Tag Archives: politics

Obligatory Discussion of Washington State Political Issues

So, the politics has been pretty nasty here in Washington State, but I like this place and so I’m going to detail some of the reasons why I support or do not support various Washington State initiative measures on the ballot.

Just to start out, contrary to popular beliefs, I am a pretty classical libertarian in theory, but have socialist tendencies in practice. I like political theory if it can be supported by facts. I’m more interested in the actual results rather than any kind of cosmic spiritual battle between nebulous concepts like freedom and democracy and liberty and “Main Street.”

All information is pulled from the Voters’ Pamphlet I received in the mail from the guv’ment. No other sources will be used for this.

Okay, let’s push forward.

I 1053 – This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval

Oh. My. Zeus.

This is a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible idea. And all I have to say is one word to show why.

California.

This is exactly the reason why California sucks so hard right now.

It is incredibly hard to get even a simple majority in legislatures, let alone 2/3 majorities. The ability to raise taxes is the one single most important thing that legislatures can do in American political theory and you want to hamstring them in that area? Why?

Taxes are important, people. They are super, super important, because nothing in this world comes for free. Roads don’t come for free, nor schools, police protection, firemen, water, electricity – all of these are provided for or subsidized by the government, and I don’t know about you, but I think most of these are essential to maintain the lifestyles we do today.

That’s why taxes are tied to the legislature. If you don’t like your taxes, vote out the monkeys you voted in several years before. But do not vote for this unless you want to turn out to be like California, where they can’t afford anything and every public service is crumbling all around you and it sucks for everyone, including you.

This is not good governance. This is proposing anarchy and the collapse of the government through slow, slow, slow poison, at the expense of its citizens. The less laws we have, the better, and this law is one we definitely do not not not not not not need.

I 1098 – concerns establishing a state income tax and reducing other taxes.

I don’t like income tax, just on a general basic level. So when I saw this, I immediately balked. However, I am going to be voting yes on this, and here are my reasons why:

1. The income tax is as follows:

If you have a family: From $0 – $400,000, you pay nothing. From $400,001 – $1,000,000, you pay 5% of the amount above $400,000. If you make over a million dollars (you lucky dog you), you pay $30,000 plus 9% of the amount above $1,000,000.

If you are single: From $0 – $200,000, you pay nothing. From $200,001 – $500,000, you pay 5% of what you make. And if you make $500,001 and above, you pay $15,000 plus 9% of what you made.

In addition, it will reduce the B&O taxes for small businesses, and it will decrease the state property tax by 20%. 20%!

Why I Like It:

1. If there’s something I hate more than income taxes, it’s property taxes. It’s the idea that you’re still paying rent to the government even though you bought a piece of land for yourself. I mean, it’s yours now, right? The government may put in a one time sales tax, but I don’t pay a Playstation tax or a Wii tax or a desk tax or a computer tax because I own that item. I feel a property tax is a heinous way for governments to basically charge us rent, even on land we supposedly bought. I feel a lowering of property taxes helps assuage the guilt of voting in an income tax.

2. B&O taxes will be reduced for small businesses. I like small businesses. And I know how crazy the B&O taxes are here. My wife tried to help my dad once with his taxes for his small businesses. It’s a mess. Plus, there’s that whole trickle down theory of economics that people still believe in, and do you know what I believe in more than rich people? Small businesses. Small businesses are the engine of America’s economic dynamism. Rich people? Not so much. So lower taxes for small businesses and raise taxes for people who get rich off of their corporate ventures (which indirectly covers the small business taxes and then some)? I’m down with that.

And for those of you who say I only support this because I’m not rich? I say to you, nay. I would still support this even if I was rich. Because I actually feel like I have a civic duty to the society I live in, and I’m not a sociopathic jerk like you.

I 1100 – This measure would close state liquor stores, authorize sale, distribution, and importation of spirits by private parties; and repeal certain requirements that govern the business operations of beer and wine distributors and producers.

Disclaimer: My wife works in the wine industry.

This one I would normally support, but recessions are hard times, my friends, and so I’m gonna have to vote against this one.

We have a budget crisis, and that budget crisis needs money, and currently, apparently the state needs a bucket of cash to close that hole caused by the recession.

Here’s an analogy – if the government is a business, and it’s in the red, and it needs money fast, here’s what you don’t do – close down the liquor selling division that is making revenue. It’s a stupid move. Really, it is. especially if that division is generating $350 million dollars annually, and that closing costs will be roughly $55 million dollars. Stupid.

Come back in ten years when we don’t have a recession going on, and then we’ll talk. In the meantime, as far as I know, this law is not especially throttling the beer, wine, and spirits industry, and it’s making the state money. I’m all for the status quo on this one.

If you really want to hear about some crazy, stupid, backwards laws about the alcohol industry, talk to my wife. She will regale you with stories of how the Prohibition Era really caused A Messed Up Time that we’re still cleaning up legally.

Also, I’m against I 1105, a very similar law to I 1100.

I 1107 – This measure would end sales tax on candy; end temporary sales tax on some bottled water; end temporary excise taxes on carbonated beverages; and reduce tax rates for certain food processors.

Oh dear. The candy tax. This initiative has some incredibly duplicitous rhetoric behind it, so here’s the skinny folks.

1. There is no “candy tax.” There’s been a lot of talk about a candy tax, but it doesn’t exist. What does exist is that right now, candy is not exempt from sales tax. Food staples are, like bread, milk, cheese. You know, stuff that is actually really useful for people. I am all about sales tax exemptions for food staples. But candy is not a food staple (seriously, people. Did your mothers raise you at all?!). The so-called candy tax is just regular sales tax. Yep. You’re not paying any extra taxes than if you had bought an Xbox 360. Yet, nobody is screaming about ending sales tax (I hope that never happens).

2. This is the same thing with bottled water. I have a grudge against bottled water. It’s wasteful, both in resources and money. It creates all kinds of ecological problems. It’s not that much safer (or even more dangerous) than your tap water. It’s just plain wrong and useless. So taxing it, I’m all down with it the same way I’m down with taxing cigarettes.

3. There is an excise tax on carbonated beverages. But again, soda is not a staple. It will probably very much kill you faster than most other things you could buy in the long run. Carbonated beverages is a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic in America, which puts a massive financial strain on our already beleaguered health care system. An excise tax will offset the public harm that soft drinks do (yes, I do believe there is more of a public harm from soft drink consumption than gay sex, but then, I think John Stuart Mill would agree with me here).

