Trigger Warning: sex
The August 2020 issue of the Ensign is one of the last issues of the Ensign that will ever be published, because beginning in January it will be renamed the Liahona, which is the name currently given to the magazine for all Latter-day Saints who don't speak English, though it's not quite equivalent to the current Ensign because it covers material for adults, teenagers, and children while English-speakers have three separate magazines for those categories. Beginning in January all three magazines will be available to everyone, though they will vary from language to language in frequency of publication and amount of content just like the Liahona already does. This change, like rebranding EFY as FSY and cutting ties with the Boy Scouts, removes a systemic difference between the Church in the United States and the Church everyone else. It's an important step toward actually being a global faith and not just trying to act like it.
The cover of this issue says "Talking about Sexuality from a Gospel Perspective" and several of the articles inside do exactly that. Now, I find it really pretentious and annoying in the mainstream society how people go on about their obsession with sex and sexuality and sex life and sexual orientation and sexual health and sexual this and sexual that and sex and sex and sex, pretending that the world revolves around their most primitive animal instinct and trying to make it all sophisticated and intellectual. But I concede that it's got to be talked about sometimes, and there are good ways to do that and bad ways to do that. This issue is obviously striving to promote the good ways to do that and get rid of the cultural stigma, discomfort, and wedding night confusion that plagues our church along with all Christian denominations (and probably other religions) that teach that sex is good within marriage and wicked in any other context. In fairness, sex education at my secular middle school in liberal New York sent mixed messages too. It was all like "Don't have sex, but if you do, use these free condoms."
For a while I've noticed the irony that while I think sex is disgusting beyond all reason, I'm far less squeamish about it than many who ostensibly believe it's beautiful and sacred at the right time. I don't believe that sex is beautiful and/or sacred, because I simply can't, but if you claim that you do, freaking act like it. Don't tell me sex is ordained of God and then treat it like a swear word. So this magazine is a breath of fresh air. It does refer to sex over and over again as "sexual intimacy", using seven syllables where one would do just fine, but that's still accurate and I can live with it. What really irks me is when people just call it "intimacy". As such, this passage from "Conversations about Intimacy and Sex That Can Prepare You for Marriage" was my favorite part of the whole issue:
"A lot of people use the word intimacy as a synonym for sex, but this can be incomplete and a little confusing. Intimacy refers to feelings of closeness created within emotional, intellectual, and physical areas of relationships. There are a few types of intimacy:
Saying "intimacy" because you're scared of the word "sex" is a slap in the face to everyone who's ever had a meaningful friendship. Elsewhere, Ty Mansfield has noted, "I’ve even known of men who questioned their sexuality simply because they developed a deep emotional love for another man. It seems our culture often has difficulty distinguishing deep love and intimacy from sexual or erotic desire, and it certainly doesn’t help when in conservative religious cultures we use terms like intimacy - a general human good and need that transcends sexuality - as a euphemism for sex."
On that note, I was happy to see an article by a gay Latter-day Saint on "My Experience Living the Law of Chastity with Same-Sex Attraction". It's the usual "I don't know why God did this to me but I trust Him and I have a really strong testimony" spiel that I would have expected, and I think the article's actual contents are less important than the fact of acknowledging and listening to our LGBTQ+ members in the first place. I'm actually far more interested in the author's Hasidic Jewish background. I think converts from Judaism are even rarer than gay converts, and he's both, and most of Judaism isn't really okay with homosexuality either. Did he know he was gay while he was Jewish? Did anyone else? What was that like? When he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ, which he mentions his Jewish community wasn't thrilled about, did they drop the gay thing and decide this was even worse? How, if at all, does this unique background inform his perspective on both LGBTQ+ and Christian topics?
This issue also contains what I believe is the first ever acknowledgement in any official Church source that asexual people exist. In "Bridling Your Passions: How to Align Sexual Thoughts and Feelings with the Lord's Expectations", we find this gem: "Most of us experience sexual feelings as part of our mortal experience." (emphasis added) Not much, obviously, but it's more than the absolute nothing that I've gotten up to this point. When no other article includes such a caveat, and two or three of them assert that these sexual feelings are a gift from God, I could perhaps be forgiven for wondering if God forgot about me, or deemed me unworthy of the gift, or simply ran out. After all, if the universe has a finite amount of eternally existing matter that God just arranges into planets and people and stuff instead of spawning them ex nihilo, He's got to start cutting corners eventually.
