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Carole Schutter Emails Steve Benson


smac97

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Steve Benson has posted an email from Ms. Schutter over on RFM.

It won't be there very long, because RFM does not archive its posts. But I don't want to post it or link to it here and start a board war. So I'll just quote some of the relevant excerpts from her email.

Steve Benson's email to her is basically laudatory, saying that the movie, despite its "minor historical glitches" does

a fundamentally good job in capturing (for a non-Mormon audience, in particular) the fanaticism of the LDS slaughterers who orchestrated and carried out the massacre under orders from ecclestiastical higher-ups, the brazen animalistic injustice of the atrocity's crime against its innocent victims and the calculated cover-up, led by the Mormon Church, that has ensued ever since.

She responds:

I know there were some historical glitches and the main mistake, don't know if you caught it, was when Micah told Jonathan that he was going to follow the Mormon God Brigham Young.

In the original screenplay, it said 'and Brigham Young' but when it was transposed into a shooting script, the 'and' was lost.

Unfortunately, I wasn't there for the shooting of that particular scene and later, Chris said he couldn't redub it and correct it (because the mouth wouldn't match what was being said).

So the whole "Mormons believe that Brigham Young was God on earth" meme was a mistake?

The trailer alone has two separate references to Mormons ascribing to some notion about a prophet being "God on earth" (Jon Voight's character - a bishop (!) - says "Jehovah has created me to be your God on earth" and the bishop's son is later heard to should "You think he's God on earth!").

But that was all just a whoopsy-daisy?

[W]e have gotten so much support from the ex-Mormons.

Why would ex-Mormons (particularly those of Benson's ilk) be so supportive of this movie?

Another poster, Cactus Jim, also wrote to Ms. Schutter and received a much more involved response. It's actually very illuminating:

I agree that many Mormons are nice people. I have friends and relatives who are Mormon. However, the Mormons in Southern Utah at the time were composed mainly of survivors of the Persecution and had deeply rooted feelings against the mericats, especially those from Missouri . To add to the mixture, there was the murder of the Apostle Parley Pratt in Arkansas, the Mormon reformation, the 100 plural wives who ran away with the federal soldiers, the Aiken brothers and Gunnison massacre in Utah, the sermons of Brigham Young inflaming the people against non-Mormons and lapsed Mormons, the blood atonement killings by people such as Wild Bill Hickman, Brigham's Avenging Angel who confessed to them at the end of his life, the castration of Tom Lewis by the Bishop of Manti (the most controversial of castrations where Brigham sent a letter telling the Bishop to stop talking about it and the matter will die), the institution of martial law by Brigham, 2500 federal troops on their way to Utah ordered by President Buchanan to oust Brigham ( in a speech to Congress Buchanan announced there was no government left in Utah but "the despotism of Brigham Young."). All these things, except the Persecution, and more happened in the one to two years before the massacre.

Wow. It seems that Ms. Schutter really did do her homework...and then threw it away and resorted to caricatures and cliches.

We have two hours to a movie. Not everything could be explained, and that is too bad. I attempted to explain it in my book. But perhaps you would think it too one-sided.

This is a fair comment.

To demonize the victims would have been in bad taste since I found nothing derogatory about them in my research, save the alcoholism of Captain Baker and the fact that he might have killed someone in a bar fight, something I cover in the book.

This is a fair comment, too.

Through the pastor [that is, the fictional pastor who accompanies the Fancher group in the movie], I wanted to show what true Christianity should be.

And Bishop Samuelson embodies everything that Christianity should not be.

And neither of these cardboard cut-outs work very well.

When one of their members was killed, he urged his congregants to forgive their enemies. When the wagon train didn't know what to do, he prayed. When facing his murderer, he said, "May God forgive you." Jesus did all three things.

In short, the pastor was a Christ figure that the Mormons murdered.

There was a red-hot fever pandemic in Utah at the time. There can be no denying that. This was a brutal act of atrocity and there was nothing the Christians did to bring it upon themselves.

This is an accurate statement. Too bad virtually none of it is communicated in the film.

However, in the end, as I stated in my book, Jesus loved every murderer, every liar, every person in the massacre. I said that I considered everyone a victim during that dark period.

I guess I see what she's trying to say, but I still resist the notion of lumping the perpetrators in with the Fancher folks as "victims."

I had hoped that people would learn these lessons, never to blindly follow any human being because we are all flawed and we all sometimes fail. That one must check with their heart, and reason with their minds. "Following the brethren," just because you are told to do so, or as the Apostle Heber said it was not up to the individual whether a thing be right or wrong, and to dance when brother Brigham tells you to dance, is wrong.

This too is a thoughtful, relevant statement (one that Richard Turley echoed at the FAIR conference several weeks ago, BTW). But again, none of it seems to have made it into the movie.