Neither of these products are essential staples for living. All three of them do cause public harm. I have no problem with taxing unnecessary products that cause public harm.

And that is that, folks. Happy voting! You are voting, right?

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Obligatory President Packer talk analysis

I am late on this bandwagon; most everyone else I know personally who owns a blog and is Mormon has touched on this. Surprisingly, because of what I’ve written about before on this blog, President Packer’s talk did not really upset me that much (my wife is of a different story). In fact, the only line that irked me within President Packer’s talk was his warning against what he described as “legislating immorality,” but more on that later.

President Packer’s talk didn’t surprise me. He didn’t really say anything that was essentially different than his views in the 1970s. If anything, President Packer is consistent. He didn’t cross the currently established line that the Church has drawn, namely, orientation is different action, and we will only talk about actions, not orientation. Unfortunate, then, that many people came to the conclusion that President Packer had conflated orientation to sin. I don’t believe that was his point, but I can see how that interpretation came to be, and all I can see is that language as our primary mode of information transfer (as much as I love it) is faulty, and miscommunication can occur.

The cynnical part of me wonders, though, if people just simply read into the talk what they wanted/expected to hear. Those hurt by Prop-8 took it as rebuke. Those who want to justify Prop-8 despite the rapidly evaporating reasons found their stick to beat people back into orthodoxy. In reality, President Packer tackled the issue of free will, especially associated with the decision to follow God and resist temptation. This is a core principle that President Packer and I will disagree with as well, but only because I believe free agency requires caveats in order to more clearly reflect our fallen world. But that’s a topic for another (series) of blog posts.

Either way, everyone will read into it what they want to, and with a subject that emotionally charged, it would be almost impossible not to.

My fundamental disagreement, however, came from President Packer’s statement that we as Saints should not “legislate immorality.” This, I am confident, President Packer did speak of in connection to Prop-8, and this is where President Packer and I fundamentally disagree on.

My stance when it comes to religion in the public sphere is thus – you may counsel on moral issues as vigorously as you want; indeed, this is your right. But the minute you organize your flock into a voting bloc, you will lose more than you will gain.

The stance on political neutrality is a long-standing tradition of modern-day Mormonism, one which we’ve only broken several times, specifically in polygamy, Prohibition, the Civil Rights Act (sort of), the ERA, abortion, and now, gay marriage. Oh, and Joseph Smith ran for president once. And I guess we have Senator/Apostle Smoot. But for the most part, we stay out of politics, and when we follow that policy, I’m tickled, really. We rarely promote a particular platform or candidate, and I’d like it to stay that way.

President Packer is not a lawyer, nor is he a political scientist. He’s a teacher by profession, and he’s served as an apostle for a very long time. I respect his counsel and his position in the Church. And so I feel I can safely disagree on this point without jeapordizing any kind of eternal salvation. We simply differ on religious-political theory, and so be it.

I’m of the opinion of Augustine – we are the City of God, not the City of Man, and we have no need to be part of the worldly process. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and what is God’s to God. I am also of the opinion that sometimes, we need to tolerate some kinds of sin, because trying to stamp out some kinds of sin will only introduce more numerous or more serious sins (see also: Prohibition). I am also of the opinion of Thomas Aquinas, who demonstrated that there is Divine Law and Human Law. Because we cannot stamp out all kinds of sin (in fear that we’ll introduce worse ones) with Human Law, the Church implements Divine Law. This law is seperate from the world’s laws. While the consequences are eternal, participation and recognition of Divine Law is voluntary. The Church cannot haul off people not of the Church because they disobeyed Divine Law. In fact, the Church shouldn’t, because then it interferes with the purpose of Human Law (preserve order, equality, and justice) and Divine Law (the exaltation of man). Sometimes, those two are incompatible.

Anyway, before I keep rambling (too late!), I will sumarize crudely by saying that I firmly believe that when an ecclesiastical organization steps in and tries to legislate law, it will fail. Why? It loses legitimacy as an aribter of spiritual, not earthly matters. We sully the Church, and we sully the law. And honestly, we kinda suck at it. Why? Because we have different goals (as mentioned above). So we will fundamentally disagree with what Human Law will sometimes allow, but because we have our sphere in the realm of morality, we can still stridently preach against it. Other wise, per President Packer’s words, if allowing gay marriage to occur is the equivalent of “legislating immorality,” we should also be vigorously legislating against the following legalized activities:

– Pornography
– Infidelity
– Fornication of all forms
– Gambling
– Immodest dress
– Alcohol
– Tobbacco use
– Tea drinking
– Coffee drinking
– Multiple pairs of earrings

Okay, the last five are kind of silly, but also I say it seriously (since that is the general stance the Church has on those five practices – the partaking somehow will cause the Spirit to flee, and thusly they are “immoral”). Could you imagine the Church working against these practices? And yet, this is the same justification we give for legalizing same-sex marriage, that somehow, it will degrade society. Well, here’s a thought experiment for you. Suppose the Church did manage to succeed in criminalizing all of these things. If you sleep with another woman besides your wife, you’re jailed. Every time you walk outside with your belly showing, you’re jailed. Whenever you’re found with two pairs of earrings, you’re fined.

Which country does this resemble the most?:

A. Iran
B. Afghanistan
C. Pakistan
D. All of the above

Would you like to live in any of the countries in the previous question’s answers during it’s current political climate?

The very thing the Church absolutely loves about America (religious freedom) we undermine when we attempt to organize our congregations into voting blocs. Yes, I am aware that other churches do it all the time. But we don’t use crosses as adornments and we don’t pass a plate around for collections. We don’t have clergy that are paid and trained in divinical schools. Should we adopt these practices as well? Disclaimer: I wouldn’t mind. But I know that a lot of Mormons would loathe to be “like the other Christian churches.” Well, there ya go.

We should be standing up and saying, “These are our moral stances, but we feel that agency is so important – so important that God cast out 1/3 of the hosts of heaven because they wished to destroy the principle of agency – we will allow people to do what they will. But be warned there will be consequences, and we expect our members to live by standards x and y.” This is not a cowardly stance. This is a courageous stance, namely because very few large ecclesiastical organizations have that much faith in their members and in humanity. Most would rather control everyone and ensure that immorality never occur through legal means rather than through long-suffering, patience, loving preaching, and tolerating other peoples’ imperfections and mistakes, even downright rebellion. Much easier to force everyone with the power of the State into moral submission. Less back-talk, too.