Naturally, there's a lot of focus on how to teach your kids about this stuff, but without going into any real detail. Two or three articles mention the importance of using proper names for body parts. Again, I don't believe these body parts are beautiful or sacred but they are entirely normal and healthy things to have so there's no point in demonizing them. They could have strengthened their point considerably by using those names themselves. It would have sent such a powerful message: "Look, if we can say 'penis' in a church magazine, you can say it to your kids." And I'm sure many readers would benefit from learning, as I did recently, that what they call a vagina is, in fact, a vulva, which consists of at least eleven parts with weird, often Latin names, and the vagina isn't even one of them. The vagina is, in fact, inside of this apparatus. (After reading the magazine, I looked this stuff up on Wikipedia in the hope that familiarizing myself with the not-vagina would help me be less viscerally disgusted by what I think looks like an aborted sarlacc fetus. It didn't work.)
Obviously the Ensign is only meant to be a jumping-off point for these discussions, and is not considered the place for going into a lot of actual detail. I would just like to add my two cents that these discussions should include more than the bare minumum of detail. It's true that my happiness in life has declined in inverse proportion to how much I know about sex, but I'm in the minority, and I don't think anyone particularly enjoys being clueless and taken by surprise on their wedding night. I first learned about sex from a book that described it as when a man inserts his erect penis into his wife's vagina, and pretty much left it at that. So I visualized it as something that took place in the bathroom standing up. (This is anatomically impossible because of how the vagina/vulva is positioned, but I didn't even know that much.) Fortunately the guys at my lunch table at school filled the gaps in my knowledge whether I liked it or not.
So this is a draft I've been sitting on for over two years and have finally decided to just get out of my drafts file so the effort put into it won't be wasted. I wrote it early in the week to post on the weekend according to my habitual schedule but then had to keep updating it as more details came out in the news every day, and then because I was very busy with school I gave up and shelved it. This is how I left it the week of March 20, 2018, except for one brief interpolation denoted by brackets and a few tweaks to bring it into conformity with the revisions made to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Style Guide later that year.
Post Draft Begins
The good news this week is that I got [I don't remember what I was going to put here so obviously it wasn't that good]
The bad news this week is the scandal in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which of course thanks to my weekly format and busy schedule I'm writing about after everyone else, but maybe that's for the best as it's given me time to reflect instead of lashing out. Please forgive this recap that may well be redundant to you. And please read the entire post before deciding to hate me. I've had to revise a few times as additional information keeps coming out, so I apologize if I've missed anything crucial.
An anonymous woman who served as a Latter-day Saint missionary in the early eighties alleges that the president of the Missionary Training Center, Joseph Bishop, groomed and tried to rape her. She claims that she told Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy about it, and that he said he would speak to Joseph Bishop about it, but he never did and Joseph Bishop never faced any consequences whatsoever. Unfortunately, the late Elder Asay has not responded to requests for comment. The latest legal investigation started in January and closed because the statute of limitations expired thirty years ago and they can't actually do anything about it, but it has suddenly blown up due to the unauthorized leak of an audio recording of an alleged interview between the victim and Joseph Bishop, in which he admits to his alleged crimes in great detail for the better part of two hours and forty-four minutes. And since this woman was choosing to keep the whole matter mostly private, whichever "friend" leaked it without her permission and probably ruined her chance for a settlement is kind of a dirtbag.
Outside of the recording, Joseph Bishop has before and since denied all accusations except asking to see her breasts and giving a backrub to another missionary living in his home. His son claims that he told him about these things sometime before the accusations came. Admitting that much either increases or reduces his credibility, I'm not sure which. The breast thing in and of itself is a terrible and unacceptable thing for a man in his position to have done and should have cost him said position at the very least had it been known at the time, but far less than he stands accused of now. The Church's official statement can be found here. Some people whose view of reality is filtered through the assumption that everything the Church does or says is in bad faith have read such victim-blaming and negligence into this statement that I can only assume they aren't seeing the same one I am.
Of course, as with unsubstantiated claims regarding suicide statistics, there are those who want this to be true because they don't care about assault victims so much as they hate the Church and like having tragedies to weaponize against it. There are also those church members who immediately assume it can't be true because he was an MTC president. Both types are dangerous. The rest of us have two competing prerogatives: to take seriously women (and, in theory, men) who claim to have been abused or assaulted, and to take caution against ruining innocent men's (and, in theory, women's) lives. Most people these days seem to resolve this difficulty by just not caring about the latter item. It seems like men accused of abuse or assault are presumed guilty until proven innocent, just because the topic is so emotionally charged and people are out for blood. And that's disgusting.
