Salt Lake Tribune Editorial on Why LDS Scripture Requires the Tribune?

I saw a funny link on M* to this editorial called “Op-ed: Tribune should go on; LDS scripture requires it.” Of course this piqued my curiosity so I read through it. The scripture in question is that there must be opposition in all things. Had to laugh, since this scripture is about why evil is necessary in mortality. Well, actually that understates the unintended humor in this article. Check out 2 Nephi 2:10 for full context. This scripture is actually explaining why God must punish the wicked.

This op-ed is pretty poor for the most part. A confused throwing together of unsupported opinions. The article make the following, imo, humorous charges:

The SL Tribune is the only “Newspaper” in Utah because the Deseret News doesn’t qualify

His rational reasoning behind this charge? Because “the role of a good newspaper is to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.'”

Okay, silly me, but I thought all along the point of the news was to report what is going on. I’ve long been angry and upset that news medias don’t ever seem to do this and instead seem to have subtle but plausibly deniable political agendas. Well, at least for the SL Tribune, we have it straight in this op-ed that actually their purpose isn’t to report the news but to oppose the majority view in Utah.

Oh, come on, is the LDS view really the majority view in Utah? Probably not. And if not, then how is it a case of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable? Isn’t it sort of more like taking a minority that is hated everywhere and making sure they get kicked hard in their own home? Doesn’t that then mean that the Deseret News is the one actually comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable?

Oh, and isn’t this whole conversation sort of silly since who is comfortable and who is afflicted is largely subjective and arbitrary anyhow?

In this community, more than half the population will never subscribe to the Deseret News, on principle

Excuse me, but if the SL Tribune is going out of business, doesn’t that mean that even more than half the population will never subscribe to the SL Tribune on principle too? And how, exactly, is the LDS view a majority view if half of Utah won’t subscribe to Deseret News on principle? Doesn’t that sort of undermine the entire ‘comfort the afflicted’ argument?

The Tribune helps counter some of the political ignorance in our community and state. Malfeasance at the state attorney’s office would not have been corrected without Tribune reporting.

While I seriously doubt the second sentence… er, I sort of agree with the first.

Okay, let’s be honest. I’m a Popperian. I think conflict is good. I think it forces us to improve. I do, at times, so wish the SL Tribune was be even slightly fair towards the LDS Church. But frankly, I guess I do believe that news is biased and we have to just accept that and we should give up on the idea that it isn’t and just let the news honestly declare its biases. And this op-ed does this very well via really bad arguments. (Well the argument about advertising revenue was pretty good.)

Honestly, I think that this op-ed is so obviously biased is a good thing. That it had to use bad arguments to get there is — human.

What is the purpose of this op-ed? I mean why even bother to point out how the LDS church ‘benefits’ from the opposition and thus it will be bad if they go out of business? Are they hoping to get a subsidy from the Church? A government hand out? What are they after?

Well, it’s trying to get people who already don’t like the church angry, of course, to try to get them to subscribe. Of course that’s what it is! Thus the need for the emotional arguments devoid of rational content; because, you know, people don’t respond to rationality, they respond to moral outrage. Does anyone not see the irony of the Salt Lake Tribune attempting to survive by taking potshots at members of the LDS Church and while simultaneously basically coming clean and admitting they are totally biased, then using that as the reason you should support them?

And so what? Is that really so bad? Isn’t that what ‘freedom of speech’ is really all about? And by allowing two newspapers that have opposite biases, I suspect we are richer for having both.

I hope the Salt Lake Tribune does not go out of business. I think that would make me sad. Just not for the reasons given here.

76 thoughts on “Salt Lake Tribune Editorial on Why LDS Scripture Requires the Tribune?

  1. I hope the market decides. I do NOT want my tax dollars (or anybody else’s tax dollars) paying to keep ANY business alive, and that includes newspapers, soccer teams, etc.

  2. The mental flexibility to simultaneously argue that the Church isn’t as strong as it claims to be, because of a presumed 70% inactivity rate (a number I don’t believe), and yet also claim the Church wholly dominates the state of Utah (62.2% last census) is beyond me. One or the other argument is possible — both are not. If the 70% inactives are half negatively disposed to the Church, that would be that 21.77% of Utah are negative to the Church and 18.66% are active LDS.

    I think that their are those who claim the scripture “opposition in all things” as a mandate rather than a warning for the wicked, and choose to oppose in ALL things — logically consistent or not.

