Well, nobody is interested in a treatise on my current opinions on abortion, so suffice it to say that they've gotten more nuanced and more sympathetic to the viewpoint that men who know and care very little about women's health should not be in charge of decisions about women's health. If Roe v. Wade had been overturned a few years ago I would have celebrated. Now, not so much. I think it is the "right" decision from a strictly constitutional perspective. I think it was always ridiculous to claim that the US constitution protected a right to abortion. If you want it to, then that's what amendments are for. But I think the decision is unfortunate because many US states will seize on this opportunity to pass absolutely barbaric laws that will hurt a lot of women. The most vocal element of the pro-life movement doesn't believe in making exceptions for any reason. It believes that abortion is never medically necessary and that a child conceived in rape is entitled to the same protections as any other.
Even if this is the "right" decision from a strictly constitutional perspective, it's very disturbing that Samuel Alito approvingly cited Matthew Hale, a 17th-century British misogynist who established the legal precedent of allowing married men to rape their wives until 1991. He famously wrote, "The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband which she cannot retract." (This, of course, alludes to the broader common law notion of coverture under which wives were absorbed into the legal entities of their husbands, giving up most of their rights as well as their last names.) It's also very disturbing that Clarence Thomas wants the court to pursue this same logic further and revisit its decisions on same-sex marriage and birth control. Targeting both abortion and birth control, which some social conservatives will do as soon as they get a chance, is a special kind of malicious insanity.
I have come to believe that abortions should be reduced through education and birth control, not through legal coercion. I think the consequences of this decision will far outweigh the benefits, and I'm as frightened for the future as I can be in my position of privilege where it won't affect me. I really don't know what more to say than that. Everything I could think of saying has been said more eloquently and more passionately and with more credibility by someone else. I'm sorry to every woman who will be negatively affected. The effects will be so long-lasting and far-reaching that this just may surpass the January 6 insurrection as Donald Trump's greatest legacy. Of course, the fact that Supreme Court decisions are predicated on the political affiliations of the presidents who appoint the justices kind of proves that the whole thing is a farce.
Hayden Nelson, the officer of the Logan City Police Department who abused me on January 14, 2020 (aka the worst day of my life), is being sued along with a dozen other officers for abusing someone else more egregiously that same year, and the city of Logan for sweeping it under the rug. I learned about this lawsuit from Cache Valley Transparency, a first amendment auditing YouTube channel that LCPD has been illegally trying to squelch with bogus privacy complaints and stalking charges. I expect it will be thrown out soon thanks to the legal doctrine of qualified immunity that exists for the sole purpose of enabling cops and other government officials to violate people's constitutional rights with impunity, but I'd love to be wrong. At least it validates my perception of what happened to me. The incident described in the lawsuit is far worse than mine, yet the disgusting incompetence and maliciousness of the officers involved is identical, and the subsequent cover-up by the police department is also very familiar. I've reached out to the district court to ask if I can get involved somehow and testify about the kind of people Hayden Nelson and the department leaders are, I've reached out to the department leaders to mock them (again), and I've reached out to city attorney Craig Carlston to politely explain that these words he's quoted as saying are a load of crap:
"I know that the police department, and all the officers, take these things very seriously. My experience with the police department is they've been really diligent about complying with the constitution and state code, and they care deeply about those things."
A couple years before my experience, I had come to recognize that police brutality specifically against black men was a problem. Before then, of course I heard about the endless string of murders by law enforcement but as a card-carrying conservative I was required to believe that racism magically disappeared in the 1960s, so I had to assume that most of the victims brought it on themselves by not cooperating. However, when confronted by more information, I changed my mind, because honest adults do that sometimes. And I still didn't get mad about it. I just saw it as a terrible fact of life that I couldn't do anything about. And in fairness, it's true that my subsequent attempts to do something about it have had no discernible effect on anything except the number of my Facebook friends. But I feel guilty for not getting angry about it until it affected me personally. I guess I've just got to forgive myself and move on. I'm determined not to let the issues drop even if everyone else who jumped on the George Floyd bandwagon loses interest.
There are really two issues here with substantial overlap: police abuse, which affects all races to some degree, and systemic racism, which encompasses far more than police abuse. I want to eradicate both. I recognize the intersectionality in my own situation, that even as Hayden Nelson bullied and discriminated against me for being autistic and "weird," things almost certainly went better for me than they would have if I had darker skin. I feel a special love for Elijah McClain, one of the most Christlike individuals in the world, who was murdered by three police officers and two paramedics for "looking sketchy." (Okay, so the actual charge is manslaughter, but I can't grasp the fine legal distinction between murdering someone and merely assaulting them to death for no reason.) I made him my Facebook profile picture some time ago so people can't forget about him or the pending legal action against his murd- I mean manslaughterers. Now when I see his picture it really feels like I'm looking at myself. I hope that's not some kind of inappropriate appropriation or white savior thing. I want to live vicariously through him in some sense to keep him alive in some sense, but not in a weird way.
