34 thoughts on “BYU Comedy: Provo, Poe’s Law or Provocation?

  1. Now that I know what Poe’s Law is… I’d have to go with that. I’m thinking parody, but I have fundamentalist type relatives – the type who avoid loud laughter and what-not – who would probably love this.

  2. That is pretty funny! As for the Poe’s Law question — you have a point, it’s difficult to figure it out.

    I think it was made by Mormons. It’s just got so many BYU/Mormon in-jokes that critics wouldn’t have bothered with. And the central joke of the piece is the girls looking for their “MRS degree” — which BYU students and alumni joke about all the time.

  3. Yes, but is there any underlying respect and value for Mormon marriage practices, or is the fact that those practices are being mocked–which they clearly are–an indication that these people think the entire topic is unworthy of respect and tolerance?

  4. Well, my title was meant to serve as a kind of meta-commentary on the whole “mockery” discussion we’ve been having lately. That clip was a 100% Mormon production. And good for them.

    And good for us if we’re still capable of sharing a few laughs “across the aisle” here at MSP.

  5. Holly @3 — You’re giving them too much credit. I think that someone living in “the bubble” (their term) could easily make this and be totally oblivious to the possible readings w.r.t. respecting traditional marriage.

  6. The interesting thing about mockery is that source and purpose matter a lot. If parody such as this (I haven’t seen it — youtube is blocked here) comes from Mormons making fun of ourselves and ridiculous aspects of our shared culture, that will strike a large number of believers as funny and even cathartic.

    If something similar comes from a source that expressly hates the Church and has a declared purpose of bringing it down, then some Mormons will find that an uninviting environment and probably avoid it.

    Ideally Mormons wouldn’t take offense so quickly and so often. But they are not unique in doing so when the issue is a category so tied up with personhood as one’s religion. With Mormons as with all other people It comes down to personality and it stands to reason that on a bell curve a majority of people fall into the center where ridicule of their religious beliefs hurts a lot and only a small proportion fall outside that group, not particularly caring about someone else’s evaluation of their religion (and implicitly therefore of them, their intellect, their feelings etc. as devout adherents such that religion).

  7. Yeah, chanson, I was being generous. But still, they have women in wedding dresses with weapons chasing down a guy, and the song contains the line “we’d marry a tree if it went on a mission.”

    That’s mockery. And yet, as you say, people might be utterly oblivious to any implication that suggests any real sort of disrespect or lack of tolerance. In fact, they’re able to mock the whole thing so effectively precisely because they do respect and tolerate it.

    None of which is to say that there’s no such thing as disrespectful mockery. But this video demonstrates pretty clearly that the statement “mockery and respect can co-exist” is verifiably true.

  8. What I think is being missed in this back and forth about mockery is a distinction between mockery and satire. They are not the same thing. Look it up.

    Further, one thing worth noting is that the social location of the person speaking does a lot to signal what kind of speech is acceptable. The word “queer,” “fag,” or “n****r” are not neutral words that anyone can use, but are simultaneously words of solidarity and abuse. If someone insults your family member, even if it is true, you generally try to defend them because those who are not members of your family don’t occupy a position that authorizes them to publicly insult your family. If you want to engage in criticism, don’t be so naive to think that any form of “satire” or “mockery” is automatically legitimated by those “inside” even if it comes from those “outside,” because its meaning changes if you are speaking from a different social location.

  9. The rub, TT, is that you probably lack any real power to determine my social location. Or the social location of anyone else commenting here at MSP. And I suspect that what really drives some folks batty is how we here at MSP use “Mormon” as a signifier for all the stuff that binds us in solidarity before we ever even get around to heaping abuse.

  10. The rub, TT, is that you probably lack any real power to determine my social location. Or the social location of anyone else commenting here at MSP. And I suspect that what really drives some folks batty is how we here at MSP use Mormon as a signifier for all the stuff that binds us in solidarity before we ever even get around to heaping abuse.

    Amen.

    Given the love, faith, devotion, respect, curiosity, patience, time, money, energy, thought, sweat, etc I invested in the Mormon church, ain’t no one gonna wrest from me my right or my ability to satirize and mock it to my heart’s content, no matter what their social location or what they think of mine.

  11. Chino, what do you think social location means, and why do you consider your’s to be so mysteriously shrouded that someone who has been reading your posts for years would not be able to discern your self-representation?

    I have no idea what your second sentence is even about. Can you clarify?

  12. Holly, no one is talking about wresting from you your right to mock. At issue is why you are surprised that people don’t find it funny, in good taste, or demonstrative of your claims to respect.

  13. At issue is why you are surprised that people dont find it funny, in good taste, or demonstrative of your claims to respect.

    Who said I was surprised?

    And where did I claim that mockery and/or satire is necessarily respectful? i said no such thing. I merely said they are not automatically mutually exclusive.

  14. John F. and TT, that’s, of course, true. Notice, however, nobody here wants to destroy the Mormon Church. That might be true of RfM but even there most people there are acting out their pain.

