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About smac97

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    My name is Spencer Macdonald

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  1. Wow. A conspiracy to cover up abuse by Catholic priests is appalling. What are we to make of a seeming conspiracy to cover up abuse in public schools? It's almost as if the media holds public schools to a different, lower standard that the Catholic Church. Now why would the media do that? Thanks, -Smac
  2. Can revelation and outside force co-exist? Certainly. Look at OD-1, for example. Pres. Woodruff's remarks about it expressly state that "outside force" was a major component of the abandonment of polygamy (emphasis added): The "outside force" was . . . the federal government of the United States. The cool thing here for me is that the Lord shows Pres. Woodruff a revelation of an alternative future, one that never materialized, but would have had we "not stop[ped] this practice." How cool is that? Anyway, the next paragraph is brings the point home (emphasis added): So yes, "outside force" can be a factor. But the decision itself was based on instructions from God. In other words, it was God who authorized that the Church capitulate to an "outside force." Thanks, -Smac
  3. I have to agree with this. I know many good and decent people who are celibate and who are not a threat to children. That said, I think the unique form of lifelong celibacy practiced by Catholic priests may be a contributing factor. See, e.g., these remarks by Robert Smith: Bishop Wester's response was to push back and defend celibacy, which is merely a rule adopted by the Church a thousand years ago, and which is not a moral requirement of Christianity. Unless and until the RC Church gets rid of celibacy and begins requiring that clergy be married (happily married), this problem will continue to plague the RC community. This article, written by Father Roger J. Landry with the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, includes statements indicating widespread sexual dysfunction in the Catholic priesthood, including extensive homosexual misconduct, pedophilia and "ephebophilia." Are candidates entering the priesthood bringing these dysfunctions with them through the front door, or are these dysfunctions arising afterward, with celibacy being a signifcant causative factor? I don't know. I think research and analysis needs to be done (or, if such research has been done, we need to find it and discuss it). I will once again express my sympathy and support for our wonderful Catholic brothers and sisters who are coping with this very difficult issue in their community. Thanks, -Smac
  4. I get that. But in a legal context, a judgment must be made about factual allegations. Ms. Denson fabricated a rape claim in 1984. She admits that. She is now attempting to evade the damage that does to her credibility, and hence her lawsuit, but claiming that what she said is different from what was "in her mind." But what she said was false. It was a lie. It did not happen. She admits this. No, that's not all. McKenna Denson has all sorts of credibility problems. Having a troubled past does not giver her credibility a get-out-of-jail-free card. Having a troubled past does not mean that we are obligated to take her every word as the pristine and unembellished truth. Having a troubled past does not mean she gets to use a federal lawsuit to demand millions of dollars, but gets to do so without presenting any evidence or proving up her claims. I get that you dislike me personally. Not sure what I did to deserve that, but message received (a few times over, actually). But I hope that you can get around that dislike and just look at the substance of what I am saying. I am trying to evaluate this matter dispassionately. I don't claim to be utterly impartial. I really love the Church, which is the defendant in Ms. Denson's lawsuit. But I don't do the Church (or myself) any favors by looking at this issue through rose-colored glasses. Hence my conclusions about Ms. Denson having been traumatized by Joseph Bishop while he was the president of the MTC. I am saddened and angered that this happened. Ms. Denson unfortunately has no legal remedy against Mr. Bishop, so all we can do now is hope she forgives, hope he repents, hope he is no longer a threat to others, leave potential church discipline to those who have authority over him, and otherwise leave everything else to God to sort out. Justice and mercy will ultimately prevail. That is what the Gospel is all about. But in terms of looking at evidence, this is what lawyers do. We aim for dispassionate analysis, because we need to be able to look at the facts of a case in the way the judge and jury will. And as I see it, Ms. Denson's credibility is very poor. I "side" with her because I found sufficient evidence to reach that conclusion. Thanks! I hope we can eventually get along. Thanks, -Smac