Today is Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the US, kind of. White people in the South used all kinds of legal loopholes to keep black people in conditions that were slavery in all but name. Still, it was an important day. And now thanks to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, it's a federal holiday and a state holiday in every state. Time will tell whether this is an empty symbolic gesture or whether the awareness generated by it translates into a reduction of racism in the United States. So far, it's certainly exposed a lot of racists here in Utah, and I assume elsewhere as well since these Utahans usually just parrot whatever the other Trump worshipers are saying. You might think that celebrating the end of slavery was something we could all agree on. You would be wrong. This holiday, according to them, is a fake holiday, a made-up holiday (as opposed to the naturally occuring holidays that are woven into the fabric of the universe), PC culture, and/or wokeism, or it's bad because we have too many holidays already or because we don't have a holiday for some other group that they've never cared about in their lives (and 9 times out of 10 we actually do have such a holiday), or they've never heard of it and would rather boast about their ignorance than fix it, or they don't see why black people can't just let go and stop focusing on the past and focus on the time white people declared their independence from England instead. Yeah, these people who think they're Christians are going to be really surprised when Jesus incinerates them.
I didn't know about Juneteenth until a few years ago either. But as soon as I learned, I had no objections to it because I'm not that much of a monster. I'm happy to celebrate it now. USU did some great events over the last few days that I would write about in detail if I'd gotten more sleep. As soon as I sign off here I'm headed to the final one, an interfaith devotional with the Bonner family and some other cool people.
A while ago, as I mentioned, I was moving through the interview process to be an FSY counselor until suddenly there were no openings because several sessions were canceled due to low enrollment. As part of that process I had to prepare a five-minute devotional based on a section of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. So I read through the pamphlet again for the first time in years. I think it teaches good values for people young and old people to live by, but as the cynic and skeptic that I am, I don't agree with every single thing in it, and now that I'm no longer trying to become an FSY counselor I'm free to say so. It's not like anyone should expect it to be perfect or timeless - the first edition, published in 1965, was very different and is kind of a laugh riot now. (My favorite part is "Pants for young women are not desirable attire for shopping, at school, in the library, in cafeterias or restaurants.")
Having said that, I can only remember six parts in the current edition that I disagree with and I'm not going to read the whole thing again, so this will be a short post! And again, it does contain a lot of good stuff. The pamphlet, I mean, not my post. Insert your own quip about none of my posts containing a lot of good stuff here.
"Young men generally take the initiative in asking for and planning dates."
This is true, of course, but it shouldn't be. Young women should be encouraged to go after what they want instead of passively hoping someone will offer it to them. This sentence is only descriptive, not prescriptive, but still it offers implicit encouragement to an uncool status quo and could be deleted without losing anything of value.
Dress and Appearance
"Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance."
The sexist double standard here is so obvious, it would be funny if it was funny. The reasons this section gives for dressing modestly are to "show that you know how precious your body is" and "show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him." Yet this passage shows what the writers really believe: that dressing modestly is far more important for women because they have a responsibility to help men control their bestial urges. It's nice that they, unlike many people in the church, didn't explicitly state this toxic and false belief, but it needs to be scrapped altogether. Either make a detailed list of clothing that men shouldn't wear, or be equally vague for women.
"Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings."
I stopped believing that God cares about this when I read Leonard J. Arrington’s diary and learned that General Authorities in the 1970s disagreed among themselves about whether it was even okay for women to have one pair of earrings. My thoughts were a. why the hell was it any of their business and b. why should I believe what they said publicly about earrings thirty years later?
Entertainment and Media
"Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way."
Nobody in the church follows this ridiculously un-nuanced standard unless they eschew entertainment and media altogether. It would rule out any movie that depicts Jesus Christ being tortured and executed. It would rule out any movie that depicts Joseph Smith being murdered. It would rule out Star Wars, which the local Institute had no problem screening at an activity even though it literally has "wars" in the title. It would rule out any Peanuts cartoon where Lucy yanks the football away and makes Charlie Brown flop onto his back.
"Choose not to insult others or put them down, even in joking."
