherished beliefs. But the First Amendment isn’t the problem here, the dysfunctions and inadequacies of the Arab and Muslim world are.”

And Theodore Dalrymple further summarizes in a more secular context:

“If a Republican physically attacked a Democrat, or a Democrat a Republican, after one said something with which the other strongly disagreed, would it be any defense for the attacker to say, ‘He knew perfectly well that I detested his views’? Freedom of expression requires not so much the exercise of self-control in what is said as its exercise in reaction to what is said. I can hardly look at a book these days without taking offense at something that it contains, but if I smash a window in annoyance, the blame is only mine—even if the author knows perfectly well that what he wrote will offend many such as I.”

Indeed, America may be going beyond merely excusing such lack of self-control to expediently assisting it. Although it is ambiguous whether the creator of the YouTube video proposed as justification for the latest (only the latest) round of Islamist violence has been jailed because a parole violation involving concealing his identity on the web was too public to ignore, or whether because Islamists demanded his punishment as well as that of all people involved — knowingly or unknowingly — in making the film, the fact remains that he is now in jail without bail. Furthermore, as noted by Kirsten Powers, the Administration seems a bit more than usually annoyed at more conventional press inquiries about the events connecting the video to violence at all (again, emphasis added in bold):

“After dancing on Osama bin Laden’s grave for a week in Charlotte, the administration was faced with the reality that the war on terror is still quite on.

“Rather than acknowledging this, they went into spin mode with the claim that a goofy video posted on YouTube caused the Sept. 11 attack that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday shows to assert: ‘What happened in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many parts of the region…was a result—a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated.’ She claimed the attack in Libya was ‘spontaneous’ and not pre-planned. It just happened to be on the anniversary of 9/11. No reason to read anything into that.”…

“CNN found Ambassador Chris Stevens’s journal, in which he expressed fear that he may be killed by, you guessed it, al Qaeda. For this, the State Department viciously attacked the network in a statement and insinuated, ridiculously, that CNN was only interested in the journal for salacious reasons. When the U.S. government starts pressuring reporters to not report legitimate news, people should wonder why. Another reporter, from BuzzFeed, who was curious about why the area surrounding the U.S. consulate had not been secured following the attack to ensure classified information didn’t fall into the hands of our enemies, was told by a State Department spokesman to ‘f**k off.’ On Tuesday, Secretary of State Clinton finally got around to acknowledging that al Qaeda may have been involved in the attack.”

So, what do you think? Do readers of this blog have “skin in this game”? Should we be insisting that the “program” we ought to “get with” is the program that offensive free speech — even blasphemous free speech — should be left to the judgement of God and countered only with the medicine of more speech? That the lessons taught to the West by centuries of religious persecution abetted in our own cultures are so important that no one should have to learn them again? Or does our willingness to remain silent itself portend our future?

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30 Responses to Should Mormons Get With the Program?

  1. Howard on September 29, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    I find common and overuse of swearing distasteful and often wonder why people aren’t more creative and articulate in their speech. I saw the play and enjoyed it often laughing out loudly but I also though the swearing was over done. “F*** you God.” If you haven’t ever said this or at least thought it chances are you are young or haven’t lived much or your relationship with God is that of a child. If you have said it or felt it the play’s use of it will probably make you laugh if you let it.

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  2. FireTag on September 29, 2012 at 3:04 PM


    But doesn’t that say something profoundly disturbing about the character that would kill someone to punish them for saying it?

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  3. Douglas on September 29, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Methinks Joseph Smith covered this in the Wentworth Letter when he declared that the Church claimed religious freedom for itself and according the same to other creeds

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  4. FireTag on September 29, 2012 at 5:10 PM


    And when one religious sect’s concept of freedom for itself comes into conflict with another’s, what happens?

    I’m born in a church that many LDS consider to be in apostasy from the truth of the Restoration. I’ve actually let some of you in my house and you have NOT tried to kill me. :D There are people running around a couple of continents today by whom apostasy is considered a capital offense. That’s problematic.

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  5. Howard on September 29, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Sure it says something profoundly disturbing about the character of someone who would kill for saying that but we must be careful to not make that a judgement about a class of people, it only applies to those who do kill or would kill in that circumstance!

