Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

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Doctor Scratch
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Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

I'm sure that everyone by now has heard the news that John Gee's book, Saving Faith: How Families Protect, Sustain, and Encourage Faith, has been pulled from shelves. Unsurprisingly, the Mopologists aren't happy about this, and indeed, the the bellyaching continues apace:
Sic et Non wrote:That brief sentence comes forcibly to my mind as I contemplate the situation summarized and endorsed by Jana Riess:

“Controversial Latter-day Saint book pulled from publication”

She has the advantage over her readers, of course, and very much has the advantage over John Gee, since his book has been effectively silenced and suppressed — at least temporarily. In some quaintly antiquated circles, it continues to be imagined that the best method for responding to a bad book, or to a book that one dislikes or with which one disagrees, is to rebut it. (“I disapprove of what you say,” Voltaire is often though probably inaccurately supposed to have said in response to a government-directed book-burning, “but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”). However, making a book utterly disappear is plainly a far more effective and efficient method of response. Still, we can be grateful that, for the most part, we currently tend to burn neither books nor their authors.
On the one hand, this seems like Dr. Peterson's usual exaggeration and mischaracterization, but I wonder if he's wandering into dangerous territory here. Who, exactly, "[made] a book utterly disappear"? Remember: the book was apparently pulled from both Deseret Book and the BYU Religious Studies Center. Is the idea that both of these institutions--overseen by the General Authorities--are swarming with "apostate scum"? If the book was pulled from Latter-day Saint bookstores, then you sort of have to assume that the decision to do so was at least tacitly supported by the General Authorities. If that's true, it means that Dr. Peterson, in essence, is accusing the Brethren of being the equivalent of book-burners--akin to the Nazis, as it were.

And it's worth pointing out that this is just plain hypocritical. How much effort did Midgley expend attempting to get one of Rodney Meldrum's book pulled from Deseret Book? And what about Midgley's campaign to have D. Michael Quinn's books eliminated from the Tanners' bookstore? Quite hypocritical, if you ask me.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Gadianton »

He'll say to trust him, the General authorities are on the side of Gee, but some other bureaucratic reality nonetheless sustains the action, for now. The same bureaucratic reality that prevents a reversal of the MI.

The hypocrisy is staggering. Any sane person can see the Brethren are not interested in the most controversial material of that book being debated. I'd wager there do exist GAs yet who agree with Gee. It's not about who is right or wrong, it's about hashing out and debating a hugely controversial topic that is already showing the leaders in a bad light. It's the same reason that he bans critics from Sic et Non. Why not be consistent, and rebut Dr. Shades, Moksha, and Dr. Exiled? Why rely on censorship? He's thinking it causes an image problem for the blog -- he won't link to "anti-lit" for the same reason.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Indeed, Dean Robbers. You are very right to point out the censorship/banning of Dr. Shades, Moksha, Dr. Exiled, and even yourself, if I'm not mistaken. (Imagine: banning a *Dean*!) But here is another detail that I don't quite get: Why not publish it through "Interpreter"? Wouldn't that sidestep nearly all the problems they're encountering? And yet, I'm sure they see the dilemma: if they publish through "Interpreter," it will be seen as insular and self-serving, and yet if they go outside of the "inner circle," there is a risk that their ideas will be subjected to actual peer review.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by consiglieri »

I think Professor Peterson is blind to the fact that he leaves no effort unexpended in defending the very church authorities responsible for his cashiering from the Maxwell Institute.

The people who do Dan dirt can't possibly be the people in charge. It must be members of a shadowy and low-brow Nicolaitan band operating under the radar.

This seems like more along the same lines.
You prove yourself of the devil and anti-mormon every word you utter, because only the devil perverts facts to make their case.--ldsfaqs (6-24-13)

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Kishkumen »

Well, as some have been fond of reminding me, the LDS Church is not a democracy. It is a theocracy. And one cannot exclude the possibility that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit guided some priesthood leader to have the book pulled. When a priesthood leader with a divine calling exercises their spiritual gifts to receive revelation guiding people under his stewardship, is it for the blood of Ephraim to gainsay revelation?

