Saturday, May 31, 2008


A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune published a comment by Rebecca Walsh that pointed out that the ACLU hasn't been particularly valiant in defense of the women's issues that have clearly come to the forefront of the Texas/FLDS child custody case in recent weeks. If I remember correctly, she characterized the ACLU response as "waffling".

Ms. Antoinnette Billings of Cottonwood Heights has taken umbrage, and responded with a Public Forum Letter, which I have linked and quoted in its entirety, along with my own comments.

FLDS women brainwashed
Public Forum Letter
Salt Lake Tribune

Rebecca Walsh confuses feminists with the American Civil Liberties Union in "Feminists waffle in FLDS case" (Tribune, May 25). Polygamy is inherently sexist. It fosters the control of women. Feminists have no role in the defense of women in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Feminism rightfully selects issues that address a woman's right against subordination. It would be appropriate to assist the FLDS women in a variety of ways, but not in their "choice" to allow abuse to perpetually rain upon their children. There is no "choice" to defend when brainwashing begins at birth.

The notion that a woman gains power in polygamy is an acquiescent lie. It is something she achieves through the manipulation of her husband in the performing of her childbearing and household duties. Manipulating one's spouse instead of communicating as adults has no place in any equal partnership. Manipulation belongs in the repertoire of wily, whining children. In the adult, it is found in the dishonest and immature.

An issue of "waffling" or "conflict" does not exist.

Antoinette Billings
Cottonwood Heights

There were many comments, and I added my own.

This charge of being brainwashed is a clever but vacuous argument, designed to discredit anyone who chooses to oppose a particular point of view, in this case, a feminist one. It's manipulative, dishonest, and deceitful. It's a clever way of saying "the choice you've made is stupid, so you must be stupid."

Today's feminists are a generation who have grown up having been thoroughly indoctinated in the feminist dogma. In other words, they've been brainwashed, too.

The problem with this kind of argument is that it dehumanizes the people who are being targeted. If you've been brainwashed, the argument would logically flow, then you shouldn't be allowed to make choices, you shouldn't be allowed to vote, you shouldn't be allowed to make personal decisions, such as who to marry, or when, and you shouldn't be allowed to have children. If you've been brainwashed, then it's alright for the state to take away your children and put them up for adoption, hopefully by people who've been indoctinated in a more acceptable dogma.

If you're interested, you can go to the link and read all the comments. Be warned, some of them are pretty tedious.

Incidentally, here are some dictionary definitions of brainwashing and propaganda:

1 : a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas
2 : persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship


: the spreading of ideas or information to further or damage a cause; also
: ideas or allegations spread for such a purpose

To be honest, I believe there's been an inordinate amount of brainwashing and propaganda going on for several decades, in the news media, in public schools and on college campuses, and it's a liberal, leftist, socialist idealogy that has been promoted. The purpose, I suppose, is to establish this idealogy as the approved, acceptable social dogma, to which all civil society must ascribe.

To counter this trend, many conservative parents have started sending their children to private schools, or began homeschooling. And to counter that trend, there's a movement afoot to make homeschooling in California illegal. If Illiberal liberals don't like something that's going on, they just criminalize it.

Hattie Mae Charming

Hattie Mae, who's 22 months old, came to the hospital to visit her newborn cousin Anson. It took her a few minutes to wake up from her nap and perk up her usual charming smile, but she managed.

Here she poses with one of her favorite people, her mom.

And here is little cousin Anson, one day old.

Anson was more interested in sleeping than meeting his relatives.

Anson may have been the center of attention, but with this great smile, Hattie Mae held her own very well, thank you.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogger wonders why LDS Church seems to be AWOL in Texas/YFZ custody case.