    A BCC article called On Comparative Law does an excellent job of explaining how opposite view points regarding free speech come about:

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  6. Hawkgrrrl on September 29, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    I have mixed feelings. For one thing, I’m not convinced that the song in the Book of Mormon musical is anti-Mormon. On the contrary, I encountered many people in Spain who said even worse things about God (no one blasphemes like a Spaniard!). So I think it’s actually a realistic encounter, a very real portrayal of the conflict between innocent and naive Utah Mormons and the third world poverty of their audience of potential converts: missions can be a rude awakening. So we don’t declare a fatwah because we seek converts. In seeking converts we have to listen and empathize.

    And I woukd add that poverty is what breeds mob violence. Do people living in oppression and poverty have free will like those living in empowered and entitled middle class liberty do? There’s room for doubt on that score I believe. The people who committed these acts hadn’t even seen this stupid film.

    So IMO, missionary work keeps us a bit more humble and conciliatory.

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  7. allquieton on September 29, 2012 at 9:23 PM


    Lots of poor people don’t turn to violence. Poverty isn’t the problem here.

    The oppression is a problem-specifically the lack of access to outside information. But it doesn’t mean we should accept their violent reaction. And it doesn’t mean we should change our behavior.

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  8. FireTag on September 29, 2012 at 9:42 PM


    I wrote a post back in July here:

    in which I stressed that the small fraction of people who aren’t playing by either the moral rule book of liberals or conservatives in their cultures are the greatest danger to both sides. I agree that there are both psychological and cultural determinants as to why Americans are unlike other nations in our appreciation of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I agree, and noted in one of the quotes in the OP that most Muslims are just like most Mormons in that they are NOT GOING TO KILL PEOPLE WHO MOCK THEIR RELIGION.

    However, many of that small fraction WHO ARE WILLING — even if they have to hype the mockery themselves — are building well-armed military forces capable of toppling governments in societies that just two years ago seemed to the political elites to be capable of repressing any challenge from EITHER the enlightened or the insane.

    I am suggesting that understanding WHY the tiger turned maneater is secondary right now to understanding that the tiger is already inside the house, and we don’t have enough lunch meats in the fridge to keep trying to pacify him. We may only be whetting his appetite.


    While the poverty effects that were amplified by the financial crisis of the last few years have certainly been important in allowing the infection of extremism to spread, extremism doesn’t go away when poverty does. There are too many sources of trauma on a personal level; otherwise, Republicans wouldn’t be complaining about evil politicians, and Democrats wouldn’t be railing against evil bankers.

    By the way, when anticipating what intensity of conflict may arise, we should keep in mind that global economic conditions seem to be further deteriorating in all of the major nations. Poverty to conflict to further poverty to further conflict can be a strong feedback loop.

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  9. Howard on September 29, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    I see no tiger inside the house, please show me the tiger.

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  10. Julia on September 30, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    I think that it is always difficult to try to judge someone who is not part of our “own” group. In the Obama vs Romney post (on this blog) there was some strongly violent language used. Several non-LDS friends, who read the thread after a frustrated comment in a sexual assault forum, thought that language that offensive deserved action, not the continuing battle of words.

    Most people in that community thought that Rob’s suggestion for Jon was way too polite. Jon thought it was the most offensive thing he had heard in his life. Without being Mormon, and knowing that Jon’s view is depressingly normal or the fridges of American Mormonism, I am not surprised at their passion. I can keep the perspective that most crazy Mormons don’t hurt people. My non-LDS friends did NOT share that view. They thought that his words were the equivalent of hate speech, and that prosecution would not be appropriate if he was physically attacked by a victim of “real” sexual violence.

    We each have to interact with people we don’t know well, and trying to be both passionate about who we are and respectful of others is a difficult balance to strike. When I am navigating through life, I try to not ask myself what *rights* do I have, but instead, what responsibilities do I have? Generally I find my answer closer to being sensitive, loving, and trying to listen more than talk. Going out of my way to be offensive never helps me, or the situation I am in. Never.

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  11. el oso on September 30, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    With the predictability of violence and insanity from parts of the middle east to very small stimuli, I have formulated a great plan. You can make international markets very nervous with only a tiny investment in a short video. I will go long on oil futures and then promote my new video, maybe even with a short ad on TV somewhere. After the oil bets work, maybe currency trading will be next.

    To show that I am actually responsible, I think that I will then write a book about how easy it was to manipulate the extremists for my own profit. A pseudonym on the book will probably be best. Maybe I will write it in Spanish first to throw of the USA market regulators looking for the culprit.

