Monday, November 27, 2006

Under where?

Earlier today, Wonkette posted a piece about Mitt Romney. It was typical Wonkette, snarky and funny and about 15 minutes ahead of the political curve.

But it included a photo I thought insensitive. The photo displayed what are known as Temple garments. They are the undergarments worn by observant Mormons and are viewed by Mormons as a private, sacred matter. It's considered distasteful by Mormons to display these garments, or to inquire about them in a light or joking matter. They aren't exactly secret, but they are sacred.

I spoke my piece in the Wonkette comments section, calling the photo choice "indecent and ill-advised" and was roundly hooted down. So be it.

But one commenter hit a nerve.

Said schvitzatura: "Would it be over the line/"indecent and ill-advised" to show a Scientologist wired up to an e-meter during his/her audit on Wonkette?..."

Given my comments here about Scientology:

So fuck you Tom Cruise. Your know-nothing, yahoo view of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs stem from the teachings of a scam artist. Science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard announced to the world in the 1930's that, if one wanted to be truly rich in America, one should found a religion. Then, proving P.T. Barnum's dictum that no one ever went broke underestimating the American public, he founded a religion and got rich.

L. Ron now lies mouldering in his grave and idiots like Tom Cruise continue to act as loony prophets for this false messiah.

One can reasonably ask why I expect Wonkette to show sensitivity toward Mormon sensibilities when I permit myself so much license toward Scientologist ones.

My answer is that I think showing the hypothetical picture shvitzatura posits would be a bad idea too. I think Scientologists view their audits in much the same way as Mormons view their Temple garments. So I'd hesitate to display their ritual the same way I'd hesitate to display a Mormon's ritual clothing.

But I think there's a fundamental difference between Joseph Smith's followers and L. Ron Hubbard's. If Smith was running a scam, there's precious little evidence of it. I think disinterested observers believe he believed what he preached. He and his early followers surely suffered for their doctrines.

Hubbard, on the other hand, announced his scam ahead of time, and proceeded to milk it for all it was worth. Eventually, greedier and more ruthless followers wrested control from him, and milked it for even more. Their successors do so, to this day. For more evidence than I can possibly summarize in this post, check out Operation Clambake.

But maybe the fundamental difference here is not between Smith and Hubbard. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has critics as zealous as any you'll find at the Clambake site. For instance here.

Maybe the fundamental difference is between robust criticism and desecration.

No institution, especially one claiming divine inspiration or exclusive access to the one Big Truth, should be immune from the former. But we should all tread lightly before we needlessly engage in the latter.

What we ourselves view as sacred may be the next ox to get gored. When we squawk about it, it would help to have clean hands.


ANON1 said...

L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer. Enough said.

It basically is, was and always will be a Hollywood fad. However, like all religions, the more money you have, the more important you are.

Rachel said...

I grew up LDS and my mom and dad wear temple garmets every day. I "fell away" before I could be considered of age to wear them but I know that to my mom and dad they are sacred garments. They are a physical reminder every day of the covenants that they have made.
My mom even wears them underneath her bra.
The only time that I don't see her wear them is when she is swimming.
They are a surefire way of keeping someone modest too.

David in DC said...

It's always nice when I go back and find a comment to a post I missed when it was initially posted.

Thanks, Rachel. I see your posts elsewhere and have checked out your blog occasionally. You're a good writer.