Comedian David Cross, best known for his role on Arrested Development, is scheduled to perform at the University of Utah on Wednesday night. To promote the event, he posted this tweet a couple of days ago (which is right in line with his style of humor):
Hey #SaltLakeCity! See you on Wednesday night at @kingsburyhall @UUtah? Tickets still available at https://t.co/jgeQwHc8en pic.twitter.com/WoOZIne7jt
— )))David Cross((( (@davidcrosss) August 18, 2018
That would be Cross trying on the infamous magic underwear (a.k.a. temple garments) that men in the Church are supposed to wear after endowment ceremonies. Actually, the image looks photoshopped, so he probably wasn’t even wearing it.
A lazy joke? Totally. It’s low-hanging fruit. But that’s not why Mormons are upset. They’re mad that he’s mocking something they consider sacred and calling for the school to shut down the show before it even begins. (The school isn’t putting on the event, for what it’s worth. They just rented out the space to an outside group.)
Yesterday, the school released a statement condemning the tweet while also defending the First Amendment.
The University of Utah condemns bigotry and religious intolerance in any form. The offensive use of sacred religious imagery in a tweet by David Cross promoting his performance at Kingsbury Hall was in opposition to the university’s values of respect and inclusivity.
The use of the imagery was deeply offensive. At the same time, the First Amendment protects such speech, and the university cannot and will not censor content of those coming to campus. We acknowledge the free speech rights of individuals and entities who rent university facilities — even those with whom we disagree. By doing so, we protect the free speech rights of all.
— University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins
At least they’re not canceling the show. But to claim that Cross’ mockery of Mormonism (or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-ism or whatever they’re calling it now) is somehow “bigotry” and “religious intolerance” is the sort of silly overblown statement we’ve seen when non-Muslims draw an image of Muhammad or non-Catholics mock communion wafers.
No one else is obligated to take your religious beliefs seriously. What’s sacred to some is fair game for everyone else.
Cross hasn’t apologized, nor should he. If anything, he’ll probably read the school’s letter during the show and use it as fodder for discussing religion (a favorite topic of his). He already hinted at that yesterday:
Holy "moly"! My opening 10 minutes are going to be on fire!!!
Read the replies for some underwear fun. https://t.co/H95PqLVb18
— )))David Cross((( (@davidcrosss) August 19, 2018
If Cross needs material, here’s a suggestion: Why does it seem like many of the people responding angrily to his tweet are more upset about him wearing a temple garment than they are of allegations of sexual abuse within the Church, or how a woman was recently denied a Temple Recommend for breastfeeding during a service, or the now set-in-stone “November policy” that forbids children of gay parents from getting baptized unless they denounce their parents’ relationship?
If the university “condemns bigotry and religious intolerance in any form,” when are they planning to issue a public statement against the Mormon Church? That would be a much better use of their time and influence than going after a comedian for making a joke.
Tickets to the show are available here.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)