  3. Well, if we’re talking about the church worldwide, 30% activity rate would actually be pretty high when compared to most churches. Though I doubt that’s the activity rate for Utah itself.

    I seem to remember the study “Why Strict Churches are Strong” showing the LDS church during the 90s (a hey day for us) at 40% activity rate. That was remarkably high and was the highest of all churches. And this is the *strong* churches we’re talking about. Liberal churches aren’t even on the map they are so low in activity rate. (A point the study makes very well.) You can make an utterly awesome church out of a 30% activity rate and it woudn’t be something to sneeze at.

    That’s part of the reason I can’t get worked up over “Our Sisters are Leaving.” Truth be told, our sisters have been leaving since we were born as a religion. They leave every church out there at higher rates than ours. Oh and our brothers are leaving faster than our sisters, statistically speaking. (As it true for all religions.)

    How do we bring sanity to this discussion? We sincerely want to improve, of course, and we really want to keep everyone. But we are not talking about a new problem at all and we’re not talking about women having more problems than men by a long shot. And if you lose 70%, you’re still doing awesome. It is good to get a bit of perspective.

  4. “”His rational reasoning behind this charge? Because “the role of a good newspaper is to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’”

    Okay, silly me, but I thought all along the point of the news was to report what is going on.”

    This gets at a significant difference between you and I, Bruce. What separates news from irrelevant information is interests, which automatically rules out value-free objectivity. This is why the press sees itself as a check/balance on authority of all kinds: they see themselves as the primary mechanism of gubernatorial transparency by which a democratic public can evaluate and constrain the authorities that rule over them. Thus, the press is an essential mechanism by which the public can rule over the governing elites, which is exactly what we do not want to happen to the Lord’s church. This is why the world can never find peace with the Kingdom of God. It is also why the press sees themselves as liberating the Mormon people rather than “kicking them in their hometown.”

  5. Can you ‘liberate’ someone that was happy where they were and less happy (even angry) after they were ‘liberated’?

  6. Was it? Is that really true? That would make morality a bit hard to define then, wouldn’t it?

  7. And when did the church become gubernatorial? I must have missed that.

  8. No greater documented example of the truth of that statement, Jeff, than the Israelites after being delivered from bondage in Egypt.

  9. I kind of agree with Jeff G on this. I am sure we would state it differently.

    There is no such thing as objectively reporting the news. Human beings are subjective so they will always make subjective decisions based on their biases, interests, backgrounds, experiences, etc, etc. Newspapers spend an inordinate time, for example, reporting on the newspaper business. Why? Because journalists are interested in it.

    So, if we take as an assumption the reality that all news source are inherently biased, we see that the SL Tribune has indeed set itself up as an opponent of the SL power structure, which is (jn the view of the Tribune) the LDS church. Personally, I think the SL power structure is much, much more than the LDS church: it includes business interests, politicians and, now, the NSA, for example. But of course the Tribune is populated primarily by biased journalists who are NOT LDS and therefore must show their bona fides by attacking the Church in one way or another. The problem is that the Tribune does not spend enough time going after the other sources of power in Utah.

    From a secular perspective, it is correct that the Des News is not really a good source of information on what is going on in Utah because of its Church affiliation. But I would argue that if you read both every day — the SL Tribune AND the Des News — you would have a pretty good idea of what is going on in Utah, better than the coverage most people have in their cities.

    My last point is that all people should avoid reading the comments at the SL Tribune and the Des News — they are truly an offensive cesspool. Read the stories at both papers and try to keep in mind that there is no such thing as objectivity and you will be ahead of the game.

  10. Haha! I was waiting for Geoff to chime in on this one.

    By “gubernatorial” is simply meant an authority figure who rules over, or is in some way accepted as one who makes decisions for others. This is by no means a secular category.

  11. This is my actual position: “I do, at times, so wish the SL Tribune was be even slightly fair towards the LDS Church. But frankly, I guess I do believe that news is biased and we have to just accept that and we should give up on the idea that it isn’t and just let the news honestly declare its biases.”

    I suppose you’re saying there is not even a concept of unbias in the news, Jeff, but I think that’s objectively wrong in terms of how the News tries to make itself look and claims is it’s function.

    But I’m all about letting the News be biased and really just favor being open about it.

  12. Regarding slavery, a significant portion of slaves were freed from slavery only to then have to find a job which paid well enough to feed their family, something which had always been provided for them before. A slave owner want strong and healthy property, whereas an employer doesn’t have quite as strong of an investment in their employees.

