An interview with T.J. Shelby, the self-proclaimed Malcolm X of Prop 8.
Question: Why do you attack individuals who have differing views from you on Proposition 8?
Answer: My targets have, and will continue to be, only three main groups. ONE, the entire Yes on 8 campaign as a whole; TWO, the group who donated to the campaign; and THREE, Mormons voting yes on Prop 8. I can’t help it if some of you happen to fall into each category that I am attacking. I apologize if any who read this have felt personally attacked. Such was not the intention but I’m not going to withhold what I believe is my civil responsibility simply because people I know vote differently.
Question: Why do you continue to post disrespectful, distasteful, and demeaning blogs?
Answer: They may say that but they keep coming back for more of my literary crack cocaine. The simple answer is that I (and many others) find Proposition 8 so completely disrespectful to the Constitution and to citizens who are being discriminated against. An offense to one is an offense to all. Equality for one, equality for all. I do not believe my blog postings demean anyone for their beliefs. If the arguments of those who wish to amend the State constitution, and eventually our Federal Constitution, cannot withstand the slightest breeze of scrutiny and ethical criticism, then they can’t call my sarcastic satire demeaning. They demean themselves by continuing to support something they can’t even rationally explain.
Question: Yes, but isn’t it rude to rub it in faces of those who donated to see how their donations are being mishandled?
Answer: Yes, actually, I am a complete jerk because that was my entire point. I took no consideration to those I know who may have donated and frankly, I don’t think it’s relevant. And yes, I find it absolutely hilarious that those who donated money to try and legislate their moral code, entrusted their funds to those who would break commandments and use immoral actions to enforce morality. Sue me but that’s karma baby. I agree that the wicked-by-association argument was extreme but hey, it got reactions. For the record, I do not believe all of those who donated are wicked by association and I offer my apologies. However, that does not alleviate them from responsibility for what transpires with the funds they donated. This isn’t tithing, where we close our eyes and remind ourselves that it wasn’t our money anyway, it is the Lord’s, as we watch an appropriation of funds we do not agree with. You have a voice in this instance. Use it to uphold the integrity of your morality campaign.
Question: How do you mean?
Answer: The Yes on 8 Campaign stands on a platform, which they built themselves, of moral superiority and acts to legislate their moral code as social policy. They do not have the luxury of using immoral and unethical political practices in trying to force their agenda upon others. It’s laughable hypocrisy. The No on 8 Campaign is not held to the same standard because they do not profess a morality platform but for a universal law for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.
Question: Do you mock those who have come to decisions different from your stance?
Answer: I do not doubt that there are those who have come to an honest, analyzed, contemplated decision to support Proposition 8. Do I more readily believe that there is a little too much faith and not enough reason in their decision? Absolutely. To be fair, there are plenty who would say that I could use a little more faith with my reason in my decision.
Question: Yeah, but why be so extreme in your approach?
Answer: The reason I have become as extreme as I have been is because I do not believe that change will come from the soft voices of rational reasoning. Look at the history of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. became most effective after white America became afraid of the alternative in Malcolm X. Within a relatively short amount of time, King came to realize Malcolm’s way would accomplish the goal of equality a whole lot faster. King started to become more like the in-your-face-styled Malcolm X. While it is true that King is treated more kindly by history than Malcolm...he wouldn't have accomplished what he did without Malcolm. I don't mind being seen as the angry, militant voice of Prop 8.
Question: You see yourself as the Malcolm X of Proposition 8?
Answer: No I don’t presume to inherit those large shoes. Malcolm X is a hero of mine and while I don't see myself as the California face of the No on Prop 8 campaign, for those within my sphere of influence, I am. I happen to relate more with Malcolm's style than King's style. I spent the last few months trying King's style and for the last few weeks before the election, I decided that is was time for a more aggressive approach. I embraced Malcolm’s motto: “Our objective is complete freedom, justice and equality by any means necessary.”
Question: How were your actions received?
Answer: I voiced my concerns, gave my opinions and got patted on the head. Then the head patting stopped and the snickering started. In some eyes, I already have a pre-paid ticket for an eternal cruise on the river of fire and brimstone. Sunday meetings began to focus more on Prop 8 and less on the gospel of Christ. Propaganda and lies were consistently allowed to slip into talks, lessons, and announcements without being corrected by presiding authorities, and sometimes propagated by said authorities. Temple and missionary work were not only put on the back-burner, but encouragement to do so was lauded as acceptable and faithful, in order to prioritize for Prop 8 activities. People weren’t hearing the message. I had to become as just as extreme as them but on the other side of the spectrum. That’s where we stand now.
Question: Is that why you specifically target Mormons who vote Yes on Prop 8, as part of your three groups?
Answer: In part. First, and foremost, because I can’t understand those who cannot separate their moral code from social policy. I believe certain things religiously and morally but I don’t feel compelled to force an entire state or nation to my way of thinking. I find it funny that we send missionaries to convert people to the gospel through methodology of love, teaching and inviting individuals to pray to find out for themselves but in matters of social policy we decide that forced compliance of our religious interpretation of morality upon all citizens should be the law of the land.
Question: Anything else?
