Repentance and Revisionist History [now disclaimed]

[A disclaimer: To be clear, the comparison being drawn here is between the shocking abruptness of the removal of people from photographs and the shocking abruptness of the removal of blog posts. At no time did I believe, nor do I believe, that Nate Oman imprisoned intellectuals and political opponents in Siberia in winter in order to let them starve to death. Nor do I believe Wilfried engineered an artificial famine that led to the deaths of 6-7 million Ukrainians. Finally, I don't believe that Adam or Kaimi killed their closest advisors in a paranoid frenzy (although, has anyone seen Jim F or Greg Call lately?). Please don't engaging in Stalinizing the nice folks at T&S (who hopefully know me well enough to understand that such was not my intent)]

I do not lightly make fun of another’s plight, but the thought struck me that recent doings over at some other blog reminded me of photography in the Stalinist period of the Soviet Union. As people fell into and out of grace, they appeared in and then disappeared from the official photos of the Communist Party. The purpose was to recompose history in order to re-establish the dominant themes of progress and prosperity under Stalin (or, more sinisterly, to emphasis that no figure, no matter how prominent, is safe from removal). People were removed from photos to prevent inconvienient and hard to answer questions from popping up in the future.

It is a truism that nothing stays buried forever and the photographs have been collected in all their glory and shifting status by a man named David King. He published a book a few years ago, called The Commissar Vanishes, that gives, in explicit detail, the history of some of these photographs and the figures that appear (and then disappear) in them (here is a website established that also discusses it). It makes for good reading and, interestingly, good comedy. The editing, though usually skillfully done, is also ham-fisted. The reasoning behind someone’s disappearance often makes little sense. There is a famous photograph were Stalin is smiling and holding up a cheerful little girl. The rest of the story is that Stalin had that little girl’s father killed and also, very likely, killed her mother. But my, doesn’t he look grandfatherly in that photo?

On my mission, I knew many babushki (ie. old, hunched-over women in kerchiefs who were poor, poor, poor and carried around with them the moral authority of a long, oppressed, painful, and often-times horrible life). Many of them spoke to me about how much better times were under Stalin. There wasn’t this crime in the streets. There were no Mafia. I didn’t doubt them (Stalin was never particularly nice to criminals he didn’t like), but I wondered why they didn’t mention the people disappearing around them. There isn’t much motivation to engage in criminality when all it takes to be taken and tortured is to write a theater review or a poem.

To a great degree, those recent events at this other blog reminded me of all this because the removal of the offending threads is so obvious. They were here yesterday and today have mysteriously vanished into the ether. Except, of course, that there were reasons behind the vanishing and, while only the local admins know them, we are familiar enough with what went on to speculate. Part of the question, then, is should we?

One of the side effects of repentance is that the Lord promises that he will remember our sins no more. Sometimes, even when repentant, we believe that others should abide by this same policy. While the Lord is sure to do as he has promised, other people have made no such promise and, if they choose to ignore or forget your failings, it is due to their good will, not your humble intent. The sinner is not owed absolution from humanity, although we are sometimes lucky enough to get it. Sure, all are commanded to forgive, but we all accept limits on the forgetfulness associated. Sometimes repentance and forgiveness is only possible when the desire to have the sin erased from memory is set aside. After all, we are meant to learn from our mistakes.

That said, if the desire to forget our failings is inherently bad (or, at least, often unhelpful), then the ability to lay aside our knowledge of other’s faults is proportionally good. To point at the faults of other is inherently prideful and petty, not just because we seek to justify ourselves but because it is so easy to do. If we constantly point out that our attackers are not without sin, we forget the lesson of sin, which is that we need to change. Sure, our attackers need to change, too, but WE need to change. This fact doesn’t change and it should always be our first priority.

I don’t have any moral authority to write this post. I have removed one post, in my time, from circulation for reasons that I continue to consider beneath me (mostly fear). The post that I am actually most embarassed about remains available for reasons that I consider beneath me (mostly pride). While there is something to the blogging ideal of leaving everything up, warts and all, I can’t think of a good reason for it. If we believe in repentance, which is functionally the manner in which we are rebuilt to become more like Christ and Father in Heaven, we should allow others the option of rearranging themselves however they see fit. However, there is a limit on our ability to rearrange; we cannot change the past and the interactions we witnessed and participated in whilst in the past. No photographic or blogging erasure can change that. If we rearrange, I do believe it best to acknowledge the faults of the past and present (and probably the future). That said, we should all always focus on the best that is and that is to come within ourselves and others. No good comes from a constant rehearsal of the slights, sins, atrocities, and paper cuts of the past.

Comments

  1. Ardis Parshall says:

    Thank you, JDC. We see unproductive rehearsals around us all the time — can’t we all think of this or that commenter who always brings the subject around to that bishop who treated him so poorly? How many times have you heard [incorrectly] that Leonard Arrington’s portrait is not on display in LDS Archives, as if nothing could have changed in the 25 years since that complaint was first voiced?

    Nobody with any sense wants to look at someone else’s paper cuts, and paper cuts heal quickly when they aren’t picked at and inflamed.

  2. I know you want to talk about them deleting posts, but really I think we should talk about repentance.

    I think it causes fragmentation to “forget” our sins entirely. In my mind, God forgets by not judging us by those actions, it’s not like they didn’t happen. I am who I am because partially (or mainly who knows?) because of mistakes of made. I don’t carry guilt about them anymore but they still contribute to who I am. I think that goes for individuals and communities.

  3. R.W. Rasband says:

    I still want to know if that blogger is sorry he used the word “pimp” to describe J.W. Marriott; if he agrees with the decision of “Times and Seasons” to take down his post, and if not, why not. These issues remain unresoved and this information would let us know about the future direction of T&S.

    And I still think there is something Orwellian about the disappearance of the entire thread with its hundreds of comments, both pro and con. There is such a thing as Google cache, so it’s not like the whole controversy can be erased with the click of a mouse. Better to face up to it

  4. Adam Greenwood says:

    I have a hard time seeing the Stalin connection. After a lot of discussion, the Times and Seasons permabloggers decided that the post itself was offensive so they took it down. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Stalinesque effort to bury knowledge of the post since we’ve put up a public apology for it.

    Julie S.’s Glasnost thread already established that I resent comparisons to Russian Communism more than most (it was morally on par with Nazism in my opinion), so perhaps my view can’t be trusted here, but to me comparing us to Stalin and his apparatchicks is a nasty affront.

  5. Adam Greenwood says:

    Since you didn’t do the courtesy of linking to our public apology (perhaps you overlooked it?), I’ll give the link here:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3939

  6. For one thing, Adam doesn’t have a handlebar mustache.

  7. mfranti says:

    Nobody with any sense wants to look at someone else’s paper cuts, and paper cuts heal quickly when they aren’t picked at and inflamed.

    lovely.

