After writing A Perp in the Midst, a couple of encounters make me want to follow up with a few comments.
- Current events such as this are newsworthy because they are unusual, strike a chord of shock or serve as a warning. Everyday dangers aren’t news. Surely everyone has heard of the first lesson of journalism, “Dog bites man isn’t news. Man bites dog, that’s news!” It should be taken as a compliment rather than as an offense that a sexual predator is mentioned to be a Mormon leader. That means it is viewed as unusual and shocking. In other words it indicates that that’s NOT what people expect. If that part weren’t mentioned in the article, it would indicate that the journalist saw it as a mundane or irrelevant fact and that Mormon leaders are expected to be sexual predators. As a warning, it is also important to mention that fact. Parents and potential victims need to know that even a Mormon bishop could do this and that one isn’t immune to danger by virtue of high religious position. Hopefully that would serve to modify behavior in the community such as not allowing an adult man to find himself alone with a young girl regardless of the situation.
- Pornography may have had some part in the history of this man, but to say that you’re sure pornography is to blame for how he got started as a sexual deviant is pretty naive. There were no sexual deviants on earth before the proliferation of pornography? Please. Such a connection by folks who immediately jump on the “blame-pornography” bandwagon also ignores the fact that most people who regularly view pornography do not become sexual predators. If porn use caused one to sexually abuse minors as a matter of course, 40 million americans would be child molesters. To make that conclusion would also implicate the very religious since they tend to be the highest consumers of porn and Utah would be the most dangerous state to raise a child.
- The mug shot doesn’t tell you anything about this man. Even if you are innocent, the day you are arrested for sexual crimes isn’t going to be your finest photogenically. You can’t look at the picture and see a “fallen countenance.” That’s just your imagination. Now, if you had made such a comment about his shady countenance back in 2006 before you knew anything distasteful, then I might place some credence in your remark. But now that the man is in jail accused of such horrible crimes, it’s too late to claim you know anything about whether or not he has the “spirit” based on his photo.
- This man isn’t accused of anything Joseph Smith himself wasn’t accused of in his lifetime. So, while the present day LDS Church may not condone such behavior today, the foundations of that religion are firmly rooted in revering a man who also molested and intimidated his own underage victims. So, if you are Mormon and believe in Joseph Smith, stop behaving as if you occupy any moral high ground over this man whatsoever. Several of Joseph Smith’s “plural wives” were his own teenage foster children. In another example, the testimony of Helen Mar Kimball has Joseph Smith placing the eternal salvation of her entire family squarely on her shoulders if she would consent to be sealed to him. The book In Sacred Loneliness details this and other intimidation methods Joseph Smith employed on his female posse. Neither time nor place changes the disgusting nature of these crimes not does it minimize the testimonies of these women even if they went along with it.