This post originally appeared on my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife on November 27, 2013. I am reposting it for posterity because the issue that prompted me to write the post came up in Facebook memories. The discussion I had with friends about this situation was interesting.
because I posted the following video in an exMormon group on Facebook…
I have posted Weird Wilbur’s “Most Mormons are Jackoffs” video on my blog before. It was the very first video I ever saw him do. Someone had posted it on RfM and it garnered a lot of discussion. I thought what Wilbur said, while neither particularly respectful nor gracefully stated, was largely based on truth. Wilbur made this video several years ago after an exasperating visit with his now ex-wife’s family, who are LDS. It wasn’t based on just one contact with them. Wilbur’s opinions formed after many observations and interactions.
I posted the above video in a secret exMormon group last night with the note that Joseph Smith was a “flim flam” man. And frankly, in my opinion, he was. What else would you call a man who sells a ridiculous story about golden plates with “reformed Egyptian” writing on them that he “translated” by looking at them with “seer stones” in a hat? This same man went on to “marry” girls as young as 14 and the wives of other men.
Anyway, the first comment from a male member of the group was that Wilbur is an “asshat”. I responded that I don’t think Wilbur is an asshat. Then several other males piled on, calling it hate speech and saying that I “should have picked a ‘better video’.” It soon became very condescending and sexist. That thread went on all day, and eventually turned into a discussion about Mormons and sexism, mainly because a number of the men in that group were trying to “school” the feisty women-folk who stuck up for me. I opted out of the group soon after the men started becoming offensive, because I ain’t got the time for that shit.
I was suddenly reminded of an awful interaction I had with an otherwise nice LDS couple I met while in the Peace Corps in Armenia. They, too, were serving in the Peace Corps and had impressed me by being attractive, hard-working, and basically nice people. I happened to mention to them that I had read the book Secret Ceremonies by the late Deborah Laake. I didn’t know it at the time, but that book was very controversial to Mormons. The male half of the LDS couple basically shamed me for reading “trash” that was full of lies about their religion.
At the time, I was shocked. I hadn’t meant to offend them. Yes, I read the book, but at the time I didn’t have negative opinions about Mormonism. I didn’t know enough about it to have negative opinions, despite having read Laake’s personal account about her experiences growing up LDS. I didn’t say to them what I should have said… or really, should have asked. And that was, “Have you read the book? If not, how can you tell me it’s full of lies?” They hadn’t read the book. They wouldn’t read it, because church officials had condemned it and they were told it was trash. Then they shamed me for reading it, even though I am not LDS and didn’t get the memo… and even if I had, I still have the right to my own thoughts and opinions.
Deborah Laake was an outstanding, award winning journalist. Years after that encounter, I re-read the book with Bill, who is a former Mormon. He confirmed to me that what Laake had written was true, though much of the book was full of uncomfortable aspects of Mormonism that church leaders would have rather kept under wraps and away from the wondering eyes of those who “can’t understand” Mormonism. Laake was invited to many talk shows and at every taping, a group of Mormons would show up and try to drown her out. She later died by her own hand, because she had breast cancer that was resistant to treatment. She chose to kill herself rather than wait for cancer to kill her. Some may think she was crazy for making that choice. Having never had cancer, I don’t feel it’s my place to judge.
Now, I have read Secret Ceremonies twice. I reviewed it on Epinions and, I think, gave it a fair rating (if I recall correctly, it was four stars, although I can no longer check). The truth is, Deborah Laake’s book heavily emphasizes sex… and sexual problems that she specifically had. She blamed her issues on the LDS church. Some of her issues probably were caused by religion. Many of her problems probably weren’t. However, the book she wrote is not full of lies.
As for Wilbur’s video, I will admit and agree that what he says, and the way he says it, may be hard for people to hear. But at least his opinion is an informed one, and isn’t based on just one interaction. The group of guys who accused me of posting “hate speech” based their opinions on just one video Wilbur made after a frustrating encounter with Mormon in laws. Wilbur later took the video down, but someone else reposted it.
A couple of years after Wilbur posted his “Mormons are jackoffs” video, he posted another one to Mormons because he needed help from the “families first” church. At the time, his son and daughter-in-law were having troubles with CPS and Wilbur asked Mormon viewers, who supposedly support families, for help in fighting child protective services on behalf of his grandchildren. The video he made was later taken down and, to my knowledge, is no longer posted anywhere. I remember being dumbfounded that he was asking for this help from Mormons, since Wilbur does not live a Mormon friendly lifestyle. He smokes, drinks, swears, chases women and doesn’t attend church. I imagine most devout Mormons, meeting him once, would never support him in his bid to “save” his grandchildren from CPS. I bet most of them would base that opinion on just one encounter. It wouldn’t take the repeated run-ins Wilbur had with his former in-laws that prompted his frustrated “hate” video.
I got to know Wilbur after he posted that video and we’ve sort of become friends (ETA: in 2021, I no longer hang with Wilbur– he went too far down the Trump rabbit hole). I most certainly do not agree with all of his opinions, especially pertaining to politics. But I don’t think he’s guilty of posting “hate speech” when he says that “most Mormons are jackoffs”. If anything, Wilbur is guilty of negatively painting a large group of people with a broad brush, which is something that a lot of people do, especially when they are angry or frustrated. I think if I were subjected to repeated visits from people in my own home, self-righteously lecturing me about my habits and repeatedly trying to invoke a church I’m not a member of, I’d come to a similar conclusion.
What’s more, I think it’s somewhat hypocritical that several people in that group were so deeply offended by Wilbur’s thoughts when members of that very same group recently made a game out of disrespecting the church… to the point of having sex in church parking lots and taking photos of themselves flipping off temples, then awarding each other “points” for doing so. I don’t remember people screaming about hatred and asshats when that was going on… but I guess since I’ve never been LDS, I’m held to a different standard.
*Sigh*…. well, at least it’s Thanksgiving weekend and I’m not visiting my parents. I’ll have to post about that next.
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And now from 2021…
Here’s a link to a news story about Deborah Laake’s infamous book, Secret Ceremonies, which I first read in 1994, when it was first published. At the time, I knew nothing about Mormonism, and was five years from meeting Bill. I didn’t have negative opinions about the church, even after reading that book. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw firsthand the damage done to families by the church that I started having a less positive opinion about Mormonism.
In the below video, you can hear a formerly devout ex-member explain why he left Mormonism. In the video, he explicitly says that not believing in the church threatened to end his marriage. And I have seen how families fracture when people decide they don’t believe anymore. You see families become estranged– children threatened or actually cut off from their parents or their siblings or both… and marriages falling apart. That’s pretty fucked up.
Most LDS church members have never read Secret Ceremonies, yet they claim it’s full of lies. Bill, who has been LDS, confirmed to me that it’s not full of lies. Moreover, the church does have a lot of “issues”, which are easily discovered on the Internet. I, personally, no longer have such strong opinions against Mormonism as I did in 2013. I still think it’s a crock of shit and needlessly complicates lives, but I am grateful that LDS church members helped Bill’s daughter escape the mini cult run by her mother… who is responsible for getting the family involved in the church in the first place.
Anyway… I just thought it was interesting to re-read the Facebook post that prompted me to write the above post in 2013. The thread is too long and convoluted to add to this post, but it was quite a shitstorm.