  8. Adam Greenwood says:

    No one’s pretending it didn’t happen, R.W.Rasband. I would be perfectly happy for people who are curious to look at the thing in google cache or wherever. But if we decide that a post or a comment doesn’t meet our standards then we have the right and the obligation to remove it, even if it means some people can’t have their curiousity scratched.

  9. Adam Greenwood says:

    For one thing Adam Greenwood doesn’t have a handlebar mustache.

    Yet.

  10. I think when we forgive someone for an offense, it is both possible and necessary to forget, as much as we can, the offense. I believe that is possible only because of the Atonement, and it is accomplished only through the Holy Spirit. It is the hardest part of forgiveness, and it means, at minimum, treating that person as if the offense had not been committed.

    I had a discussion once with a former bishop who said he constantly prayed that he would be able to forget the confessions he had heard of those who had truly repented. He said that prayer was always answered.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    Adam, sorry for not posting a link to the public apology. It was inadvertent. To be honest, I don’t think JDC cares very much about the particularities of Matt’s post or the aftermath. My reading of the post is that it’s all about the last three paragraphs.

  12. Adam Greenwood says:

    That’s my impression too, Steve Evans. I would therefore very much appreciate it if the first three extraneous paragraphs, which contain the offensive material, were modified or removed.

  13. Michael says:

    As one who missed the “firestorm” post, I’m left wondering — what was said that was so offensive that it was removed? And who was offended by it? From what I can gather, it dealt with a subject that I’ve heard discussed in priesthood meetings, down to the particulars of the hotel chain involved.

    Drawing a comparison with repentance is fine, and it works to an extent. But on the net, removing posts because they have offended someone is a good way to reduce one’s credibility. The nature of blogging is to invite discussion, and sometimes discussion means disagreeing with people or suggesting that so and so is, well, wrong. So, I tend to prefer that blogs and web pages be left up. It gives us a chance to learn from each other.

    But of course, that’s coming from someone who (1) missed the T&S blowup, (2) reads T&S only infrequently anyway, and (3) has taken down a webpage on my own site. In my case, I removed the web page because people who objected to it threatened its author (not me- I merely hosted it). The author asked me to remove it, so I did.

    The more general theme here is important, and it echoes the underlying question currently posed at TheCulturalHall.com: When is it right to limit information in a religious discussion?

  14. Steve Evans says:

    Adam — ha! I somehow thought that would come up. It’s JDC’s call on that one, although I found the historical comparison interesting.

  15. This is something I have thought about frequently- not in light of the post, but in light of forgiveness = forgetting. At least for me, I am absolutely sure it does not.

    When there are sins requiring forgivness of the Lord and partaking of the attonement, if we have propperly repented, the Lord does promise to forget- but not me. Not me for my own mistakes. That doesn’t mean I get to take those sins out of my bag and rub them like worry-stones, but I feel the weight of them for my whole life. That weight is part of what keeps me from making the same mistakes again.

  16. Blogs are not individuals, and cannot, and maybe should not, repent. At their most basic level, blog posts are expressions of ideas. The ideas are those of the poster originally, then those ideas are added to or modified by the subsequent comments. They become unique expressions, a preserved moment in time, and can never be perfectly duplicated once they are gone.

    These ideas deserve a spot in the marketplace, to stand or fall in the court of opinion. By their very nature they do not imply the endorsement of all who are permabloggers on a particular site, and anyone is free to voice their agreement or disagreement with them explicitly in the comments.

    Based on the above, there is no afirmative reason, in my mind, to ever delete them. Moreover, there is a grave danger in doing so. It is a disservice to all of us when deletions take place, because it robs us all of the opportunity to learn from the ideas that were expressed there. We can learn as much (or perhaps more) from bad ideas, or our mistakes, as we can from ideas that we all agree with.

  17. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, I’m not sure if I agree with the first sentence of your last paragraph. Posts that are on their face pornographic or violently offensive (hate speech, etc.) should, I think, be deleted. Which is why so many of Norbert’s posts hit the chopping block.

  18. S.P. Bailey says:

    It is T&S’s pimp-slandering ball, and they can take them home (delete posts!) whenever they want to. (Don’t tell me that blogs are ideal communities or responsible journalism outlets…)

    So did a Marriott contact T&S? A general authority? Somebody’s attorney? One of the permabloggers’ mothers? What deus ex machina descended from the rafters (hours and hundreds of comments later) to show the T&S crew that the original post was offensive? You can’t make Orwellian deletions without raising such questions. In that sense, JDC’s comparison seems quite apt.

  19. Adam Greenwood says:

    Here’s an incomplete link, Michael. Most of the comments didn’t make it in this cache, including the suggestion, later retracted and apologized for, that the CEO of Marriott was in effect a pimp, which suggestion tended to retroactively make everything else seem more radical.

    http://216.239.51.104/search?q=cache:Os8AS5HjIqQJ:www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3933 What should Mormons do about Marriott?&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

  20. Adam Greenwood says:

    Steve E.,

    try to assemble a list of historical comparisons that are invalid and offensive, and I think you’ll find they’re almost all interesting. That’s not much of a defense.

  21. Adam Greenwood says:

    Spaces should be replaced with plus signs for the above link to work.

  22. Steve Evans says:

    S.P., our curiosity may never be satiated, but my guess (feel free to correct, T&Sers) is that it was simply the result of internal discussion, which happens all the time. It just takes time, especially at T&S, for reactions to percolate and for courses to be plotted. Reality is rarely as interesting as speculation.

  23. Steve Evans says:

    Adam, fair enough; even though I dispute the “invalid” part of what you say, I agree with the rest of what you say and the sentiment.

  24. Adam Greenwood says:

    MCQ,

    I see two objections to your analysis. First, TimesandSeasons has a comments policy that it enforces. You may think its wrong to have such a policy, but once its in place surely there’s some obligation to enforce it?

    Second, posts aren’t just statements in their platonic form. The posting of a statement by a particular person is an act, so leaving up an offensive post is, in effect, a repetition of bad act everytime the post is viewed. To the extent that repentance requires undoing the wrong that we’ve done, leaving the post up can also be a failure to repent.

  25. (I’m more interested in the discussion of the babushki who yearned for the days of Stalin, given that I met a lot of Church members who adored Pinochet).

