Robert A. Rees–a man who I greatly respect–has an op-ed piece in California newspapers which criticizes the current “sniggers (or more likely guffaws) and rolled eyes” when Mormon undergraments are mentionned in the public media. He states that “all of us have a responsibility to protect the sacred, even, or perhaps especially, when we don’t personally consider it sacred.” In essence, he is making a call for civility.
I certainly don’t disagree with Rees’ point of view. Even though I’m not active in the LDS Church (although I’m a 5th-generation Mormon), I cringe when I hear them made fun of, or see them portrayed in the media. For example, they were recently shown on the NBC documentary Mormons in America (although only for a brief second).
But I do disagree with Rees’ op-ed piece. We don’t live in a particularly civil country or world. And free expression is an important part of living in a free society; a society that made Mormonism possible. It is the “Mormon Moment” and we need to learn to live with “mocking” and other forms of ridicule. We need to grow a thicker skin.
In point of fact, some of the ridicule we have brought upon ourselves. How many of us wear see-through white shirts to prove that we are richeous? How many of us let our garments hang down below our “modest” shorts? How many of us wear pants or tight skirts that let the “just-above-the-knee” line show?
As Mormons, we have certainly doled out enough abuse (we even changed our temple ceremony for the better). We should be able to take a little ridicule.
Robert Kirby, well-respected LDS humorist for the SLTrib, commented about the increasing exposure that Mormon undergarments are receiving:
Get used to it. There’s a price you have to pay if you want to play with the big kids. That price is that not everyone will take you as seriously as you would like. In fact, the more seriously you want to be taken, the less it will happen.
I think the principal problem with Rees’ op-ed piece is that it just keeps the subject in the limelight; it encourages the humorists and detractors. It is better to cringe and bear it (quietly). Richeous indignation (or defensiveness) will only make matters worse.