Sedition

March_2006_05

According to D&C 134: 5, “sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen.” So, according to this, gathering to support the destruction of Big Ben would be very bad indeed.

But, read on: “sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected” (in their “inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of [their] governments.”) Does this mean that if our inherent and inalienable rights are not protected, sedition and rebellion are becoming? If so, when V for Vendetta asks for anarchy in a fascist UK, would you wear the Guy Fawkes mask? If our governments become evil, should good Mormons go and blow up our nations’ symbols of power? And how “evil” does “evil” have to be for Big Ben to blow?

(Great movie. Utterly bonkers. Thoroughly dangerous.)

Comments

  1. wakarusa says:

    Tsk Tsk… hot-linked picture doesn’t work…

  2. a random John says:

    I bet the masks are big this Halloween…

  3. Well, the answer, of course, is no. (Judging from our experience in Communist East Germany.)

  4. Elisabeth says:

    Well, there was that tea party in Boston….

  5. The funny thing about revolutionaries is that they claim the right of resistance for themselves but deny that there is need for it as soon as they have won.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics might be the most intelligent discussion of resistance to tyranny during our life time.

  6. Would an uprising of Mormons in East Germany have caused regime change? It makes reason stare to imply that.

  7. Steve Evans says:

    “If our governments become evil, should good Mormons go and blow up our nations’ symbols of power?”

    The Book of Mormon says yes. Captain Moroni did precisely that, after a fashion.

  8. John,
    I wasn’t implying anything, just stating a fact. But now you mention it, think about this: no rebellion starts “big.” If we all said, “what difference would my/our uprising make?” then no rebellion would ever get started.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    I enjoyed the movie, although it was kind of awkward having V *always* in the mask; kind of tough to act through a frozen expression.

    In the car today my wife informed me that she is 12% evil. She had taken some internet test with her friends, most of whom were more like 50 or 60% evil. (The questions were things like whether you have ever been so drunk you couldn’t remember the night before, said anything mean about a fat person, etc.)

    I’m glad she scored so well, but now I’m wondering which 12% is evil…

  10. Actually, our leaders taught from the pulpit that Mormons ought to stay away from the Monday walks in Leipzig.

    I can see how that makes sense for a leader who is concerned about property. Some Saints just ignored that advice and walked anyways.

  11. a random John says:

    Spoiler alert!!

    Two aspects of V (only two!?!?) are so unrealistic as to make the film a poor basis for this discussion.

    First, V is able to manipulate the mass media in order to broadcast his complaints and his plan to the city/country.

    Second, V is able to cut off the head of the government, which means that the people can rebel in relative safety. Of course the people don’t know that, but the movie wouldn’t have been very effective if all the people in the streets had ended up dead.

    Organizing mass (and masked) protests in totalitarian states is not easy. Participation has costs. Perhaps a better example than John F’s question about East Germany would be Tiananmen Square. If you were a hypothetical LDS person in China in 1989, how would your religion inform your decision to participate or not in the protest?

  12. arJ, let’s just say the graphic novel is very different on your point no. 2

  13. Elisabeth says:

    Hugo Weaving looks better with the mask on. Come to think of it, he’s usually in parts where he gets to dress up in cool costumes with some sort of facial disguise – big Elfish ears in LOTR, outrageous drag queen in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and he’s wearing those dark sunglasses in The Matrix movies.

    “V” had great potential, but I thought it was just OK. Too much rambling on about human rights and uprisings and the plots of fascist governments against their own citizens, and too few impeccably choreographed fight scenes. The one at the end was pretty good. But I expect greater spectacles from the Brothers W.

  14. arJ,
    Yep, it’s a silly example, but how else could I post such a cool picture.

    Anyway, to frame your question differently, not what would you do (who knows?), but what should you do? I have sometimes thought that if you have responsibilities to a family, the issue of putting yourself at risk of death or disppearance gets more complicated.