  13. Well, there is a strong constraint within the news to appeal to the interests and thus the language of as broad of an audience as possible, if only to sell subscriptions. This, however, is very close to being a rough definition of objectivity or being unbiased.

  14. Okay, threadjack out of interest. It’s my thread and I can cry if I want to.

    Jeff, I listened to the Jennifer Burns history of the US lectures. Now obviously histories are themselves overtly biased. And Burns spends considerable time on slavery — probably out of proportion to the realities of daily life for the time period. So this is probably almost more like a history of slavery in terms of the details. i.e. Slavery was not just getting a passing notice, but a lot of historical detail about slavery was included.

    She told quite a few stories of former slaves leaving their masters even though being offered good jobs because they wanted to be sure they were free. And she also told of how former slaves often had no choice but to buy at prices set by the planatation owners stores and thus they were really just debt slaves afterward. There wasn’t a single story of a slave actually wanting to be a slave. So its difficult to imagine that any slaves actually *wanted* to be slaves.

    To what degree did this actaully take place? (If at all.)

  15. Continuing with slavery, an argument could be made (and many in Communist and Socialist Europe do make it) that being liberated from the slavery of capitalism can equally be traded off against the benefits which it brings. In their view, then, the trade-offs experienced in a post-slavery society are the exact same as those of a post-capitalist society.

  16. “This, however, is very close to being a rough definition of objectivity or being unbiased.”

    Have to smile at this.

  17. “…an argument could be made ”

    I’m thinking that argument in form can be used to “liberate” a person from anything we don’t personally like.

  18. That perspective you share sounds about right.

    A significant majority of people when polled about their situations before and after their liberation from some form of slavery will say that they are worse off. Just as strong of a majority, however, will also say that they would rather not go back to that slavery, whatever form it happened to take.

  19. Okay, that makes more sense to me. I can see that someone coming out of slavery might see life as harder in some ways, but I can’t really see them wanting to go back to slavery. And that isn’t what we’re talking about with ‘liberating’ people from the LDS Church.

  20. I don’t think so either – but it’s not clear that things are different from their perspective. After all, the enslavement which they see in voluntary employment undercapitalism is very close to that which they would attribute to voluntary association in religion. Additionally, some people do celebrate their perceived liberation from the church. I still disagree with them, but I don’t think it’s so easy to do once you’ve framed the issue in the secular terms of democratic politics.

  21. I have always found the whole argument of false consciousness to be one of the most arrogant arguments that any human being could make.

    “You don’t know what you think. You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what you need. You think you are happy, but you are miserable. We, the enlightened ones, will tell you what to think, what to want, what to need, and when you are happy or miserable.”

    How much hubris would you need to truly believe such a thing about another human being?

  22. The issue isn’t that some do celebrate their perceived liberation from the Church. That is fine and I have no issue with that.

    The comparison here is between slavery and religion. While many slaves may have felt worse off once liberated (as you point out) they still didn’t want to be slaves. There is a sizeable group of religious people that DO want to be religious people. So the comparison breaks down entirely in my opinion.

    I suppose one way they might make the argument is to say “well, but what if there is some slave that wants to be a slave? Should we then legalize slavery?” (Perhaps they can even find some strange case of someone that did want to be a slave.) But this would be a nonsense argument. If someone *wants* to be a slave, they can be. Just not legally.

  23. Careful. Liberal bloggernacle-ites are all over facebook saying M* is racist because of Jeff and Bruce’s comments.

  24. Jeff G,

    I understand that you are talking about the fact that in the abstract self-appointed liberators often act without thinking about the practical considerations and consequences of liberation. That is an important point. And it deserves consideration when talking about freeing others from ideologies or beliefs that the self-appointed liberator perceives as a form of slavery but that those who hold those beliefs do not.

    But when we’re talking about actual physical chattel slavery based on race, as in the antebellum south, where people are treated as inhuman property, it doesn’t matter what difficulties or consequences result from being freed. The perversions of society and family that are caused by it, not to mention evil perpetuated on the enslaved individuals themselves, are so evil that it must be stopped.

  25. Just dropping by, but seriously, Jeff G, I don’t think what you said is coming across the way you think it is.

  26. False consciousness really explains a lot about the world. I can’t imagine a theory more applicable when I see the sex obsessed porn hook-up culture where we have kids who think their lives are miserable because their not engaging in promiscuous sex. That’s just one area you can see it plain as day.

