I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Whether the mob is with you or against you, it is still a mob. . .

Monday's post concerned Elder Packer's General Conference address. I'm reading now that the gay and lesbian communities have more demonstrations, protests and marches planned. My feelings on this subject are well-defined and articulated below. I wrote this piece some time ago but recent events have prompted me to publish it in this forum.

I still consider demonstrations, protests and marches as destructive. The only thing I would add is that these mechanisms also cost government money because law enforcement and other public employees become burdened. This is yet another reason to despise them.

An Open Letter to the Gay and Lesbian Communities after Proposition 8 passed in California -- from a Mormon

As I follow the news and commentary I would like my gay/lesbian friends and family, yes family, to better understand my religious beliefs and position on this very volatile issue. My hope is that it will increase understanding and help bridge a deep gulf that currently separates us.

My beliefs are as deeply held, and as heartfelt, as those I hear expressed by others across the divide. Please do not interpret these beliefs as hate.

All children of our Heavenly Father have inherent worth and nothing can change that. I do not want my gay/lesbian friends and family to believe that I value them any less because of my religious beliefs.

"Discrimination" is Not an Accurate Term

I do not believe that the current controversy can be characterized as "discrimination.” Marriage has always been understood as a union between a man and a woman. Your rights to enjoy marriage have always been exactly the same as mine.

If, in the future, marriage includes members of the same gender, instead of just opposite genders, then this will be an addition to our rights. You will have the right to marry someone of either gender and so will I.

This will be an addition to our rights, it will not be redressing a deprivation of a discriminated group. I think we need to be honest that this will expand all of our legal rights.

"Negative" Versus "Positive" Democratic Processes

We live in a country that protects more freedoms of belief and action than any other government on earth. I believe in these democratic processes and the rule of law. Who makes decisions and how they get made have always been extremely important issues in our democratic system.

Some procedures are more democratic than others. If same-sex marriage rights are instituted through direct democracy – citizens voting – it will be a more secure foundation for these rights than through court interpretations or the actions of elected or unelected, government officials.

All citizens of this country have many democratic processes available to them such as voting, influencing elected representatives, influencing other voters, contributing time and money, petitions, initiatives, running for office, etc.

I have never considered protests, marches and demonstrations as positive behavior in a democratic system. It is negative behavior. It simply demands that someone do something about the issue.

In a democratic system that someone can be YOU. My opinion of protests, marches and demonstrations is different in systems where positive democratic tools are not available to ordinary citizens. In such systems, people are extremely limited or prevented entirely, from engaging in any positive action in the governmental system they live under.

In this country, consider that women were forced to resort to these measures when they did not have the vote. In addition, blacks were also forced to utilize these tools when intimidation, violence and other methods prevented them from exercising their democratic rights. Currently, no group on either side of this issue is prevented from utilizing democratic tools. They are available to us all.

It is extremely demoralizing to see top elected leaders participating in these negative tools. These leaders have stronger, and much more extensive, access to the positive tools of democracy. Instead of attending and endorsing these protests, marches and demonstrations, they could set a much better example. Their participation gives these negative tools of democracy more legitimacy. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I encourage and invite members of the gay and lesbian community to focus their efforts on the positive democratic tools available to them. Our system is fundamentally good. Change should come within it.

Protests, marches and demonstrations seem based on emotion and tend to appeal to emotions. They do not result in any positive change based on respect and civility. They seem to produce the opposite, regardless of which side is utilizing them.

From what news outlets I have accessed, it would appear that the advocates of Proposition 8, including the Mormons, prevailed because of their superior use of these positive democratic tools.

Note: This is also the view of Rep. Barney Frank. In an AP article that ran October 10, 2009 in The New York Times. It was entitled "Rep. Frank Says DC Gay Rights March Misses Mark." (Link in Fox News) Here are some excerpts:

Rep. Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress, says he'd rather see gay rights supporters lobbying their elected officials than marching in Washington this weekend, calling the demonstration "a waste of time at best."
Frank, in an interview with The Associated Press, said he considers such demonstrations to be "an emotional release" that does little to pressure Congress.
"The only thing they're going to be putting pressure on is the grass," the Massachusetts Democrat said Friday.
Gay rights advocates should borrow from the playbooks of the two most effective interest groups, the National Rifle Association and the AARP, said Frank.
"Call or write your representative or senator, and then have your friends call and write their representative or senator," Frank said. "That's what the NRA does. That's what the AARP does."

Mobs Will Be Mobs

We have a right “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Somewhere along the line we have decided that this also applies, not to just government, but against each other as well.

Groups often become unruly mobs and end up doing things that the individuals comprising them would never intend or sanction on their own. History supplies numerous examples. Past events and current news headlines supply many other examples in non-political forums -- Black Friday at Wal-Mart in New York leaps to mind.