  15. Does this mean that if our inherent and inalienable rights are not protected, sedition and rebellion are becoming?

    El Salvador’s constitution has an interesting answer to that question:
    “ARTICULO 87.- Se reconoce el derecho del pueblo a la insurrección, para el solo objeto de restablecer el orden constitucional alterado por la transgresión de las normas relativas a la forma de gobierno o al sistema político establecidos, o por graves violaciones a los derechos consagrados en esta Constitución.”
    A quick translation in English is:
    “The people have a right to insurrection for the sole purpose of restoring the constitutional order altered by violation of the norms of the established form of government or political system, or by serious violations to the rights consecrated in this Constitution.”

  16. Steve Evans says:

    “Too much rambling on about human rights and uprisings and the plots of fascist governments against their own citizens”

    Agreed. If I want that I’ll read a newspaper.

    ECS, you are a smart cookie but just WRONG re: V. It was great. A great bigscreen advertisement for anarchy.

  17. Does this mean that if our inherent and inalienable rights are not protected, sedition and rebellion are becoming?
    So, what are the “inherent and inalienable rights?” Oliver, who wrote 134, seemed to regard freedom to practice religion as one of them. See 134 vs 2, 4, 7-9.

    (Although the original 134 contained an explicit rejection of polygamy, which wasn’t removed until the 1870s, iirc….) When the U.S. government forced the church to stop polygamy, was an inalienable right squelched, and would the church have been justified in civil disobedience at least, and even sedition?

  18. The thing is, a whole lot of democratic transitions in the real world have looked substantially like “V for Vendetta.” The combination of splits within the ruling regime, pressure from pro-democratic extremists, and mass protest by moderates recur over and over in the collapses of dictatorships in Latin America, Southern Europe, East Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. So, if terrorism per se is bad, then democratic transition becomes almost impossible…

    I take it as the argument of the film that terrorism is a tactic that can be used for good or for evil. And I think that’s possibly about right.

  19. (Fanboy alert) Careful there, RT. Although the fascists label V a terrorist, he clearly isn’t. He aims to strike “terror” in the heart of the regime, not the people. His aim is for the people to join him. He kills no civilians and blows up buildings at night. That’s an important distinction, especially for me for whom the sight of a bomb-laden tube train made me feel very queasy.

    I have two quibbles with the film:
    1. Evey’s awful accent. (But good acting.)
    2. Guy Fawkes as hero. Gimme a break. He was a servant of Catholic priestcraft not a popular revolutionary. Guy still burns for me on November 5.

    The section from Evey’s capture to her release is awesome. Crazy stuff.

  20. Elisabeth says:

    Ronan – I think V is a sympathetic character, because we see the horrors that created and justify his rage, but he is a terrorist nonetheless. V took precautions to limit casualties when he blew up the buildings – but what about when he dressed everyone in the TV studio up in masks so he could escape after he made his speech?

    In any event, I remember around Guy Fawkes Day when people would carry around a straw-filled dummy in old clothes asking for a “penny for the Guy”, before burning him on the top of a bonfire (and roasting potatoes in the embers). I tried explaining this tradition to my American husband, but I think it got lost in translation…

  21. E,

    V certainly has issues, that’s for sure, but he ain’t no Mohammed Atta. As for Guy, as I said, let the papist burn.

    :)

  22. Elisabeth says:

    One of V’s issues is that he “kisses” Evey with his mask on. LOL! I loved that part. And I did like V’s pink, frilly apron :P

  23. Remember, remember the third of November…

  24. 5th?

  25. Steve Evans says:

    I guess he forgot.

  26. Typically, terrorists commit violence to provoke an outrageous response of the government. The terrorists hope that the government’s reaction will divide the people.

    With Al Queda that’s not the case because their audience are Muslims, especially in the Middle East. If they were interested in overthrowing the US government then they would behave more like the Weathermen or the Red Brigades.