Because I was so disturbed and needed the full context, I read the transcript while I should have been doing homework, and it looks extremely damning. And it probably is. Unless it isn't legit. As absurd as that may sound, an ex-Mormon skillfully crafting fake but convincing evidence to embarrass and/or extort money from the Church would not be without precedent. See: Mark Hofmann I'm willing to regard the accuser as acting in good faith unless and until proven otherwise, but I mention this possibility and perhaps focus disproportionately on it because many people haven't bothered to consider it at all - assuming, apparently, that modern recording devices are magic infallible purveyors of truth, even though many of these same people had no hesitation in dismissing the undercover Planned Parenthood videos as "deceptively edited" without watching them. Joseph Bishop's son Greg claims that the accuser has also made spurious accusations against at least ten other men without filing charges which, if true, obliterates her credibility. But I don't know if it is. No one has denied it, but if it's true I'd like to know why she isn't in prison for life.
Someone who knows Joseph Bishop personally asserts that he has dementia and espouses this hypothesis. His son, Greg, asserts that he was under medication for the heart surgery he mentioned having a couple days before the interview. Certainly it's obvious in the transcript that he isn't all there. He seemed like a rambling child, with the interviewer a (mostly) patient teacher guiding the discussion and constantly redirecting him back on topic. She said he had tried to rape her and he said he didn't remember that but spilled his guts about his other alleged crimes, with no resistance, despite knowing he was being recorded and despite denying it in before and since then. And he kind of rambled all over the place and sometimes he just talked about it as casually as the weather but other times he talked about sex addiction and tried to make himself the victim but other times he was like "I feel really bad about it" but when the interviewer talked about how her faith and her life were ruined, he was just like "Wow." He said he didn't remember some things, which people have taken as proof of his dishonesty despite how open he was about the other details. The whole discussion is weird. Something is off.
I'm not advocating per se for Joseph Bishop's innocence, which I haven't the expertise to declare, but all I'm saying is that we can't immediately rule it out as so many have done. This is why we try to have fair trials and lawyers instead of just convicting people as soon as an apparently damning piece of evidence comes to light. If the recording is discredited, which unfortunately won't be a matter for the police or court system to resolve since the statues of limitations is up, I won't have made an ass of myself and slandered a (mostly) innocent man. It's worth a reminder, too, that both our secular legal system and the church discipline system are imperfect necessities for maintaining some semblance of order. Both will inevitably overlook people who should have been punished and punish people who shouldn't have been. We can only look to God's final judgment for any hope of true justice - and then, of course, we can also take comfort that He will be far more merciful to all of us than any of us deserve. Without this, life is irredeemably and irrevocably unfair.
If true, the mere fact of a high-ranking church leader doing something terrible, however tragic and unacceptable it is, has little or no bearing on the legitimacy or integrity of the organization. Everyone has agency and any good man can choose to no longer be a good man. Far more problematic in my view are a couple other aspects of the alleged situation. First, Joseph Bishop claims in the interview that he struggled with sex addiction and unresolved sexual sin before beign called as MTC president. If so, why would God allow the selection of such a man to a position over vulnerable young women? And second, of course, the alleged unwillingness of Elder Asay to do anything about it. I suppose that too would mostly reflect on him as an individual, but it would sure make the institution look bad. On both of these questions, though, the other men whose sides of the story could enlighten us on the answers are deceased, so any speculation from detractors or defenders of the Church seems to me of limited value. I'm not going to worry about it. I have the Holy Ghost for myself and how anyone else deals with Him is not my concern.
But regardless of the outcome of this one person's guilt or innocence, it should serve as a wake-up call and an urgent reminder that no one - no one - is incapable of doing terrible things simply by virtue of his religion or his status within it. If you ever catch yourself saying "He couldn't have done that, he's a good Latter-day Saint", stop. Just stop. See: Mountain Meadows Massacre Other instances of abuse and assault unquestionably happen within the Church. I don't think we have an exceptional problem with it, and we'll never be able to stamp it out entirely because humans will be humans, but we have to do what we can to address the instances that have happened and prevent future ones. This doesn't happen to be one of the myriad problems in the world that I've channelled my limited time and resources into addressing, but I hope that mentioning it here will be some small help to those who are working on it. This article from Leo Winegar and this site from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that he recommended to me are good resources. And I would generally recommend going to the police before religious leaders who have no legal authority.
