Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “Take Out the Trash Day”

“Take Out the Trash Day”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 29, 2013

An early episode of the television show West Wing revolved around events that the White House staff preferred not receive extensive press coverage. One character referred to the releasing of these stories to the press as “take out the trash day.”

Donna: What’s “take out the trash day”?
Josh: Friday.
Donna: I mean, what is it?
Josh: Any stories we have to give the press that we’re not wild about, we give all in a lump on Friday.
Donna: Why do you do it in a lump?
Josh: Instead of one at a time?
Donna: I’d think you’d want to spread them out.
Josh: They’ve got X column inches to fill, right? They’re going to fill them no matter what.
Donna: Yes.
Josh: So if we give them one story, that story’s X column inches.
Donna: And if we give them five stories …
Josh: They’re a fifth the size.
Donna: Why do you do it on Friday?
Josh: Because no one reads the paper on Saturday.
Donna: You guys are real populists, aren’t you?

Today is “Take Out the Trash Day” on Keepa – I’ve got some short comments about various issues that really aren’t on Keepa’s normal agenda.

1. Health Care.

If you call for universal access to health care when you don’t have insurance, you’re suspected of wanting something for nothing. Well, I have health insurance for the time being, so that doesn’t apply. And I support universal health care.

I understand that some of you object to the Affordable Care Act for reasons you consider good and sufficient. That’s fine with me – I think it’s entirely possible to object to a specific policy while still agreeing with the goals of that policy. That is, I don’t suppose any of you actively want people to go without health care; you only object to the method proposed for providing that care. That’s fair.

But please, if you object to proposed methods of providing universal health care because you think the uninsured are lazy bums, or welfare queens, or takers, or whatever other negative stereotypes apply, please replace that image with ME, someone you presumably like if you bother to come here often. I’ve just gone through 15 years where I couldn’t access health care no matter how hard I worked or how much I tried to contribute to the world. I wasn’t lazy. I wasn’t a taker, of welfare or anything else. The uninsured are not worthless beings. They – we – have the right to life every bit as much as those who work for employers who provide insurance.

2. Marriage Equality.

Most of the Bloggernacle is enthusiastically promoting marriage equality. A smaller part of the Bloggernacle is adamant that same-sex marriage signals the imminent end of the world.

I feel much the same way about marriage equality as I have long felt about abortion. Regardless of my preference (whatever it may be), I’m pretty sure that we will all soon be living in a secular society where such marriages are a routine and accepted part of the social fabric. But, like abortion when it has been the issue du jour, same-sex marriage occupies a far greater proportion of public discourse than it deserves and has improperly become the standard for compassion, modernity, and worthiness to express an opinion on unrelated matters. There are more urgent public policy matters that are being held hostage to this single hot-button issue. I’m ready for whatever is coming, so that we can get back to dealing with these (to me) more important social and political matters. Like health care. And immigration/citizenship. And the economy.

3. Rape Culture.

Wherever you look these days, somebody is scolding somebody for their unintended support of rape culture. I think I understand the problem as well as anybody, but I’m getting pretty tired of everything being misinterpreted as support of rape culture.

Yes, men should be taught not to rape. Calling for such teaching, though, is hardly the cure-all that proponents seem to think it is: There will always be some men who don’t get the word; there will always be some men who are so evil that they will attack regardless of training. Duh.

Analogy: Car owners should be able to park their cars in any neighborhood at any time of day or night, leave their keys in the ignition, leave their cash lying on the front seat, and be able to return later to find everything untouched. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, though. Teaching drivers to lock their cars and not to leave valuables in plain sight is in no way equivalent to blaming them for having their cars stolen anyway. We’d be guilty of stupidity at best if we didn’t teach car owners to take basic precautions, while still extending empathy and the benefits of insurance policies on those occasions when cars are stolen despite precautions.

