"Atheists are often charged with blasphemy, but it is a crime they cannot commit.... When the Atheist examines, denounces, or satirizes the gods, he is not dealing with persons but with ideas. He is incapable of insulting God, for he does not admit the existence of any such being."—G. W. FOOTE
A few weeks ago my Facebook news feed exploded as my Mormon friends and family discussed the recent 42 minute news report by Brian Williams on the Church. Most comments were positive, acknowledging that there were "some mistakes" but it was a pretty fair report. Others were outraged by what they perceived as blatantly disrespectful jabs at the Mormon Church. The worst offense by most counts was the showing of Mormon temple undergarments (aka "Magic Mormon Underwear", see left). To an extent, I understand the outrage. They perceive it as disrespectful, and most Mormons are very careful to cover up their garments and never show them to non-Mormons. They are symbols of the sacred temple ceremony and should, therefore, be treated with the same level of reverence.
So, before every one of my Mormon friends and family decide to never speak to me again for revealing the temple garments on a public blog, let me make my point: to those who are not Mormon, temple garments are not sacred. This means that viewing the garments and talking openly about them is not a matter of respect (Brian Williams was hardly being disrespectful in his report), it is a matter of free speech.
All I can say to those who are offended by the picture above is that they are choosing to be offended because of a made up rule which they willingly subscribe to in order to make it into the highest kingdom in heaven. That's too wordy, so let's simplify it: you are mad because I do not follow the same moral standard as you.
I value open discourse and debate. I value free speech. I value demonstrable morality. Putting a restriction on talking about or showing a picture of some cloths slams the door on discourse, free speech and demonstrating your moral standard.
This may be a slippery slope, but such restrictions are not that far removed from banning--or even burning--books. I would understand your outrage if an active Mormon revealed the garments, but expecting non-Mormons to abide by your rules imposes your morality onto others. This is the same principle used to justify anti-blasphemy laws to restrict non-Muslims from criticizing Islam.
This brings me to my next point: The Middle East is still pissed about the "Innocence of Muslims" video which incited riots at US embassies, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens. In fact, in the last few days, more people have been killed in riots. According to this BBC report, 20 people were killed in a riot in Pakistan as protestors of the film clashed with police. And now certain members of the United Nations are trying to pass INTERNATIONAL anti-blasphemy laws.
Let that sink in for a bit.
To the credit of the Mormons outraged by the Brian Williams report, they have not started riots, nor have they pushed for "anti-disrespectful showings of temple garments" legislation. They are only upset. And to be fair, that is their right to be upset, even if I don't see the big deal.
Here is the full Brian Williams report
For those who still think the Brian Williams report was in poor taste or went a little too far, or for those interested in seeing real disrespect for Mormon temple garments, click here.