Liberal New York Times columnist tells Romney to ‘stick that in your magic underwear’

Charles Blow, a NY Times columnist, tweeted the following:

“Let me tell you this ‘Mitt Muddle Mouth:’ I’m a single parent and my kids are *amazing*! Stick that in your magic underwear.”

As most readers here know, the Mormon garment is among the most sacred physical expressions of our faith, but is something we don’t spend a lot of time talking about. The basic test here is: what would happen if a New York Times columnist made fun of something similarly sacred to another religion? What if he had told Joe Lieberman to “stick that in your yarmulke?”

I’d like to go on record as saying that as a Mormon I am offended by people making fun of garments. There are many less sacred Mormon cultural symbols and expressions (jello, white shirts and bicycles, epithets like “oh my heck!”) that I think are completely fair game. We could probably come up with a list of dozens of them on this blog. But making fun of temples and garments is simply beyond the pale, and, again, I find it offensive.

Charles Blow should apologize and, in my opinion, he should be suspended by the New York Times because of this action.

UPDATE: Charles Blow has apologized.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

42 thoughts on “Liberal New York Times columnist tells Romney to ‘stick that in your magic underwear’

  1. You have every right to be offended. We pick and choose our battles and we pick and choose what gets to us and what does not. As a presidential candidate, Mitt must have very thick skin or he wouldn’t last long. My suggestion is that for him, nothing much should offend him as a public figure. He doesn’t have to agree with it nor entertain an ignoramus that hits below the belt, but he doesn’t have to be offended.
    You have a partially public arena here on the bloggernacle/archipelago. I am a temple-going Saint and I choose to not be bothered by it. As a publication, the NY Times may want to emphasize something along the lines of personal opinion vs. that of the publication, just as we see/understand it within religious publications. Even though this person is attacking Mitt’s political stance, he didn’t need to bring religion into it, but if we don’t expect it most of the time, we are not prepared to have a Mormon as President.

  2. I’m kind of tired of suspending people (Chink in the Armor), or firing people (Don Imus), or whatever, just because they expressed an opinion or a viewpoint or used a turn of phrase or wording. The whole “magic underwear” thing is a non-issue with me. People should be free to express their ignorance without fear of orchestrated social reprisal, regardless of how personally repugnant we find it. I don’t like any form of political correctness, even if it favors me personally.

  3. I have a tendency to agree with Michael #2 on this. In a free market world, Charles Blow should have the right to say what he wants, the New York Times to choose to print it, and its readers to decide if they want to continue to support what they print.

    I have personally purchased, at most, two copies of the New York Times in my lifetime, so my concern for Blow’s insensitivity is likely to fall on deaf ears. And the relatively few Mormons in the New York City area means that most of the Times’ readership will probably chuckle and agree with Mr. Blow.

    John Taylor once made the motto of his newspaper, “To correct Misrepresentation, we adopt Self-representation.” I think that remains the best course: Tell the world the truth and let the Charles Blows of the world be damned.

  4. This is off topic, but can we get a blog post on the Marco Rubio story entitled “Protocols of the Prospective Elders of Zion”?


  5. Ouch!! Rude. Crude. I agree suspension is in order. I will be glad when this election is over! What negative thing did Romney say about single parents?

  6. Michael and Mike, in general I would agree with you, but I do think some kind of message needs to be sent that there are certain things so sacred that they should be off limits for this kind of “humor.” In my mind, those things have to do with the temple, and commentators should be aware that it’s simply not socially acceptable to make fun of such a sacred place (and garments as an expression of a sacred covenant).

  7. I believe in freedom to make our own choices about our actions; but I’m pretty sure we don’t also get to determine the consequences. Imagining a world where people could make choices without fear of the consequences (like orchestrated social reprisal)….. Whoa! Mind-boggling!!!