  26. I agree that the “tricky” part of “forgive and forget” is dealing with the aspects of particular actions that should NOT be forgotten – as well as the issue of who has the right to forgive. In that order:

    Stalin and Hitler and any other brutal dictator are the easiest examples of sins that should not be forgotten. We need to remember them if we are to avoid contributing to them happening again. By the same light, I have a moral obligation not to dangle temptation in front of someone – especially if I know that the person in question is susceptible to a particular temptation. (Church records, for example, are marked and forwarded for practical reasons when particular sins and crimes are involved.) I know someone who has struggled with abusive thoughts and actions when dealing with young girls. He is dealing with that tendency as best he can, but I can’t “forget” his past mistakes even if I believe he truly has repented to the best of his ability. There are too many implications for others and him if I forget.

    If I am convinced he truly has repented fully – if his heart truly has changed and he has no more desire OR ability to act that way again, then perhaps I can forget. However, it would be very hard for me to make that type of judgment with any degree of certainty.

    Finally, it is a sad human tendency to think we can (or have the right to) forgive someone who has not hurt us personally. The man I mentioned who has abuses little girls did not hurt me in any real and direct way. It would be easy for me to claim to forgive him, but it also would cheapen the forgiveness requested of those girls and their mother. “I forgive him, and you should, too” is the height of arrogance. We are commanded to forgive those who have hurt us, and we are also commanded to avoid judging others – including their ability to forgive us and others. IMHO, that is incredibly profound – and sometimes brutally difficult.

  27. Adam Greenwood says:

    S.P. Bailey,

    there was no Deus ex Machina. The short version is that (1) Times and Seasons has lots of active permabloggers who don’t read the blog obsessively and who didn’t discover the thread until it had been up for hours and hundreds of comments had been made and (2) Times and Seasons works on a consensus model so we had lots and lots of back and forth before we could settle on a course of action.

  28. Steve: I was assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that we do not have posts in the bloggernacle that qualify as pornography or hate speech. You will note that I did not say it was wrong to delete specific comments (either because they are off-topic or offensive), just entire posts with their comment threads. I had no problem with the redaction of the word “pimp” from Matt’s post, even though I still think it was more funny than offensive.

  29. Adam Greenwood says:

    I dispute the “invalid” part

    Why, Steve E.? Surely you don’t think (1) pretending someone you murdered never existed because (2) you refuse to admit error, is pretty much the same thing as (A) removing a post because it is offensive and (B) publicly apologizing for it?

    Stalin was one of the most evil men to have ever lived. Show me where he ever decided that some public statement of his was insufficiently sensitive to the moral feelings of his listeners and where he publicly apologized for it and I’ll eat my hat.

    Do you really think that T&S taking down a post that arguably crossed some important lines is comparable to the propaganda work of a totalitarian Nazi or Communist state?

  30. Adam (#24): See my #28, I’m not objecting to editing comments that fail to meet your stated policy. As for your second objection, that would apply only to the extent that a post qualifies as a “sin,” which I believe would be very rare indeed.

    Just because you personally disagree with something or even are offended by it, does not mean it should be erased from existence. Blogs may not be journalism per se, but they are free, unique expressions of thought and deserve some protection from those who would hack them up at the least opportunity or provocation.

  31. Adam Greenwood says:

    I met more than a few Spaniards, including some Church members, who wanted Franco back. I met more members who were Communists, though.

  32. At the risk of violating my own #26, may I suggest that we avoid the paper cuts that Ardis mentioned?

  33. Steve Evans says:

    Adam, two things don’t have to be the same for a valid comparison to exist. I completely agree that the T&S deletion and Stalinism are on vastly different scales, but the overall concept of whitewashing history is still a possible comparison to draw. A poor comparison? Sure. Inflammatory? I can get on board with that description. But to say that there is no way the two can begin to be compared is not correct.

    As for your last sentence, that’s a tricky question. I would suppose that the apparatchiks under Stalin who erased the photos probably thought the images arguably crossed some important lines. Comparable in scale and inhumanity? Of course not.

  34. Adam Greenwood says:

    MCQ, we have usually considered that our comments policy were guidelines for our posts also. As to your second point, I think the disagreement between us is that I am inclined to think that posts can and do easily qualify as sin. I agree that blogs, while not journalism, certainly deserve First Amendment protections.

  35. Adam Greenwood says:

    Sure, Steve E. And the SS thought Jews crossed important lines just by existing. But if you removed an obscene post because you thought it crossed important lines, there would be no valid comparison to the SS removal of the Jews from off the face of Europe. The scale and inhumanity, as you point out, make them entirely incomparable. There’s nothing tricky about this.

  36. I had a discussion once with a former bishop who said he constantly prayed that he would be able to forget the confessions he had heard of those who had truly repented. He said that prayer was always answered.

    How would he know?

  37. If you are serious about that last sentence Adam, you may want to reacquaint yourself with the history of some of the expressions that have been allowed to stand under the First Amendment. If Nazis can march protected by the first amendment, perhaps you ought to allow a little more leeway in your definition of “sin.”

  38. That’s funny greenfrog, and a good point, but I think he meant that he could not recall the specifics of the confessions, not that he forgot that they ever happened.

  39. Adam Greenwood says:

    I don’t follow you, MCQ. When I said that blogs deserved First Amendment protections I meant that it should be very difficult for federal, state, and local governments to regulate their content.

  40. The post and many of the comments did seem to violate the T&S comment policy. In fact, I thought it was way out of line. It was the right decision to take it down and to apologize.

    If some posters want their comments back, though, Adam, why don’t you consider emailing them to them, and their can start their own post on the subject on their own blog.

  41. It’s a blog. We took down a post. This apparently makes us Stalin. Or maybe we’re just Stalin for time. You’ll never know, will you?

    So now there’s a(nother) memorial to our mistake. Congratulations, and let the dancing begin. If you hurry, Mr. Indignant Q, you could register http://www.ways-that-times-and-seasons-fedited-up.com — and then you could start an online shrine.

    Meanwhile, please excuse us if we prefer not to continue to self-host a little memorial to a human mistake. I know that strange impulse makes us Stalinesque. You, Mr. Q., eschew such tactics, and proudly tell everyone about every mistake you’ve ever made at the first chance you get. And hey, so should we. I guess we’re just less worthy. Please note that, and repeat it often.

    Fortunately, as this post and others demonstrate, there are already lots of volunteers for the enviable job of Remembering And Publicizing T&S [Edited].

  42. Adam Greenwood says:

    Even under our current First Amendment jurisprudence, it would be entirely permissible for the government to remove posts from an official government blog (if such a thing existed).

  43. Michael says:

    Thanks for the link, Adam. It helps me understand the controversial discussion better, but I’m still not seeing how it violated the blog’s policies. Saying something about a public figure, and then retracting it, doesn’t strike me as being against the blog policy. Maybe I’m just dense? Or maybe this is just a reminder of why I don’t read T&S very often? I dunno.