Demonstrations, protests and marches appeal to emotion, not to reason. So, whether people are participating in them, or are the object of them; they are going to react emotionally.

Underage children participating in a pro-Proposition 8 sign-waving rally, in California on Election Day, were screamed at, cursed at and subjected to the national sign of disunity. Am I appalled? Yes, at the parent’s decision to subject their children to this type of behavior. An emotional appeal will result in an emotional response. You can expect no other. We are all better off assuming our opponents are reasonable people who can, and will, respond to reason.

Any group’s behavior can disintegrate quickly into lawlessness, regardless of the issue that brought it together. Since I see nothing positive in demonstrations, protests and marches, I will not participate in them – any of them. I would encourage all reasonable people to do them same. Whether the mob is with you or against you, it is still a mob.

From what I have read, people were astonished at the amount of money and the organization the Mormons brought to the Proposition 8 campaign. However, this is not unusual – for Mormons. We have regularly brought such resources to anything we get involved with -- disaster recovery probably heads the list.

True Principles Versus Faulty Information

From the media I have accessed on this issue, it would appear that those favoring gay and lesbian marriage think that the Mormons, and especially their leaders, have based their decision on faulty information, as well as on ignorance of actual homosexual people.

If this were the case, then close interaction with homosexuals and accurate information will solve the problem. This is NOT the case. Boycotts, persecution and other such measures will NOT result in Mormons reversing their position. In fact, those measures will probably unify Mormons even stronger.

What does suggest that the gay and lesbian advocates do not understand Mormons is their advocating a boycott of the Sundance Film Festival or the Utah ski resorts – some of the most secular entities in the state -- in order to penalize Mormons.

The percentage of Mormon population in Salt Lake City is now currently lower than 50% and lower than the percentage within the entire state. It is considered by many to be a “gay-friendly” city. The Festival’s home, Park City, is probably the most secular city in the state.

Traditional Marriage Is a Religious Concept

Traditional marriage existed before governments existed. Marriage existed before this government existed. Marriage IS a religious concept. I read some commentary that encourages people to separate the religious concept from the contractual rights that usually accompany it by law.

My church issued the recent statement that contains the following: “the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.” These are generally considered contractual legal rights bestowed by government(s).

After this statement was issued, I have read where many of those working to advance the cause of gays and lesbians request that the Church support and endorse these measures in current legislation.

They cannot have it both ways. If a religion’s involvement is unacceptable and outrageous in its Proposition 8 activities, why would its political activity suddenly be acceptable if it happened to favor a different political measure? Until now, they were arguing that ANY activity in the political spectrum, by a church, was inappropriate.

I have also read where my church is purported to support these contractual rights. This is not accurate either. The Church’s statement reads that it “does not object . . .” Careful reading and accurate reporting could clear up these misstatements.

Formal complaints have been lodged against my Church concerning full disclosure of its activities and its financial support. Hopefully, an official third party investigating these claims will result in an accurate and fair investigation. It should produce findings we can all accept.

However, I will be very surprised if the Church is truly guilty of any of these accusations. It is so careful in all its activities, especially in the political or legal sphere. I suspect the investigation will simply validate my suspicions.

Lies and Half-Truths

Some in the gay press, and regular press, complain that the proponents of the ban on gay marriage were spreading falsehoods and outright lies. It is always distressing for this sort of thing to occur. Unfortunately, it occurs regularly in all of our elections -- all of them.

This is a staple of all elections, throughout time and across cultures. We are more aware of it when it seems to figure prominently in issues and events we feel strongly about, but the problem is universal.

Also, it is not confined to political forums. Bad, jaded, biased and outrageous information is continually exchanged in every communication forum used by human beings – digital or otherwise.The only antidote that I know of is to carefully assess our information sources; then seek out, and rely on, good information.

Individuals cleaning up their own information behavior is the only reasonable answer to this dilemma. It can be challenging to find good political information, but the best site is Project Vote-Smart http://www.votesmart.org/


The best source for information about a religion or church IS the religion or the church itself. I am always astounded when people seek to lecture me about my beliefs/values or to set themselves up as experts of my beliefs/values.

Let us all do each other the courtesy of seeking out the most authoritative source for our information. The most authoritative sources for information on Mormons is http://www.mormon.org/ and http://www.lds.org and the individual person.

If same-sex marriage is legally established through the positive tools and democratic mechanisms I have identified, then so be it. I believe in the rule-of-law and I will consent to be bound by democratic mechanisms.

To those who seek this result, I have one last statement: What separates us is not as great as what binds us together – our being citizens, co-workers, acquaintances, friends and, most importantly, families.

Note: The Church released information about all of its disclosure filings. It is apparent that news organizations did not report them all leading to the erroneous conclusion that the Church had not disclosed everything.

Further Update: The Church was fined for late disclosure, although full disclosure was made. See my blog post for details.

No comments:

Post a Comment