I could quibble about how Jesus insulted people all the time, but it's really the "even in joking" part I take issue with. This happens to be how I bond with my friends. Without my snark, sass, and sarcasm, few of them would notice that I exist. And in fact, multiple studies have found that romantic partners who tease or roast each other are happier. I observed this principle years ago when Dale G. Renlund and his wife Ruth spoke in the USU Spectrum. They roasted each other constantly and I thought it was way more romantic than the "My wife is a literal goddess and I am unworthy to kiss her feet" spiel I usually hear from LDS men. I wish I remembered all the specifics. I just remember that he teased her about the time she thought it would be nice to frame his stethoscope and then her mother almost died because he couldn't find his stethoscope, and he teased her a lot about being a lawyer, and then he said, "I know, I know, it isn't fair to judge the entire profession based on four... or five... hundred thousand bad apples."
"Homosexual and lesbian behavior is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction or you are being persuaded to participate in inappropriate behavior, seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you."
As I have recently explained, I don't believe that homosexual behavior is a sin because in my observations, for the most part, gay and lesbian members who pursue committed monogamous same-sex relationships against the church's wishes seem considerably happier than those who pursue lives of celibacy or marry someone they're not attracted to. I expect this passage will be reworded with a bit more sensitivity but not really changed for some time. Seeking counsel from parents and bishops is a bit of roulette. In the past, parents might have "helped" by throwing their child out on the street and bishops might have "helped" by arranging some kind of conversion therapy. Things have vastly improved by now, but there's still no standardized training to ensure that parents or bishops in the church know what they're talking about. In a recent study, gay Latter-day Saints said the most helpful thing bishops can do is show love and empathy, and the least helpful thing they can do is remind them of church teachings and policies that they're already perfectly aware of.
Recently a couple of my dearest friends left Logan for good. I've known Audrey for over five years, since I met her at the pathologically incompetent and dishonest company known as Jenson Online where she was a manager and I was nobody. We became close friends, so when her boyfriend Haydon returned from Japan at the end of the summer, he didn't have much choice but to be my friend too. They got married and through the years they've graciously allowed me to continue being a third wheel. I am grateful to have had them in my life and I will miss them very much.
Because I'm not having a great time for various reasons and don't feel like writing a lot, I'll cheat by copy-pasting the following conversation from an old post. It captures the moment when I made a decision that set the rude and sarcastic tone of my friendship with Audrey going forward. I have no regrets.
Her: Are you working tomorrow?
Me: Yeah. Every day...
Her: It'll be a party.
Me: Really? What's the occasion?
Her: Ummm... we're still alive and making money. That's the only occasion I can think of.
Me: But we don't know if we will be... you never know, we could crash thirty seconds from now and both die.
Her: You mean in the car, or like planets colliding?
Me: Uh... I guess either way.
Her: I don't plan on it.
Me: People usually don't.
Her: Maybe they should. Maybe we should all plan on dying and live like it.
Me: I would be such a jerk. I would tell so many people how I really feel about them.
Her: Past people, or present?
Me: Um... mostly past. I like most of my coworkers.
Her: Haha! That's good. If you have something to say to me, the door is open.
Me: Um... um... I hate... the way you do your hair.
Her: Haha! What's wrong with it?
Me: It's like a crime against humanity.
Her: Haha! This is how it naturally is.
Me: Then I hate the way God does your hair.
Her: Haha! Sometimes I hate the way God does my hair too. I'll do it differently tomorrow... Anything else?
Me: I hate your clothes.
Her: A lot of times I just wear the company uniform.
Me: Well, it looks good on some people, but not you.
Her: What should I wear then?
Me: Um... a paper bag.
Her: Haha! A paper bag?
Me: I guess it would match your eyes...
Her: My eyes aren't brown.
Me: No? What are they then?
Her: They're hazel. Which is what people with brown eyes say to make themselves feel better.
Me: What's wrong with brown eyes?
Her: They're just boring...
Me: And what do you dislike about me?
Her: Chris, I don't like your height.
Me: My height?
Her: If you were just an inch shorter, or an inch taller, it would be fine, but this height just doesn't work for you.
Me: What if I gained weight and expanded out a little, to kind of balance it, would that help?
Her: Mm, no, I don't think there's really anything you can do about it.
Me: I see... anything else?
Her: Your socks. They're just boring.
Me: Oh... well, I have some black socks with hamburgers on them.
Her: Really?? That's great!
Me: I usually wear them to church, because they're black, but I suppose I could wear them to work...
Her: You should, and you should roll your pant legs up so everybody can see them.
Me: Okay... and you know, you don't actually have to change your hair tomorrow...
Her: I was thinking about straightening it, but now I'm going to just to make you feel bad.
Her: Of course.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, 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.