Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Say It Ain't So, Tom

Tom Hanks, who is currently making a fair bit of money from producing a television show about an offshoot of the Mormon religion, fails to see the irony when he criticizes the church about their stance on California's Prop 8:
“The truth is this takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” he told Tarts. “There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who's responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let's have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process.”

I'll grant it's one of the more calm and moderate criticisms I've heard, and I hope what we should read between the lines is a call for more dialogue and understanding on both sides rather than intimidation and violence. But still, the gist of his criticism is that donating money to unpopular causes is "un-American."

What, exactly, is un-American about backing unpopular causes? Gay rights was, at one point, extremely unpopular and considered by the mainstream to be immoral. So were the people who backed the cause then un-American? Were the Founding Fathers, who undoubtedly opposed "buggery" as it was known then, un-American? Bill McKeever of the Mormonism Research Ministry puts it best:
"Personally, I find it un-American to tell people that they shouldn’t vote their conscience. Hanks said he doesn’t 'like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper.' Considering that just about every law discriminates in some form or another, makes this comment ridiculous. Hanks’ comment shows that he very much believes in discriminating against people with whom he disagrees. I may not agree with Mormon theology, but I certainly defend their right to express their opinion."

One look at the Mormon Research Ministry's website will confirm that McKeever is not a fan of the church.

So meanwhile, I have this to say to Mr. Hanks. I've appreciated your work. You've brought a lot of enjoyment into my life. I doubt I'm going to stop watching your movies just because of this. But I do have to say that it's rather hypocritical of you advocate denying Mormons of the right to political expression while simultaneously profiting from a TV show about Mormon splinter groups.

With the support of people like you, Mr. Hanks, how long will it be before Hollywood forms their own "Un-American Activities Committee" to snuff out dissent from people whose political opinions disagree with your own? And by the way? Where is your criticism of the also-un-American black and Muslim communities? Or does your courage not extend to criticizing those minorities?

But I will give you points for at least taking a more moderate line. When Hollywood is on a pogrom against anyone who would dare support Prop 8, being moderate is as close to dissent as some people can dare come.

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