  5. Yes. Yes. That's her most recent spin, yes. I think that's what she said during her podcast interview with Consiglieri. But take a look at what she told Bishop during her "interview" with him: Here's what I think has happened: Ms. Denson has repeatedly stated that she did tell anyone about the rape until 1987, when she allegedly told her bishop, Ron Leavitt, about it. So according to Ms. Denson, she told her missionary companions (and probably her mission president also, since he would have had to authorize her being sent back to Utah) that she had just experienced an attempted rape in a parking lot in Washington D.C. ("{I} pretended somebody in the [] parking lot tried to rape me..."). Many years later, in 2017, in an unguarded and emotional and heat-of-the-moment outburst, reiterated to Bishop that in 1984, she "pretented [that] somebody in [] parking lot [in Washington, D.C.] tried to rape [her]." Then, many months after that (just a few weeks ago, in fact), after having hired an attorney and gone public and such, and perhaps recognizing the significant damage to her credibility caused by an admitted false rape claim, Ms. Denson participates in an interview with a plainly biased and partisan interviewer, and adds a bit of flourish and gloss to her previous admission. As you put it: "McKenna said that someone had tried to rape her, [but] in her mind it was true but not in the parking lot." Well, mighty convenient, that. "But not in the parking lot," despite the fact that she said "somebody in the [] parking lot tried to rape me." Now her previously-admitted false rape claim is not a false rape claim because 34 years after declaring to other people that she had experienced an attempted rape in a Washington D.C. parking lot, we are now supposed to totally disregard what she actually said, and instead go with what she now claims was "in her mind." And what was "in her mind" just happens to absolve her of having made a false rape claim. So at which statements from Ms. Denson are we supposed to believe? Should we believe her 1984 statement to her missionary companion and others about experiencing an attempted rape in a parking lot in Washington D.C., which she repeated in her 2017 statement Joseph Bishop, where she told him that "{she} pretended somebody in the [] parking lot [in Washington D.C.] tried to rape [her]..."? Or should we ignore both of those statements, and instead go with her post-lawsuit and self-serving and embellished version to a biased podcaster that - as you pu it - "Mckenna said that someone had tried to rape her, in her mind it was true but not in the parking lot"? I know these can come across has hard questions. But lawsuits are hard. Sooner or later Ms. Denson is going to be facing some very uncomfortable questions that center on her personal credibility. And as you can see, her personal credibility on this point is very poor. Subsequent embellishing explanations that her words should be disregarded in favor of what she says was "in her mind" only makes things worse. McKenna Denson lied about experiencing an attempted rape in a Washington D.C. parking lot. Now she appears to be lying again to rationalize and excuse that false rape claim, to repair the damage done to her credibility now that she has a pending lawsuit in which she is making another claim of rape. I believe something very traumatic happened to Ms. Denson when she was in the MTC. And I believe it was done to her by Joseph Bishop. I don't know if it was limited to a series of extremely inappropriate interviews and culminated in him showing her pornography, or if it instead culminated in him attempting to forcibly rape her. We are talking about something that happened 34 years ago. No forensic evidence. Almost certainly no corroborating witnesses. Some fairly limited and ambiguous circumstantial evidence. Some vague admissions of misconduct from Mr. Bishop (some of which Ms. Denson denies happened). Mr. Bishop is very old. He may well have some mental impairments that will limit or eliminate his competency to testify. So that leaves McKenna Denson and her say so. Her say-so only constitutes probative evidence if she is credible. She is, in many ways, not credible. She has many, many documented instances of dishonest behavior in her past. And now here she is, even now, undermining her own credibility even further. I have a lot of sympathy for Ms. Denson. But that sympathy does not alter my attempted objective assessment of her credibility as a witness for the purposes of a civil lawsuit. We can each draw our own conclusions about Ms. Denson's story, but my focus is on her lawsuit. To paraphrase a famous line from A Few Good Men: "It doesn't matter what {McKenna Denson} believe{s}. It only matters what {she} can prove." I'm not saying that she didn't have a motive to make her false rape claim. She did. But that doesn't negate the fact that she made a false rape claim. And she admitted that she made this false claim as recently as last year. Can you see how this is a problem for her? From a legal standpoint, you can't really point to the righteousness of her motive for making a false claim and say that it excuses the false claim. She was motivated to lie about an attempted rape in 1984 in a Washington D.C. parking lot because she had purportedly been previously traumatized. But is it possible that she may now be motivated to lie about an attempted rape in the MTC because she stands to gain a ton of money and notoriety from it? These are the sorts of questions that will be asked in her lawsuit. Lawsuits are hard. Amen to that. I'm doing nothing but addressing "facts." You, on the other hand, are scolding me based on what McKenna Denson has said was "in her mind" in 1984, even though what she now says was "in her