"It is a matter of some curiousity to me personally that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, normally so quick to offer aid and comfort to victims of oppression and natural disaster, have apparently offered nothing to these people, not even kind words. To date, I have heard only assertions that those FLDS are not connected with 'us' in any way. Where is the Good Samaritan?" --Kurt Shulzke, I Perceive blog

It took me a while to formulate a response from my own personal perspective. Here it is:

Being a member I can give a little insight, from my own perspective, as to why the LDS Church has had so little to say in this matter. The LDS Church has renounced polygamy as a practice, but not as a doctrine. The Church excommunicates members who practice polygamy, and refers to the polygamous offshoots as apostates. Most of the polygamists refer to the LDS Church as apostate since they no longer practice polygamy. The LDS Church actively proselytizes among all other people, but they make no effort to proselytize among apostate groups. Early Church history documents that much of the persecution the Church endured was stirred up by apostates, so the Church is reluctant to take a bullet, so to speak, for apostates.

The Church is damned if they do, and damned if they don't, in this case. If they step up and say this is a case of religious persecution, critics of the Church are poised to say the Church is defending polygamy and is against the rule of law, and that they have a secret desire to re-establish the practice of polygamy. If they step up and say Texas is doing the right thing by prosecuting these people, other critics will say that the Church is delighting in the persecution of its enemies. The Church, I'm sure, wants to avoid that perception at all costs. So the Church has been content to keep silent, except for the steadfast disavowal of any relationship with the FLDS.

But even Judge Walther has dragged the LDS Church into the middle of this mess. While in the shelter in San Angelo, CPS didn't allowed private prayer time for fear that the FLDS mothers would use the time to coach the children to avoid answering CPS questions. Judge Walther suggested that LDS representatives could supervise the prayer sessions. But she didn't understand the tension that exists between the two faiths. FLDS members would resent it and view it as an intrusion, and LDS members would wonder why they should be asked to spy on the FLDS for CPS. Let them do their own spying. They seem pretty adept at that anyway. Understand that this is my personal perception of the rock and a hard place that the LDS Church finds itself in with this difficult situation.

It's safe to say that the way the FLDS practice this tenet of their religion makes most Latter-Day Saints very uneasy. Forced or arranged marriages of 13 or 14 year old girls to 50 + year old men or cousins or uncles is as repugnant to present day Mormons as it is to Baptists or any other group. Plural marriage as practiced by 19th century Mormons was voluntary, and even the first wife had a say, as I understand it.

My own view of this whole thing is that this seizing of all the children was wrong, and motivated by prejudice and bias, and CPS has run a ruthless hate campaign against the FLDS group, knowing that if they can get the rest of us to despise these people enough, they just might get away with this horrible abuse of power. If there have been crimes committed, prosecute the guilty, prove the crimes in court and punish them apropriately if convicted. But this business of taking all the children before any crimes have been proven punishes the innocent before the guilty.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Newborn Grandbaby

Meet Anson Riley Petersen, born at 1:46 p.m. Mountain Time yesterday, 27 May 2008. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 9 oz.

Mother Jodi and baby (and daddy Brad) are all doing great.

So far he hasn't been very fussy at all. We were there for well over an hour and he hardly even whimpered. Quite content to just lie there and sleep. Brad laid him down and uncovered him to see if he'd object. Nope. ZZZZZZZ.

So he tickled his feet. He didn't like that very much, and objected. "Daddy, quit picking on me!"

Soon he was right back in Slumberville.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

In honor of all who have honorably served our nation, we're flying the flag today at blog648. Thank you.
I borrowed a tribute Ronald Reagan paid to The Unknown Soldier in 1984 that was published in the Salt Lake Tribune.
"About him we may well wonder, as others have: As a child, did he play on some street in a great American city? Or did he work beside his father on a farm out in America's heartland? Did he marry? Did he have children? Did he look expectantly to return to a bride? "We'll never know the answers to these questions about his life. We do know, though, why he died. He saw the horrors of war but bravely faced them, certain his own cause and his country's cause was a noble one; that he was fighting for human dignity, for free men everywhere. "Today we pause to embrace him and all who served us so well in a war whose end offered no parades, no flags, and so little thanks. We can be worthy of the values and ideals for which our sons sacrificed - worthy of their courage in the face of a fear that few of us will ever experience - by honoring their commitment and devotion to duty and country."
- PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN at Arlington National Cemetery, May 28, 1984, to commemorate the tomb of the Unknown Soldier who fought during the Vietnam War.
You can read tributes that others have paid to Veterans here:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Unshackle FLDS Girls

FLDS moms and kids prepare to board buses at the YFZ ranch in Texas on 5 April 2008.
Photo from Captive FLDS Children website.