    The concept of false consciousness isn’t a lie. It’s an observation of reality. We all have some kind of consciousness. We all have internalized culture. Some of it’s “true” and some of it’s “false”.

    Now, I can see how it would be viewed as condescending to tell another they’ve adopted a false perception of reality (false conscious), but seriously that’s what we often tell many, in one way or another, in the world who vehemently disagree with the precepts taught by the church.

    What is the acknowledgement of drinking deeply from the waters of the gospel, or having the scales fall from your eyes other than an acknowledgement that your new way of looking at things is true and the old way false?

    If you ask me, the Holy Ghost is ultimately the only way any of us can ever hope to escape the problem of false consciousness.

  27. The idea of an objective press is pretty American and relatively recent historically. I taught a class on the history of media bias for a few years, and most students were quite stunned to learn that newspapers in other other countries are explicitly partisan, and that partisan newspapers were the standard in the USA for a long time.

    Right now, it mostly provides cover for reporters so they can have plausible deniability while actually being partisan. It also helps feed the egos of reporters who feel they are objectively speaking truth to power, when in fact they too often enabling power they like/agree with.

    I’m with Bruce and others above, in that I feel newspapers should just out and out state their biases. It’s not ideal, but the ideal of objectivity, at this point, is too often a whited sepulchre.

  28. Jeff G.’s comments seem a little odd – I am guessing there’s some context that’s clear in his mind but I’m missing out on.

    I don’t see how Bruce N’s first comment about liberation are racist, but right now that seems to be the Conventional Wisdom among the T&S/BCC/FMH crowd on facebook, that Bruce N. is now clearly a racist and this shows what a bunch of bigots we all are over here. I’m a little sick of this game.

  29. What, the liberals at BCC are misconstruing the authors at M*. Never! They’re always intelligent and honest in their viewpoints…. Just ask them…

  30. KevinF, JMax and others,

    I am in no way defending or advocating the institution of slavery. In case my comments above weren’t clear on that point, let me say it again: I am in no way defending or advocating the institution of slavery.

    Rather, my comments tried to leverage the justified distaste that I assume and hope everyone feels toward that institution in order to tease out the interesting relation which exists between happiness and liberation. Then again, one man’s modus ponnens is another man’s modus tollens. In other words, whereas I have used the evilness of slavery to argue that happiness may not be the ultimate measure of goodness, another person could use the supposed fact that happiness is the ultimate measure of rightness to use my exact same argument against the evilness of slavery.

    So let me be clear again, the evilness of slavery combined with various poll data strongly suggest that happiness is not the ultimate measure of rightness – at least not it any straightforward sense.

    Hopefully that chills the FB liberals out a bit.

  31. Ivan,

    Your probably right, since – if anything – I’ve been defending liberals and their conception of the media in this thread. The conversation about slavery was quite the thread jack, as Bruce noted, with only tangential relevance. If my comments are even worth clearing up at this point – and I doubt they are – then I’m happy to answer any question by way of clarification.

  32. “Hopefully that chills the FB liberals out a bit.”

    It probably won’t, since they flagged Bruce’s first comment about liberation as racist (which is very, very odd, since liberals used that same argument whenever Bush wanted to liberate some country like Iraq).

  33. Bruce,

    I’ve never subscribed to Deseret News. And I don’t recall reading it online, though I may have read a couple articles by following links elsewhere.

    I used to subscribe to the print edition of Church News, which was, or maybe still is, published by Deseret News.

    The Church News publication was so insipid that I had to let my subscription expire, because it was causing me to have a very low opinion of and negative feelings towards church employees.

    Remember how many female speakers at General Conference used to speak in the “Primary voice” or sort of an “over-earnest Relief Society voice”? (I haven’t heard any female general conference speaker use that “voice” in a few years now.) That’s what the tone of Church News seemed to me. It just wasn’t real, it was too affected, it was too Polly-Anna. The Church News seemed a cartoonish parody of a newspaper.

    If Deseret News is/was anything along the likes or caliber of Church News, then the Trib is right, it doesn’t qualify as a “real” newpaper.

    Other than that quibble, I agree with you about the Trib’s hubris and the irony of them quoting LDS scripture. I too followed the link, and got a good chuckle/eye-roll out of it.