mind" contradicts what she actually said, both in 1984 (to her missionary companions and mission president) and in 2017 (to Joseph Bishop). "Facts!", indeed. I have addressed this issue many, many times. And I am assuming that the participants here are fairly conversant in the factual allegations. "Line to be blurred?" What does that mean? Are you saying that her claim of having experienced an attempted rape in a Washington DC parking lot is not false? So McKenna Denson's gets a pass on damaging her own credibility? Her lie about the attempted rape in Washington DC is not really a lie because of something "in her mind"? I just can't go along with that. And then there's the insurance fraud scam where she lied about "pistol-whipped and locked in the trunk of a car by two men outside a restaurant where she had worked," except that police "learned she had been fired [from the restaurant] shortly before the incident and had made inquiries about the restaurant's security liability" and concluded that her report was "unfounded." And the identity theft. And all the lies she told to various parties in order to track down Joseph Bishop (which she laughingly bragged and gloated about in her podcast interview). And her threat to murder Joseph Bishop. And her lying about receiving cancer treatments. And her forging prescriptions. And a scam where she claimed a restaurant put razor blades in the icing of a chocolate cake. Are you seriously suggesting that Ms. Denson gets a pass on all these things, which would pretty much obliterate anyone else's credibility, "because of the abuse she's experienced?" Again, I have a lot of sympathy for Ms. Denson. But that sympathy does not mean that she gets held to a totally different (that is, lower or nonexistent) set of legal/evidentiary standards when she files a lawsuit in federal court. Thanks, -Smac
  6. Not really. I see the same things you are seeing. I am just responding differently. "Inappropriate behavior" has a huge amount of wiggle room. Anything from Bishop showing pornography to Denson (per Denson's YSA bishop) to violent rape (per Denson in her Complaint). I am not excusing anything, but I think there are some legal and moral differences in the spectrum of things that can fall within the parameters of "inappropriate behavior." Yes, the allegations are indeed creepy. But the evidence is poor. Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe she's out to extract a sizable settlement from a deep-pocketed religious group by making embellished accusations that are virtually impossible to falsify or test. Hence the need to look at the data. The evidence. Calmly. Even-handedly. She has publicly admitted that she is dishonest. She bragged at some length about the multitude of lies she told various people in order to get her "interview" with Bishop. She also has a depressing criminal history that includes crimes of dishonesty (insurance fraud, false claims, etc.). And she has admitted that she fabricated a rape claim when she was a missionary. Her crebility is very poor. That is why we need to look at the evidence. Thanks, -Smac
  7. smac97

    The Name of the Church

    You are quite right on all points. Here's a bit of speculation as to perhaps why the Church is moving away from "Mormon" (or, more specifically, why the Lord is prompting Pres. Nelson to move away from it). It's a little complex, so bear with me. Here goes... 1. The Church has a presence in Chinese-speaking countries and communities. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and throughout the West (U.S., Canada, Australia, etc.). The Church has a few congregations in China, but they are mostly (exclusively?) for expatriates. 2. The LDS Church does not have an appreciable presence in Mainland China (population: 1.37 billion). 3. People in the highly-westernized nation of Taiwan (where I served as a missionary years ago) had virtually no frame of reference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most folks just generically added us into 基督教 ("Jīdū jiào" - "Christ[ian] Church"), along with Catholics, Protestants, etc. 4. The Church has studiously sought to avoid its nickname in Chinese. "Mormon" is translated phonetically into 摩門教("Mó mén jiào" - "Mormon Church"). The characters used here, 摩門 ("Mó mén"), literally mean "rub" (摩) and "door" or "gate" ("門"). The pronunciation of these characters, "Mó mén" leaves some real room for confusion for a Chinese speaking person who is only hearing the words as they are verbalized, and not seeing the characters ("摩門"), and who has no inkling that there is an American-based religious group with a nickname of 摩門教("Mó mén jiào" - "Mormon Church"). A Chinese-speaking person in such circumstances, upon hearing "Mó mén jiào," might be inclined to think that some other character than "摩" is being referenced. Such a person might, in fact, think of the character "魔" ("Mó" - "Devil"). If you compare the two "Mó" characters side by side, they are pretty similar (they have several components in common): "摩" and "魔." And when spoken, they have the exact same pronunciation ("Mó"). But their meanings are very different. Here's how it plays out: 摩門教 = "Mó mén jiào" = "Mormon (a word transliterated from English) Church." Chinese people are accustomed to not interpreting phonetically translated words and phrases literally. "麦当劳" ("Màidāngláo") literally means "wheat ('麦') when/be/equal/work as ('当') labor/work ('劳'), but everyone in Taiwan knows that "麦当劳" ("Màidāngláo") is the translated name of a restaurant: McDonald's. So as regarding the translation into Chinese of the word "Mormon," 摩門教("Mó mén jiào") would literally mean "Rub[bed] door church" or some such. Kinda weird, but innocuous. And once it's understood to be a reference to a word translated from English, everything starts to make sense. 