End of Post Draft
I already went into more detail in a post last year, but to recap the rest of the story since then: the woman, McKenna Denson (who changed her name from June Hughes after her reputation started to catch up with her) does, in fact, have an extensive record of trying to extort money from people and institutions with false accusations and fraudulent lawsuits - including but not limited to the aforementioned rape accusations - going back about four decades to before her mission. Oh, and she also solicited donations by pretending to have cancer so basically she's Satan. When the Church's lawyers documented these facts, they were evil scum-sucking victim blamers promoting rape culture. When McKenna's partner and biggest supporter Mike Norton documented these facts, he was a hero acting with courage and integrity. A couple days later her own lawyers quit for undisclosed reasons. So mysterious. The last news about her was in February when she dropped the lawsuit and the case was sent to settlement instead, but for the most part, she's dropped off the face of the Earth and her support has evaporated.
The story hits a bit closer to home now that I've also faced false accusations from a pathological liar. Fortunately, I was "only" accused of stalking, and all that happened was Officer Jackass chewed me out for a few minutes and then forced me to go to the hospital to talk to the world's most apathetic social worker. At no point did either of them ask a single question about my side of the story or give the slightest indication of considering that I might have one. Thinking back on it I've fantasized about giving Officer Jackass a piece of my mind, telling him exactly what I think of him and explaining in detail, even though he didn't ask, why pretty much everything he thought was completely wrong, but at the time I was too confused and scared to do much more than sit through his abuse. I worried that it might cause additional problems in my life and was prepared to file a lawsuit if it did, but it doesn't seem to have gone on any sort of permanent record so that saves me some hassle. So that was my admittedly one-sided experience with the culture of hashtag believe women.
Besides my original question of why McKenna Denson isn't in prison for life, which still stands, I now have two more: how many people left the Church because of her, and how many of them came back after her career of lies was exposed? Knowing what I do about human nature, I'm guessing the answer to that last one is zero, give or take.
Happy twentieth birthday to "The Phantom Menace" and eleventh birthday to "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", two much-maligned films that I used to love and still love and won't apologize for loving even though I'm now aware of their shortcomings. I feel pretty freaking old, though, since I remember both of their releases like they were yesterday. Yet Jar Jar Binks and CG gophers are timeless.
I am, of course, no fan of abortion or the absurdly stupid and/or scientifically illiterate arguments so often employed in its defense. However, I regard Alabama's new law with its lack of exemptions or nuance of any kind, and any mindset or legislation along similar lines, goes much too far and is morally wrong. I don't anyone thinking I support that sort of thing. (For that matter, these days I've stopped rooting for anti-abortion legislation altogether, as I think it's far more important to change hearts and minds and provide decent sex education, birth control, and scientific information.) However, I'm not getting super worked up about it because it's going to be struck down, and that's actually the point. The whole thing is a ploy to reach the Supreme Court in the hope of overturning Roe vs. Wade with the help of Trump's more or less conservative appointees. For some reason most people don't seem aware of that. While most of the outrage against this law and the men who passed it is justified, painting them as stupid and/or ignorant isn't. They know exactly what they're doing. I don't think it's justified and I think it will fail, but it's a bold and brilliant maneuver.
I know I'm not supposed to even have an opinion, but I do and there it is and now I'm done. Here's something positive that happened to me this week, not to make anybody jealous but just to prove that I am capable of noticing positive things. I ran into my ex-roommates' mom for the first time since January, and that was just a little nerve-wracking after what they did to me and the lies they probably spread to justify it (a story which will be explained in much greater detail in my upcoming memoir), and I thought maybe she'd be pissed, but she said she felt bad about how things happened and wanted to give me something, and the something turned out to be an envelope with eighty dollars in it. I guess she's been carrying it around for three months just in case. I wouldn't have run into her if I hadn't gone out to buy temple garments that afternoon, so I accepted that as a very welcome tender mercy.