    Jeff G: nothing said by conservatives can chill out liberals. They intentionally twist things, in an “ends justify the means” sort of way. The whole paradigm of liberalism/progressivism is based on constant revolution in order to achieve destruction/nihilism. So as soon as someone whom they see as an opponent throws them a bone, or agrees with a minor point, they move the goal-posts so to speak.

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2014/01/living-in-new-left-society-of-permanent.html

  34. Well well well…….lookie here……..Utah Mormons debating Utah Mormons on topics that literally only appeal to Utah Mormons…..

    Shall I go put some Orville Reddenbacher in the microwave?

  35. Thanks, Jeff, that helps. More to the point, when I still lived in Utah, it took both the Trib and the Deseret News to get the full story on anything related to the church. Now, indeed, at least the Deseret News National Edition I have seen has ceased to be a real paper.

    Now, I guess I am off to reignite that constant revolution thing, so I can facilitate the complete destruction of everything I know. Just can’t seem to help myself, it seems.

  36. All I can say is, as for me and my house will be glad to see the SLT go belly up.

  37. Any charitable person knows quite well that Jeff G and Bruce’s comments were well-intentioned (especially in a thread about newspapers, of all things). To be quite honest, I never really understood the slavery tangent, but I also know that Jeff G was not intending anything offensive. It really is beyond the pale for commenters from the most bigoted places in the Mormon internet (some of the blogs mentioned above) to automatically assume the worst motives from harmless people like Jeff G and Bruce. Commenters assuming the worst from harmless people are truly evil, as many of them continue to prove on a daily basis.

  38. Papers and TV stations everywhere are facing challenges associated with the new way the public consumes entertainment/news.

    So I suspect the Salt Lake Tribune, unable to hope for subsidies, is pointing out that a town without an opposition press would be a less-rich place.

    I live in DC. When the Washington Star folded decades ago after a run of 100 or so years, the Unification Church created the Washington Times to ensure there was a viewpoint to counter the Washington Post, which the Unification Church had identified as the single-most anti-Unification Church publication anywhere.

    I’m not sure how the Post does it, but they pass out free mini-papers to commuters all the time. The mini-paper is just long enough to read during an average commute, and the metro stations have big bins for us to recycle the papers. The Post has great graphics and fun/snarky set-pieces. Back when the Times attempted to do a free daily mini-paper, there was no comparison. Independent of the content of the articles, the Times’ presentation suffered.

    As for freedom, I haven’t subscribed to a paper for years. I find I am sufficiently informed by other channels of information, though I admit that includes the free mini-papers I will accept when I commute.

  39. I don’t think it will happen, but it would actually be very fun to see the Trib’s editorial staff get their wish and have the DOJ quash the new joint operating agreement with the DesNews. All the Church has to do is say “fine, Tribbies. Let’s end the JOA entirely. We’ll subsidize the DesNews as they set up their own print operations–letting them operate at a loss, if necessary–while you imbeciles get to buy your own darned printing press; and we’ll see who’s still standing five years from now.”

  40. @mt: i think knowing how secular outsiders view the church is useful. Sltrib employees are much closer outsiders than say nytimes.

    @gb: i think “true evil” is rare among church members, even the left wing of the bloggernacle. I ascribe it more to being brainwashed by our leftist secular society, leftist media, and leftist academia.

    I personally know a few hard core leftists in my local stake, and i just cant discern any “true evil” in them. Just delusion, ignorance of history, and ignorance of human nature.

    You may be, and likely are, correct about some of the _leaders_ of groups working at cross-purposes to the church. But i think the majority of their echo chamber are more comparable to “useful idiots” to use a cold war term.

    Perhaps the topic might be a good post for Bruce: evil versus deceived/deluded/ignorant. But maybe not, since the distinction is one of judgement of the individual. I think we need to limit our opinions/judgements to the actions and words, not the individual. Looking back, i should have toned down some of my comments in the past few weeks.

    Calling an evil person evil does little to educate/enlighten/persuade/convert their well-meaning-but-deluded followers.

  41. Book, i think it is evil to deliberately twist peoples’ words maliciously, but you are correct that the people are not evil, just using evil tactics.

  42. “I don’t see how Bruce N’s first comment about liberation are racist…”

    Well, I have no idea what they are taking out of context as racist, but I don’t want to offend even by accident. Since I have no idea what they are misreading I have to guess, of course, what to change. So I’ll go back and adjust my statements to be more clear and just have to hope that this removes whatever they were misunderstanding. I’m afraid I can’t do more than that without specifics of where they are taking offense. But I’ll gladly remove it if they’ll tell me.