If the Islamic terrorist were able to really search their hearts to see if what the radical mullahs were telling them to do was the right thing, it might change things. They are not all bad people, just misled. My intention was to make people open their eyes, look into their hearts, think with their brain, and question those in authority when radical instructions are given. This is the heart of America . Land of the free, home of the brave. The freedom to think, the freedom to reason, the freedom to learn, and the freedom to say, "I'm not doing this just because you tell me to do it, let me find out for myself whether a thing be right or wrong."

My respect for Ms. Schutter grows and grows!

I am so sorry that the media chose to cave in to pressure and ignore the lessons inherent in our story.

Pressure from whom?

They must believe the general population is so stupid that seeing the movie will make them believe all Mormons are blood thirsty terrorists. Indeed, it is a slap to movie viewers everywhere. They think the vast majority of movie goers cannot think for themselves, are unable to reason, and are so bigoted they cannot sit through a movie and think rationally.

I'm going to see this movie this week. I'll be curious as to my reaction to it.

-Smac

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Well lets see... She can send all these emails with a hacked computer but she can't respond to the Made up lines?

:P

If the Islamic terrorist were able to really search their hearts to see if what the radical mullahs were telling them to do was the right thing, it might change things. They are not all bad people, just misled. My intention was to make people open their eyes, look into their hearts, think with their brain, and question those in authority when radical instructions are given. This is the heart of America . Land of the free, home of the brave. The freedom to think, the freedom to reason, the freedom to learn, and the freedom to say, "I'm not doing this just because you tell me to do it, let me find out for myself whether a thing be right or wrong."

Bourne ultimatum - had the same message.

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QUOTE

I am so sorry that the media chose to cave in to pressure and ignore the lessons inherent in our story.

QUOTE

They must believe the general population is so stupid that seeing the movie will make them believe all Mormons are blood thirsty terrorists. Indeed, it is a slap to movie viewers everywhere. They think the vast majority of movie goers cannot think for themselves, are unable to reason, and are so bigoted they cannot sit through a movie and think rationally.

This woman is in such denial. The "media" did not cave to pressure. The "lessons" she claims she was trying to teach were packaged in such a poorly done movie there was no hope for the audience to get anything out of it than what we did.

Now, she's blaming the faults of her movie on the movie goers. She just cannot face the reality the movie is nothing like she believes it is. The message of the movie is "Mormons bad" "Emigrants good"...Mormons are vile, greedy, sex-crazed, blind killers, following a horrible tyrant who believes he's god. The Emigrants are innocent christians, killed because they are trusting and kind to all--they can't imagine anyone would be so evil as the mormons.

There aren't just "minor historical glitches"--the movie is fiction!!!! And Steve Benson must have pretty low standards if he thinks this was a good movie. He must be a fan of the Lifetime channel-though most of the movies they show are better than this one.

Smac, I really hope you'll see the movie. I wish more LDS had seen it so that they could see the truth for themselves--and what a load of crock this woman is serving up. :P

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It is becoming cleaer and clearer to me that Ms. Shutter is having an open two-way dialog with only opponents of the Church...and seemingly only the most rabid of that group. It seems that she has used only the most hostile materials that tell the MMM story.

For all the sincerity that she seems to claim I find it empty unless she can show that she is attempting to respect alternate views by having a fully open examination and dialog with all interested parties.

Regards,

Six

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It is becoming cleaer and clearer to me that Ms. Shutter is having an open two-way dialog with only opponents of the Church...and seemingly only the most rabid of that group. It seems that she has used only the most hostile materials that tell the MMM story.

For all the sincerity that she seems to claim I find it empty unless she can show that she is attempting to respect alternate views by having a fully open examination and dialog with all interested parties.

Regards,

Six

She's all talk. I SAW her movie. I know her agenda. She sees Mormonism the way Bill Keller sees it. At least he's straightforward in his attacks. She makes her movie and it is clearly an attack...but then when she's called on it, she denies the obvious.

Six, she's not interested in an open examination or two-way dialog-she's not interested in truth. If she had been, she never would have created such an incendiary version of the event.

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So the whole "Mormons believe that Brigham Young was God on earth" meme was a mistake?

The trailer alone has two separate references to Mormons ascribing to some notion about a prophet being "God on earth" (Jon Voight's character - a bishop (!) - says "Jehovah has created me to be your God on earth" and the bishop's son is later heard to should "You think he's God on earth!").

But that was all just a whoopsy-daisy?

Yes, you see, in every instance the "prophet, or leader-as-God-on-earth" motif was a misread script.

The Mormon Bishop says "Jehovah has created me to be your God on earth" was supposed to say "Jehovah has created me to be your [bishop, for He is] God [, and we are] on earth."

And the son, rather than saying: "You think he's God on earth!" was supposed to say "You think he's [our Bishop, called of] God [to be our fallible leader] on earth!"

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If I were going to the theater and there was a possiblity I "might" be tempted to see the movie, I would buy a ticket to another movie, and change my mind at the last minute as I passed the showing room it was in. But I would NEVER buy a ticket to that movie. It is money in their pockets.

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How about the castration?