  44. Since we are not being threatened with government action here, Adam, perhaps you will agree that a degree of restraint should be exercised by those responsible for a group blog before they label a particular post a “sin” and delete it and all its comments. After all, as this thread has shown, there can be legitimate disagreement over whether the line of sin has been crossed.

  45. The whole thing was just lame, especially since apparently, from the comments, the executives at Marriott were apparently sent the link to the post now deleted. What are the executives at Marriott now going to think as they look at a page that says “sorry but the post no longer exists” or something like that.

  46. Adam Greenwood says:

    An excellent suggestion, DavidH. If we don’t repost the thread with an edited version of the post soon, I’ll propose that to everyone else.

    Kaimi W.,
    Steve E.’s being an SOB, but that doesn’t really justify explicit cussing, does it?

  47. Kaimi: That was a little over the top wasn’t it? You’ll note, please, that I was not the one comparing you to Stalin. To those who were though, you appear to be making their point for them.

  48. Yes, Q. Because Stalin was all about blog comments and bad puns. That’s what he’s known for, mostly.

  49. Adam Greenwood says:

    MCQ,
    I still don’t see what the government has to do with it. We’re a private blog and can censor our own output as we see fit. Naturally there’s disagreement about what is appropriate and what is sin (though what we’re talking about here is pretty minor sin, if it is sin). I imagine that lots of people in this world wouldn’t think that pornographic images and racist dialogue made a post sinful, but we would disagree. Ultimately if our cobloggers and a substantial percentage of our target audience think the post crossed the line then we have to take that seriously, even if there’s disagreement out there (or even, to some extent, if there’s internal disagreement among the cobloggers). The post hasn’t been deleted. Its been taken down while we discuss permanent solutions, including making redactions and reposting. I understand that the comments are intact and would be restored along with the edited post.

  50. Adam Greenwood says:

    No, MCQ, Kaimi is not making their point for them. If an intemperate comment is the equivalent of Stalinism, then we’re defining evil way, way, way, way down. The Holocaust was a parking ticket.

  51. That’s possible I suppose, Kaimi, but I was referring more to his personality.

  52. Adam, an SOB? I’ve been trying to be nice and conciliatory on this thread. I find myself oddly hurt by your remark.

  53. Adam: you were the on defining blog posts as sins, not me, remember?

  54. Nick Literski says:

    Adam has told us there was no outside influence on the decision to remove an entire discussion thread, based on a single comment comparing an area authority seventy to one who is paid to arrange prostitution transactions. We have no reason to doubt that Adam is being truthful.

    That said, I expect that if the thread had remained in place, one or more of the persons in charge of T&S would have been called in by their respective stake presidents. I know. I had a very pro-LDS blog, and managed to prematurely publicize a piece of information. As it happens, I became uncomfortable about it and removed it a day or two after posting it. That Sunday, however, my stake president showed up at my ward (an hour away from his home) to visit with me under the direct orders of the First Presidency. All worked out fine in the end, and I was wrong to have posted the information prematurely. I’m simply saying that there are watchful eyes out there, folks, and they take action.

  55. Adam,

    You’re right. I should be less intemperate.

    HP,

    In a post that admits that you pull your own posts, you suggest that we’re out of line for doing that; and in a post that states, “we should all always focus on the best that is,” you draws attention to T&S faults. Did I miss anything?

    If you think that we should always focus on the best, HP, then focus on the damn best. Here’s a hint: Writing about others’ foul-ups in extended discussion is a bad way to go about this.

    Q,

    You’ve indignantly stated that you’re never commenting at T&S again, given our nefarious practice of pulling posts. Now, JDC admits that the same applies to BCC. . . .

    Damn. I guess you really won’t be able to reply to this comment, will you?

    Adam,

    For what it’s worth, I think Steve is trying hard to calm things down.

  56. Adam Greenwood says:

    And I find myself not so oddly hurt by your belief that I and my cobloggers can validly be compared to one of the two most evil groups of men to ever exist and that distinguishing us from a totalitarian propaganda organization is tricky.

    If “nice and conciliatory” are relative terms than, yes, I suppose there are some things you could have said about us in comparison to which what you did say was nice and conciliatory.

  57. Adam: Thanks for your #49. That is a reasonable and thoughtful comment, something this thread has been sorely lacking (excepting, of course, my own comments).

  58. Kaimi: You wish.

  59. Adam Greenwood says:

    I really don’t think the Danites are monitoring our blogs in their top secret headquarters under Mt. Nebo, Nick L. Maybe the Church will now turn down our deal to buy adspace on temple recommends, but that’s probably it. Incidentally, with all the cobloggers we have and all their various viewpoints, it should come as no surprise that the arranger of prostitution comment was not the only thing objected to.

  60. Q,

    You’re _commenting_ on a blog that is _known_ to delete posts!!!!

    How do you sleep at night, man?!

  61. Adam, I didn’t write this post; all I have done is try to explain to you the possible justification for the words of someone else. Your reaction to the comparison is not surprising, but to have it directed personally at me is actually quite surprising, coming from you. Now that your comments have degraded to the point of name-calling and twisting my words, I suggest to you that you need to take a break from commenting for a while and calm down.

  62. Adam Greenwood says:

    Thanks, MCQ. I’m rarely in the reasonable and thoughtful comment business so I appreciate that my efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

    P.S. I originally thought you were talking about #50 and I was kinda scratching my head.

  63. Kaimi: my wife sings to me. Usually a slection of showtunes. It’s awesome.

  64. Q,

    That’s what I thought — exactly like Tamerlane.

  65. Nick Literski says:

    #59: Adam, is your sarcasm really necessary? Do you actually think that the LDS church pays no attention to public statements by its members? Have you never heard of the “Strengthening the Membership Committee,” which was specifically acknowledged by official LDS statement?

    I gave a specific example from my own first-hand experience, showing that church officials do, in fact, monitor Internet activity. You ignore this, choosing instead to mock my comment through your ignorant hyperbole.

    Even without my experience, I can point to a number of similar instances. Only a few months ago, a BYU adjunct professor with stellar job performance suddenly found his contract would not be renewed, because he wrote a letter to the editor which disagreed with a statement by the First Presidency. A friend of mine was fired by Deseret Book the day after his letter to the editor appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune, daring to question the behavior of officials from the LDS Church Historical Department in relation to the Leonard Arrington Collection at Utah State University’s Special Collections department. The list goes on and on.

    These things happen, Adam, even if you find the very idea so laughable.