Quick pop quiz for Mormons: Whose plan does that sound like?

I’ve heard the argument that we should be returning to Judeo-Christian values for our legal matters. Ha! When was the last time we did that? Ancient Israel. No, really. Israel has a basis for returning to Judaism for their legal roots. We don’t. Our entire legal system is based off of English common law (which was basically a bunch of nobles getting together and saying, “Sod the King! We’re gonna do our own thing!” and utilitarianism – Go Enlightenment!). Case in point: How come whenever you take a civics class, you’re required to learn about Rosseau, Voltaire, John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and the Enlightenment, both vanilla flavor and Scottish, but not the Holy Bible?

And if you answer with “It’s a liberal plot,” then please conjure up some evidence. Until then, let me tell you about a particular Bible that Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers, wrote where he edited out all of the supernatural miracles, or maybe Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason (hint: he’s also the guy who wrote Common Sense! Not Glenn Beck, contrary to popular belief).

The minute we throw our hat into the political ring, we damage the moral ground on which we stand on. You know how it seems that everyone in America right now hates politicians because they are duplicitous and sketchy? Do we really need to have people feeling that way about our Church leaders, too?

The temptation to wield the power of the State to legislate on moral issues is incredible. But, as President Packer said, I do not believe God would create a Church which could not withstand that temptation. And I suppose this has something to do with gay marriage. So there you go. I talked about it. Yay. Now, let’s move onto more interesting things, like President Uchtdorf’s absolutely sublime talk of focusing on the basics! Yes!

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The Prop 8 Overturn – A Personal Sigh of Relief

Disclaimer: I understand that this is a very controversial, emotional subject. I am a practicing, faithful Mormon. I love the Church, I love its teachings, I love the prophet. I have great respect for him as a person. However, I also have a firm belief that faithful dissent is possible within the government of the Church and so I offer my reasons of why I was never a fan of Prop 8, since the subject has once again come up in our society’s limelight. I offer these reasons because I believe that Prop 8 is more motivated by discrimination and misunderstanding of the plight of the gay community than a desire to follow God and His basic commandment to love one another. I am not trying to attack anyone, but only to lay out my doctrinal reasons of why I find something like Prop 8 troublesome. If you decide to post comments, keep them civil. Normally I am about freedom of speech at all costs, but if anyone begins to spew hateful vitrol or refuses to exercise even a modicum of charity in this difficult discussion, I will wield the Ban Hammer of Sensitivity without prejudice or discrimination. You have been warned. If you do not read this whole article carefully and then proceed to write comments that betray this ignorance, I will call you out. Possibly rudely, all depending on if I’ve had lunch yet or not.

A crowd of Prop 8 supporters.

A crowd of Prop 8 supporters.

Prop 8 has bothered me for a lot of reasons, and a lot of it is because I’m a Mormon.

And now that it’s overturned, a lot of old wounds that started to scar over and heal have been ripped open once more, gaping sores just waiting to be infected with hate and intolerance. But hopefully, we will have some patience when it comes to these issues. Personally for me, when news came out that it was overturned, I breathed a sigh of relief. I’m hoping that this will pound the final nail into the coffin and we’ll move on from this issue and leave it behind and just deal with the fact that gay people exist and kinda wanna, you know, have loving, monogamous, stable relationships, but I am probably being very idealistic.

I am not a fan of Prop 8. I think it’s done much more damage than any net good we could have gained from this endeavor. I think getting so heavily involved might have been a mistake on our part, such as our skipping around in Missouri in the 1800s, not sensitive to the local social customs and belief systems which eventually inflamed the paranoia and brought about the horrible tragedies and injustices in Missouri. But it’s not because the backlash scared me, or that my public education has “conditioned” me to be a liberal (as some people claim), or because I am not a faithful member who doesn’t believe that the prophet can speak for God, or not even because I have gay Mormon friends and know of the personal hell they sometimes go through because of our insensitive actions (though they all influence the turmoil I experience right now because of Prop 8).

I disagree with Prop 8 on some very fundamental doctrinal issues. And those are the hardest for me to reconcile.

Vocal dissent at a No on Prop 8 rally.

Vocal dissent at a No on Prop 8 rally.

1. Agency

I’ve written before why I’ve disagreed with Prop 8 on an agency level. Ironic, then, that people in the Church claim that gay people have agency and so they “chose” to be gay (people who say such silly comments do not understand the gay experience). Agency is one of the most fundamental principles of Mormon theology. We believe that we are agents to ourselves, that the atonement of Christ has freed us to choose good to our salvation, or to choose evil to our damnation. Our coming to earth would be nullified if God had already decided who was going to hell and heaven (we reject predestination), since he could have just decided that in the beginning, separated the goats from the sheep, and we would never have to go through the difficult experience known as life today.

Remember the story of Alma and Amulek in the Book of Mormon? They’ve just taught the rebellious city of Ammonihah the gospel, but the non-believers became so angry that they threw all of the scriptures into a giant bonfire. Then, forcing the imprisoned missionaries to watch, they begin to throw women and children who believed in Jesus into the fire as well. Amulek, the green one, cried out in understandable agony to his senior that they should stretch forth their hand and save the people from destruction and punish the wicked, for God surely has the power to. Alma replies that it’s not whether God can save the people being thrown into the fire. God allows horrible things to happen to good people because then those wicked people cannot have any defense in the Final Judgment. It’s like Minority Report – how solid is your accusation if you said they were going to be wicked but you stopped them last minute? But if they had already committed the crime, they have no defense. Thus it is with God who has an eternal perspective, as does Alma. The prophet tells his newly commissioned missionary that though those thrown into the fire suffer for a season, they are ultimately taken up to the presence of the Lord where they will know peace and happiness for eternity.

This is how important agency is to God – he only intervenes if there is some absolute importance in saving someone. The Book of Mormon is all about people who meet grisly deaths – Abinadi the prophet is burned at the stake without seeing a single convert in his entire mission. The titular prophet Mormon is forced to lead his wicked people to their own destruction in a war and is slaughtered along with the people who broke his heart so many times. God preserved Nephi while traveling to the promised land, but once that goal was established, it was open season on him – he was forced to flee along with anybody who would follow him and hide within the wilderness until they could defend themselves against their jealous, murderous brethren. God preserves our agency by allowing wicked people to do bad things.