魔門教 = "Mó mén jiào" = Well, this is where things get dicey. Again, when "Mó mén jiào" is spoken, and when the person listening is from Mainland China and is not aware of the American church having a nickname of "Mormon" which has been translated into Chinese, may jump to the conclusion that "Mó mén jiào" includes the character "魔" ("Mó" - "Devil"). So when spoken in Mandarin, the Church's nickname of "Mormon Church" ("Mó mén jiào") may come across as sounding something like "Devil's Door Church" (or "Church of the Devil's Gate," whatever). 5. Pres. Nelson speaks Mandarin Chinese. He is also well-regarded by some in the governmental and medical communities of China (see, e.g., here). I think it may be reasonable to suspect that Pres. Nelson is aware that "Mormon" may represents a fairly significant "branding" problem if and when the Church is authorized to send missionaries into China, establish branches/wards, etc. Imagine what the average Chinese person would say if they heard a knock on their door, and opened it to see two gangly Westerners speaking in mediocre Mandarin and saying something that sounds like "Hello, we are missionaries from the Church of the Devil's Gate, and we would like to share a message with you. May we come in?" 6. Resolving the Church's prospective "branding" problem in Mandarin would, I think, entail moving away from using "Mormon" ("摩門" - "Mó mén") as the name of the Church. 7. Resolving this problem would probably need to start with changing (or attempting to change) the way the Church is identified in Western media outlets. Hence the need to ditch the familiar "Mormon" brand. So is it possible that today's change in "branding" is part of the Church is setting things in order so as to prepare for the Church's introduction into Mainland China? Who knows? -Smac P.S. I have no idea what to do with "The Book of Mormon," which has the same sort of translation difficulties as described above. Perhaps the Church will try to get away from characters pronounced "Mó" in favor of something that doesn't sound like "Devil."
  8. And I'm not Liberty Counsel, and yet you insisted that I explain their position. So I guess we can insist on you explaining the ACLU's position. 😀 Thanks, -SMac
  9. Hmm. Just saw this piece written by a Dominican priest: A bold statement. I wonder what he has in mind. The second link above (Fr. Landry's article) has some rather startling points to make: "Ephebophilia." What a depressing word to add to my vocabulary. Beyond that, I don't really have any comment. I'm still trying to wrap my head around these things. Back to the first article: I really don't know what to say here. Thanks, -Smac
  10. Okay. Could you explain your reasoning here? Why should Elton John not have this right? And here's a supplemental hypothetical: Let us hypothesize that the Westboro Baptist Church wants to hire Elton John to perform at an anti-gay rally. Let us further hypothesize that Elton John wants to have the right to refuse to participate in that event. He does not want to give the impression that he, through his participation, endorses the rally. Do you think Elton John should have that right? Thanks, -Smac
  11. Spencer is a lawyer, and lawyers are interested in facts not assertions or anecdotes -- which are not acceptable in a court of law. I think we should all spend more time evaluating "facts," and to privilege them over "assertions or anecdotes." That's just common sense. And our society also appears to be finding it a bad thing to use reason and evidentiary analysis when evaluating complex and difficult issues like the one under discussion here. At least, that seems to be the criticism of Jeanne and ALarson. All the more reason to focus on facts, not emotions. Evidence, not unadorned assertions or anecdotes. Thanks, -Smac
  12. Wow. This personalized stuff is really weird. I have said nothing untoward or improper. Thanks, -Smac
  13. What is it about my thinking that you find to be problematic? What does "narrow road" mean? I have no idea what you are talking about here. Thanks, -Smac
  14. Fixed that for ya. D As you like. It's a simple question that you refuse/decline to answer. So be it. I'll open the question to anyone else. Here it is again: Let us hypothesize that the Westboro Baptist Church wants to use a series of songs by Elton John at an anti-gay rally. Let us further hypothesize that Elton John wants to have the right to refuse the use of his songs in that way and in that venue. Do you think {Elton John} should have that right? Thanks, -Smac
