The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, November 19, 2004

The incipient Mormon police state...

A couple of pieces (both from resident Plawg copytaster Romenesko) illustrate the totalitarian tendencies that seem (spooky coincidence or not) to show themselves around the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

First, a 5,500 word piece in Phoenix New Times on the clamp-down on free speech in progress at Arizona State University, under the direction of ASU President Michael Crow.

First, a photo appeared in the magazine of the independent campus newspaper the State Press of a naked breast with the nipple pierced by what is described as a 10-gauge barbell. And
Apparently, the magazine cover caught the eye of Ira Fulton, ASU's most generous donor. The founder of Tempe-based Fulton Homes has given $58 million to the university in the past year and a half, including a $3 million gift announced earlier this month. His first gift of $50 million in June 2003 spurred the renaming of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

The photo of a bare breast, erect nipple and all, on the cover of the student newspaper's weekly magazine, prompted Fulton to contact Crow's office directly to voice his displeasure, according to internal e-mails obtained by New Times. But rather than informing Fulton that the State Press, an ASU institution since 1890, was editorially independent of the university and that the administration had no right to dictate the paper's content, Crow reacted by ordering a subordinate to intimidate the State Press and its student editors -- threatening to sever all financial support for the newspaper, according to e-mails and State Press editor in chief Cameron Eickmeyer.

According to the piece, this is very far from the only case where Crow has intervened to mould ASU life to make the establishment more attractive to conservative, more specifically Mormon, donors.

Second, a Ph D student at ASU, one Dusty Goltz, has been preparing a one-man play under the provocative moniker Banging the Bishop: A Latter-Day Prophecy for an on-campus performance. Everything was set, the faculty member in charge, Jennifer Linde [1], had given her approval - until a couple of Mormons on the faculty -
professors Layne Gneiting and Kevin Ellsworth, both members of the Mormon church
- got sight of an email about the show.

Ellsworth wrote to Crow asking that
you exercise your office to censure [censor?] and cancel the October 15-17 performances of Banging the Bishop...

Linde anticipated the inevitable and postponed the show.

Clearly, there are students and faculty at ASU who are not going to take the Talibanisation of the campus lying down, though there is no mention of legal action to vindicate the rights of the college rag to freedom from administration interference - they are trying talking first, evidently.

Meanwhile, in the belly of the (Mormon) beast - at Brigham Young University - the university police arrested a college journalist for videoing one of their number issuing a citation to another student.

BYU, to judge from the Phoenix New Times piece, is very much a Brave New World operation of social control and implicit obedience to authority. (Dubya's idea of heaven, in fact - so long as he didn't have to live there!)

Crow is accused of wanting to turn ASU into BYU South. Arizonians are evidently intended to quake at the prospect...

  1. Jenny Linde, eh? - how many of her students get the references, I wonder?

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