Now, gay marriage will probably not do violence to the social institution of marriage. Television programs like the Bachelor and Bachelorette probably do more violence to the social notions of love and marriage more than two gay people in a monogamous, loving, stable relationship. Our obsession with celebrity marriage and divorces which parade in our supermarket checkout aisles do more violence to the social institution of marriage. Or what about divorce? Should we start banning divorce, which obviously destroys marriage relationships? Of course, most reasonable Mormons would say absolutely that’s ridiculous. But why? Because we instinctively understand a principle Augustine wrote (which Thomas Aquinas later re-emphasized in the Summa Theologicae): “human law cannot punish or prohibit every evil action, because in trying to eliminate evils it may also do away with many good things and the interest of the common good which is necessary for human society may be adversely affected.” Thus, Aquinas writes, there is a difference between divine law (religion) and human law (politics). If churches wish to bar homosexualities from certain services they provide, I suppose it’s in their perogative if they feel it is evil, but human law should take care in not trying to eliminate an evil and thus introduce a far greater evil. In this case, we may be trying to do away with the sin of homosexuality (if you so believe) but by fighting it with human law and not just divine law, we have opened up the Pandora’s Box of very deadly, dangerous sins – intolerance, anger, wrath, hate, fear, paranoia, and violence.

Which, then, we ask, is the greater sin?

God feels that agency is A Very Important Thing. So much so, that if we take the example of Alma and Amulek, even if the gay population were to round up all the Mormons and toss them into a fire, he wouldn’t intervene unless things got really dire – and I think we can all admit we’re not to that point.

The problem with a church with polygamist history saying marriage is between one man and one woman.

The problem with a church with polygamist history saying marriage is between one man and one woman.

2. Polygamy

I am not a fan of polygamy; I agree with President Hinckley when he said in an interview with Larry King that it was not doctrinal. However, many people in the Church still believe polygamy was mandated by God and a true principle and this, then, brings out the true logic pretzel we’re forced to twist into if we want to support Prop 8.

Polygamy nearly destroyed the Church. The Federal Government was all up in our grill to the point that they actually sent a battalion of the U.S. Army to invade if we proved to be terrible people (fortunately, we avoided an all out war). We stuck to our guns, but soon things became horribly intolerable – the government started seizing all of our temples and assets and forcing most of the Church leadership into the underground. John Taylor, the third prophet, was in exile for two and a half years. Imagine then, if for five General Conferences the prophet didn’t speak from the pulpit because we had no idea where he was. That was how much of a disarray this situation sent the Church into.

Eventually, Wilford Woodruff issues the official declaration rescinding polygamy but this takes actually multiple official declarations because so many people were so used to practicing it and for the Church officials to tell the government that we don’t practice polygamy anymore but then tell everyone to practice celestial marriage (wink wink) that it took several decades (almost an entire generation) for the clean break between the LDS church, which no longer practices polygamy and the FLDS church, which does.

Many members today still believe that polygamy is a true principle and that we will someday come back to that practice (I don’t believe we will and if we do, I’m out!) and if that’s true then Prop 8 doesn’t allow for that to happen. To me, this destroys any real logical consistency we have in supporting Prop 8. It just doesn’t make sense.

Policing a Prop 8 rally.

Policing a Prop 8 rally.

3. We don’t really care about any other marriage except our own

Do you remember that super long scripture that might or might not have been a scripture mastery verse?

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity,…are of no efficacy, virtue, or in force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:7

This is why if you don’t get married in the temple, it’s not for time and eternity. It’s just until death do us part (and most Protestant Christians don’t like the idea of eternal marriage anyway). So, we would teach, that while marriage is nice, unless it’s done in the temple, it’s not eternal. It’s null and void once we die.

So why do we care about gay people getting married again?

I think it’s safe to say that knowing a gay person will only probably better you. I know that my intolerance of homosexuality dropped dramatically after I found out one of my close church member friends was secretly gay. Suddenly, I started seeing them as a human and my capacity for charity swelled. I consider my life enriched by my friendship with this person. I know many Mormons who would also attest to this fact – knowing gay people can only enrich your life, never destroy it. If that person happens to hurt you in some way, it’s not related to his or her sexual orientation but personality instead.

If we decide to go after gay marriage, why do we not care about Protestant marriages, or Catholic marriages? In our religious zealotry, are they not also sham weddings, mockeries of the true order of marriage revealed to us by God? But we wouldn’t even dream about it! Why? Because, well, let’s be honest. They’re not gay.

The idea that the government would also force the Church to marry gay people in the temple is absolute garbage. Absolute garbage. If this was true, they would have forced us to marry non-members in the temple, too. This hasn’t happened yet, and it probably never will. As much as people hate this sentiment, religious freedom has never been more alive and vibrant in America than today. How do I know this? Because a mob hasn’t broken into my house, burned it down, and raped my wife. This used to happen to us. It doesn’t today.

If we don’t care that Catholics and Protestants or Hindus or Buddhists or what have you conduct marriages without the priesthood of God, then why do we care if gays get married, too? According to our belief, it’s not like God will honor those marriages in the next life. So why do we care of what happens here? Allow them the agency to do what they wish, and God will sort it out in the end. If you think they’re doing something wrong, then by all means, attempt to teach them what’s right. But remember that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-42). Otherwise, amen to that man’s priesthood. And you know, Prop 8 doesn’t really fit (in my opinion) any of those traits. It kinda looks like compulsion to me.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. Sodom and Gomorrah was about injustice, not homosexuality, and we’re committing their sins

This is perhaps the biggest beef I have. There’s something about Sodom and Gomorrah that sparks the dark side of human imagination. Perhaps it’s the lurid allusion to homosexuality (sodomy, after all, comes from Sodom). Or maybe it’s the frightening shock that God would nuke two of the biggest cities on the plain off the face of the planet. Who knows. Either way, the common traditional Christian view on Sodom and Gomorrah is that their sin was homosexuality, but this actually probably isn’t the case.

We now go to Jewish folklore, and since the Jews (or more accurately, the Hebrews) were the first to pen this story, they probably are closest to the actual record.