I wrote recently about the movement to change aspects of BYU's Honor Code enforcement that are wrong and have put some students through unacceptable abuse. I'm told that others who actually want to rewrite or do away with the code altogether have piggybacked onto this movement, but what I've actually witnessed is self-righteous Latter-day Saints assuming that the wronged students' complaints are a disengenuous smokescreen and that they should have gone to a different school. Now, I don't believe BYU has ever asked random people to defend it from legitimate accusations, and I don't believe it's ever responded to such accusations by saying "If you don't like us, don't go here." So I'm honestly a little baffled by the sheer number of people who think it's their duty to defend BYU by victim-blaming its accusers and saying "If you don't like BYU, don't go there." It now comes as no surprise to anyone with a functioning brain that this week BYU changed its Honor Code enforcement policies.
The main idea behind these changes, which may not be the only ones, is to get rid of the culture of students being encouraged to tattle on other students for trivial violations that are none of their business. So, for example, students making accusations will no longer remain anonymous, and the students being accused will actually be allowed to face their accusers, except in a few vague circumstances. Why this wasn't the case all along is beyond my comprehension. The default anonymity policy was asinine and couldn't have reasonably been expected to foster anything positive, and it didn't. Let me be clear; while I don't like BYU and didn't go there, I believe most of its administrators act in good faith and that the current director of the Honor Code office is a swell guy and that these changes are at least as much a result of the goodness of his heart as the negative publicity. I applaud BYU for acknowledging some of its shortcomings and fixing them quickly instead of defending them.
And this isn't the first time. It's been considerably less than three years since BYU overhauled its policies to stop the Honor Code office from grilling sexual assault victims, compounding their suffering and expelling them if they were found to have violated it. Of course this was an unintended consequence, not the result of administrators deciding it would be fun to punish rape victims, but regardless of intent the approach was poorly thought out and wrong and catastrophically hurtful. During a crapload of national scrutiny and backlash in mid-2016 (which won the Salt Lake Tribune a Pulitzer prize the following year), many Latter-day Saints could be heard to opine, "If you don't like BYU, don't go there." Then an advisory council of the school's faculty recommended 23 policy changes. And then BYU, to its credit, adopted every single one of them. And then its self-appointed defenders completely failed to learn any lesson whatsoever and made complete idiots of themselves again this go-round.
Full disclosure: I am one of those who believes the substance of the Honor Code itself, not just enforcement, needs to change. The beard ban that arose to counter 1960s American hippy culture is desperately obsolete and accomplishes little more than making BYU weird for the wrong reasons. I, for one, have found shaving to be an enormous and unwelcome inconvenience. and the spinny blade things to be highly ineffective at their one purpose for existence, so I do it once a week and use the sideburn trimmer for my whole face. None of my fellow students or faculty at USU could have ever possibly cared less. In fact, some guys grow out their beards just to mock the BYU football team when it visits. So yes, I think that's a stupid policy and will support any protest movement against it, but obviously these things have to come on a priority basis. As in my previous mention, I acknowledge that the vast majority of BYU students have positive experiences. But with these policy changes and hopefully more to come, the minority who don't are being heard, and their future numbers should be much lower.
Oh, here's another positive thing. Please take two and a half minutes to watch it.
Brigham Young University has been in the news this week for its Honor Code that it makes prospective students agree to. While I personally would despise living under the Honor Code, I respect BYU's right to have it in place to foster the sort of environment it wants, and recognize that it's a positive experience for the vast majority of students who go there. Nonetheless, the way it's applied and enforced has been a nightmare for some. To be clear, this is all they're complaining about on the Instagram page "Honor Code Stories", which has a lot of followers - I've seen several articles that cited the number of followers but when I went to the link the number was already higher than that, so I'm not going to bother. I fully support these students' cause and wish them the best. Again, this has nothing to do with trying to abolish the Honor Code or even change what's included in it, despite what some Latter-day Saints who belittle these students without reading what their actual grievances are would have you believe.
Anyway, I thought that now would be a good opportunity to recollect the time I made some young ladies at BYU break the Honor Code. It was long enough ago that I don't think they'll face any repercussions even if their identities are discovered from the zero identifying information I'll provide. It was December 2013, and I was returning to Utah from New York after Christmas, but winter weather delayed the plane so much that we arrived after Salt Lake Express stopped running. As good fortune would have it, my friend Laura was returning to Utah from Vermont on the same flight, and happened to know a group of BYU students on the same flight, and she arranged for us to both crash at their apartment. Instead of, you know, on the airport floor. I realized in hindsight that having me, a member of the opposite sex, in their apartment overnight was a violation of the Honor Code. And I couldn't possibly be less sorry. As Nicholas Cage would say, "Here's to the women who did what was considered wrong, in order to do what they knew was right."