Here is a Public Forum letter that appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune entitled "Unshackle FLDS Girls."

I am a 15-year-old girl with a cell phone and iPod. Call me spoiled. I like sports, boys and dancing. I still play with my dog. It wasn't that long ago that I believed in Santa Claus and gave my mom painted rocks for Mother's Day.

I can't imagine being married at this age, let alone having a baby. I'm pretty sure those FLDS girls are just like me in most ways. They want to enjoy their youth, friendships and all that modern life has to offer, and not be handed over to some gross old guy and forced to sleep with him. Helloooo?

Hooray for the Texas authorities who raided the Yearning for Zion ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Maybe they can take the girls to Great Clips hair salon and then to the mall for a new pair of shorts. It's about time someone stepped in to stop this robbery of precious childhood.

Ellen Sliwinski
Salt Lake City

As you can imagine, there were many colorful responses, some applauding this young lady, others mocking her. You can go to the link and read the comments if you like.

I commented also. Here's my response:

"Do you know that when they were first taken to the shelter, those FLDS girls were not allowed to pray if they wanted to? Nor were they allowed to close the door when they went to the bathroom.

A teen age boy got up to give a talk, and officers took him away and locked him in a utility closet. They left him there overnight, then took him away in the morning.

I suspect if they took these girls to the mall, they might have to shackle them together to keep them from running away. I suspect they would have to be forced to get haircuts, and they'd have to hold them down to strip those prairie dresses off and put those new shorts on.

Yes, it's a shame someone didn't step in sooner and free these girls from their oppressors."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My YFZ Photo Gallery

Here's an interesting photograph I borrowed from the Grits for Breakfast blog. It's unattributed, but appears to be a phone-camera image that was taken surreptitiously. It's a fairly ambiguous photo. Does it show young FLDS boys who are caught in a sinister opressive cult that will precondition them to become predatory males and child rapists? Or are they prisoners of the state, incarcerated for no other reason than that their parents practice a strange, unpopular religion and their mothers wear odd, 19th century dresses and hairstyles?

My YFZ gallery is growing. Here's another photo, also borrowed from GFB, of a young girl being bused away into state foster care.

Here's another of my favorites, a Deseret News photo featuring a Baptist missionary, a former FLDS "escapee" who can't wait to take as many of the FLDS children into her care as the state will allow, so she can convert them and save their souls from hell.

Here are some links for more background:

2008 Spring Salon of the Springville Museum of Art

Every year I try to get to the Springville Art Museum for their Spring Salon, which features works by Utah artists, as well as famous former Utah artists.
This is "Who" by Jeff Hein, a Salt Lake City artist who, incidentally, is a friend of my son and his wife. Jeff is clearly a "talented boy", as my wife Laura said. He has a studio and art acadamy in Salt Lake City and is opening another in Provo, in partnership with several other artists.

This is the Step Down Gallery in the front of the museum. It's kind of the unofficial place of honor. Really large pieces are usually displayed in this gallery.

Another view of the Step Down Gallery.

This is a work by Justin Taylor, one of the artists working with Jeff Hein at the Bridge Acadamy in Provo.

Here is "Call of the Wild", by Chris Paul Miles. It received a merit award, and in my view deserved at least that.

This is, um, the "Step Up Gallery" just off the Step Down Gallery.

This is a piece by a well known Utah artist who works in bronze and features little children. L'Deana something. Well known to all but me apparently, because I can't remember her last name. She has several pieces in the permanent collection at the museum.

Here is a large charcoal drawing that looks very nearly photographic.

