Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Irony, thy name is Dallin H. Oaks

Who was it that said "irony is dead?" I mean, originally. Whoever it was was either very, very wrong or was, ironically, trying to be ironic... or something.

Anyway, Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve (this quorum of twelve, not that one), is one of the highest-ranking officials of the LDS church.
(An aside: a few days ago, I found myself — bizarrely, for the second time — in a local diner in the company of Thomas S. Monson the president and prophet of the LDS church. For better or worse, I can't say the story was nearly as entertaining as the first such event.)
Oaks recently spoke to students at Brigham Young University- Idaho, remarking that "The extent and nature of religious devotion in this nation is changing... The tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding, and this probably portends public pressures for laws that will impinge on religious freedom."

This isn't the ironic part. I do happen to believe Oaks is wrong about that, though: perhaps the tide is changing as he says, but there is no hint of any campaign to impinging on religious freedom, and indeed secularists and most nonreligious people would vehemently oppose any such proposed laws.

But wait, irony is on the way! You ready? Here it comes! [from Fox13 News]
In an interview Monday before the speech, Oaks said he did not consider it provocative to compare the treatment of Mormons in the election's aftermath to that of blacks in the civil rights era, and said he stands by the analogy.

"It may be offensive to some -- maybe because it hadn't occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era," he said.
Wait, did he really just say that? Yes he did: Oaks just compared the campaign to pass Prop. 8, which denied basic civil rights to an oppressed minority, to the 1960's Civil Rights movement. It's an apt analogy, of course... except in Oaks' metaphor, the LDS church is akin to oppressed African Americans, and gay people and progressives are akin to the oppressors denying people their rights.


No one is trying to deny Mormons civil rights. No one is preventing Mormons from getting married, forcing them to the back of the bus, or dispersing their services with fire hoses. This is absolute lunacy.

Oaks cites a few threats against Mormons and incidences of vandalism of LDS church property. A few such acts did happen just before and after the passage of Prop. 8, and they were wrong and deserve to be condemned. But for every such incident, there are scores and scores of incidents of violence against gay people and their property. Oaks is so far off-base here, it's past "funny" and into "shocking" territory.

Today, this "oppression" Oaks is talking about consists of gay (and straight!) couples making out in protest near their property; a few people campaigning for the revocation of the LDS church's tax-exempt status (as they have been acting a lot more like a PAC than a church when it comes to political items such as Prop. 8); and, yes, some undeserved hostility to rank-and-file Mormon people — even to liberal Mormons who may have opposed Prop. 8 — that would be better directed at the church leadership and policies. (I will say this to any liberal Mormon's reading, though: remember, your tithing money is funding these hate-based campaigns.)...

But no one here is trying to infringe on the religious freedom of Mormons or any other religion. No one is now or will force the LDS church to perform gay marriages if they wish to become more and more irrelevant.

Oaks' statements — despite his claim that they should not be "provocative" — are not just laughably backwards, they are outright offensive.

[hat tip to PZ]


Anonymous said...

I would LOVE for him to personally say that where I grew up in Macon, Georgia. seriously.

Saganist said...

So, so lame. I knew the persecution complex was bad, but I didn't know it was that bad.