  8. MC – I wonder if the records office has moved Rubio’s records to the correct address? Is there an Elders Quorum somewhere in FL looking over his name? Could there be an absentee Home Teacher who is either feeling remorse about never calling that faceless guy on his HT list up or maybe he’s even reporting him as a “we visited on the phone, but I didn’t get to share a message”. Hmmm, on second thought I guess it would likely be a High Priest. In that case, he’s most certainly being reported as visited and we know why the HPs get such good numbers.

  9. I don’t know that I would call for suspension, but I think it’s important to let our voices be heard and ask for some common respect about things that matter to us.

    And yes, we can help come up with a long list of things that we poke fun at, too. But it’s just a cheap shot to take a shot at sacred space of others.

  10. Geoff, re: sending a message about sacred, etc. Actually, I think if people kept getting fired or reprimanded for picking on the people everyone loves to love-hate (we’re sweet, evil, smart, and brainwashed afterall) then we’d see more people doing it for attention.

    I think it’s highly likely if this writer got fired, he’d go on to find some job in some left-wing think tank as a reward for taking one for the team. As it is, if they not only ignore him, but we do too, we not only give him no satisfaction and PR for his efforts but we let others know that mocking us won’t shoot them to the tops of left-wing stardom.

    Likely most, if not all of us, had never heard of Charles Blow before. He makes an offensive comment against a group that it’s ok to make such comments toward and he gets famous because of the uproar. If we just ignored him, others wouldn’t have incentive to follow and see their names flash around the internet. I’m quite certain his name wouldn’t be coming up in story after story and having Mitt Romney comment on him, etc. if he was just ignored.

    (but we can still be saddened at how much potential is being wasted)

  11. To me, it wouldn’t be any different than him taking issue with a racial slur in a similar context (as well he should). There is some ground that should just be off-limits for everyone.

    But all the more so for professionals.

  12. Hey, with the political polarization in American life, if we can get politically-motivated Evangelicals to bash “godless” Democrats for making fun of our garments, that’s a step forward, no?

    As a moderate Dem NYTimes reader, I stopped reading Charles Blow’s column three or four years ago–he seemed to suffer from Newsweek-itis, always being about a week behind the rest of the news world. Yes, there’s hypocritical closed-mindedness among some progressives, and the NYTimes should do something to show that this kind of joke is not okay.

    I’m also not kept up at night worried about the Obama campaign making Mormonism an issue should Governor Romney be the nominee, there’s plenty to criticize about him without bringing our religion into it.

  13. Well, to be fair, it appears that Mr. Blow felt pricked by Romney drawing attention to men like Mr. Blow fathering illegitimate children. Hence Mr. Blow’s attention drawn to what’s girding Romney’s loins and lashing out.

  14. I believe that we SHOULD stand up for the sacred. What the outcome of that action end up being may be out of our hands, but we should not stand idly by as people profane the sacred.

  15. What John Mansfield said.

    According to his NYTimes bio, not only is Mr. Blow a single parent, he “lives in Brooklyn with his three children,” suggesting that he has primary custody. For a conscientious single father, hearing talk about single-parent homes being places for abuse, or children from such homes being doomed to poverty, as a broad generalization, can be infuriating, particularly when it comes in the context of trying to limit access to contraception. And said single father was born with two parents, but the mom had to raise him and his four older brothers on her own from the time he was five on.

    It’s still a bad idea to tweet angry, and wrong to mock any religious group in such a way, and I hope he apologizes, but I think it is important to remember why Senator Santorum and Governor Romney’s words irked him so much.

  16. I’m still trying to understand why Mr. Blow thinks Mitt’s underwear posesses magical qualities. I find it odd that so many would be fascinated by Mitt’s, or anyone elses underwear. If anything, Mr. Blow should be suspended for false reporting. There is nothing magical about underwear. 😉

  17. Nice interview you linked there, Rob T. A funny thing is that on some level, Blow agrees with Romney. He expresses that raising children without both parents is a tougher job, and as a numerically-oriented guy, he understands perfectly well that many children in that situation are going to suffer from it in ways they wouldn’t have with the care of both parents. There’s Romney saying things Blow knows are true, but as a happily married grandpa annoyed by such problems burdening the rest of society, not as one dealing with that life himself.