Maybe further revelation will supersede this revelation.
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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by consiglieri »

The Spirit sometimes works best when public outcry is made.
You prove yourself of the devil and anti-mormon every word you utter, because only the devil perverts facts to make their case.--ldsfaqs (6-24-13)

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

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Dr. Peterson: “[Dr. Gee’s] book has been effectively silenced and suppressed — at least temporarily.”

It has? Strange that one can buy a copy of an effectively silenced and suppressed book through FairMormon and other outlets. The book will be effectively silenced and suppressed when the First Presidency directs members to turn in all copies to be destroyed (see the following link for an apt historical instance of a legitimate attempt by the church to silence and suppress a book: http://jared.pratt-family.org/first-pre ... tions.html).

Dr. Peterson: “Professor Gee’s fundamental and cardinal sin appears to be his willingness — however briefly and passingly, as part of the much wider scope of his overall book — to touch the third rail of the American cultural wars, which is sexuality (and most particularly homosexuality).”

Wrong. Try again. (I trust that Dr. Peterson doesn’t actually believe what he writes above.)

Incidentally, the book from which Dr. Peterson quotes is actually titled The Young Immigrunts, and Dr. Peterson has silently altered the punctuation in the quotation.
A short literary passage that seems to me increasingly apropos to our culture of rising intolerance and cancellation — see this egregiously silly case, for example — appears at Ring Lardner, The Young Immigrants (Indianapolis: BobbsMerrill, 1920), 78:

“‘Shut up,’ he explained.”
Last edited by Tom on Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Kishkumen »

consiglieri wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:19 am
The Spirit sometimes works best when public outcry is made.
The cries of the righteous ascend to heaven!
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Tom »

I must point out that Dr. Peterson has edited his post to correct the spelling of Lardner’s book, which, if I recall correctly—and I suspect I do—I read in first grade, shortly before I read Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method. I was a well-read child.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

You too, Tom? I was a precocious and curious young man. By the age of eight I had devoured Ulysses, Atlas Shrugged (I grew up in a home of entrepreneurs and this was required reading for the children), the Brothers Karamazov, the Shruti, Koran, and of course the Journal of Discourses - all 26 volumes.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Tom »

Doctor, to be perfectly frank, I credit my preternatural intellectual capacity as a child and teenager—for example, I devoured, and was heavily influenced by, both Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason and, of course, Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus while in middle school—for keeping me grounded today. (Truth be told, working at Nordstrom in the housewares department one summer in high school helped as well.) Sure, I have my faults, but I have avoided the arrogant elitism and pretentiousness that sometimes afflicts academics and my fellow intellectuals and Mensa lifetime members.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Lemmie »


She has the advantage over her readers, of course, and very much has the advantage over John Gee, since his book has been effectively silenced and suppressed — at least temporarily. In some quaintly antiquated circles, it continues to be imagined that the best method for responding to a bad book, or to a book that one dislikes or with which one disagrees, is to rebut it.
It’s stuff like this that hurts Peterson’s reputation. Is he lying? Or did he literally just not read Reiss’ piece?

Here’s her statement, with a link to a rebuttal underlined:

The controversies about the book hinged upon some problematic statements the author made about sexuality, including that victims of sexual abuse “are more likely to become sexual abusers of children” themselves and that “homosexuality is related to childhood sexual abuse.”

I won’t address those problems here, as they have been very competently discussed elsewhere and were a small portion of the book.
And then there is Reiss’ actual rebuttal of how Gee used data from her book:

But I’d like to weigh in on the larger problems in how Gee treats sociological research, particularly since he utilizes the data that Benjamin Knoll and I collected for “The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church.”
What follows are 5 or 6 paragraphs of “rebuttal,” which Peterson seems to think is not a rebuttal. Reiss also discusses a problem that seems to afflict mopologetics in general:

A second problem is that Gee seems to be reading mostly scholars who agree with him, while neglecting important researchers who have reached opposite conclusions (Sherkat, Zuckerman) and even those whose conclusions would support at least some of his critiques (Woodhead, the later writings of Berger).
She continues to rebut Gee’s misinterpretations and simplifications. Peterson’s response, though, is classic Wasatch Front passive aggressiveness:
BYU professor Peterson wrote:
[ I am reminded that someone else once told someone to ] Shut up. [ same to you. ]
brackets added to fill out Peterson’s thought. Deniable? Of course.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Tom wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:43 am
Dr. Peterson: “[Dr. Gee’s] book has been effectively silenced and suppressed — at least temporarily.”