A hair salon in Provo is also under fire for only including white, mostly blonde women in its ads. And normally I'm all in favor of diversity, but in this case it would actually constitute false advertising because, um, hello, this is Provo we're talking about. It makes the rest of Utah look like the United Nations. But unfortunately that's only the second stupidest controversy I heard about this week.
Recently the comics of Nathan W. Pyle have taken the internet by storm. Using aliens and fancy words, he portrays everyday situations that humans take for granted in a new light, humorously exposing how weird they actually are.
As an Aspie, I've known my entire life that human society is weird and frequently stupid and that most social norms are arbitrary if not flat-out stupid, but until I found a like-minded community on the internet I was always told that "that's the way it is" and I'm the one who's wrong for thinking differently. The Aspie-alien connection is very real. One of if not the largest online autism community isn't called "Wrong Planet" for nothing. I have to say that never being able to fully integrate or feel comfortable in society is a worthwhile price to pay for the ability to see through its crap. And this comic sort of validates. But then... this happened. Or rather, this happened some time ago and then some intrepid researcher brought it to light just the other day.
Naturally, I am horrified to discover that Nathan W. Pyle appears to share the pro-life Christian views of tens of millions of other Americans. His gratitude that his girlfriend's life was not cut short in infancy obviously makes him a terrible excuse for a human being who wants women to be forced incubators. I cannot in good conscience follow him or read his comics any more.
Oh wait, no. That's literally one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. And I only wish it were a straw man, instead of the accurate representation of mindless pro-abortion outrage that it actually is, up to and including the asinine phrase "forced incubators". So now Nathan W. Pyle is forced to defend himself for holding a viewpoint that some of his former fans don't think is acceptable. As if that weren't stupid enough already, notice that the majority of pro-life Christian sentiment is actually contained in the tweet that he retweeted, which was written by a woman. But none of the hate is directed at the woman. Because if it was, the haters would be forced to recognize how stupid they sound telling a woman that she wants women to be forced incubators. But of course, men aren't allowed to have an opinion on the sanctity of life because something something logical fallacy. Except pro-choice men, who are exempt from the logical fallacy because reasons. This particular man is just agreeing with a woman, but that's not okay either because pro-life women are officially supposed to not exist.
Look, obviously you have no obligation to like or follow social media channels devoted to the promulgation of ideas that you disagree with. However, when you go to the trouble of culling friends or public figures for simply holding those ideas, your social media feeds become little more than monuments to your own narcissism. Even more so than they already are by default, I mean. The internet becomes a fantasy world where all good, honest, right-minded people think, believe, and vote exactly like you do. Over time this literally makes you stupider as you forget how to process anything that isn't what you want to hear. It also makes you a jerk to anyone who does manage to break through your echo chamber with cogent reasoning. And in cases like this, where Nathan W. Pyle was doing little or nothing to promote his personal views through the artwork that everyone came to his page to see, it's just a total waste of shunning. It would be like if I stopped listening to Sheryl Crow or watching movies with Harrison Ford because I don't agree with every detail of their politics. Stupid, right?
Yeah, some people take positions so morally repugnant that you can't stand to be associated with them. That's fair. But if you think being pro-life is one of those positions, then no offense, but you're kind of stupid. If you can't grasp any good or honest reasons why a person acting in good faith would reach the conclusion that taking the life of a human organism in its early stages of development is wrong, but instead insist on making up stupid crap about how they're just masking their burning desire for women to be forced incubators, you're no better or smarter than someone who thinks you want to murder every baby in the world. It's also worth noting that there are tens of millions of pro-lifers in the United States and their numbers increase every year, so looking down on them as if they're some laughably outnumbered deviation from acceptable ways of thinking is not only arrogant, but delusional. I would even go so far as to guess that more of Nathan W. Pyle's fans support him for this tweet than otherwise. But it ultimately should have zero relevance to his alien comics.
Now, if there were any actual evidence of Nathan W. Pyle, say, screaming at pregnant women outside abortion clinics, shooting abortionists, or blowing up abortion clinics - stuff that for some reason is often represented as the norm while pro-choice violence, harassment, and rape threats go blissfully ignored - then he would be a piece of scum and losing his social media following should be the least of his consequences. However, I'm unaware of any evidence that anyone's life has been negatively impacted in any way by his gratitude that his girlfriend lived to adulthood. But because people are idiots, he had to take to Twitter again to run damage control after they ate him alive for it.