Did you know that Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin is not homosexuality, but brutal injustice? It’s true. This was the surprise that awaited me when I perused through my first book of folklore, A Treasury of Jewish Folklore compiled by Ausubel. The sins of Sodom was not salacious homosexuality, but “the genius of evil” and “diabolical cleverness.” For example, one story, A Sodom Trick (p. 366) details how a rich man comes to Sodom and stays with one of the inhabitants. The wicked man asks him to store a fragrant flagon of oil with the rich man’s treasures because he is afraid someone will steal it. The rich man unwittingly agrees in exchange of the Sodomite’s “hospitality.” Later that night, the Sodomite follows the scent of oil to where the rich man’s treasures were hidden, and takes off with all of them.

Or what about the illustrative story called “Charity in Sodom” (p. 367) where the people of Sodom practiced charity in a horribly cruel way? Whenever a poor stranger would come into town and ask for alms, they would give him a gold piece with the name of the giver engraved on the coin. But there was a rule that no stranger could buy food and so in time, he would die of hunger and they would come to the corpse and take back their gold pieces. In another illustrative example, “A Very Ancient Law”, Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna, chasties the town when they try to pass a “new” law that would propose that poor Jews living outside the city of Vilna should not be allowed to come into the city to collect alms. ” ‘Do you call that a new law?’ asked Rabbi Elijah scornfully. ‘Why that law was introduced more than five thousand years ago in Sodom and Gomorrah!’ ” (p. 80).

Not a single story is about homosexuality. In fact, after reading several tomes of Jewish folklore, I have yet to come across a story tying the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah to homosexuality. However, every single story detailed how the cities of the plain demonstrated great lengths of inhumane cruelty to their fellowmen – especially the poor and downtrodden – and, here the “diabolical cleverness” and “genius of evil” comes in, often their cruelty they try to disguise as charity.

Isn’t that what we’re doing right now? Utah recently finally passed a law that allowed gay people the protection of property. Before, you could kick a gay person out of their own apartment which they signed a contract with you simply because they were gay. Could you imagine the fear they might have lived in? Finally, a law was passed that prevented this which Utahns took as controversial (it shouldn’t have!) and it’s a sad day when that kind of late legislation is considered “a victory” for gay rights. A lot of members I knew acted like this was some sort of concession, as if we were doing the gay community a favor by saying, “Okay, fine. We won’t kick you out of your homes simply because you’re gay.” This is not charity – this is inhuman treatment wherein when we finally stop beating and torturing them, we say, look how nice we are that we stopped. This is a sickening attitude, and it’s exactly what Sodom and Gommorah would have done.

We do not show gay people any charity by implying that they cannot love as we do, that they cannot have monogamous, stable, loving relationships. We don’t show them any charity or respect when we deny them the same concepts, rights, benefits, and blessings that all straight people have. Instead, we act like Sodom and Gommorah, pretending to hand out charity, but in reality, we demonstrate real cruelty and injustice to a percentage of the population who have been downtrodden, beaten, and had their faces ground upon (as Isaiah would put it). These people need the brilliant light of the gospel of Jesus more than ever, and what do we do? We belittle them and tell them they are subhuman, that we are protecting them from themselves, when in reality, if we were to be perfect and not sin ever to gain the benefits of marriage, no one would be married because are we not all sinners in the sight of God?

This is not good PR.

Abraham meets Melchizedek.

Abraham meets Melchizedek.

To close this point, I share one last Jewish folktale called “God Protects the Heathen Too” (p. 456). The great patriarch Abraham was known for his generosity and hospitality (he’s famous for it), and so it’s no surprise that in this story, he sees an old tired man afar off and runs to him, inviting him into his tent. He fed him a great feast, gave him his fill of cold water to drink, and then begin to teach the man the gospel.

However, this man was pretty intent on his heathen ways and politely declined any of Abraham’s missionary work. And so in anger, he promptly drove him out of his tent for not accepting the gospel.

Later that night, God visits Abraham and teaches him this final lesson:

Then spoke God: “Have you considered what you have done? Reflect for one moment: Here am I, the God of all Creation – and yet have I endured the unbelief of this old man for so many years. I clothed and fed him and supplied all his needs. But when he came to you for just one night you dispensed with all duties of hospitality and compassion and drove him into the wilderness!”

Then Abraham fell upon his face and prayed to God that He forgive him his sin.

“I will not forgive you,” said God, “unless you first ask forgiveness from the heathen to whom you have done evil!” (p.457)

In turn, Abraham runs out into the desert, finds the old man, falls at his feet and, weeping, begged for his forgiveness. The old man, moved by Abraham’s pleas, forgave him, and the two were reconciled. Later, God appears and tells Abraham, “Because you have done what is righteous in My eyes I will never forget My covenant with your posterity. When they sin I will punish them, but never will I sever My covenant with them!”

Abraham’s hospitality, charity, and lesson applies to the gay community as well. It’s a wise lesson in love and forgiveness we should all learn. I do not doubt that in the next life, we may seek out the gay community we have hurt, and, falling to their feet, weeping, will beg for their forgiveness.

The prophet Isaiah receives inspiration.

The prophet Isaiah receives inspiration.

5. Sometimes, the prophet doesn’t speak for God but for himself

This is the hardest thing for me to talk about, not because it destroys testimonies (I don’t believe it should) but because people are so violently against this concept. But hear me out.

Sometimes the prophet doesn’t speak for God but for himself. After all, God brought us to earth so we can learn to be more like Him, and sometimes that requires us to do things on our own. If you studied under the best mathematician in the world so that you can become the best as well, it would do you no service for her to hover over you and give you hints to every math problem. When you start struggling with a specifically difficult one and turn to her for help, she may just say, “No, you need to figure this out on your own. It will make you a better mathematician.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, for example, taught:

“[A person might have] a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord but…unwisely extends that desire to the point of wanting to be led in all things. A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it.”

Thus, we know God wants us to exercise our agency. What if we made a mistake? That’s to be expected, and God provided His Son to perform the Atonement. Thus, we can exercise our discernment and grow in wisdom and experience without fearing of making just one mistake that will damn us to hell for all eternity. As long as we look to Christ, we can stumble through this life, making mistakes as we go, and continue to learn and grow without living in darkness forever.