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  12. FireTag on September 30, 2012 at 9:56 AM


    Good comment. But going out of your way to be inoffensive when you are in real (by your and my definition both) danger rather than escape or fight back can’t help either. There are people, and I know you know this through bitter experience, who desire absolute power over others and will not be appeased. The feelings you saw expressed in your group certainly seem to reflect a sense of the futility of appeasement of those who desire absolute power, and the desire of survivors never to be helpless again. But despite (and especially because of) your personal trauma, I doubt you could ever bring yourself to victimize some one else in the same way, though you might violently come to some other victim’s defense.


    Your last comment makes me wonder if you have been paying attention to world events, my friend. On the same weekend as the attack on the Libyan ambassador in Benghazi in a platoon-to-company sized infantry attack, four more platoon-to-company-sized attacks were staged along a 90 mile front on the Sinai border with Israelis. The attacks were NOT on the Israelis; they were 1) on Egyptian security forces — controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood — trying to provide security allowed under the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and 2) on a UN Peacekeeper force, made up primarily of US officers there to monitor any military movements forbidden by that treaty. The latter attack was almost the headline of the week, not the murder of the Ambassador, because the UN Americans were almost overrun before the second wave of the assault was thrown back by the Columbian forces providing base security. The Egyptian forces have been silent about their casualties, but you can see several stories this weekend about Coptic Christians fleeing the area, and the Egyptians promising stronger security to protect them. Needless to say, none of those actions were spontaneous demonstrations of anger over a video either. Rather, they were well-planned and coordinated military assaults.

    This is not a shameless bit of self-promotion, but please go and look chronologically at some of my older posts on the growing Mid-east crises. Can you honestly say you think that the potential for major war is not growing steadily closer? If you can, I can’t help you except to hope your “guardian angel” is very good at his/her job. :D

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  13. Howard on September 30, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Good natured condescension doesn’t answer the question. Who is the tiger you refer to and pretend is self evident?

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  14. Julia on September 30, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    I don’t think that escaping, leaving the situation by choice, is out of line with being inoffensive. And I don’t know how others saw my comments to Jon, some of them were pretty snarky if you caught the sarcasm, (obviously Jon didn’t catch it, but I had given up on explaining nuances at that point) but I felt that I was being restrained while educating and being snarky to let off some steam, without sinking to attacks. Maybe you saw it differently?

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  15. FireTag on September 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM


    I am trying to be polite, and I was not TRYING to be condescending. I think the latter is simply a reflection of the very different ways that conservatives and progressives view the world. Things that I DO see as self-evident, you do not, and vice versa. I cited the military attacks to show a pattern that is much larger than a film. I also referred back to my previous posts on the building of events in the MidEast to again show a pattern larger than momentary events.

    As it happens, several more things have occurred since Friday, including a warning by the US embassy in Cairo of credible information of possible attacks (or kidnapping attempts) against female Christian missionaries in Egypt:

    But perhaps the best way to see the extent of the pattern is a post that appeared on Via Media today:

    The key phrase in the post that ought to alert people to rethink things is this: we don’t have an anti-war president now so much as we have an “ain’t-no-war” president. There is a war, and right now we are the ones losing it.

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  16. Howard on October 1, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    Are you assuming I am liberal? Are you implying Obama is the tiger? If so why have you danced around answering this directly? What do you propose doing about this pattern that can only be seen by conservatives beside electing Mitt? Is there someone you would attack? If so who?

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  17. hawkgrrrl on October 1, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    I only said mob violence flourishes in poverty, not extremism. We all know Osama bin Laden was wealthy. And on a global level, there will always be poverty somewhere.

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  18. FireTag on October 1, 2012 at 6:15 PM


    The “tiger” is Islamic fundamentalism.

    We are going to be sucked into a general mid-east war with Islamic fundamentalism even though we know it’s bad for us, regardless of whom we elect. Wilson argued for reelection on the basis he kept us out of war. We were in it shortly thereafter anyway. Roosevelt couldn’t keep us out of war. The Japanese felt compelled by their value systems to attack us, even though we were only containing them after events like “The Rape of Nanking” (where the Japanese soldiers were doing things like tossing babies into the air and impaling them on the ends of bayonets).

    We need to start preparing for the war that is coming instead of pretending that it isn’t going to happen. There is “time for diplomacy to work” in exactly the same sense that there is time for the Washington Redskins to win the Super Bowl this season; there are still games to be played, but talk of a victory parade in Washington is for suckers.