  43. I second Kareen and Meg. Good riddance! Traditional newspapers have lost their usefulness. Ask me what is going on in the world and I can tell you, perhaps in detail, without opening up a rag or watching the television. Brietbart and Huffpo who don’t hide their politics are the future, not the SLT or Des News. Even the NYT that fancies itself a high falutin important paper is on the sinking end of life.

  44. I am the “liberal blogglernacle-ite” who first mentioned Jeff’s defense of slavery on FB. I did not say he was racist — I’m guessing, but do not really know, that his occasional bizarre defense of such a horrendous institution is driven far more by his economic views than by racism.

    There is no justification for slavery. To read Latter-day Saints characterizing it as beneficial for the enslaved is … not good.

  45. Ardis, glad to hear you did not say he was racist, especially because in the long history of slavery there have been plenty of people of all races enslaved. You are a historian so you know, I am sure, that slavery in the ancient world involved people of all races and that the slavery that exists today continues to involve people of all races. And yes it is an absolutely horrendous thing which all people — including Jeff G as I am sure you are aware — believe is horrendous. Having not seen the Facebook thread, I was wondering if you can you confirm that nobody else called him racist, and if they did you quickly corrected them because his comments have nothing to do with race? As I said above, it is a truly evil thing to try to make political points — especially when you twist the words of somebody to make those political points. It would be great if you could set the record straight on that.

    I still don’t see what slavery has to do with the SL Tribune, but the most charitable reading of his comments above is actually a pretty arcane economic point that people (of all races) who are freed from slavery often find that getting a job is difficult.

    To quote Jeff G:

    “Regarding slavery, a significant portion of slaves were freed from slavery only to then have to find a job which paid well enough to feed their family, something which had always been provided for them before. A slave owner want strong and healthy property, whereas an employer doesn’t have quite as strong of an investment in their employees.”

    This is simply a historical fact in the deep south of the United States in the late 19th century. It was also a historical fact for slaves freed in Rome and much of the Ancient world (again, of all races).

    As a last point, if you really want to be fair to Jeff G you should consider this comment, which I think makes it clear he is not defending slavery in any way:

    “A significant majority of people when polled about their situations before and after their liberation from some form of slavery will say that they are worse off. Just as strong of a majority, however, will also say that they would rather not go back to that slavery, whatever form it happened to take.”

    Any fair reading of the above comments makes it clear that Jeff G is simply making (an admittedly strange) economic argument. If you want to call it strange, you have a point. If you want to claim that he is defending slavery as you again imply in your comment above, you are twisting his words.

  46. The context of the argument Jeff and I were having over slavery (nothing race specific) was the validity of trying to ‘liberate Mormons’ from their Mormonism.

    I challenged the idea on the grounds that someone that believes in Mormonism doesn’t want to be ‘liberated’ from it.

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-123983

    He told me that’s an insufficient argument in some people’s (not his) eyes because even an institution like slavery (he’s using this example precisely because its an obvious evil) was once defended on the opposite grounds.

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-123984

    Though I’m no historian, I challenged him on this making a series of challenges back and forth with him:

    I claimed that if that was true, that would make morality impossible to define:
    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-123985

    And I said that while I know know history that well, I’ve never heard this before that slaves ever *wanted* to be slaves:

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-123996

    Jeff explained further that this argument is also used to justify communism against capitalism:

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-123997

    I pointed out that this meant the argument could probably be used to justify or not justify anything:

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-123999

    Jeff agreed and went on to explain that he really meant: that a former slave would certain say life was harder, but would not want to go back to slavery even though life is harder. That this was how the argument was actually built.

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-124000

    I pointed out that this was not the same as a slave wanting to be a slave and therefore it wasn’t related to the idea of ‘liberating Mormons’

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-124001

    Jeff conceded:

    http://www.millennialstar.org/salt-lake-tribune-editorial-on-why-lds-scripture-requires-the-tribune/comment-page-1/#comment-124003

    But went on to explain that he’s just showing how someone might see ‘liberating Mormons’ as somehow equivalent to liberating slaves (or actually liberaing people from capitalism by this point) in their mind.

  47. A better economic life isn’t the same as a better life, methinks. That’s more or less the message of the Garden of Eden story, unless I’m really missing out.

    I wish we hadn’t gotten on this bizarre tangent on slavery, but as far as I can tell no one has been making claims that are evil or unconscionable,* but nor has anyone been wantonly lobbing racism accusations. Much tempest, such teapot.