There may in fact be things a woman can do to lessen her chances of being attacked, just as there things a car owner can do to lessen his chances of having his car stolen. Some of the things people teach may be foolish or insulting. But teaching women a few precautions, a few self-defense techniques, is not that vulgarly named thing, ****-shaming (which, if used in a Keepa comment, will automatically send your comment to spam oblivion). Teaching women to be aware of their surroundings and to trust their instincts (and defining what that means), teaching women to think through the horror of pushing their thumbs deep into an attacker’s eyes so that they will be prepared to do it if necessary, teaching women how to move with confidence so that perhaps they will be passed over by an attacker looking for a passive victim, is not wrong. While blaming victims for being attacked despite these precautions would be wrong, condemning all talk of self defense that may save women from attack is itself support for rape culture because you’re teaching women that we can do nothing to protect ourselves, that our safety is dependent solely on somebody else, on someone having taught all men in the neighborhood not to be rapists, and all men in the neighborhood having been converted to that training.

I’m sick and tired of this knee-jerk reaction against any kind of self-defense thought and training.

4. Priestly Ordination of LDS Women.

Well, that was fast, wasn’t it? It seemed only moments between Peggy Fletcher Stack’s posting of the news that women would pray in General Conference and the explosion of Bloggernacle calls for the ordination of women. As ugly as the thought is, it’s hard not to think that all those nasty, ill-mannered, self-righteous, vicious commenters who attacked the idea of wearing pants to church were right: Any kind of women’s activism of even the most mild type really had the ultimate goal of extending priesthood to women.

Is that really true?

For what it’s worth, I would prepare for and accept ordination if it were offered by God and his prophets. I don’t think it will be. And I think this is one area where activism – the demanding of a gift, rather than the accepting of one – is wrong. But I don’t think ill of anybody for holding a different view and hope you won’t think ill of me for mine.


Okay, there it is. Maybe everybody has already said everything they care to say elsewhere and there will be no response to this invitation. But if any Keepa’ninnies want to voice an opinion – whether it agrees with mine or not – you can safely say it here, knowing that I will not allow you to be attacked as you might be in other discussions, and I will not allow any discussion to be grievously hostile to believing Mormons or the Church in general. And as always, regular commenters have a lot more leeway on sensitive matters than drive-by trolls.



  1. You forgot guns (oops, sorry)

    But I’m pretty much with you on these issues. And while I’m not always right, I’m pretty sure people like you and me aren’t the crazy ones.

    Comment by Grant — March 29, 2013 @ 6:58 am

  2. My humble responses (and you know, Ardis, that I would never be anything but humble):

    Health care. Our system is inordinately expensive and beyond inefficient. And I fear that the ACA simply builds a superstructure of government bureaucracy on top of an inefficient and overpriced system. I’d be happy to bulldoze the whole mess into the salt flats and move to Canada. And completely disconnect health care payments from employment.

    Marriage ‘equality.’ I used to do pretty well in math, and learned that you don’t call things equal if they aren’t equal. And, as Michael Corleone said to Carlo, “It insults my intelligence and makes me very angry.” So to the proponents–just admit that you’re describing something new and different. And then let’s move on.

    Rape culture. Amen.

    Ordination. Ditto.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 29, 2013 @ 9:45 am

  3. I opened a firestorm elsewhere by suggesting that the Church should not let bishops or other leaders perform weddings in meetinghouses or elsewhere. Our sealers should do sealings after the “legally and lawfully wed” part is over, thank you very much. There are lots of other benefits besides getting our leaders out of the business of being government agent proxies.

    Comment by queuno — March 29, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  4. As for the ACA, we have a good friend who can get healthcare for the first time since she was a teen. This will have a significant impact on her husband’s employment choices (and the travel needed to support them and on her family’s lifestyle).

    If someone can propose an alternative to the ACA that achieves the same means, I’m all ears, but the GOP didn’t seem to interested in providing alternatives.

    Comment by queuno — March 29, 2013 @ 10:27 am

  5. Good thoughts Ardis, I especially like your thoughts on the whole rape culture issue. It is not my fault if my house is robbed, but I still lock my doors at night and when I leave home. I will teach my son proper behavior and attitudes about women, and I will teach my daughters that if they they are attacked it is not their fault, but you are right, I can still teach them self defense with out that meaning that I support “rape culture.”

    Ardis, you are one of my favorite Mormons! I have recommitted myself to more civil debate. Thank You!

    Comment by andrewh — March 29, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  6. If we’re going to have universal healthcare I’m okay with that, but it needs to be provided efficiently and well and we are going to have to raise taxes so the government can afford it. In places like Sweden where people receive a lot of benefits from the government, they also pay much higher taxes to cover it.