I'm sure the Christianity aspect (which, again, originated with the woman that he retweeted) has nothing to do with the outrage against Nathan W. Pyle, because Christians have a persecution complex and are not actually mistreated or stigmatized in the United States at all. Still, his claim to believe in separation of church and state is dubious in light of this scandal. From what I've been able to gather in my observations, separation of church and state means that religious people aren't supposed to have political opinions or express their beliefs outside of a church building. And if, God forbid, churches themselves want to get involved in politics, then they should start paying taxes because holding them to a different standard than literally all other non-profit organizations makes sense. It seems to me that Nathan W. Pyle already violated separation of church and state with his infamous retweet, which forced his beliefs on people by acknowledging them in a place where people could read them. But I'll let it slide this once because we all make mistakes.
I agree wholeheartedly with his closing sentence, yet find it laughable that he thinks the Democrats are any better. But I'll let that slide too because, oh yeah, I almost forgot, I like his comics. His votes can go toward the Pansexual Vegan Anarcho-Communist Party for all I care.
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." - Thomas Jefferson to William Hamilton, April 22, 1800
Now, it would be remiss of me not to mention some considerably happier news even if just for the two of you who haven't heard already. Behold:
I must admit this teaser comes nowhere close to recapturing the excitement I felt as an almost-12 year old seeing the "Revenge of the Sith" teaser, probably because this time I know there will be future Star Wars movies of varying quality until well after I die, but the bit at the end definitely got my attention. I can only describe it as
In Which I Look Back and Whitesplain Nathan Phillips' Fabricated Incident at the March for Life a Week Ago
I set a goal to publish a blog post every week, and this de facto ended up being on the weekends, and that format means that sometimes I'm really late to the party discussing current events. But while this storm may have mostly blown itself out, it hasn't ceased to be an issue, and even if it had it would deserve to be recapped in detail so that we could, theoretically, learn from our stupidity. So sorry not sorry for bringing this up after all the cool people have stopped talking about it.
Wanting to be the bigger person and forgive their occasional lapses of integrity (like their refusal to cover Kermit Gosnell), I initially trusted the media accounts of the so-called incident at the March for Life (which for some reason doesn't merit media coverage unless an incident happens or it disrupts traffic). I had no reason to doubt the claims that a group of white teenagers wearing "Make America Great Again" hats surrounded elderly Native American Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips and taunted him with chants of "Build the Wall". There was nothing particularly implausible about such a story. Trump's rhetoric and actions have created a climate where droves of formerly ostracized white supremacists are comfortable being loud and proud about their white supremacy, and that the vast majority of said white supremacists, not coincidentally, voted for him and continue to support him.
Nick Sandmann in particular, appearing to be the ringleader, went viral for having the racist audacity to smile at Phillips. If "smiling while white" isn't officially classified as a hate crime, it should be. Naturally, many liberals throughout the country demonstrated their moral superiority by threatening to harm and/or murder him and his family, just like Martin Luther King would have wanted. But don't worry, they had plenty of hatred left over for the other students involved, so much that Covington Catholic High School had to close for safety concerns. This one, though probably meant to be funny somehow, is my favorite because the total lack of consequences really shows where Disney's priorities are (besides murdering the second biggest franchise of all time, of course).
Since I detest Donald Trump and consider it a patriotic duty to speak out against him, this story was convenient for me in a certain sick sense, as it was for many others who believed it. I didn't become consumed with rage or make any threats, but I passed the information along in the naive hope of weakening Trump's influence among decent people in some small way. If I were the average American voter, I would have tried to persist in believing said information when it turned out to be an SJW fairy tale. But unfortunately I have this peculiar, un-American mental disorder that I like to call "being honest enough to change my opinions when I know they're wrong". So instead I redirected my former anger toward the ones who actually deserve it, and I apologize for sharing the lie, and I would apologize far more profusely if I thought I'd actually influenced literally anybody.
Because, as everyone should be aware by now, there turned out to be many more minutes of footage than the one we got worked up over. Nathan Phillips' account of events falls apart even before the students share their side of the story which actually matches the video. Yet I'm still seeing people trying to pretend his account is accurate and he's some kind of hero or victim. The actual facts (remember those things?), which naturally didn't go as viral by a long shot as the original mindless outrage, turned out to be that:
*Prior to this encounter, a group of black protesters was yelling racially charged insults and threats at the students. Of course this wasn't newsworthy or outrageworthy because racism against white people is okay.
