Guest post by djinn

Why are my people doing this?  I just read “The Lucifer Effect” by Philip Zimbardo.   He ran the original Stanford Prison Experiment where students assigned to be guards quickly increased the abuse that they heaped on students assigned to be prisoners such that after a single week (and after the guards had discovered sexual humiliation) the experiment was stopped.   He chillingly details how almost all of us will be evil given the right circumstances.  We all are good, but in the right circumstances, we all are bad.

Dr. Reed Quinn is both a cardiologist and a Stake President for the Mormon Church.  This means he is the ecclesiastical leader for, in this case, 12 Mormon congregations.  As a cardiologist he has undoubtedly saved the lives of many people.  His wife, Eileen Quinn (or at least someone of that name who lives at the same address) is the CEO of the PAC, which has a spiffy website here.  It’s slogan?  “Marriage. One Man. One Woman.”   That’s pretty amusing–even funnier since the authors don’t get the joke.  You can point and snicker all you want.The website highlights a general authority of the Mormon church, Elder Russell Nelson, speaking about the importance of families.  

Dear friends, future happiness and even the future of nations is linked to children.  Families with children need to be re-enthroned as the fundamental unit of society. We simply must value children more than we do! Without a new generation to replace the old, there is no wealth; without families, there is no future.

How does Eileen Quinn plan on valuing families with children?  By refusing to allow a subset of them to have the protections of  marriage.   Of course.  I protect my right to (X) by refusing you to have any (X) at all.   Because of course, there’s not enough X to go around.  Or something.  I guess the Quinns are afraid we’ll run out of marriage if the Gays get some share.  

I’m sure that the Quinns are really decent kind loving people, but then they behave like this.  Why? I think they know.  Because their environment–the Mormon church–screams “Hate the Gay”  (But, Shh, say it nice, and don’t use the word “hate.”  It’s so, uh, hateful.)    In the Stanford Prison Experiment, a significant portion of the guards, after confronting what they had done, spent a good portion of their lives keeping others from similar harm.  

Elder Nelson’s speech highlighted on the site continues: “Those who seek to undermine traditional marriage would effectively limit the rights of those who do uphold the sanctions of these institutions.” Let me rephrase. Your right to equal protection is outweighed by my right to discriminate against you. My right to keep you from doing something (that doesn’t affect me at all) outweighs your right to do the same thing. How amazingly self-centered. And illogical. And dumb.    

Being kind, being decent, treating people as you wish to be treated isn’t “undermin[ing] traditional institutions” any more than freeing the black slaves back in 1863 was undermining the freedom of white southerners.  Zimbardo, in “The Lucifer Effect” describes how we all follow, blindly, those we deem a “virtuous authority,” even when we should know better. He also describes how we can rise above our situation. “I made a mistake,” “I am responsible,” “I want group acceptance, but value my independence,” “I respect authority, but rebel against unjust authority.”





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