It has? Strange that one can buy a copy of an effectively silenced and suppressed book through FairMormon and other outlets. The book will be effectively silenced and suppressed when the First Presidency directs members to turn in all copies to be destroyed (see the following link for an apt historical instance of a legitimate attempt by the church to silence and suppress a book: http://jared.pratt-family.org/first-pre ... tions.html).
Great points, Tom. It is very telling that the book is still available via Mopologetic outlets, such as FAIR Mormon. But it would seem that the "Powers that Be" want to make it harder for rank-and-file Latter-day Saints to obtain a copy of it. Perhaps some of the commentary in the book could lead to apostasy?
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Some interesting conversation in the "Comments" section of this posting:
Dr. Scott's iPod Touch wrote:Removal from Deseret Book is proof the Brethren had the book removed. The Brethren run Deseret Book and the BoT runs BYU.
DCP wrote:I doubt very much that the Brethren were involved in this.
So...who, then? "Middle management"? And why would "they"--whoever they are--have a beef with Gee and his book?
Dr. Scott's iPod Touch wrote:I was under the impression that the Brethren -- at very least the Bishop -- are executive management at Deseret Book.
DCP wrote:They oversee it generally. They don't micromanage it.

And I'm not sure that this decision was even made at Deseret Book.
Huh? So it was the publisher, then? (Deseret Book, of course, is part of a network of publishing entities which are controlled by the Church.)

In any case, the conversation continues:
Dr. Scott's iPod Touch wrote:I hope the wonderful folks at FairMormon will follow the Brethren and pause distribution of Professor Gee's book.
Kiwi57 wrote:Why? What is so terrible about Professor Gee's book, that you would see a need for it to be censored?
DCP wrote:I have no evidence and no reason to believe that the Brethren were involved in this matter.
(Rather humorously, Dr. Peterson seems to have accidentally down-voted his own comment. LOL!)

Here's the thing: DCP is basically trying to depict this as a case of incompetence on the part of somebody within the administration of the publishing arm of the Lord's Church and University. This isn't some low-level functionary or bureaucrat--it is quite literally someone who has the power to pull books off of shelves and websites. Even Amazon cannot engage in control on that level. Booksellers complain about how much Amazon throws around its weight: if you don't get along with Amazon, then you can basically kiss your profit margins goodbye, because there aren't very many other games in town, except hyper-niche micro publishers and academic presses whose circulation is nowhere near what Amazon can do.

Still, there is no way around the fact that this is fundamentally a criticism of the way that the Church is being run. So, the Brethren aren't involved? Then why is this branch of the Church's publishing arm screwing up and behaving--per Peterson's analogy--like Nazi book-burners? Dr. Peterson is depicting all of this like it is something out of Fahrenheit 451, and yet he is directing this at people who are within BYU.

Maybe he thinks that this kind of feistiness is okay, since he's mere months away from retirement? Still, I would imagine that there are those among the Twelve who do not appreciate this sort of impudence.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Gadianton »

"A second problem is that Gee seems to be reading mostly scholars who agree with him, while neglecting important researchers who have reached opposite conclusions (Sherkat, Zuckerman) and even those whose conclusions would support at least some of his critiques (Woodhead, the later writings of Berger)."

Without even reading Gee's book, it can be dismissed for this reason. I would say this is the first problem. But it's not just picking scholars who agree with him, it's that he's not actually doing any research. He has no interest in finding the real answers to sociological questions. He assumes a very conservative version of the Church is right and that the thinking has been done, and then combs through whatever is out there to justify the Church.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by I have a question »

Given Sheri Dew’s position as head of Deseret Book and close friend and travelling companion of Mr & Mrs Nelson, you have to assume they are now complicit with the books removal, even if they weren’t to start with. The negative publicity it has attracted (for very good reason) means they know about it, and they know about its withdrawal. They must, therefore be happy to let the decision stand rather than intervene.