    If Iran is already militarily engaged in Syria, even a rebellion at home due to the impact of sanctions will only spread the fires of civil war to other countries of the Mideast. Whether or not the US attempts to withdraw from the Mideast, we can’t take Europe’s oil supply with us, and Israel has nowhere to flee. Do not think you can imagine what kind of hell a nuclear-armed state that has been the subject of a genocide within the memory of its leadership can unleash as a last resort. The economic and military interactions in the Mid-East present an amplification mechanism that is nowhere near exhausted yet.

    Where I do fault Obama is that he convinces me he will not fight such a war competently (ruthlessness is another matter than competency). Competent commanders do not end a “surge” in the middle of the Afghan fighting season any more than they send HALF of “Pickett’s Charge” on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Competent commanders notice that there just might be something afoot on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, and are not caught still peddling the story that it was a spontaneous demonstration five days later.

    The world will be a worse place if we win such a war than it is today, since it is likely to seal the economic decline of the West the way WW2 sealed the economic decline of Britain and France, but it will be much worse still if we lose that war. In the latter case, the result will most likely be a generation of extremism or chaos.

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  19. FireTag on October 1, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    For those who are unfamiliar with the plot of the show “Book of Mormon” and its relevance to the OP, I thought I should add the summary in this link from today:

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  20. Bob on October 1, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    #18: FireTag,
    I see fighting continuing by the parties in the Middle East__but no Armageddon. Only America can fight that can of kind of war, and we will not.
    The middle East will find a way to keep the oil flowing to the West to pay for the fighting. We will continue to arm them.

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  21. Howard on October 2, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    Okay FireTag, I’m trying to get mentally on board with your metaphor. If the “tiger” is Islamic fundamentalism, what is the house? The world? The Middle East? Or something closer to (a) “home”?

    To me the world is a MUCH safer place than when I grew up. The cold war is over and we no longer face nuclear winter or world war. Sure there are Israel – Iran, India – Pakistan and North – South Korean nuclear tensions that could potentially lead to regional wars at some point but do not appear to be heading in that direction at the moment. Terrorism? Sure it’s a potential blow back problem fueled by the US policy of attacking and invading sovereign nations. We can’t expect everyone to like our policies but how fearful should we be of a gang of thugs with automatic weapons and RPGs? Homicide bombers are no longer creating havoc in Tel Aviv restaurants. A wacko walks into a US theater and opens fire killing a lot more people than the embassy attack. Columbine, the DC Sniper and even the North Hollywood Shootout were much bigger deals than this embassy attack. Just how frightened and paranoid am I supposed to get over this and why? Both sides of the aisle use fear to maintain control and motivate voters, conservatives use terrorism and liberals use global warming. They stir up fear because it works. Are you sure this argument isn’t just a political rationalization aimed at getting Mitt elected?

    The frustration I experience with outspoken conservatives is they are very quick to criticize and very slow to suggest except in the most general terms like “take a stronger stance”. Specifically, what would you do about your Islamic fundamentalism fears besides working to elect Mitt?

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  22. Jon on October 2, 2012 at 9:26 AM


    It is great to know that I am being talked about around the web and that others want to hurt me too, which is unfortunate since they missed my entire point in that comment thread. A plea that we all treat each other with love, i.e., we don’t harm one another, or rather, we adhere to the non-aggression principle.

    Using the word “rape” is common in the libertarian community to describe the abuses of statism against the individual. Like from the Coyote blog Another thought – the SBA is the barely-useful quid pro quo cited by statists from all the fantastically expensive and time-consuming regulation that gets dumped on small businesses. Well, I don’t want it. I don’t want to give statists any cover that this is somehow an equal bargain. It’s a quarter flipped up on one side of the scale to balance ten tons of bullshit on the other side. It’s like sending flowers to someone you raped.

    In the true senses of the word it is used correctly and gives a good visualization of the violence of statism against the individual, or even groups for that matter.

    Now, I wish my “extremist” views would be looked at in context of not being extreme unless you believe that love is extreme.

    Now, let’s look at what you wrote me Julia, you used compassion and long suffering to show me how the word “rape” affects people that have been through that violent act. I conceded, that you were correct, I shouldn’t use that word anymore to describe how statism hurts people, even though it correctly identifies and describes what I am trying to portray, so, even though a poet might use metaphors to convey an idea, sometimes that metaphor is of bad taste to some and it is better to temper our speech for those that can be hurt.

    So, in connection with the OP, some of our speech may not look good to others so we should temper it in order to show what we would like others to understand. We might try and use metaphors to describe the world but sometimes it is better not to because other people might want to hurt you because of your speech. Speech can be more harmful, psychologically to others, than actual sticks and stones. It will be nice when we grow up and use love and temperance rather than sticks and stones to help one another rise above that which we didn’t understand before.