Any evidence to support this very graphic scene portrayed in the movie?

There is a documented case of castration**; however, I don't know how it is portrayed in the movie.

**Edited to add:

The one I am familiar was carried out by Bishop Snow of Manti (the victim was Thomas Lewis). I have heard that the account originally appeared in a SLT article many years after the fact; however, I did once run accross something about this in Samuel Pitchforth's diary. So, I'm not completely sure the documentation is completely reliable...

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There is a documented case of castration**; however, I don't know how it is portrayed in the movie.

So we have an actual documented case of someone being castrated and we want to continue to argue the Saints were not a violent, hostile bunch at this time?

I personally don't see where castration fits in with any type of capitol punishment.

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So we have an actual documented case of someone being castrated and we want to continue to argue the Saints were not a violent, hostile bunch at this time?

The action of one (or a few) hardly represents the whole. Mormonism does not automatically quell the evil (and/or stupidity) within some.

One account (from Lee [which I think was also from the SLT article]) has the reason because Lewis wouldnâ??t' allow Snow to marry Lewis' sweetheart (although Lewis is never named in Lee's account). I'm pretty sure diary entry (which would be more reliable) had the reason as punishment for some "undisclosed sex crime."

I personally don't see where castration fits in with any type of capitol punishment.

Nor do I. I imagine the majority of saint's in the period probably wouldn't either.

[Edited for clarity]

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So good Doctor Steuss,

Coming from someone trying get to the bottom of the tricky time in church history,

are you saying this is yet, another, isolated event that does not come close to representing the whole.

There were no laws on the books at the time that allowed for murder and castration (blood atonement withstanding)?

Hopefully Smac won't be upset with me taking the thread off topic for a moment. :P

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So good Doctor Steuss,

Coming from someone trying get to the bottom of the tricky time in church history,

are you saying this is yet, another, isolated event that does not come close to representing the whole.

There were no laws on the books at the time that allowed for murder and castration (blood atonement withstanding)?

Hopefully Smac won't be upset with me taking the thread off topic for a moment. :P

Well, Auteur, I'm hardly an expert on the Utah period (so be forewarned). It is something I am currently trying to re-brush up on (due to all of the Utah War / MMM stuff).

I know that as "isolated incidents" pile up, it can be more-and-more difficult to call them "isolated incidents." There seemed to be forms of capital punishment allowed, but Iâ??m not sure I have found anything that would allow for castration as a viable form (and definitely not â??murderâ?). From what I recall, Brigham Youngâ??s brother actually voiced disapproval of the Lewis incident (and rightly so).

I wish I was more help, but since there seems to not exactly be a wealth of sources for wholesale castrations, it seems to be (at least to me) something that wasnâ??t â??on the booksâ? as a viable punishment.

The closest thing Iâ??ve found to an acknowledgement of the possibility for some to become â??eunuchsâ? can be found: here, and I'm not even real sure how I "want" to interpret this particular passage yet.

Basically, the rule of thumb I try to use is; â??If there isnâ??t a wealth of information for the practice, chances are it was an anomaly.â?

Don't know if this helps at all. It can be hard piecing this stuff together, and I know that you share some of my problems of maintaining "belief." I wish you the best in your journey, and I hope you find the answers to not only this â??stickyâ? period of history, but any others you may have questions with.

-Stu

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So we have an actual documented case of someone being castrated and we want to continue to argue the Saints were not a violent, hostile bunch at this time?

I personally don't see where castration fits in with any type of capitol punishment.

Can you fault the saints for taking the Bible a little too literally?

Matt. 5: 30

30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Origen in the second century... castrated himself.

http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/people/origen.htm

:P

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I think the best way to determine just how violent or hostile a community was is to compare them to other communities surrounding them using a large number of variables.

This gives a better idea of what the norm is considering number of events so one can tell when the number of 'isolated' incidents likely crosses over into a pattern of behaviour. Frequency, grouping over time (is one incident followed by others quite quickly or are they spaced out), relation (is one attack in retaliation or a continuance of another attack), characteristics of both victim and perpetrators, etc. One also needs to pay attention to the geographical locations of the violence as well, it may be localized in a subgroup having been a previous characteristic prior to becoming part of the greater community and is not part of that community.

And if a community is surrounded by generally violent communities, then it would not be surprising to find some 'bleed off' into that community as some members of one community are often members of others as they trade, etc., so that is always a possibility of confusion of source of the trigger.

To label the entire society of Mormons of that time as violent based on anecdotal evidence is premature, imo. As far as I know, no thorough study has been done save for an estimate of overall violence based on lynchings (IIRC), but these records didn't start until the late 1800's so any conclusion for earlier is an interpolation.

As far as the castration, I am not sure one can count this as a community effort just because the perpetrator was a bishop. After all, he was personally involved apparently and may have committed the crime no matter what position he held. I don't know the details though and it may be that at the very least he used his position to get help instead of relying on family or 'intimate' friends (I am assuming he was not able to do it all by himself).

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