    *But wrong, yes. If (and its a big if) freedmen were on average worse off economically in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, it would be because of the massive destruction of the southern economy and the temporary dislocations of the transition from a slave economy to a free one.

  48. I just had one of the fb people (I won’t say which one) defriend me and send me a message telling me we’re all bigots here at M* and I need to own my own bigotry.

    This is about way more than just this thread; there’s a conscious attempt to cocoon, ignore and dismiss alternative viewpoints, and render conservative ideas illegitimate in the marketplace of ideas.

    I really, really don’t like where all this acrimony is heading. I’ve tried very hard be accommodating and most of my non-book review posts at M* have been about constructive dialog and the like. It doesn’t matter – there is a serious attempt to de-legitimize and vilify conservative voices, and I’m getting rather sick of it. I’m this close to going all tribal, and I don’t like going tribal. However, one can only endure so many accusations of bigotry before getting rather sick of it.

  49. Adam,

    Yes, looks like we are actually talking about false consciousness. The Mormons just don’t realize how much better life could be for them, etc. because we’re being deceived.

  50. PS, since these are empirical claims that were aimed at furthering a liberal agenda, I would love it – LOVE IT – if they were shown to be false.

  51. I want to get off the now conceded point of actually slavery in the sense of ownership.

    (Btw, for the person that told me privately that they thought I should have pushed back harder on Jeff’s argument, remember I had no idea what Jeff was refering to and had to ask questions to find out. I was thinking like Exodus 16, which does portray some vocal former slaves as prefering slavery over freedom for a short while. Though this story, taken as a whole, is definitely an anti-slavery message about the evils fo slavery)

    It seems to me the idea of ‘slaves’ of capitalism was a much better analogy. I can’t at all agree with the argument in the slighest, I’m afraid. But I can at least see how the argument hangs together somewhat coherently.

  52. “Liberating” someone from their false belief should only be expected to increase their happiness if we assume some kind of tight connection between truth and happiness. IMHO, that really only makes sense in a theistic universe of moral and purpose realism.

  53. I grew up reading evrything I could get my hands on including cereal boxes, before labeling requirements made them the least bit informative. My father depended on the Tribune for his opinions. For a brief time in the late sixties my brother was hired as Southern Utah editor for the Deseret News and dad changed his subscription to reflect his loyalty to his son. I recall him setting aside the editorial page of the Deseret News with a groan of frustration. “I just don’t know what to think anymore.” Before long he changed his subscription back to the Tribune and happily settled back into his undiluted scepticism of all things Mormon.
    One of the things I cherish about the Gospel is the admonition to seek personal revelation after study and prayer. I don’t accept my opinions whole and unexamined from any source but many I have known just won’t know what they should think if liberal blogs and the Tribune go silent.

  54. Hey guys, I am going to ask everyone to back off Ardis. You don’t yet have the whole story. At a minimum I’m also going to go edit all comments to remove direct insults of her or from her to you guys.

    Ardis and I are talking civilly on the side. We don’t agree and several things, but she did show me the thread in question. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized all the nasty things that were said (Ivan was right about that) almost all came from ChrisH. I hope no one thinks I’m being rediculous, but honestly he doesn’t count. Others commenters said far more mild things. So I’m not really so worried about this any more. And I think Ardis has, on the whole, made some honest attempts to work things out (particularly in private emails to me) even if one of her comments was a bit on the harsh side. So I am deciding whether to just delete that whole side thread or just clean it up. Does anyone object to a delete? i.e. I leave Ardis’ first comment, remove the second, then remove the responses to it? I don’t want to cause further offense, but we’re sort of spiraling out of control over ChrisH of all people and that’s sort of silly.

  55. Adam said: ““Liberating” someone from their false belief should only be expected to increase their happiness if we assume some kind of tight connection between truth and happiness. IMHO, that really only makes sense in a theistic universe of moral and purpose realism.”

    This was the insight that caused me to stop my faith fall.

    I honestly couldn’t figure out why the truth definitely mattered if there wasn’t a God. It seemed like it should rationally only be treated for its utility. But then falsehood should also therefore be treated for its utility as well. It sort of ruined my self righteous feelings of indignation.

  56. I don’t have any objections. It’s nice to hear that Ardis is cooperating with you and I’d be more than happy to put this all behind.