  66. Adam Greenwood says:

    Steve E.,

    I understand that you would want to defer to JDC about changing the post or apologizing for its contents, at least initially. This does not upset me. But as far as I can tell you were expressing your own views when you said that the T&S-Stalinism comparison was “not invalid” in #23 or in #33 when you said it would “tricky” to say that T&S wasn’t comparable to totalitarian propaganda. I don’t think I’m distorting your views. I think I’m quoting them.

  67. I’m not going to take on the tasks of judging JDC’s post, Times and Seasons, the Marriotts, etc. A bit above my pay grade. I do think it is the case that Soviet primary sources are a textbook case — indeed, perhaps the prototype case — of retrospective editing of the historical record. That makes the Soviet changes probably an unavoidable reference point whenever we talk about documents suddenly changing, vanishing, etc. The same connection probably comes to mind for a lot of people when they learn that the church edited the Joseph Smith history of the church to retroactively remove William Law and other people who eventually apostatized from important spiritual events, ordinances, meetings, and so forth.

    As always with parallels, it’s important to remember that a parallel one one dimension doesn’t imply a parallel on others. Times and Seasons may be like Stalinism in that it retroactively edited the historical record — but it’s also like the LDS church in that same regard. Times and Seasons hasn’t committed any genocides that I know of, and I also doubt that it’s administered very many saving ordinances.

  68. Well, I guess we should all just fess up:

    The real reason the post was pulled was because we’re really all in _favor_ of porn.

    I’d comment further, but I really need to go now and pick up some more Night Train before hitting Bambi’s Boutique.

  69. Adam Greenwood says:

    Nick Literski:

    “If Adam Greenwood’s sarcasm did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.”

    -Freidrich Nietzsche.

  70. Adam Greenwood says:

    Speak for yourself, Kaimi. I’ll be spending the Marriotts’ bribe money on far more edifying fare.

  71. Kristine says:

    Boys!!!

    Stop it. Just stop. Now. I read blogs to escape the incessant whining and bickering of my children. You’re not helping!

    Just so you’ll all know that BCC has the same issues as T&S, my own vote would have been to leave out the Stalinist comparison and/or to wait a bit for the raw feelings to heal over, but I was away from my computer for a while (mostly breaking up fights between my children–hence my annoyance) and missed the chance to say so before the post went up.

    I think we should go back to talking about repentance and memory; there are some interesting questions in there. Please?

  72. Kaimi: You know me well:

    He was said to be tall strongly built and well proportioned, with a large head and broad forehead. His complexion was pale and ruddy, his beard long and his voice full and resonant. Arabshah describes him approaching seventy, a master politician and military strategist:

    steadfast in mind and robust in body, brave and fearless, firm as rock. He did not care for jesting or lying; wit and trifling pleased him not; truth, even were it painful, delighted him…..He loved bold and valiant soldiers, by whose aid he opend the locks of terror, tore men to pieces like lions, and overturned mountains. He was fautless in strategy, constant in fortune, firm of purpose and truthful in business.

    Different sources indicate that Timur is a man with extraordinary intelligence – not only intuitive, but intellectual. Even though he did not know how to read or write, he spoke two or three languages including Persian and Turkic and liked to be read history at mealtimes. He had aesthetic appreciation in buildings and garden. It has been said that he loved art so much that he could not help stealing it! The Byzantine palace gates of the Ottoman capital of Brusa were carried off to Samarkand, where they were much admired by Clavijo. Ibn Khaldun, who met him outside Damascus in 1401 worte:

    “This king Timur is one of the greatest and mightiest kings…he is hightly intelligent and very perspicacious, addicted to debate and argument about what he knows and also about what he does not know!”

    Known to be a chess player, he had invented a more elaborate form of the game, now called Tamerlane Chess, with twice the number of pieces on a board of a hundred and ten squares.

  73. Boys!!!

    Stop it. Just stop. Now.

    Thanks Mom! ;-)

  74. Adam Greenwood says:

    Hey, Kristine, make me. Phhhhhhhhbbbbbbbbbbt!

  75. Kristine says:

    That’s it, Adam. No dessert for you tonight. And you’re losing your new Lego guy for 3 days.

  76. Adam Greenwood says:

    That’s not fair!

  77. Nick,

    “Only a few months ago, a BYU adjunct professor with stellar job performance suddenly found his contract would not be renewed, because he wrote a letter to the editor which disagreed with a statement by the First Presidency.”

    Stellar job performance? I’m honestly curious how you came to get that impression.

  78. Adam,
    I thought that your post raised some relevant questions about what members should and should not be involved in. I find it sad that it was removed.

  79. Eric Russell says:

    I’ll vouch for a pretty good performance. Some kind of strange ideas about leaderless leadership, but an engaging teacher nonetheless.

  80. Adam Greenwood says:

    Agreed, Mr. Chris.

  81. Nick Literski says:

    Google it, Frank. You’ll find he had uniformly positive job performance reviews, as well as positive student evaluations.

  82. Adam Greenwood says:

    Rosie O’Donnell’s battle cry.

  83. re: 82

    snerk!

  84. What I find ironic is that the pimp paralell was a lot more called for than the Stalin one. Pimp gets deleted while Stalin lives on.

  85. –commence joking —

    ronito, it’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife. It’s hard out there for a pimp.

    p.s. Stalin lives on!?? Zombie Stalin must be stopped at all costs.

  86. Nick,

    I googled him and found that he was (on rate my professor) far and away the easiest professor employed by the philosophy department. In case you have any doubts– that is a decided negative in most professor’s worldview. And I have a certain amount of minimal inside knowledge suggesting that “stellar job performance” would be a strong overstatement.

  87. Wait, did Matt actually apologize for the pimp remark or did T&S collectively apologize for him? It would be nice to say that that little detail doesn’t matter but in fact it probably does to anyone who reads Matt’s future posts.

  88. Nick Literski says:

    I obviously can’t speak to your “minimal inside knowledge,” Frank. I assume that by “inside,” you mean BYU administration. Do you suppose there’s the slightest chance that BYU administration could be (a) colored in their academic evaluation of a man who dared disagree with the First Presidency, and/or (b) covering their collecive posteriors?

    He certainly didn’t seem to have any trouble getting another job in short order, so I suspect his credentials were rather positive.

  89. Nick,

    I mean people in the philosophy department. I took classes there ten years ago and so I know several of them.

    As for “getting another job” I don’t know what you are talking about. As an adjunct, he always had another job.

  90. Rusty,

    FYI, Matt personally did apologize on the thread for the comment.

  91. Great! I didn’t see it before it disappeared.

  92. mfranti says:

    do I have to stop the car?