    While I can’t speak for everyone, most of us have narrow grievances that might include child safety, gender equality, mismanagement, unaccountable leadership, and the lack of respect for religious freedom.

    Cassandra was not a traitor. She wanted to protect Troy. Likewise, I am speaking out because we need to bring out the best of Mormonism if we want the Church to be a safe place for our children and if we want to be good neighbors.

  15. Great Holly! Issue resolved. Except that you still conflate mockery and satire…especially since the definition of mockery is: “tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner.” I have no idea why you think that mocking can ever be respectful, but at least we agree why people don’t confuse your mockery as a demonstration of your respect.

  16. At issue is why you are surprised that people dont find it funny, in good taste, or demonstrative of your claims to respect.

    TT, if that’s that issue, let me be more direct and lay it to rest.

    I am not the least bit surprised that certain people felt that the picture of Joseph Smith having a vision of the flying spaghetti monster was unfunny, in good taste, or demonstrative of respect.

    I merely felt that their psychological discomfort should not be paramount in the decision about whether to keep or discard it.

    And I do not think that my willingness to retain a blog banner that provoked psychological discomfort in certain people who saw it meant that I felt their entire systems of belief, ethics and relationships were unworthy of respect or tolerance.

  17. Except that you still conflate mockery and satireespecially since the definition of mockery is: tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner.

    Check your thesaurus. “Satirize” and “mock” are listed as synonyms. To satirize is to “to attack or ridicule with satire,” and ridicule is “contemptuous laughter at someone or something.”

    so, having looked it up as you demanded, I can say that the distinction you’re drawing doesn’t really exist.

    and that should have been “was unfunny, not in good taste” etc in the comment above.

  18. I am not the least bit surprised that certain people felt that the picture of Joseph Smith having a vision of the flying spaghetti monster was unfunny, in good taste, or demonstrative of respect.

    I merely felt that their psychological discomfort should not be paramount in the decision about whether to keep or discard it.

    I would like to respond to this since I was the one who requested their removal:

    This may seem crazy, but I would defend the decision to use such illustrations in an individual post. (Indeed, they’re still there in the post where they were suggested.) But I don’t want them in the banner. The banner sets the tone, and I don’t think they were that representative of MSP. I didn’t want to be in a position of having to defend them (as a moderator) to every TBM who happens on this site for the rest of time. As my mom always said “Choose your battles.” A handful of banner images (that would normally be on rotation anyway), is not a battle that I want to choose to waste my time and energy on. I apologize to all of those who see my request as pandering.

  19. Chino — Do you think it needs a top-level post? The main point is the following:

    People here are very concerned about keeping our policy of not banning and deleting (except very extreme circumstances). People are also saying “Hey, we shouldn’t give a shit about what the TBMs think! We shouldn’t even take their perspective into consideration!”

    Well, I’m sorry, but these two requests are mutually exclusive. I can’t ask Mormons to make a good faith effort to be civil and tell them “I don’t give a shit what you think!”

    Now, I am an exmo atheist to the core, and this site is for us. But it is also for calm, rational dialog, which requires a little effort on our side as well as theirs. I’m not convinced that the jokes were of the “laughing with not at” sort, and I can’t in good faith say to TBMs “Hey, can’t you take a joke?” because I don’t think that’s good-faith civil dialog. I will defend ridiculing religion in general (including on this site), but I don’t think that requires us to have it blaring in our banner.

    So that leaves us with a few possible choices:

    1. Give up on this whole “civil dialog” crap and just let MSP descend into perpetual fighting. I don’t want to do that, because I think the fact that we can discuss these issues more-or-less rationally (even with people from different POVs) is one of the unique things about MSP, and I think it’s one of our selling points.
    2. Just ban/delete all of the TBMs who come by to complain. Unfortunately, that niche has already been filled by RfM.

  20. since the definition of mockery is: tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner.

    I haven’t made up mind about this. I tend to believe that mocking a behavior can be productive.

  21. If we’re being hit with cagey instrumental reasoning from all sides, that tells me that MSP must be doing something right.

    On the other hand, if the discussions are becoming caustic, personal and unreasonable, we’re fucking up.

    For what it’s worth, I think you should be pissed off that you even feel it necessary to mention your bona fides. You’re a known quantity. Everybody knows chanson doesn’t want to give up on civil dialogue.

    Especially including your co-bloggers. But we’re not as consistent at evincing that ethos as you are. Our bad. But as far as I’m concerned, that ends now.

    Or maybe not. I’m prone to grand declarations at certain (early) hours of the day.

    Maybe a poll is in order. Here goes: Who here finds the rules of participation at MSP so utterly oppressive and the admins so utterly unworthy as to excuse further unseemly behavior? Speak now, promise a post forthwith, or forever hold your peace, limeys.

  22. I think chanson’s reasons make good sense. OTOH, I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think this will ever be a place that many TBMs can find congenial. I’m not sure it isn’t kinder to drive them away from the start with our banners.