  18. That interview also indicates that Mr. Blow was married at the time of his children’s births. I misconstrued his tweet complaining about Romney’s complaint about out-of-wedlock birth.

  19. It seems difficult if not impossible to convey to a Gentile audience the sacredness of things having to do with the temple. Without actually going through the endowment, or being taught to reverence temples as a literal House of the Lord, I don’t know how you could really take magic underwear that seriously.

    There’s something Old Testamentish about the way we want to cry “Blasphemy!” and rend our garments when we hear people mention magic underwear. But Jesus was a bit more casual about the blasphemy issue, reminding the pharissees that David went into the Holy of Holies unlawfully and ate the shewbread and was not condemned.

    Gentiles like Charles Blow would have been ignored by Jesus, who wasn’t interested in giving food for the children to dogs. Only if Mr. Blow expressed interest or faith in Jesus, would he worry about him at all. He is not under the covenant or the law, and what he says or thinks of our faith is of no consequence.

    However it is wrong of Romney to seek to impose his values to those who dont share them through shame, sliming, and mischarectarization.
    He is a guest in the land of Gentile pluralists, a stranger and a forigner.

    Additionally, it is not really the temple garment that is so sacred. It is what it covers, the naked body. We should worship the outward covering, but rather the inner vessel. The sanctity of the human body had already been thoroughly trashed by the Gentiles so it is no great thing if they mock the garment.

  20. Here is the comment by Mitt that got Charles Blow’s knickers in a twist:

    “When you have 40 percent of kids being born out of wedlock, and among certain ethnic groups the vast majority being born out of wedlock, you ask yourself, how are we going to have a society in the future? Because these kids are raised in poverty in many cases, they’re in abusive settings. The likelihood of them being able to finish high school or college drops dramatically in single-family homes. And we haven’t been willing to talk about this.”

    This is completely uncontroversial and has been recognized by Democratic and liberal groups since the 1960s, ie, the increase in single parenthood has negative effects on society. This does not mean that all people raised by single parents will have problems, or be a burden on society, but it is simply a truism that they are more likely to be. I cannot believe that Charles Blow does not understand the basic social science behind this statement by Romney.

  21. I’d be more upset except that its The New York Times, and continues to prove that liberals are childish bullies who never grew out of adolescence. I don’t fear Evangelicals so much as liberals these days. Nobody really is influenced by Evangelicals other than themselves and are mostly talk, but liberals can do things to you and have control of the media without consequence.

  22. I love the way Romney said “single-family homes” instead of “single-parent homes.” Of all that is wrong with Mr. Blow’s little tweet, none can deny the “muddle mouth” charge.

  23. Update: Mr. Blow has apologized: “Btw, the comment I made about Mormonism during Wed.’s debate was inappropriate, and I regret it. I’m willing to admit that with no caveats.”!/CharlesMBlow Might not be enough for some, but I see it as progress.

    John Mansfield: They do agree on the difficulty of raising kids in a single-parent home and the problems high rates of single-parent households causes for society at large. They probably disagree on the government’s role in reversing the trend and providing support to parents.

    As for me, I find Governor Romney’s claim that we don’t currently have a president who supports kids being raised by two parents who love them and one another laughable.

  24. I want to apologize to Mr. Blow. I was tinkering with my garments’ mind-control powers and I think I inadvertently may have been responsible for his Twitter upchuck.

    (Seriously, good apology by him. That ‘no caveats’ thing is such a basic rule for apologies, and so little followed).

  25. I will say he did more by the apology than others have. Seeing he said it on twitter rather than the actual newspaper makes me less concerned he said it at all. Now if only others would follow his example in actual print with public authority.