So sometimes prophets go out on a limb. They exercise their spirit of discernment and their faculties of reasoning and say things – even teach things – that turn out to be very, very wrong. The most famous and contemporary example is Bruce R. McConkie, who as an apostle, spoke passionately that the priesthood ban on Africans would never be lifted. Ever.

But it was. And in response, the great apostle said:

There are statements in our literature by the early brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world…. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more…. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year.

What faith and humility!

This isn’t the only time it’s happened, though. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young postulated that the lost ten tribes could be on the moon. Brigham Young taught that Adam was God (which McConkie later denounced vehemently as heresy), and everyone just nodded until after his death when people quietly swept that doctrine under the carpet. Another prophet (whose name alludes me at the time) suggested that a space voyage to the moon would never happen before the Second Coming because this earth was all that mattered to our salvation. Examples a plenty!

Does this mean that they’re not prophets? Absolutely not. Sometimes we teach the doctrines of the Church in binary – Church good, other churches not as good. Coffee bad. Prayer good. Prophets true, other religions’ prophets not true. But life isn’t in black and white – it’s in shades of grey. Lots of grey. And maybe even colors. It’s complex, it’s multifaceted, and we have no idea what new truth God may be preparing for us. We believe that God has yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, so why do we always insist that we have all the truth? We obviously don’t. Joseph Smith didn’t, Brigham Young didn’t, and Bruce R. McConkie didn’t. So what hubris we demonstrate by implying we know everything?

Sometimes prophets make mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes even get institutionalized. But remember the first point, agency? It’s important to God. Really important. I know the Official Declaration in the Doctrine and Covenants has Wilford Woodruff saying that “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray,” so how can prophets be wrong? Simple. I believe this declaration is pretty flexible when it comes to human error. Should a prophet deliberately try to bring the Church down from the inside out and acts with that intent, God will remove him from his place. But if a prophet really believes in something to be true and teaches it to be true even when it might not be true, God will allow mistakes to happen because of agency. Brigham Young didn’t teach Adam-God theory to destroy the Church – he really believed it. But eventually, as Bruce R. McConkie says, we gain more light and knowledge than our forefathers and we put it to use.

Love will prevail.

Love will prevail.

When the news of the Prop 8 overturn first came to light, a friend of mine who is a faithful member of the Church mentioned to me he felt a little betrayed. But his reasoning surprised me. For this friend, after the letter about Prop 8 and an additional broadcast, the Church leadership didn’t mention a lot. No real mention in General Conference. No articles about it in the Ensign. But members made sacrifices with often horrific results because they felt it was important to do what the prophet says. But there was little support from the higher ups and he felt a little miffed because the rank-and-file members were left hung out to dry.

I believe Prop 8 was more of a political issue rather than a doctrinal one. This doesn’t mean I think the Church will reverse its stance on homosexuality anytime soon. But I don’t feel that this move was inspired by God. I think that the Church threw their hat into the political ring based on conservative family values along with other denominations of Christianity and didn’t expect the virulent reaction from the rest of the nation. I believe that the prophets got together and discussed this situation they found themselves in (offered by the Catholic Church to help support a very controversial proposition in California) and exercised their agency, discernment, and wisdom to try and find a way to hold true to their family principles. I think that perhaps the action they later took might not have been the best solution, but I am also imperfect. Either way, it appears to me we’ve quietly backed away and hopefully, this episode will fade from the cultural zeitgeist. But the damage is done. Families have been torn apart, people have lost their faith, and others like me were forced to reconsider theological concepts and restructure their world view and their view of the Church. Prop 8 marked the beginning of a wild ride where I began to radically reconsider everything I believed and what roles they played in my life. My faith has taken a beating, but I feel I am more faithful and believing than ever.

Of course, nobody talks about the prophet being wrong because it opens up this can of worms: how do we know when the prophet is speaking for God?

Well, this is why they counsel us to constantly pray for help and revelation that what the prophet is saying is true. We do not shift all decision making, agency exercising, situation discerning and experience building moments to the prophet. We should not give up our ability to use our faculties of reasoning simply because we believe God has sent us a prophet. As Hugh Nibley pointed out:

“Come, let us reason together,” He invites the children of Israel. Accordingly Abraham and Ezra both dared, humbly and apologetically, but still stubbornly, to protest what they considered, in the light of their limited understanding, unkind treatment of some of God’s children. They just could not see why the Lord did or allowed certain things….

God did not hold it against these men that they questioned Him, but loved them for it: it was because they were the friends of men, even at what they thought was the terrible risk of offending Him, that they became friends of God. The Lord was not above discussing matters with the brother of Jared, who protested that there was a serious defect in the vessels constructed according to the prescribed design…

Plain humility is reverence and respect in the presence of the lowest, not the highest, of God’s creatures….

A discussion with God is not a case of agreeing or disagreeing with Him – who is in a position to do that? – but of understanding Him. What Abraham and Ezra and Enoch asked was, “Why?” Socrates showed that teaching is a dialogue, a discussion. As long as the learner is in the dark he should protest and argue and question, for that is the best way to bring problems into focus, while the teacher patiently and cheerfully explains, delighted that his pupil has enough interest and understanding to raise questions – the more passionate, the more promising. There is a place for discussion and participation in the government of the kingdom; it is men who love absolute monarchies.

I’m not saying I have more light and knowledge than the prophet does. That would be horribly arrogant for me. What I am saying is that this kind of stuff doesn’t add up. I have questions, I don’t understand, I’m in the dark. It doesn’t make sense to me within the theological framework I have discovered for myself and believe to be true. And until someone convinces me otherwise, I will wait patiently until the Lord reveals to me what is actually going on. Until then, I do not offer up these arguments as rebellion against the Church or the prophet, but as points of discussion so that we may ascertain the truth. As the Lord tells us often, let us reason together and figure out just what this mess is all about.

Anger at a Prop 8 rally.

Anger at a Prop 8 rally.

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Demon Sheep In Name Only?

The first political ad I’ve seen that’s compared an opponent to a demon sheep. So full of fallacies it’s threatening to collapse upon itself and create a mini-cyber-black hole.

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The Great Health Care Debate – a short story

The delegate paced the floor almost violently, his shoes scuffing being the only sound heard in the stifling, unbearably hot Philadelphia. As he whirled about with such vigor, several other delegates wondered if he would fall over from his own force. All eyes gazed on this living giant of politics, a veritable Founding Father of America, as he wrung his hands together in an almost pleading fashion. Many held their breath, waiting for his promised speech.