    Violence begets violence. Dad says to his kids, “stop hitting each other!” The kids respond, “But Tommy hit me first!” Dad says, “I don’t care who hit who first, I said stop it!” Likewise, let us grow up and trust in the message of Christ and put down the hurtful speech and actions. Not because we don’t love “free speech” but because we do love it and want liberty for ourselves and others and liberty requires that we accept the consequences of our actions.

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  23. Jon on October 2, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    So, I ask all of you. If someone believes they were hurt by a religion that preaches Christ and so conveys that in the metaphor of the “Piss Christ” is that OK? Should that person repress their feelings of that religion or are they allowed to express it in that metaphor? Should people be able to threaten that person for showing their pain through the metaphor? Or should they be derided by the community and others that have been “pissed on?”

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  24. FireTag on October 2, 2012 at 10:20 PM


    I would agree that “the” Armageddon is not visible in current events. Personally, I think that the “end of the age” envisioned in the Scriptures has more to do with a stage of development of spiritual consciousness at a planetary level, so I don’t think much about the end time until there is a Zion prepared.

    But, as I wrote here in one of my earlier posts about the emergent troubles in the Mideast, battles AT Armageddon (Migiddo) have been distressingly common, even continuing into the Twentieth Century.

    I pointed out in that post how quickly modern CONVENTIONAL missile technology (plus airpower) can turn the entire theater into a single integrated battle campaign. Even WW1 biplanes and artillery slaughtered a Turkish army of tens of thousands and Arab civilians finished off the survivors.

    I think the assumption you ought to question is that economics will trump religious “idealism”. I know many people who have sacrificed material welfare for Zionic ideals; I certainly suspect similar devotion exists among Islamists even if I cannot comprehend the religious ideals behind that devotion. (Of course, there are cynics in both communities, too.) There are people who would quite comfortably destroy an economy based on oil for sake of “saving the world”. I even know a few Western environmentalists who think we ought to do THAT. :D

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  25. FireTag on October 2, 2012 at 11:17 PM


    The metaphor of “home” is meant to encompass anywhere you regard as “safe”. The operational notion of terrorism is to bring danger into places you regard as safe so that there IS no safe place. Eventually you WILL surrender (usually the terrorists preferred option) or you WILL radicalize (Often the terrorist’s preferred back up). Forcing battle is simply an option that extremists ALWAYS have, since no substantial political unit of pacifists exists anywhere. (Even in the Book of Mormon, harmony came only AFTER catastrophe wiped out the “wicked”.) Ideally, “Jokers” can be handled by a police force or random super-hero, but Islamic extremism has long ago passed that point, and treating terrorism as a “crime problem” as it was done in the 1990s failed utterly — then, and now.

    I don’t know where you live physically, but terror attempts have been a lot closer to me. The Islamists put an airliner through my old office building, and the fireball washed over the window before which I sat for a couple of years.

    I noted here

    last year that quarrels between Iran and Saudi Arabia over power in the Mideast seemed to have been behind a planned terrorist attack in my home town of DC, and that you could expect a covert response in Syria as a result. It certainly does appear to me, and to many establishment observers of both left and right, that we ARE headed toward a general regional war.

    But, the more important point I would make is that World Wars are REGIONAL wars where regional powers have global interests, and as the world becomes more economically interconnected, the number of such regional powers grows rather than declines. In WW1, roughly the same order of deaths occurred among African peoples through disease and famine as the European powers fought over supplies in their colonies there as died in Europe itself.(Even in the Napoleonic Wars, France, England, and their allies fought major naval actions in the INDIAN OCEAN.)

    The first step in solving a problem is to stop denying that there IS a problem. There may not BE a solution, but if so, we still have to be grown up enough to face it so that we can try to survive it, recover from it, and help others as best we can. WE STILL FACE MORAL CHOICES IN THE PRESENCE OF DAILY EVIL.

    I can’t stop a hurricane, but I AM going to want my government to warn me it is coming, rather than forecast that the storm has passed because gathering storms don’t fit a campaign narrative that we’ve won the war on terror or reset our relationships with the Muslim world. When I get the warning, I’m going to want to take personal precautions to the best of my ability, and I’m going to want my neighbors to take precautions, too. I want my government to put the emergency equipment we’re about to need on alert and preposition it intelligently, rather than be trimming its budgets to pay for “investments” we can’t use for twenty years at the earliest. We have to get THROUGH the twenty years first. I want the recovery to focus on the needy before it concentrates on the comforts of those managing the recovery. And if my government has different priorities than those, I want the government officials replaced ASAP.