Answer: It wasn’t much more than a century ago and Mormons were telling the government to butt out of defining marriage. It was a religious institution ordained of God and they wanted to worship how they may, including their interpretation of plural marriage, or polygamy. Now we find ourselves years later and we are begging the government to create a universal definition of marriage which is entirely different from the definition we had when we wanted them to leave us alone.
Question: But what of those who believe that the Prophet has revealed the will of God regarding Proposition 8?
Answer: They cannot claim revelation, when Thomas Monson, who we look to as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, has not said that this is the mind and will of God. Recently the LDS spokesman was asked if counsel from the leadership on social policies was to be considered “doctrine” and he said: “The LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills replied to that by saying: "Church statements on public policy issues reflect the united voice of church leaders. While such statements often reflect church teachings and practices, positions on matters of public policy do not rise to the level of doctrinal declarations." (http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,605154969,00.html?pg=2)
Question: What of those that say you just need to pray about this and you’ll understand?
Answer: Then they assume that because they side with the majority they must be right. All I can do is analyze the situation, review the impact on society, determine if any citizens are in danger, and see how this can be constitutionally upheld. I came to a decision after much thought, reflection, prayer, and temple pondering. The answers I received are for me. Yes on 8 people have got theirs, I am left to assume, using similar processes.
Question: Do you really believe that?
Answer: I’ll give some of them the benefit of the doubt.
Question: Do you consider yourself a faithful Mormon?
Answer: Absolutely. I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored church and I love the calling I have right now working with the youth.
Question: So how do you reconcile the difference between moral code and social policy?
Answer: In matters of doctrine, I follow my priesthood leaders. They will help instruct me and my family in what I need to be doing to return to my Father in Heaven as an eternal family unit. In matters of politics and social policies, I follow my heart and mind as influenced by my understanding of the Constitutions of the state and country in which I live.
Question: So what would you do if the Prophet did come out and say “Thus sayeth the Lord – Vote Yes on Prop 8?”
Answer: I learned long ago there are no good answers to hypothetical questions. You want my sarcastic answer? I would argue my point right up until they threaten me with excommunication and then I'd line up with all the other sheep. See, I answered and pissed people off…
Question: What about the argument about teaching homosexuality in schools?
Answer: Nice segway from hypothetical questions there. Your question is inherently flawed. The schools will not teach homosexuality any more than they teach heterosexuality, as though they are behaviors to be learned through study like becoming a doctor or lawyer. It’s ridiculous.
Question: Let me rephrase, What would you say to those who oppose homosexual marriage being taught in our schools as equal to traditional heterosexual marriage?
Answer: First off, let’s ignore every education official in the State of California and assume that somehow, we begin having big gay marriage festivals for our kindergarten classes across America. And let's reference history and see what they taught about inter-racial marriages vs. traditional same-race marriages. This is an evolution in social policy not the end of the world.
Question: What if it were your kids?
Answer: It will be my kids. I have a daughter and two sons. I believe there is a difference between protecting my children and shielding my children. If my children will now learn in school that, in addition to the marriage they see at home between a man and woman, they learn that boys marry boys and girls marry girls, will that knowledge somehow poison my daughter and sons into a life of homosexuality? I suppose not any more than a study of our Mormon ancestors will lead them into a life of polygamy.
Question: Will what they learn in school cause conflict between what they learn at church?
Answer: I send my children to school to learn about the world in which we live to learn their civil responsibilities and acquire secular knowledge in the arts and sciences. I send my children to church to have them learn who they are, where they came from, why they are here, and where we are going. I teach them in my home how to recognize the truth from both sources and help them learn how to reconcile the differences while maintaining the faith.
Question: What do you believe in relation to the Church/State argument?
Answer: Without a doubt, I am in favor of small government and as little interaction as possible. I have a scripture passage which sums up my position. As Mormons, we use four books of scripture. The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. In the Doctrine and Covenants 134:8, we read: “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.”
Question: What do you believe about marriage?
Answer: I do not believe the government should be in the business of licensing marriage. I believe all social contracts should go by the same phraseology. Domestic partnerships, or civil unions, should be available for any two citizens wishing to enter into a contract of commitment, man and woman, man and man, woman and woman. Morally, or as a matter of religion, I accept the Biblical view of marriage as between a man and a woman.
Question: You believe marriage is between a man and a woman but you are voting No on Prop 8?
Answer: Yes, I can separate what I believe morally from what I believe a free country should allow. I know what marriage means to me and what others choose to make it for themselves takes nothing away from me. I believe you cannot treat one set of citizens different from another.
Question: Any last words?
Answer: If people can’t see the difference between a proposition largely supported by the Christian right trying to legislate their moral beliefs upon ALL the citizens of a state and the rest of the state who believes that social policies must accommodate all citizens equally regardless of whose holy book they read…then nothing I say from now to election day will mean anything but rhetoric to them.
Question: Why is this issue so important to you?
Answer: I want my children to know by my example that they have responsibilites to humanity. My greatest fear is that someone in my posterity will have to make excuses for my ignorance by using the phrases we use for our great-grandparents such as "they were products of their time" or "everyone felt that way back then." I hope they will see me as a Christian voice of reason in a sea of religious intolerance and social ignorance.