  15. Why is that? What have I said that is morally problematic? Sure. I can agree with that. I understand the emotions that can be stirred up when reading those stories. But a few thoughts: First, those stories are almost entirely anecdotal, unvetted, unsubstantiated, totally one-sided, and from anonymous sources. We aren't in a court of law, but unfetterd and credulous acceptance of these narratives is not really the best way to go. Second, the fact that Sam Young seems to rely almost completely on these narratives, to the exclusion of any competent evidence, reasoned analysis, etc., rather strongly speaks against the merits and reasonableness of his demands, or at least makes me very cautious about them. Mr. Young isn't looking to persuade others to his position through reasoning and evidence. He is instead looking to whip people up into a frenzy of alarm, anger, resentments, and high emotion. He's creating a mob mentality. A hysteria. Third, Mr. Young's selective outrage is really disconcerting. Why is he targeting bishops interviews? Doesn't that seem way down on the list of things we could do to reduce sexual abuse of children? As I recall, Mr. Young started all of this because a bishop purportedly asked his daughter some inappropriate questions. Is that all this is, then? Mr. Young's personal resentments against one bishop's misconduct blown up into a full-blown moral panic? How else do we account for his utter disregard of the many other, and far more dangerous, factors that lead to sexual abuse of children? Fourth, Mr. Young's self-aggrandizement is really a concern to me. This issue seems to be all about him. He's always front and center. Talking to the media. At the literal center of the marches and protests. And now he's in the middle of a hunger strike. Is this really all about concern for the welfare of children? Or did it start out that way, but then morph into a massive ego trip for Sam Young? I am flummoxed. I do not think I have said anything untoward or improper. We can reduce abuse, we can implement safeguards to reduce the risk of abuse, but such abuse will never be completely eliminated. That's the nature of living in an fallen and imperfect and sinful world. My remarks here pertain to the demands of Sam Young. I think they are pretty irrational in their focus on bishop interviews. By sheer numbers, a child is far, far more likely to be abused by a family member. See this Psychology Today article: If Mr. Young is serious about "even one victim is too many" rhetoric, then why isn't he demanding that children be taken from their families? What isn't he demanding that children be taken out of school, lest they be at risk of being abused by a teacher or a coach? Why isn't Mr. Young demonizing family members and teachers/coaches the same way he has been demonizing LDS bishops? Why is he ignoring the elephant in the room? The answer, I think, may be in the next paragraph of the above article: Mr. Young's crusade is, I think, based less on reasoned analysis, and more on emotion and vitriol. It is reactionary, not introspective or reasoned. It's an appeal to emotion, to mass panic and hysteria, and perhaps even to outright animosity and prejudice against the LDS Church. It is not a rational and proportionate approach to addressing the abuse of children (as evidenced by Sam Young leapfrogging over the vast majority of abuse being committed by family members, which he doesn't address at all). I can't help but compare Mr. Young's overwrought behavior to other trial-by-media-circus messes we've seen, such as the Wenatchee child abuse prosecutions (along with the numerous other "Day-care sex-abuse hysteria" cases in the 80s and 90s). There's even a term that has been coined for it: Moral Panic. See here: This sounds an awful lot like what Mr. Young is doing. A bit more: Let's break this down a bit: Stage 1: "Someone [or] something ... [is] defined as a threat." Sam Young is defining bishops and bishop interviers as a threat to children and youth. Stage 2: "The threat is then depicted ina simple and recognizable symbol/form by the media." Sam Young is using placards which pair a menacing predator (mountain lions, representing bishops) with scared/disgusted children (the victims of bishops) and the Church (the purported ennabler of the abuse). Like this: Stage 3: "The portrayal of this symbol rouses public concern." Sam Young is moving heaven and earth to "rouse public concern." Marches. Protests. Petitions. Hunger strikes. Stage 4: "There is a response from authorities and policy makers." The Church has responded publicly to Mr. Young's concerns. Stage 5: "The moral panic over the issue results in social changes within the community." The Church has modified and clarified its policies for interviews, apparently to some extent in response to Mr. Young. What Mr. Young is doing seems like an almost by-the-numbers Moral Panic. Consider the historic examples of moral panics in the U.S. given in the above article: 20th–21st century: public health 1950s: switchblades 1970s–present: increase in crime 1970s–present: video games and violence 1970s–present: war on drugs 1980s–1990s: Dungeons & Dragons 1980s–1990s: Satanic ritual abuse 1980s–present: HIV/AIDS 1990s–present: sex offenders 2000–present: human trafficking 2016 - present: suicide communities Most of these are founded in some legitimate concern. But they then the "panic" sets in and we see hysterics and unreasoned, reactionary, over-the-top demands that society "do something." As a father of six, I have a vested interest in doing "something." I have every desire to see my children, and everyone else's children, kept safe from abuse. But Mr. Young's approach is counterproductive, perhaps even destructive. Thanks, -Smac