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  26. FireTag on October 2, 2012 at 11:23 PM


    I don’t recall at this point — and suspect other readers don’t either — exactly which thread, or even which blog, your dispute with Julia over the use of the word “rape” began.

    BUT it wasn’t THIS thread. If you wish to continue that argument, take it back to its place of origin. OK?

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  27. Jon on October 3, 2012 at 12:39 AM


    Then why did you permit Julia’s comment? It is only fair to ask her to stop talking about it all over also. I thought this was settled on the other thread too, but apparently not. If she wants to go around all the posts and call me crazy and I defend myself then you can at least be consistent in the matter.

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  28. Julia on October 3, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    I am okay if FireTag thought my comment inappropriate, but I was NOT wanting to start the debate again, I was talking about how different groups, with different experiences, see the same speech (or words) differently. There are real difficulties in interacting with people who don’t share enough similar experiences to be able to evaluate if something someone says is part of a fringe of a group of thought, or a widely accepted concept.

    Before my husband and I married, I didn’t know enough libertarians, personally, to be able to distinguish between middle of the road libetarians, and those on the rhetorical edge. My personal politics were well known enough that I knew lots of Republicans and Democrats, since I had worked with a number of them to come up with compromise solutions on state legislation. I knew a few Green Party and Libertarian lawmakers by sight, but since they were not part of a compromise group, because ideologically it wouldn’t have fit for them to be part of a compromise, I didn’t know them.

    It is difficult to know and understand groups that are insular, and I will use sexual support groups as my example because they are almost BEYOND insular, and often approach secretive. If there is a group who has an exclusive membership, determined by life experience or self selection, it is hard to understand teh internal politics and discussions of those groups.

    As Mormons, and mostly Mormon Americans, understanding the intricacies of Middle Eastern Muslim culture can be difficult. When you start talking about radical Islamist groups, most main stream Muslims don’t understand the inner workings of the groups, so how would you or I expect to be able to fully understand them. When the OP asks,

    “So, what do you think? Do readers of this blog have “skin in this game”?

    My answer is that yes I have skin in the game, but no, I don’t trust that I have enough information to completely understand how best to help explain and balance the needs of very different religious and societal norms, to vastly divergent groups. Even the different communities that I find myself part of, are not always easy to help understand one another. My experiences in moving between different groups, is that it is only through carefully trying to understand, that I have any luck at building bridges.

    Even when I am able to “translate” between the groups I am immersed in daily, I don’t always understand well enough to explain why something someone said is acceptable to the group, or culture in which they operate. Even more difficult to help others understand is that the views “on the edge” of a cultural group are not acceptaed by everyone, when those who don’t accept the fringe idea, still allow the people with that idea to be part of the group. And, in this case I am talking about groups of people, in the United States, who all have some basic life experience with tolerance for multiple view points. I am quite sure that trying to explain the dynamics within the sexual abuse survivors community, to a Muslim in the Middle East, would be impossible for me, without a great deal of study and understanding of the society in which that Mulsim resides.

    I am not sure if I was able to say that clearly, but after 4 times editing it, that will have to do. If something is confusing let me know. (I will be away from computers for most of Wednesday and Thursday though, so no promises on a fast reply. With short time I will reply to the things that seem most urgent, and wait for the weekend to give attention to less urgent matters.)

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  29. FireTag on October 3, 2012 at 2:00 PM


    Julia’s substantive comment in #10 had to do with understanding how difficult it is to judge groups with whom one lacks common experience.

    I’ll “allow” a lot; that’s our commenting policy. Doesn’t mean I want to rehash old fights that are not germane to the substantive point in any “he said, she said” tit for tat, and the “rape” word is now an old fight.

    You both have new, substantive ideas, and we’d all be better off hearing about those.

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  30. Jon on October 7, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Food for thought:

    U.S. told within hours Libya attack was probably a planned terror plot, but stuck to ‘protest’ story for two weeks

    Despite these reports, in public statements and private meetings, top U.S. officials spent nearly two weeks highlighting intelligence suggesting that the attacks were spontaneous protests against an anti-Muslim film, while playing down the involvement of organized militant groups.

    via Corbett Report Radio 231 – More Lies in the Never-ending War on Terror

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