Heron II

One of my favorite paintings in this year's show. I like the use of the bright red drawer contrasting with with the white knob and the shadow to give the whole composition a distinct 3-dimensional quality. Did I bother to remember the name of the artist, or the title of the work? Sorry, no. I didn't take notes and it's gone down the memory hole.

This very large painting was another of my favorites. The following day when I returned to the Museum it was not in it's place, and it's name plaque was gone, too. Perhaps it was being photographed for the catalogue, but no one I talked to seemed to know what happened to it.

Another view of the Step Up Gallery. It actually has a name, but I never pay attention to those things.

The Hallway Gallery, just off the Step Up Gallery. Yes, I'm making these names up as I go.

This is not a thrown clay pot. The medium is wood. Nice job.

This is the Whimsical, Slightly Wierd Gallery, where whimsical, slightly wierd art objects seem to gravitate.

I liked this whimsical, slightly wierd piece. I didn't get the title or the artist's name.

This reminds me of the float bulb in a toilet tank. That's not a value judgment. I already said I liked the piece.

It seems like every year at least one artist submits a work with a "Tree of Life" theme.

Leaving the Whimsical, Slightly Wierd Gallery and entering the Land of the Truly Strange, where truly strange "objets d'art" seem to gather at the annual show. I think the actual name of this gallery is the West Gallery, but calling it the Wild West Gallery would be misleading.

This peice was suspended from the cieling and was entitled "Cleave Unto...". Again, that's not a value statement. I didn't say I didn't like it.

Yeah, I like red.

This piece was stuck over in a dark corner where we almost missed it. Laura did a double take and then asked me "Is this, uh, artwork?" I assured her it was intentional, and showed her the name and title plaque. I've forgotten the title, except that the word "light" appeared in it. The large glass tube in the center changed to different colors as we watched. Kinda cool.

This was a large, "wall sized" piece. Striking, if for nothing but it's size.

This was a small, bright piece suitable for hanging on a pillar. By Shirley Hancock Nelson of North Ogden, it was entitled "the Painter".

I think it's interesting that the museum shows the year of birth of each artist, and they leave a blank space for the death date, as if they expect that to happen at any moment. I've never seen a death date on a work displayed in the annual Spring Salon. I assume that dead artists don't bother to submit their work.

Back in the Slightly Wierd Gallery; I realize that art is a highly subjective endeavor. My dad used to say really obnoxious things about work that he considered unworthy of consideration. His favorite quip: "I've seen better art on toilet paper!", followed by an evil smirk. For some reason, this piece reminded me of my dad and what he used to say. The artist is Frank McEntire of Salt Lake City, and the piece is entitled "Lord of Hosts". Clearly Mr. McEntire considers some aspect of Mormonism to be, um, "birdcage worthy". And yes, that is a value judgment, on both our parts, I suppose.

Incidentally, the fact that this work, or any work was exhibited, is a value judgement on the part of somebody.

"Birth of Spring" by Jack Moford of American Fork.

"Rub-a-dub-dub, Three Men in a Tub".
No, I'm kidding.

Leaving the Whimsical, Slightly Wierd Gallery, heading for the Wild West Gallery. Which by the way, is not in the West Gallery.

"Gentlemen's Foursome", by Arnold Friberg. Incidentally, you can click on any of the photographs for an enlarged view.

This work is called "the Mittens". I have been to this exact location and tried to take this same picture many times.

Obviously, I didn't photograph every piece that was in the exhibit. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do that. I photographed works that struck me in some way. I know that every year the powers that be at the museum decline to exhibit hundreds of works submitted for the annual Salon. Often, Laura and I have noted with surprise that a certain piece received an award of merit or second place or something like that and wondered why. And then again, other pieces that we liked and viewed as worthy of an award didn't receive one, and we wondered why not. So clearly, art is a subjective endeavor. Still, as we left, I thought I would have liked to have seen some of the works that were rejected for this year's show. I'm not sure that's a value judgment.

Have a nice day. Thanks for viewing.