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Big Love, Huge Censorship

Yesterday I spent too much time reading articles online about the fact that Mormons worldwide are in an uproar over Big Love’s plans to depict their temple endowment ceremony on TV. Today I spent about an hour trying to write a thoughtful blog post about it, but I kept veering off-topic into my own experiences as a former member of the LDS church and that’s really not what I want to write about.

A few minutes ago, reading more online, I stumbled upon an apology from The Salt Lake Tribune to its readers. The paper is apologizing for running a photo yesterday of a Big Love cast member in costume for the scene alongside its article about the controversy. In this photo, the character is wearing LDS temple clothing. In reality, an actress is in costume. I’m going out on a limb here and assuming that the Big Love costume department didn’t raid an LDS temple for actual temple robes, OK? Someone made an approximation of the real deal. It’s called theater.

But oh, no – in response to reader outcry, The Salt Lake Tribune has apologized for running the photo in its print edition and pulled it from not only the web version of the story, but from the newspaper’s photo archives. Here’s what they said about it:

"Although a tightly cropped version of the photo appeared in the print edition, the larger shot was pulled from the Web site and the photo archives as soon as Tribune Editor Nancy Conway saw it. She believes the photo added nothing to the story by Vince Horiuchi about the controversy surrounding the episode that airs Sunday evening. That episode reportedly will depict a rite that members consider sacred and private."

Forget whatever else I might have had to say — this is the most outrageous part of the entire foolish melodrama. Now we’re so sensitive to the possibility of offending people that a newspaper can’t even run a relevant photo along with its story? A photo of a fictional character in costume?!

I guess it really is true that freedom of the press is dead. Long live the Theocracy, Utah. 

Published inCurrent AffairsTelevision


  1. Judy Ball Judy Ball

    Well, Miss Holly!! Lest I offend those in my family who are still Mormon and would be pissed off at me about something yet again…may I say here…YOU ARE RIGHT!!! I had not read about them pulling the photo and it appalls me…and Lauren works for Media One, the publishers. Ick.
    Here’s my simple take on the subject. What makes the Mormons any more or less suseptible to this type of thing? Tell me ONE thing that is still secret and private to the Jews, etc.? And sacred does not necessarily have to mean secret. It SHOULDN’T. But it does to the Mormon church. Secret names, secret signs, secret, secret, secret. Shit. And it’s not “secret” and hasn’t been for a long time thanks to the internet.
    Here’s why the church has their panties in a bunch about it all…because they know that the more people know about what happens in the temple, the fewer the people who will be willing to go and commit to all the things they are asked to commit to. My lovely step daughter, Elaine, was absolutely traumatized when she went for the first time. She has since left the church and has become quite the little equal rights activist around here. If you read the Trib online at all regularly, you will have read about her and seen her picture. You might want to search the archives for Elaine Ball. We are actually very proud of her. But I digress…
    This whole thing is such a waste of time and energy when there are so many other far more important things wrong with the world right now. Sometimes I don’t know why we stay here, but then I do…my kids and grandkids are all here. Period.
    Thanks for the insights on this! You are so, so, so right!!

  2. Hi Judy,
    I don’t read the Trib online or usually seek out UT-related news; I came across this because I was looking articles on the Big Love controversy. I don’t watch the show – I don’t even have HBO – but when I heard this was going on I became more interested than I probably should have. One of the many reasons I’m glad to have left UT is that I don’t have this stuff in my face all the time. I’d go crazy.
    What I had originally wanted to say in my blog was that (a) I completely understand why this is upsetting to LDS people, but (b) it’s not at all realistic for them to expect HBO or any other non-LDS entity to respect the privacy of something they consider sacred just because they say so. As you said, other religions have had their rituals and beliefs held up to public scrutiny for years. But then I found the article about the picture being pulled and that eclipsed all else.
    My friend Janette had a good point about this on Facebook – it was probably a financial decision for the Trib to pull the photo. I can understand that, but it disappoints me.

  3. Judy Ball Judy Ball

    I’m sure that was totally the reason they pulled it. The newspaper is sinking fast financially…I mean, they took SUCH flack recently for putting a full page ad from some wacko group pushing back on the whole gay common ground agenda. A full page ad costs BIG. They needed the money. So they took it. Pathethic, but true.
    Lovely to hear/read your thoughts on life!!

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