  93. Nick,

    In the spirit of revisionist history, I beg to differ with you on Mr. Nielsen’s termination. You wrote he was terminated:

    because he wrote a letter to the editor which disagreed with a statement by the First Presidency.

    That’s not the whole story. Mr. Nielsen labeled the FP and Q12’s position on a critical moral issue as:

    troubling, immoral, discriminatory, and based on fear and superstition

    [admin edit: these two statements look substantively equivalent.]

    See here, here, and here.

  94. Steve: I have a copyright on that joke.

  95. MCQ, no way do you have a copyright on Zombie Stalin.

  96. If anyone will be pimpin’ out Zombie Stalin it will be me!

  97. no: “it’s hard out here for a pimp” that is so mine.

  98. R.W. Rasband says:

    I haven’t seen an apology from Matt Welch anywhere in the bloggernacle about his “pimp” comments. Consequently I have no idea whether or not he is sorry for writing such an outrageous, extremist thing.

  99. Zombie Stalin is barely a joke.

  100. Sort of an “un-joke”

  101. Julie M. Smith says:

    R. W. Rasband,

    I think you just cross-bred Matt and Rosalynde and I doubt either will be happy about it.

  102. Julie, Matt might.

  103. Looks like I missed all the fun. I did not see the deleted post.

    Although I am ignorant of the relevant details, it seems to me that there is a world of a difference between Stalin turning a former friend into a non-person and a blogger or a group of bloggers deciding that they are ashamed of their words.

    Taking back one’s words can be an honorable thing. Denying one’s friends is never honorable, especially when the removal from the picture signifies physical annihilation.

    Any decent apology for an insult includes the phrase “I take it back.”

    I do not know if there was cause to take something back but I can imagine any number of circumstances where that might be an appropriate choice.

  104. Way to kill the thread, Hellmut.

  105. Eric Russell says:

    MCQ, how have you copyrighted Craig Brewer’s line?

  106. Nick Literski says:

    #93 Guy:
    Ummm…Thank you for demonstrating that he wrote a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, disagreeing with the First Presidency.

  107. R.W. Rasband says:

    Oops, Evans. I still ain’t hearin’ no apology.

  108. Nick,

    As I said . . revisionist history.

  109. Once again, we have proof of the Inverse Ratio of Responses. (My new favorite theory, BTW)

    (Also, all this slapping while I was absent – How dare you!)

  110. Before anyone else posts more comments, may I suggest going back to JDC’s original post and re-reading the last sentence and Ardis’ first comment – then seriously considering the flow of comments throughout this thread? Talk about profound, JDC and Ardis.

  111. Eric: I didn’t copyright it as a line, just as a joke. Steve is intentionally trying to co-opt it for his own snarky purposes. I won’t have it.

  112. I’m glad the post was taken down. It was ugly. The Marriotts are public figures, but they are still real people. When I’m world-famous and fabulously wealthy I still want to be just plain Tatiana to you guys, okay? That means you can call me up at all hours still, but please don’t publicly rake me over the coals for things you think I shouldn’t be doing. If you’re really concerned about it then talk to me privately in friendship. I promise I’ll listen. =)

  113. Yikes! I haven’t had time to read all the comments yet (I’ve been actually working), but I do wish to make something clear.

    I don’t consider T&S to be a Stalinist regime or Stalinist in any way. The clumsiness of Stalinist revisionism (and particularly the disappearance of unsavory elements) reminded me of the disappearance of blog posts, whose loss is immediately noticed (at least by obsessives like me). I don’t believe anyone at T&S to be Stalin, Brezhnev, Lenin, or Trotsky. I wrote this as a sort of apology for the removal of the posts, because I could understand the impulse behind it. It reminded me of things we go through while repenting.

    I apologize for offense given. I really don’t believe that T&S is a Stalinist regime. I do believe that we would like to retract our most embarassing moments and it was this that I was trying to get at.

  114. Yikes! I haven’t had time to read all the comments yet (I’ve been actually working), but I do wish to make something clear.

    I don’t consider T&S to be a Stalinist regime or Stalinist in any way. The clumsiness of Stalinist revisionism (and particularly the disappearance of unsavory elements) reminded me of the disappearance of blog posts, whose loss is immediately noticed (at least by obsessives like me). I don’t believe anyone at T&S to be Stalin, Brezhnev, Lenin, or Trotsky. I wrote this as a sort of apology for the removal of the posts, because I could understand the impulse behind it. It reminded me of things we go through while repenting.

    I apologize for offense given. I really don’t believe that T&S is a Stalinist regime. I do believe that we would like to retract our most embarassing moments and it was this that I was trying to get at.

  115. Aaron Brown says:

    Someone please summarize the previous 114 comments, as I don’t have to read them all before I chime in with something gratuitously offensive and inane.

    Aaron B

  116. Adam Greenwood says:

    I know you didn’t mean any offense, John C. I would appreciate it if the post were edited or at least if a statement were inserted disavowing the comparison you made.

  117. Paging Julie. Aaron wants a summary.

  118. Nick Literski says:

    Gosh, Guy. It really MUST be “revisionist” to state the same things you did, in summary. I get it, though. I “revised history” by neglecting to point out that since he disagreed publicly with the First Presidency of the LDS church, he was obviously EEEEEEE-VIL!!!

    It seems to me that if the First Presidency’s opinions really come from deity, they shouldn’t need threats and firings (oh…excuse me…”decisions not to renew contracts”) to back them up, let alone extremist bloggers.

  119. Nick, please drop this. You know who blogs here and how offensive the tone of these comments is – especially as an obvious invective threadjack.

  120. patrick says:

    Adam, in 5, and 116, your comments suggest (to me) you’d like an level of control over this site that seems odd, given you’ve left your own playground.

    Should bycc start posting your Catholic news feeds too?

  121. Nick,
    Whatever else Neilsen might have done, he effectively called his employers either senile or wicked, which is no way to keep a job (especially at a religious university).

    Adam,
    I stand by my only comparison (which is that the removal of blog posts is as obvious and clumsy a way to remove our sins as the removal of Trotsky from Soviet photos). My regret is that I posted this as the last thing in a list of things to do at the library and immediately left, becoming unable to watch and influence the nature of the thread. I didn’t post a link to the apology because I did want the thread to be about the nature of repentance and memory and I didn’t want it to be a referendum on Times and Seasons (or its policies/past/etc.). I didn’t mean to compare you to Hitler and I tried to be explicit about that in the piece (the fourth paragraph, heretofore unremarked upon, was written with the intent of limiting the comparison).