  26. “There is nothing magical about underwear.”

    I beg to differ. There are certain categories of “underwear” that exert a magical influence on me.

  27. In general, the principle is that you want to do what is necessary to encourage a change. (Which might include calling for suspension.)

    An apology with no caveats is a change.

    Blow’s comment was certainly disgusting and even very scary, but I feel that now he’s apologized I feel my self disposed to accept it without caveats.

  28. Blow was hot under the collar about something, used incredibly bad judgment in his tweet, no question about it. At least he apologized. Those jerks on FOX who lie and rip Obama apart every single day have never, ever apologized about anything. Limbaugh never apologizes for the outrageous things he says every damned day. Neither does Hannity. Those of you who are so terribly offended by this, put it in perspective. Or grow up.

  29. “Those jerks on FOX who lie and rip Obama apart every single day have never, ever apologized about anything.”

    Just a random question: Does Obama bear ANY blame at all? If he doesn’t bear any blame or responsibility at all, then isn’t *that* position just as silly as that which portrays Obama as the source of all evil?

  30. What does Limbaugh or Hannity need to apologize for? Give some examples please. If its their political positions they don’t have to apologize for anything if that is what they believe. Besides, some conservatives don’t believe that Mr. Blow actually apologize since he never used that word or sorry.

  31. Okay, example: Rush Limbaugh needs to apologize to Chelsea Clinton (and all humane people everywhere)for calling her, at age 12, the ugliest 12 year old in the world.

  32. Well Chris…let me ask you a philosophical question. I will assume that your answers will be rendered in honesty. Do you believe that beauty and ugliness are esthetic values? In other words, do we humans see something and make a judgment of what we see? Hmm?

    I have seen beautiful children in my life. I have also seen some fairly ugly kids. Children in both categories are beloved spirits of God. And yet I feel comfortable in still being honest about the esthetic judgment. Maintaining some false dignity of pretending that ugly children don’t exist is blatantly hypocritical.

    Now, all this philosophy aside, my comment above was made in *jest*. However, I know that liberals don’t have senses of humor unless it’s making fun of religion or Sarah Palin’s Down syndrome child.

  33. That’s it? That’s all you got? Hurting the feelings of a little girl (and I admit it was in bad taste, although as Micheal pointed out her looks to me and others are not aesthetically pleasing) when Blow’s statement was meant for Romney, but was an offense against a religious denomination? I’ll cry a river when Limbaugh or Ann Coulter or Hannity hosts a news comedy on Comedy Central, or network late night talk show, or is a reporter or columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Until then liberals have made sure to ghettoize conservative voices and have no reason to complain when they control the vast majority of the message and the vehicles of communication.

  34. #35 –
    Doubling down? Would you imagine Pres. Monson saying such a thing? Our Heavenly Father or his Son? Would you imagine you were guided by the spirit to say such a thing? That giving voice to such a thought is promoted to draw you or anyone else nearer to God?

    Regardless of your opinion of the sense of liberals, I don’t fit that definition, so I’m not sure why it bears relevance to your comment. I am not perfect and have said things I regret. I sincerely hope you feel ashamed, or that some day you will feel ashamed, that those words have come from you regarding another son or daughter of God. As Latter-day Saints we are called to be humble and see the value in others. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

    To say you are just stating the facts as they are implies God looks upon his sons and daughters and sees “ugly”. You may state the facts as they are through the viewpoint and perspective of a fallen world. I think we should set our aspirations a little higher than that. I see two alternatives. We can revel in our own pride and call each other ugly because we have been conditioned to see as such (or genetically inclined). Or we can recognize the beauty in others, even though it’s not readily apparent.