“Gentlemen!” the South Carolinian suddenly boomed, his voice filling the air. “Gentlemen! Our nation is in crisis!” Several delegates murmured in approval.

“We, as mere mortals, cannot comprehend the very crisis our country faces! Yes, gentlemen, all we have worked for will come to naught, our victory snatched away by the very maw of defeat, plunging our country into the Dark Ages! The Dark Ages, mind you!”

The delegate stopped his nervous pacing and slammed both of his hands emphatically onto his oaken desk, causing the ink wells and pens to rattle, sending parchment to the floor. Several delegates jumped, others gasped. James Madison gave out a tiny squeak of displeasure and surprise.

“I am talking, of course, of the damnable concept of socialized medicine!”

The entire room of delegates exploded. North Carolina roared with displeasure, while Pennsylvania’s delegates dissolved into a raucous chanting of “Don’t tread on me!” Both Alexander Hamilton, the delegate of New York, and James Madison, considered the man who orchestrated the Constitutional Convention, stood up immediately, unbuttoning and pulling back their sleeves. But when General Washington regally, slowly stood up, the entire room grew silent. Hamilton and Madison withered under Washington’s stare, and even the South Carolinian delegate stood quietly, though arms crossed, his jaw jutting out challengingly in the air.

“Gentlemen, I fail to see why this matter is so, as our illustrious friend calls it, ‘damnable.’ But, for sake of debate, let us debate this civilly, shall we?” Washington slowly lowered himself into his chair, and the delegates stayed uncomfortably quiet.

George Mason of Virginia finally broke the reverie. “It is damnable, my dear General, for it flies against the very concept that we are trying to establish here in this very Constitution! Socialized. Medicine. Is. Monarchy!” With the final word, he jabbed the air with his finger, and the entire room degraded into yelling and shouting once more. Washington rapped his cane sharply twice on his desk, silencing the room.

“My good gentleman, you are mistaken!” Madison quickly stood up, his thin reedy voice barely audible to some sitting at the edges of the room. “Please explain – rationally, prudently – how socialized medicine is akin to monarchy!”

“Isn’t it obvious? Did not King George try to control every aspect of our lives through a centralized economy, stifling progress and advancements in all sectors of industry? Any government which runs anything from its seat of power is monarchist!”

“Like the post office?” Ben Franklin quipped. Several delegates chuckled softly, for Franklin himself served as postmaster once.

“Or like your provision that we ban the slave trade in twenty years? Or would you rather the ‘slow poison’ of slavery, as you called it yourself, Mr. Mason, continue to run its course through this country?” Hamilton shrilled, his face contorted with passion.

“This is a completely different matter!” Mason sputtered, his face turning slightly pink.

“I fail to see how this socialized medicine even has anything to do with our Constitution,” Governor Randolf said. “We’ve already enumerated that Congress will have the power ‘To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states,’ which gives it provisions to alter the affairs of any industry according to the desires of the people, so I fail to see how regulated health care is either monarchist or unconstitutional, unless you wish to call the Constitution unconstitutional? Which would simply be -”

“Absurd! Yes, I know! But! Once any government begins to regulate economic affairs, it becomes a fascist regime!” cried out the delegate from South Carolina.

“Yes! Gaze upon these signs we made ourselves, physical manifestations of the fact that the American people do not desire socialized medicine!” another delegate cried out. Immediately, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Hampshire pulled out signs wherein James Madison’s profile had been defaced, King George’s wig drawn crudely upon it.

“Come now, is this necessary?” Madison cried out, irritated. “I must say, the idea that a government regulating a highly degenerated, corrupt, bloated, unscrupulous sector of industry becomes fascist is ridiculous!”

“Yes, what’s this got to do with the Constitution anyway?” Franklin added, also irritated. “Your misguided, unfocused anger is causing my gout to inflame!” Several other delegates snickered at this comment.

“Everything!” the South Carolinian delegate screamed out. “Can we trust a government that successfully fought off an imperialist monarch with woefully unequipped and untrained soldiers bred from our own backwoods farmers and blacksmiths to successfully run the medical welfare of our people?”

“Yes, we can!” Hamilton roared back. “This entire Convention is because our Articles of Confederacy are not simply not strong enough! A strong, federal government is required to run this country, lest it run itself upon the rocky shoals of progress!” Several groups now cried out in desperate protest. “Yes,” Hamilton continued, shouting down his opposition, “Strong enough even to regulate the vast industry known as health care!”

“Come now,” Washington intoned, “We cannot let future generations become derailed by this. We look forward to the future, gentlemen, not the past. We look forward to progress and unity, not backward to slavery and monarchy. Remember, gentlemen, our ideas were once considered strange, dangerous, and subversive; impractical and catastrophical if implemented. But look at us now! Throwing off the shackles of England, we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, as brethren for the cause of freedom! Even our brothers in France now follow our example! Truly, we stand at a unique time in history to create any government possible, even another monarchy! But we dissolve not into fascism, as the world said we inevitably would, but we look towards republicanism, of representation and liberty!

“Surely, we can look past our petty squabbles. Our Constitution has said enough already of this matter. It is up for the people to decide whether a government run health care system is both necessary and profitable, but let it be decided by the people. And let us not bring misleading accusations to this debate. Universal health care is neither unconstitutional, nor shying away form what we as the Founding Fathers of America desired. Health care means nothing to us – what we wish is a nation wherein our people can decide for themselves their own destiny, whether it be to the enlightened future, or the the darkened past. But of all this, the people alone must decide. Even we, gentlemen, cannot decide for them.”

The room fell reverently quiet, cowed by the gentle rebuking of the lion of America. But such silence could not last for long, as all the delegations broke once more into angry yelling and even a fist fight or two.

“Monarchist!” “Unruly hypocrite!” “Deist!” “Unconstitutional!” “Fascist!” “Imperialist!” “Money grubbing merchant!”

Some of the delegates pulled out their Madison signs, chanting for his removal, while others pushed back, furiously shouting at the protesters to quiet down and let the General speak once more. David Brearley of New Jersey roared, “And how will the Americans pay for this health care? By taxing them to death like King George did?” before being pulled down roughly by Georgian delegates Baldwin and Few.