    Kaimi,
    When I removed a blog post that I had published, it was on a different blog than this one. I don’t know the extended history of BCC and it is entirely possible that they have removed posts in the past. I wouldn’t be surprised. As I stated in the piece, it is a natural impulse and I understand the desirability of post removal. While it is possible to apologize for something, its continued internet existence implies pride in it. One’s words often outlive the idea or emotion that sparked them. Especially as one comes to discard the ideas of the past, the ongoing existence of one’s words becomes a liability. People are always asking you about things you used to believe (didn’t Nibley complain about this once?). I am torn by the desire to keep our words, faulty and misunderstood though they may be, and by the desire to erase my mistakes, so that by next week, when no one remembers today’s controversy (or, more correctly, yesterday’s) no-one can pick at this scab again for kicks. For me, where I am right now, I don’t think I’ll delete the piece (although I might alter it).

    Everyone else, play nice and talk about repentance or I will delete your comments.

  122. Peter LLC says:

    Ray in 110:

    Before anyone else posts more comments, may I suggest going back to JDC’s original post and re-reading the last sentence and Ardis’ first comment

    Fair enough, I’ll even quote them:

    While there is something to the blogging ideal of leaving everything up, warts and all, I can’t think of a good reason for it.

    Nobody with any sense wants to look at someone else’s paper cuts, and paper cuts heal quickly when they aren’t picked at and inflamed.

    Since these comment postdate the Jettboy post, I won’t ask why it was published in the first place, but I do wonder why it still stands given the low tolerance of those with the power of the pen for offensive posts.

  123. Tom Manney says:

    I hate to throw Molotov cocktails at a dying fire, but as a lurker I’m really struggling to grasp this thread. Maybe someone can clue me.

    Adam Greenwood calls on BCC to delete offensive paragraphs in a post that decries erasing offensive comments. Say what?

    Everyone agrees that profanity isn’t a controversial deletion, so Kaimi obligingly demonstrates the infraction. Isn’t “[edited]” refreshing? I still get a chance to toss a few bombs even though I’m late to the riot.

    And here’s a comparison that shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Apparently you can’t call J.W. a prostitute’s boss, but you can call Steve E. a whore’s progeny.

    I thought the idea was to bail the water OUT of the boat.

  124. Peter LLC says:

    Everyone else, play nice and talk about repentance or I will delete your comments.

    See what I’m talking about? Low tolerance, and yet…

  125. Tom and Peter,
    We get it. We are bad people (or, at least, people). Please say something about repentance or move along

  126. Tom Manney says:

    Sorry John. I was in the act of composing my post when you asked everyone to stop.

  127. I’ve often repented in that moment between the click of the mouse and the screen refresh, but then again, I’ve always counted on the forgiving nature of this New Media we purvey and participate in at, apparently, some peril.

  128. fwiw, I think Matt got it right.

    I also think Bushman got it right when he said:

    As long as we’re all polite to one another, there isn’t going to be true understanding.

    And this guy really got it right:

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
    –George Orwell

  129. Something that strikes me is that, often, forgetting can be the opposite of repentance. We forget so that we can move away from an issue without doing anything to right the wrong. The Stalinist image changes in John’s original post are clear instances of this. Was Stalin’s regime repenting when it removed disgraced or murdered individuals from past official photos? In this case, the removal seems to be the opposite of an expression of regret, doesn’t it? Arguably, the case of William Law in LDS church history is also a case of avoidance rather than repentance. I doubt that Law’s retroactive removal from the records of the first endowment session and other important events was meant as an apology, by the people involved, for how badly the Nauvoo establishment handled the Expositor episode.

    When the bad act in question is a speech act, then removing the speech may arguably be a component of repentance. Although there’s also a case to be made that a speech can’t be removed. It has already been perpetrated and imprinted onto the minds of its audience. All that can be removed is one or another official record of that speech act. While removing such a record may sometimes be done with the aim of repentance, a major side effect is (as above) the avoidance of accountability. But nonetheless, I think the issues involved in repentance for bad speech acts may be separate from those involved in other forms of repentance.

    For sins other than speech acts, it seems to me that forgetting on our part may be the opposite of repentance. The Lord may forget our sins, but until they’ve lost the sting that motivates us to want to forget them, we haven’t finished repenting.

  130. I am not sure it is ever desirable to forget our own sins. I do believe that, through God’s grace, we may someday stop feeling the stings of our sins, but I am not certain we should forget them (as much as we might like to). We have an awful lot to learn from them.

    That said, the retraction of ill-begotten speech acts is probably part of the repentance process.

  131. Adam Greenwood says:

    John C.,
    I am deeply offended that you continue to perpetuate a comparison between T&S and Stalinism. As several people have pointed out here, removing offensive speech isn’t a way of hiding from one’s sins, its a way of undoing the wrong. I can only conclude that you aren’t really apologetic.

  132. Steve Evans says:

    John C., I’m going to disregard your injunction against the threadjack — feel free to delete this.

    Peter LLC, you said, “Since these comment postdate the Jettboy post, I won’t ask why it was published in the first place, but I do wonder why it still stands given the low tolerance of those with the power of the pen for offensive posts.”

    It still stands because I want it to, and I posted it, and it is really none of your business, Peter LLC, how this blog is run, or for that matter any blog where you are not a contributor. I stand by the post and I still feel the same way about the remarks Jettboy made and did not retract. Go away if you don’t like it.

  133. I’ve already sold the movie rights to this episode, it’s called:

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Blog

    The opening screen is gonna be these lines from Goldwater’s 1964 Acceptance Speech:

    …Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism …

  134. Adam Greenwood says:

    I assume that John C. wouldn’t have a problem with the following, were I to post it:

    In one of the provinces of Iraq, a local family was apparently having a dispute with the local Al Qaeda organization. Al Qaeda leaders invited them to dinner to discuss things. For the main course, the Al Qaeda leaders brought out the family’s 11-year old son, baked, with an apple in his mouth. This reminds me of John C.’s comments in this thread, because both have involved the expression of disagreement.

  135. Adam, is that Al Qaeda story true?? Those bastards.

  136. Nick Literski says:

    Lest we get too excited about baked 11-year-olds, remember that in the first Gulf War, we had a Kuwaiti woman crying on American television about how the Iraqi soldiers had entered a hospital, thrown babies to the floor, and confiscated the incubators. Only later did we find out that this woman was an actress, and a member of the Kuwait royal family, and that the whole thing was fabricated to build American support for military action.

    Besides, Adam. If you actually compare blog entries with the supposed baking of an 11 year old, you have serious need of some therapy.

    One more comment. From anything I’ve seen, the T&S powers that be removed Matt’s post without Matt’s request or consent. If any “repentance” was called for on Matt’s part (and I don’t think there was), it wasn’t accomplished by someone else removing the post.