He may not have been intending it, but Peterson is (now) definitely accusing the Brethren of allowing censorship.

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

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I have a question wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:44 am
Given Sheri Dew’s position as head of Deseret Book and close friend and travelling companion of Mr & Mrs Nelson, you have to assume they are now complicit with the books removal, even if they weren’t to start with. The negative publicity it has attracted (for very good reason) means they know about it, and they know about its withdrawal. They must, therefore be happy to let the decision stand rather than intervene.

He may not have been intending it, but Peterson is (now) definitely accusing the Brethren of allowing censorship.
These are all very good points, IHAQ. Meanwhile, there is some frankly laughable attempts at spin-doctoring underway:
Dr. Scott's iPod Touch wrote:The thought that a mid-level bureaucrat manager at Deseret Book would have the authority (and audacity) to pull a book written by a well-known and well-respected BYU professor is quite frightening.
Kiwi57 wrote:Actually, the notion that ecclesiastical leaders are making immediate decisions about individual books - decisions that would render mid-level managers entirely redundant at Deseret Books - is at least very odd, if not outright absurd.
Dr. Scott's iPod Touch wrote:For 99% of books I would agree with you. But this is a book written by a well-known BYU professor. Unsurprisingly the move has created unwanted media attention. So this is a case where I would hope the Brethren were at least made aware before the book was pulled.
DCP wrote:There is no evidence to suggest that your hope is well-placed, DSiPT.
So, let's roll the clock back to June of 2012, when Dr. Peterson and friends were kicked out of the Maxwell Institute. All along--rather like in this case--they have tried to pin all of this on a "mid-level manager"--i.e., Gerald Bradford. But the reality is that there *was* intervention by a General Authority: Elder Holland. DCP and Kiwi's remarks about "micromanaging" are a distraction. Nobody here has said anything about the Brethren "micromanaging" anything; instead, the claim is that the Brethren have decided to intervene in this particular instance, something that, in fact, they do all the time. Think of the many times that the Mopologists have cited the Brethren showing up to give talks that support their ideas. Think, for example, about Midgley going nuts about the "spanking" that was supposedly delivered to the "new" MI. Was that a case of Elder Holland "micromanaging"? Or, instead, do they trust Spencer Fluhman to run the MI in a responsible manner? Or what about Pres. Hinckley calling for FARMS to be absorbed into BYU. More micromanagement? And what about Elder Packer allegedly interfering with Rodney Meldrum's book? Micromanagement?

Just because the Brethren occasionally step in to take charge of a situation doesn't mean that they are "micromanaging" something. At the end of the day, the Mopologists are struggling mightily to explain away the fact that this was quite a public rebuke of Gee's book. And Dr. Peterson still hasn't walked back his comparison of the people who pulled the book to Nazi book-burners.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Midgley points something out:
Woody wrote:DSiPT: Those "wonderful folks at FairMormon" do follow the Brethren, but that does not entail pausing distribution of Professor Gee's book. Why? There is no evidence that the Brethren had a thing to do with what has taken place. It is, however, possible that they might get involved. We will see what happens. Yesterday it was still possible to purchase Saving Faith from FairMormon.
It would seem that FAIR Mormon only has one copy of the book left in stock, but that it "can be backordered." Are they sure about that? And when should a prospective buyer expect the stock to be replenished? I wonder if this is a case of them being allowed to sell of their remaining stock, but this will be the end of the book's run? Amazon claims that more copies will be available later this month. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Dr Exiled »

Dr. Peterson:

It seems that perhaps the brethren didn't like hearing their spiritual child (Dr. Gee) regurgitate their anti-lgtbq rhetoric back to them in the form of the now banned book? It is always difficult to hear your children mimic your own wrong headed ideas. I'm sure they didn't bat an eye to the outdated theories about lgtbq persons being victims of sexual abuse, thus negating biological reality. However, hearing it come from one of their apologist children and the political uproar the outdated theories cause, was just too much. The book needed to be reworked or axed.
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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Tom wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:43 am
Incidentally, the book from which Dr. Peterson quotes is actually titled The Young Immigrunts, and Dr. Peterson has silently altered the punctuation in the quotation.
A short literary passage that seems to me increasingly apropos to our culture of rising intolerance and cancellation — see this egregiously silly case, for example — appears at Ring Lardner, The Young Immigrants (Indianapolis: BobbsMerrill, 1920), 78:

“‘Shut up,’ he explained.”
Tom:

I wonder if our colleagues know the rich history behind Dr. Peterson's use of that quotation? Of course, it was the epigraph for Dr. P.'s notorious article--an attack piece that followed in the wake of legal threats from Signature Books--called "Questions to Legal Answers." (And yes: he misspells the title in the "peer reviewed" article, too, and he does it at the same time that he thanks Hamblin and Welch for having reviewed the draft!)

But his reference to the Lardner work is interesting for other reasons:
In 1919 Daisy Ashford, a woman living in England, unearthed the manuscript of a novella she had written thirty years earlier, when she was just nine years old. Ashford managed to find a publisher for her precocious Victorian society novel (à la Thackeray) and it appeared, misspellings and malapropisms intact, as The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena’s Plan. The book became an instant, phenomenal best-seller on both sides of the Atlantic. Recently The Paris Review’s Alice Bolin came across the book and discussed how, a century ago, “readers regarded it as a remarkable specimen of children’s grand and unselfconscious ridiculousness.”


Wait a second.... Nine years old? That's impossible! How could she do it? Did she have a seer stone to help her with the composition? Read on:
Library of America wrote:Although the novel’s provenance has been fairly well verified, many skeptics initially questioned its authorship, with some critics believing that it had actually been written by Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie (who contributed a preface for the book when it was first published). Ring Lardner was among those who doubted that Ashford had written the novel as a nine-year-old (or at all). In a 1925 letter, when asked to review The Prince of Washington Square (by nineteen-year-old Harry Liscomb), he similarly doubted the claims for its authorship, adding, “I didn’t, and I don’t, believe Daisy Ashford in spite of [English novelist Frank] Swinnerton’s testimony and that of other ‘witnesses.’ ”
Wow: my head is spinning. It's so seldom that I see so many references to Mopologetics crammed into a single paragraph. Peter Pan, eh? Now, why does mention of that name seem oddly relevant? And, wow, a *nineteen-year-old* was able to write an entire book, too? Blow after blow continues to rain down on the Mopologists. And how do you like that last line? Ring Lardner himself is trashing the claim that Ashford wrote her "amazing" book! The topper is the last bit: he actually puts the word "witnesses" in scare quotes!

Plus, you get the bonus of the backstory as to why DCP uses the quote so often: it's because one of the Library of America editors told him to:
We recently asked Ian Frazier (who edited the just-published Library of America collection of Ring Lardner’s best work) which Lardner work was his favorite:
Ian Frazier wrote: The Young Immigrunts! This is a magic piece of humor writing. “ ‘Shut up,’ he explained,” is as funny as it is possible to be in only four words.
Very interesting! You sort of have to give credit to the Heartlanders--they were the ones who spotted the Mopologists' "deep cover" tactics. And here is another example: you have another case of prominent critics (such as Lardner) claiming that some "extraordinary" literary production (such as a novel written by a nine-year-old girl) is a "fraud," but the whole claim is apparently "saved" thanks to the testimony of "witnesses." So long as you get an institution like the Library of America to say in print that the "provenance has been fairly well verified," then everything is A-okay. But the problem with the Book of Mormon is that its provenance is allegedly from God, and from an angel, and from gold plates that can no longer be verified or examined.

Still, you have to find it interesting that Dr. Peterson so often pulls a quote from a novella that's connected to this strange history. And hey: if a 9-year-old girl can write a novel, then why is it so odd to think that Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon?
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Is DCP Accusing the Brethren of Censorship?

Post by I have a question »

Why hasn't Gee explained what the problem with his book is to his chums? Or has he, hence the bemoaning of censorship and suppression. Does Peterson know for a fact, because Gee has told him, that the book has been removed, censored, suppressed?

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