Washington sighed, his eyes closing. Madison, dodging a thrown shoe, settled down next to the aging politician and whispered, “There’s no talking to these people. Hot headed and opinionated are the people of America. It is our greatest strength, and yet also our greatest downfall.”

“I fear that generations of Americans will look back at our contentiousness and disunity and wonder how the fate of their nation once lay in the hands of such hooligans,” Washington said softly.

“If I know anything about human nature,” Madison said with a smile, “Should this great American experiment work, I daresay we will be deified, canonized! Our words will become as political ammunition, never mind that our words will contradict each other constantly. Virtual popes and patron saints of all of America!”

“Patron saints, indeed!” Washington laughed, watching with guilty earnest as Hamilton hurled harsh epithets at an almost screaming delegate who had nearly broken down to tears. “I do not wish to be deified, only understood.”

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Support the Troops!: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love national health care

There is only one thing in man’s world that can offer any check on the unlimited power of moneyand that is government. That is why money always accuses government of trying to destroy free agency, when the great enslaver has always been money itself.
– Hugh Nibley, Beyond Politics

What will happen if health care is nationalized? Why, health care would be rationed out, people would be dying in the streets waiting for a new heart! You wouldn’t be able to go to any doctor you want, you’d have one assigned to you! Paper shuffling bureaucrats, not doctors, would handle all medical decisions, from what medicines you can have to what operations you can afford. Who would want that?!

What conservatives fail to realize is that this is exactly what happens today. Instead of government rationing out health care, we do it ourselves. The ranks of the uninsured swell every day, especially with the financial crisis. When you have to choose between the mortgage and your insurance, most people pick the house, spin the Russian roulette of health and hope the gun doesn’t go off as they point it to their heads. People die constantly from lack of organs for transfers. And it is paper shuffling bureaucrats in the insurance companies that dictate what doctor you can see, what medicines you can get, what operations you can afford. Doctors have very little say in what goes on – your insurance provider is the final word in what your health care will look like. And when health care is left up to the amoral free markets, it’s not about how deserving you are for good health care – it’s about how rich you are.

The practical arguments against government backed health care have no bearings. They describe how the health care system will deteriorate even further. But the truth is, it really can’t get any worse than it is now. My public health major sister tells me bitterly how despite our vast resources, America has the worst health statistics compared to all other post-industrialized countries. In fact, some former Soviet-block Eastern European states are doing better than we are. That’s just embarrassing.

Most of the arguments are, then, those of philosophy and theory. People don’t like the idea of government controlling everything. It destroys agency. It erodes human industry, innovation, and integrity. It spawns the welfare state, a group of “sheeple,” ready to do whatever the government says, completely incapable of thinking or acting for themselves. the government, we say vigorously, destroys freedom.

However, we also agree that when a philosophy grossly misrepresents reality, it is to be discarded. We did this with Marxist communism – great in theory, horrible in practice. And I contend that such arguments as these rarely hold up in practice.

If it were so, America could not have a great military. It’s completely government run. Though states all contribute, its massive bureaucracy holds itself nationally, and the President is the Commander-in-Chief. Yet, were we to attribute the same arguments of government-run health care to a government-run military:

The military would be grossly inefficient. Bureaucrats, not actual military generals and tacticians, would be calling all the shots. The rank and file soldier would be lazy, a leech off the state only working for great pensions and benefits, never dedicated to his or her job, mediocre at best, completely ineffectual at worst. The equipment they use is without innovation or technology, they consistantly use technology from the mid-20th century rather than the cutting-edge technology developed today. In fact, because the entire military’s basic structure is government owned, with the government choosing which companies manufacture what, there would be no innovation and advancement in American military technology at all. And their tactics and training would be, since they are government-run, incomplete. Individually, each soldier would be unprincipled and undisciplined, and the entire military as a whole would be a bureaucratic nightmare, sucking up trillions of dollars a year but rarely doing anything effective at all. They will rarely win wars, they will rarely win any conflict whatsoever. Their peacekeeping ability will be shot to pieces as each bureaucrat bickers with each other for bigger and bigger offices and salaries as the soldiers cluelessly look on, their hands tied behind their backs, unable to do what they were called to do: defend. Not like they would want to anyway, because they are simply government workers, and the motivation of every government worker is not effectiveness, but to preserve one’s own position, no matter what the cost is to the average every day tax payer.

How accurate is this statement today?

So, tell me again why the government can’t run an effective health care system?

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Local graffiti “intellectual” and “informative”

American Fork, UT – Local residents complain about graffiti vandalizing public buildings, but you won’t find anyone complaining about one graffiti-laden bathroom stall at the nearby American Fork Walmart. Residents have expressed gratitude to the unknown punks who scrawl such subversive and politically charged messages such as “F— globalization” and “Why don’t people question what the TV says? You’re all sheeple!”

“Usually, you have people writing dirty messages, or saying ‘Eff this’ or ‘Eff that’ or ‘I hate the cops,’ or maybe a crude pictograph of bodily functions and parts. But the messages being written on the stall walls of the bathroom are very intellectual and informative,” according to Walmart night shift custodial manager Robert Garlow.

“Here’s one of my favorites. It’s very eloquent and it really speaks of the corrosion of journalistic integrity in the day of 24 hour cable news and entertainment talk shows: ‘F— the S—heads on FOX, CNN, and MSNBC.’ Really brilliant, if you ask me,” Gallow said, as he pointed out some graffiti to curious Walmart customers.

Other favorite passages of locals include “If you don’t like this country, immigrants, than I suggest you work through legitimate channels of the government to enact change within the system rather than pursuing a self-destructive, delusional philosophy of fighting the system, thus legitimizing the demoralizing and demonizing rhetoric directed towards your demographic, F—ers,” as well as “Liberals suck money out of the government budget and the paychecks of American taxpayers through rampant, uncontrollable and unaccountable government spending like they suck my [smudged and covered by additional graffiti].”

Talk has been made to preserve the bathroom stall walls as a work of art, and several local museums have started to bid on it, hoping to make an exhibition that guarantees success as the radical bathroom graffiti makes it fame in local circles.

However, not everyone is happy about the discovery of these now famous bathroom stalls, specifically what this implies. Semi-famous blogger Mark Kelly has commented, “The fact that America’s most intellectually stimulating conversations happen through graffiti in bathroom stalls shows how the public discourse of America has collapsed. This is all clearly the fault of the recently deposed and defunct Bush Administration.”

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