  137. Er, Nick, I think you’re missing Adam’s point, which is (I suppose) that turnabout is fair play when it comes to outrageous comparisons.

  138. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 121
    “…..which is no way to keep a job (especially at a religious university).”

    At an LDS university, perhaps. While nobody can seriously question BYU’s right to get rid of him after his letter, it was incredibly bad PR at the very least. It’s hard to imagine that a faculty member at a Catholic university would be terminated over a letter to the editor of a major newspaper. Can anyone produce examples similar to the Nielsen case from other religious schools? Hans Kung taught and published heterodox theology for years before the Vatican moved against him.

    From my perspective (this is going to be upsetting to some–sorry), the Church and its subordinate organizations like BYU are a bit like contemporary China. We observe tremendous growth and burgeoning freedom of discourse at the base, and increasing concern about loss of central control at the top. The central leadership responds by establishing, completely unspokenly, certain red lines that must not be crossed. Most people figure out what those are and happily stay within the boundaries. The occasional warning shot (Grant Palmer, Nielsen, et. al.) is a form of meta-communication from the leadership.

    Fortunately, the Brethren are bit more compassionate in their response than the Politburo. At worst, they ask someone to leave the fellowship of the Church (well, OK, there is that whole loss-of-salvation thing too).

    My cynical view might also explain why the Marriotts inexplicably get a pass on the mass-porn-distribution issue. Would an organization concerned about loss of central control want to risk alienating some of its most powerful, affluent members?

  139. Nick Literski says:

    I just tried to find this “baked boy” story via Google and Google News. Not surprisingly, it’s all over blogs. Only *one* non-blog news source contained the story—the National Review. Even the National Review story reported this as something told the reporter by another source, and the reporter specifically said he couldn’t vouch for the truthfulness of the claim.

  140. Adam Greenwood says:

    Nick Literski,
    I cannot vouch for the truthfulness of the baked boy story. I hope its false.

  141. Chino,
    Neither BCC or T&S is an oppressive dictatorial regime. They are blogs. However, if you keep this up, I might be willing to change my stance thereon, at least as regards your commenting.

    Adam,
    I am sorry that we are going to part ways on this. If it makes you feel any better, replace Stalinist propagandists with bitter ex-girlfriends/boyfriends who cut their former beloved out of pictures or some such. I respect you and like you and I have tried to explain the limits that I am setting on the comparison. If you are still incensed, I continue to apologize, but I have done all the accomodating that I plan to do.

    Mike,
    Jeff Nielsen is so not an extended topic for this thread.

  142. Adam Greenwood says:

    Steve E.,
    I don’t think anyone knows if the story is true or not. The source is a reporter talking to the family through an interpreter. The reporter said that he didn’t have any confirmation from other sources that this happened. Al Qaeda are bastards–this story is from the same province where its well-documented that Al Qaeda slaughtered every man, woman, child and animal in a village they were displeased with–but whether they were bastards in just this particular way is still uncertain.

  143. Adam Greenwood says:

    Fine, John C. I see that, like Hitler, you’ve decided to claim that you have good intentions but not do anything to back those intentions up.

  144. …the retraction of ill-begotten speech acts is probably part of the repentance process…

    This is really the difficult issue, isn’t it? Surely, retraction is necessary. But does retraction entail deletion of text copies of the speech act? Or does retraction instead entail the performance of additional, countervailing speech acts? Retraction can of course be most directly and unambiguously achieved by sincere and public repudiation of the speech act by its author. Such repudiation does not necessarily entail, and is not necessarily enhanced by, sending the speech act down the memory hole. Obviously, there is a responsibility to make sure that future audiences for the act are made aware of the repudiation — and if that somehow isn’t possible, then destruction of records of the speech act may be advisable.

    There is scriptural guidance in favor of not trying to take our sins out of the public sphere:

    …when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves… (D&C 121:37)

    It seems to me that it is probably quite difficult for one to be sure that one’s own motives in removing a public record of a hurtful speech act do not involve some aspect of attempting to cover sins, to remove the record of them. There’s a tricky balancing act between this motive and the positive motive of not repeating the speech act itself.

  145. Nick Literski says:

    You just have to know that a religious group that would kill “every man, woman, child and animal in a village” is made up of complete lunatics. Any reasonable person knows that a deity which would direct such a thing couldn’t be a deity at all.

    Nevermind that according to the Bible, the ancient Israelites were commanded to do exactly that when it came to villages of Caananite infidels, and that the Isrealite deity punished them when one Israelite thought it would be best to save a few animals for sacrificial offerings….

  146. That’s the thing. Leaving it it out there implies continued assent to its ideas. Erasing it implies denial that it ever existed, which could lead to easier repetition. Obviously, what we do will come done to what we, with God, decide. And we will have to live with that.

  147. Oh Nick. Are you really going to walk down the road of comparing ancient Israel to Al Qaeda? This may be the thread of outrageous comparisons, but even Adam and John C. have limits.

  148. Chino,
    Neither BCC or T&S is an oppressive dictatorial regime. They are blogs. However, if you keep this up, I might be willing to change my stance thereon, at least as regards your commenting.

    Take it easy, I’m fully aware of how annoying this can be …

    I get criticism, with some of it being thoughtful and interesting commentary on stuff I’ve written, but much of it is of the “what you should do with your blog” flavor. That is, people who insist that their priorities should be my priorities, that their interests should take precedent over my own.

    There’s also the time spent trying to manage a community, which is actually a rather complex task that takes a lot of time even though it really benefits a relatively small number of readers. I love the comments community, and I’d be bored without it, but the fact is that the vast majority of people who read this site neither read nor participate in it.

    Ban me for pasting a Goldwater quote into your comments section, whatever, it’s just words on a screen, which should be the easiest things to forgive in my book, but maybe I’m just weird that way …

  149. Nick Literski says:

    Steve, Adam basically said that he didn’t doubt the “baked boy” story, because Al Qaeda was evil enough to “slaughter every man, woman, child and animal in a village.” Not only is the reasoning laughable, but it appears Adam conveniently forgot that precisely the same action was taken by ancient Israel, presumably the followers of the same deity as LDS-ism. What’s more, the record left behind emphatically states that deity commanded them to do it. I was merely pointing out to Adam that his comment was a major case of “pot calling the kettle black.”

  150. I liked the Goldwater quote!

  151. Nick, you’d best move on, I think, from this line of discussion.

  152. “…Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth.”

    There is a lot of demanding going on here all around, especially for a thread on repentence.

    I demand that it stop.

  153. Ok. I’m done. Ya’ll go spill your bile somewhere else (you should know who I mean). I’m closing comments.

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