  23. Here’s the part that bums me out:

    We stick together as families, for example, not because we always get along, but because we are engaged in shared economic and life goals.

    That’s from this recent post at BCC, but the author might as well have been describing why I enjoy hanging out here at MSP.

    The sad fact is that most of the bloggernacle bloggers share more in common with you, me, chanson, hellmut, profxm, alan and the rest of us here in outer blogness than any warm bodies in their local wards.

    And they resent us for it. Some of us more than others. But at the end of the day, I might as well be Helen Whitney delivering this message:

    And the ‘naclers might as well admit they’ve got no rebuttal.

  24. re: the banners–keeping or losing them wasn’t my call, and now that the decision to get rid of them has been made, I don’t feel strongly enough about it to advocate for their return. I was just explaining my mindset to TT, since he claimed to want to understand it. So chanson, if it seemed that I was criticizing your decision or demanding that you defend it, I apologize.

  25. I am so out of the loop. It is really hard for me to keep up with all the comments on my phone. I know I personally complained about the banners – just because I had to scroll through 10 – 13 images whenever I wanted to view a page on my phone. But, that’s just me personally having technical issues that I probably could figure out myself with a couple of free hours.

    I just wanted to say, I appreciate this as a unique community where all are welcome (including the faithful, respectful perspective). While it may not be possible, I think the attempt is admirable. It won’t always work and some people’s toes will be stepped on. But, in the end, it’s clear (at least to me) that a good faith effort has been made to send a different message than some other former mormon communities (some of which I’m a part of – just different communities, different perspectives, different goals).

    I appreciate the effort and work that goes into MSP. I need to step away but may be back with some additional thoughts.

  26. I shouldn’t have said complaining about the banners, probably it would made more sense to say I had technical difficulties with them – surfing on my phone.

  27. BTW, I’m sitting out this shit-storm of contesting personalities, hoping that when the sky has cleared, MSP is still a place where we’re confident in ourselves enough to use the moderator’s bludgeon very, very sparingly. Let people discuss openly and leave the truth to find its own way.

  28. I think chansons reasons make good sense. OTOH, I think were kidding ourselves if we think this will ever be a place that many TBMs can find congenial. Im not sure it isnt kinder to drive them away from the start with our banners.

    Kuri, it’s not about making the place “congenial” and never has been. It is about making a good-faith effort to keep the dialog civil and constructive.

    Now let me explain why I make a distinction between putting something discussion-worthy in the banner vs. putting it into a post (As an example, take the challenging “I’m a Mormon” video where I agreed with Chino’s reasoning for why he posted that, and defended it):

    If the item is in a post, then when people encounter it, it’s in a context where they have an opportunity to voice their opinions about it without being out of order. In the banner, it’s hard to comment on it when you see it (without the comment being perceived as a thread-jack). IMHO, allowing TBMs the window of opportunity to comment on stuff like that is a pretty small thing to ask, as a show of good faith that we mean it about keeping it civil and constructive.

    Now, if you want to open the commenting policy up to another vote, I guess we could do a new top-level post on civil discussion as it applies to MSP. However, I’d like to at least request that we hold off until next week to do it. I have had a difficult week (not counting what happened here — I also had to deal with a major emergency at work). Later I’ll have more time, plus I’ll be able to contribute more calmly and constructively to the discussion once I’ve grown back more than one nerve for people to step on. 😉

  29. I was half-joking with that. But I guess I just don’t see the point of worrying much about TBMs. It seems to me that not many are going to come here; not many who do will read much; not many will comment; those who do will likely find their opinions met with (sometimes vehement) disagreement. IME, strong disagreement is not what most people are looking for from a blogging or forum community. That’s what I mean by them not finding it “congenial.” They’re unlikely to enjoy coming here anyway.

    That said, I have no objection to taking down the banners. Certainly I don’t have a good reason to not take them down. And I think the commenting policy is fine.

  30. Kuri — It’s not really about making friends with them (though, of course, people are welcome to do so). It’s about having a dialog and exchange of ideas. To those people who are willing to have a civil dialog, I would like to be able to demonstrate that exmos are capable of having one too.

    I don’t think every exmo blog or site needs to try to do that — far from it. However, this community has a ton of calm, rational, intelligent people who are actually interested in making their case.

    Anyway, it’s been a while since we had a post about civil dialog and MSP’s goals and policies. I think it’s clear that we need to get our finger back on the pulse of what people’s hopes and expectations are for this site. As I said, though, I’d like to wait at least a week to compose it. This is partially because I really am busy, and partially because I don’t want to open a positive post about our goals in the shadow of the out-of-control fighting, and partially because I want to give you all a chance to contemplate it individually. So put on your thinking caps, folks! 😀

  31. It’s Divine Comedy, a comedy troupe with a lot of history at BYU. They would always do movie scenes and have posters of them on campus. I usually went to the improv comedy shows instead, though. I enjoyed going to ComedySportz.

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