  57. Okay, for those that end up reading this thread later on. We went on for a bit of a tangent for a while. Ivan (in comments still present) told us that there was a thread of liberals calling our conversation racist. Since it so clearly was not racist, of course this raised considerable alarm.

    Ardis made a post and then I talked with her off line. She showed me the conversation. It turned out that while Ivan was correct, almost all the vile comments came from one person: ChrisH. Since Chris Henrichsen doesn’t have a strong reputation for fair or truthful comments (a fact that Ivan couldn’t have known) even amongst ‘the liberal bloggernacle’ I felt that this was not worth fighting over and I went back and deleted the little flurry that followed. Some comments might seem a bit out of place, but I did my best to remove it intelligently. If someone feels I’ve been unfair to them in this — I promse, it wasn’t my intention. Please contact me privately and I’ll make whatever additional cuts are necessary to satisify everyone.

    For anyone that thinks Jeff G in any way argued in favor of slavery, I would STRONGLY suggest they read the whole thread. He did not in any way argue in favor of slavery once he had fully explained himself. The initial concern was over a single comment that lacked all context and additional explanaiton that followed.

    From this point forward, discussion on this thread about ‘slavery’ in terms of actual ownership of a person, can be considered off limits. I’m fine if we want to discussion ‘slavery’ in the sense of communism thinks its freeing people from the slavery of capitalism. I feel like Jeff G already fully explained that this was more of what he had in mind and that he was NOT making the argument himself, just repeating what he’s heard coming out of the mouths of his professors. (Who were liberals, btw.) I don’t think Jeff initially explained that well, but he eventually did.

  58. Opponents of Political Correctness would do well to understand the nature of PC by reading this book by Professor Dr. Bruce Charlton.

    University of Buckingham Press, Buckingham, MK18 1EG, UK, 2011
    ISBN: 798 0 9563953 45

    It’s free online.
    http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.com/

    About 140 pages, printed equivalent.

  59. “I’ve tried very hard be accommodating . . . about constructive dialog and the like. It doesn’t matter – there is a serious attempt to de-legitimize and vilify conservative voices, and I’m getting rather sick of it. I’m this close to going all tribal, and I don’t like going tribal. However, one can only endure so many accusations of bigotry before getting rather sick of it.”

    This describes me about five years ago before I decided that trying to be reasonable with unreasonable liberal know it all ideologues was not worth the time. I had two choices: shut up or stand up to them as an act of war. My growing up was all about “shut up” among peers and I wasn’t going to go through with that as an adult. There is an episode of Malcolm in the Middle where he desperately wants to be a basketball player and so he becomes a “shut up man” to keep on the team. By the end of it he has a dangerous bleeding ulcer because he can’t say what is on his mind. Better to burn bridges not worth crossing than to be a prisoner of the mind and heart.

  60. Bruce,

    I’ve been catching up on some Habermas and his views of the public sphere and the political role that the press play and I couldn’t help but think of this post. In particular, the coffee shops and the cropping up of private printing presses during the enlightenment, the bloggernacle serves as a sort of public sphere for discussion regarding the exercise of power within Mormonism. More related to your post, I think the bloggernacle most definitely has it’s Deseret News’ and SLT’s. A very interesting discussion could be had regarding the role that each blog plays with respect to church power.

  61. So if one had a lot of time, one could make an assessment of the center of gravity of each blog, using the axes of DN Church adulation versus SLT scepticism (and some other hard core anti-religion nadir) on the horizontal and probity of thought on the vertical.

    Also useful might be the tenor (and number) of comments.

  62. Exactly, Meg.

    I would go even further though. The salons and publishers of the Enlightenment were aimed at creating a public sphere by which the people could constrain and/or exercise some amount of control over the ruling elites. It is in this role that freedom of the press is an essential part of democracy. (This, of course, is in contrast with those forms of media which were controlled by the state, media which we would now call “propaganda.”)

    Similarly, the bloggernacle also creates a public sphere by which people can constrain and/or exercise some amount of control over the ruling elites of the Mormon church. In this way, the bloggernacle chaffs at and undermines the top-down governance of revelation and priesthood. In this way, the bloggernacle becomes a mechanism by which heavenly guidance to authorized individuals is constrained and/or undermined by the human reason of those who are not authorized to receive such guidance. (This, of course, is in contrast to those blogs which allow themselves to be controlled by their priesthood leaders.)

  63. Jeff, I give you credit for being a very straight shooter! You just say it like it is.

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