*The students, with permission from their chaperone, started chanting school spirit chants to drown out the aforementioned racism they were being bombarded with. Instead of, I don't know, retaliating in any way.
*The students did not approach or "surround" Phillips. He walked into the spot where they had been standing for some time and played his drum in Nick Sandmann's face for no adequately explained reason.
*Literally nobody during this encounter chanted "Build the Wall". Literally. Nobody. You. Lying. Sacks. Of. Crap. One of Phillips' Native American protesters did yell at the students to "go back to Europe", though.
*Phillips is not a Vietnam War veteran. He never set foot in Vietnam. He was a refrigerator mechanic who only served in the US, was frequently AWOL, and never got promoted past Private in four years.
CNN, to their credit, published a statement by the one smiling student who's received most of the American Left's special brand of tolerance. He seems to have more maturity in his pinky finger than all his haters possess together. Twitter, to their credit, suspended the fake account that posted the original deceptively edited (remember that phrase?) video. But this account can hardly shoulder the blame for everyone who believed the story or continues to do so.
Yes, I was one of the many who believed it, because I had these crazy notions that Nathan Phillips was an decent honest guy and mainstream news outlets were reasonably trustworthy sources, but since I never got involved in the unwarranted vitriol toward these students and have since changed my mind in response to additional information, I have a clean conscience. I posted a thing about the original false account, and when I realized I was wrong I posted a thing about the truth, and one of my liberal friends went ballistic about how the truth doesn't matter because these teenagers are still unforgivably bad people for not moving aside when an old man walked into them. And that obviously still warrants viral news coverage and death threats. A couple days later - I'm not making this up - she shared a derogatory post about how sensitive white males on the internet are.
There's also this unsurprising little irony:
I don't remember perfectly, but I do know for a fact that I could count the number of social media posts I saw about the torture on one hand, all of them from conservative sources complaining about the lack of coverage from liberal sources. The attack wasn't very newsworthy or outrageworthy for a couple reasons: because it was black-on-white, and because the black men and women said things like "F--- Trump" while they were torturing the white boy. Awkward. In fairness, CNN did give the story a bit of coverage that failed to go viral, during which Don Lemon refused to denounce the torture as "evil" because "I think these are young people, and I think they have bad home training." I mean, every single one of the black torturers was a legal adult and older than the white students that liberals thought deserved to die for literally no reason, but nobody asked me.
In fairness, with the trivial exception of grossly misrepresenting his military record and allowing others to do so, maybe Nathan Phillips isn't actually the belligerent lying scumbag he appears to be. Maybe this was all a big misunderstanding, and he's a decent honest guy who was simply mistaken about the boys' intentions and somehow got every verifiable detail of the encounter wrong. But since he followed up the next day by loudly trying to barge into a Catholic Mass with a group of his activists, which I don't need to tell you isn't newsworthy or outrageworthy because reasons, I doubt it very much.
Why is it that the people who are obsessed with shaming other people are incapable of feeling shame themselves when they should? The worst of the haters are either still defending Phillips and bashing the students, or trying to quietly move on as if nothing happened and they didn't just screw up innocent people's lives with their stupid witch hunt. Delusion or cowardice, respectively. What if we all had the humility of Dr. Robert P. George, one of the few prominent conservative figures I still respect, who wrote:
And (like me) he wasn't a part of the irresponsible media or the liberal hate machine, so he doesn't even have that much to apologize for. Guess who does?
But then the real problem, according to some other nobody on Twitter, is that these boys "were in D.C. for the sole purpose of promoting male control of women's bodies", having been "bussed in to demand adult women be subjected to forced childbearing". Okay, I grant that would be pretty bad and would definitely warrant death threats for teenagers and their families if it were true instead of being the stupid straw man (no pun intended) that it actually is. Somebody would need to mansplain to all the poor stupid women who participated in the March for Life that they've been duped by men into promoting male control of their bodies, but nobody could because that would be sexist, so it's a good thing that isn't necessary.
This damnable post-truth fake outrage society I'm forced to live in makes me yearn for an early death. (Insert your own quip about also yearning for my early death here.) And pardon the cliche, but if the American Left is really serious about combating bigotry, it needs to take a long look in the mirror.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.