    So I think that RT got terrorism basically right. I am not convinced though that terrorism is a necessary step on the road to revolution. There certainly was a lot of anarchist terrorism before World War I, which might have contributed to the overthrow of the tsarist regime (probably not, the loss of World War I would have been sufficient). On the other hand, I am not aware of terrorism playing a big in France, be it 1789, 1832 or 1848.

    Another way to look at RT’s question is to ask whether John Brown was a terrorist.

  27. Hellmut Lotz Another way to look at RT’s question is to ask whether John Brown was a terrorist.

    The answer is, of course John Brown was a terrorist. Same as those who engage in forms of eco-terrorism like tree spiking or those who blow up abortion clinics.

    But commenters here seem to be supposing that you can’t have organized rebellion without some kind of terrorism. Surely, there are places where the line gets blurred, but not every revolutionary is a terrorist. For example, Jefferson Davis was the leader of a (more or less) organized rebellion. His side lost, of course, but I don’t think that he’s a terrorist in any reasonable analysis. (Same thing for Oliver Cromwell.)

  28. Did the Church have any official guidance for regular members (not missionaries) during the “Orange Revolution” a few months back? Has there been a statement regarding what’s going on in Belarus? Did bishops call members in East (or, for that matter, West) Germany when that huge party was going on at the Wall, saying “stay away”? Was there counsel against participating in limited or mass resistance to Nazi occupation in Denmark, the Netherlands, and France? I’d use Tiananmen Square and the seige at the White House in Russia (with Yeltsin on the tank outside,) but I don’t think we had any members, officially, in those countries (except maybe foreign diplomats and journalists?) at the time.

    Anyway, I think that marching to Parliament in a mask & cape (and cool Pilgrimish hat) is probably okay insofar as the Gospel is concerned, but pulling the lever on the train probably isn’t and holding up a store while wearing the mask definitely isn’t. I’m not sure I can say why. I don’t think the Church would have been cool with what my grandfather (at the time, a very lapsed Jew) did in 1936: fly to France, cross the border with Spain in the dead of night, and join the doomed fight against Franco. But I don’t see how what he did was incompatible with the Gospel (though we can talk about selected actions of Republican and international forces…)

    If I were in charge, I’d have said, in reference to all the demonstrations: “Leave your children at home. Stay home if you dying is going to leave vulnerable family members in a terrible position, or risk having them arrested or killed for your decision. But the cause is just, and any morally upstanding, non-injurious to your family, actions you care to take, are not in and of themselves incompatible with what we teach.” Then again, I don’t have to worry about our missionaries being rounded up and shot, because it’s all a theoretical exercise, right?

    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    (and there was a lot of terrorism in the sense of “violent actions taken in whole or part to influence or frighten a class or social group” in the French Revolution of 1789… as Jefferson put it, in 1813:

    “An insurrection has consequently begun, of science, talents and courage against rank and birth, which have fallen into contempt. It has failed in it’s first effort, because the mobs of the cities, the instrument used for it’s accomplishment, debased by ignorance, poverty and vice, could not be restrained to rational action.”)

  29. Does this mean that if our inherent and inalienable rights are not protected, sedition and rebellion are becoming?

    Well, are we happy the Revolutionary War came out the way it did, or are we not?

  30. Sarah,
    That is about the coolest grandfather story I’ve ever heard. Wow.

    Mark,
    Depends. :)

  31. Of course we would rise up if provoked enough. That’s true of anyone.

    Mormon pioneers conducted basically a guerrilla war against Johnston’s army.

    The only reason the Church is so passive about opposing bad government is because the Church is not threatened by government at present. You’d hear a different tune if government was actually threatening our core mission and purpose.

    And yes. I would blow up Big Ben if commanded by God. So there.

  32. a random Jon Krakauer says:

    Seth R.,

    Can I quote you on that?

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  1. [...] Before we believe V, let’s decide whether Mr. Fawkes (pronounced “forks”) was a hero or not. [...]

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