    Calling someone ugly and then seeking to justify it through some half-heated attempts at moral relativistic philosophy is not only pretty weak on the intellectual scale, but it’s beneath someone who (presumably) has made a covenant to take the Lord’s name upon them-self and always remember Him. It’s also rather childish to point to the actions of others (with regards to Palin’s children) to either excuse yourself or add some kind of moral context — (ie. what they did is worse than me). It’s sadly understandable I suppose, because labeling people as ugly/beautiful is a rather childish thing to do. And again, if you don’t believe me, consider what, as a child, you should grow up to be like. I’d like to put away childish thoughts and attitudes and become more like God (who I can’t fathom labeling people ugly for the purposes of a moral comparison to win a cultural argument or for a joke).

    If you disagree, I’d only ask that you hold your tongue from replying. I don’t have anything else to say on the topic.

  35. Chris, thank you for the hypertrophic histrionics. Since you brought up President Monson, I am duly shamed. I hang my head in sorrow that I have not risen to your level of spiritual sophistication. Please allow me to crawl back into the lower basement of the great and spacious building.

  36. I must sheepishly admit that I really did think Chelsea Clinton was about the ugliest 12 and 13-year-old ever born. But I was much less mature then. By the way, she is quite attractive now. That age can be pretty awkward for a lot of people, both men and women. I was pretty dumb-looking when I was 12 too — braces, gawky, acne, stupid-looking long hair (it was the 70s after all).

    Chris, you know I love you, but this is one of those subjects you can just put in the category of, “yeah, people will say stupid things in jest sometimes.” I don’t think there’s any reason to get all high and mighty about it. Nobody, including Michael, is saying they don’t think that she is not appreciated by God. We can all agree that God has a much different standard of esthetic beauty than we do. By the standards professed here (we shouldn’t judge people on their physical appearance), it would also be wrong to say, “Chelsea Clinton was such an attractive young woman.” But yet prophets say things like that all the time. Let’s just say it was not nice to say in public, like Limbaugh did, that Chelsea Clinton was ugly. But let’s also admit about 200 million people silently agreed with him. So Rush Limbaugh is not nice. Definitely true. Let’s move on.

  37. I honestly think the responses dealing with “magical underwear” is much more related to the underwear part. It’s probably much more like when people make circumcision jokes than a yarmulke. I could be way off here, but people aren’t as apt to joke about religious garb, unless of course it’s underwear. Just for the record, I still think it’s a low blow (pun intended). I don’t think it’s as political as this post claims though. I’m from the South and if I had a nickle for every time I’ve heard the term “rag head” over the last few years, then I’m sure I could buy several cases of Dr. Pepper. Also, for an example of Limbaugh’s antics how about his “Barrack the magic negro” song? Link That’s probably a nice place for a start on apologies.

  38. As long as there are Mormons claiming their underwear has magical properties, we should probably expect people are going to make fun of it. Maybe it would be smart to stop talking about our underwear in public?

    Mike Wallace: Do you wear the sacred undergarments?
    Willard Marriott: Yes, I do. And I can tell you they do protect you from harm.
    Mike Wallace: Really?
    Willard Marriott: Uh-huh. I was in a very serious boat accident. Fire–boat was on fire, I was on fire. I was burned. My pants were burned right off of me. I was not burned above my knee. Where the garment was, I was not burned.
    Mike Wallace: And you believe it was the sacred undergarments.
    Willard Marriott: I do. Particularly on my legs, because my pants were gone, but my undergarments were not singed. (“60 Minutes” program on the LDS Church. Aired on CBS TV, April 7, 1996)

  39. Very late to the party here. Blow’s comment was completely unacceptable. Yet compare the reaction to the firestorm over insensitive comments made about Jeremy Lin. Crickets. Nobody cares if you insult Mormonism or the things we consider sacred.

    That said, I thought Mr. Blow’s apology was exemplary. Within the confines of Twitter (perhaps it shouldn’t have been limited to that context) that was about as good as you are going to get. No excuses, no “I’m sorry if some were offended”, just taking responsibility and blame.

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