    Comment by Marcelaine — March 29, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

  7. Leave it to Ardis to bring some sanity the hard issues!

    I haven’t bothered to say anything anywhere else, because, really, what’s the point? Everybody seems to already have their mind made up about everything, even if it makes no sense.

    FWIW, I’m totally with you on 2, 3, and 4.

    I still haven’t really made up my mind about 1. I think I lean more toward the idea of moving to a real free-market system instead of going to the full-blown socialistic model — but I’m increasingly convinced that either direction might be better than the horrible hybrid model we’re currently stuck with (and that the ACA seems to only make worse, not better).

    And like Grant, I wouldn’t mind hearing what you think about the whole BSG (Big Scary Gun) issue. :)

    Comment by lindberg — March 29, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  8. If this is trash, you can dump it on my doorstep any time.

    Comment by Last Lemming — March 29, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

  9. I really dislike the term marriage equality when applied to same-sex marriage. Marriage equality sounds like a good term for the idea that “everyone can marry the consenting adult of their choice.” It’s not so good of a term for the idea that “everyone can marry the consenting adult of their choice provided I approve of their relationship.” That’s what we have now, the only difference being what relationships are approved of.

    Comment by Left Field — March 29, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

  10. “Take out the trash day” — fun idea! Nice to hear something a little different.

    Regarding activism for women’s ordination, you say that you think it’s wrong. But, you add, “I don’t think ill of anybody for holding a different view.” Thanks for your deference to civility; this is a subject that produces so much rancor and I’m sick of it.

    Comment by David Y. — March 29, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

  11. Ah, I love the opportunity to spout my musings on a Friday.

    I have the same feelings about the ordination movement. I’ve never felt the slightest desire for the priesthood. If it is revealed I would receive it, but demanding it seems counterproductive. I can just see people shaking their heads disapprovingly while muttering “See I told you! If you let them wear pants, they’ll picket for ordination.” Then becoming very, very restrictive, wanting to go back to the good old days when women didn’t speak in public.

    About the rape culture, some may consider it victim blamey, but I teach my girls ways to be safe. I don’t think for a moment that anyone is to blame beside the rapist when a rape occurs, but still safety measures seem wise. I don’t think men can hardly restrain themselves from raping women, but I still teach my boys not to rape people with many an annoying detail to the tune of much eye-rolling and “no duh”ing.

    Health care is ridiculously expensive and I think measures should be taken to rein in the madness. There are a whole lot of arguments and theories put forth about how to accomplish that. Since I’m not in a decision making position, I just listen. I have no idea what the answer is. All of the solutions seem to be fundamentally flawed that have been offered so far. Regarding coverage, I think that people really do need to be able to get coverage or be covered by the government. But again, back to my first point, it’s crazy expensive. My family’s premiums would be more than we bring home in each month. Clearly impossible without a huge subsidy or some other cost control going on.

    Comment by Jami — March 29, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

  12. Wow, your trash is colorful! I won’t disagree with any of your positions, and I think I would enjoy a thoughtful conversation with you.

    I liked the Affordable Care Act when it was about access to care not access to insurance. Access to care should not require insurance. I think the insurance middle man is all about rationing care and keeping as much profit as possible.
    I’m certainly not ready to lobby for priesthood ordination, but I would like to see a more open administration. I really only began to understand priesthood by talking with a woman elder from the Community of Christ. She explained that both the recipient and the ordainer must both feel a spiritual call to the ordination and, that there is not an advancement through the priesthood. One is called to the specific office where he or she should serve.

    Comment by charlene — March 29, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

  13. Yes, your trash is delightsome.

    My disappointment with the ACA was that it focused on way too much breadth (tried to solve all problems in one sweeping bill) where I would rather see a congressional action focus, with teeth, on a few real problems like preexisting conditions and easier access for everyone.

    Thanks for the articulate way that you make me feel ok with not caring all that much about The Marriage Debate.

    Comment by MDearest — March 29, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  14. Glad to hear some of your thoughts on these topics, Ardis. I tend to be where Jami is (I think the solutions we have had on the table are lacking but I’m not sure what the solution is), but I appreciated your personal take on it all.

    Comment by michelle — March 30, 2013 @ 1:00 am

  15. I’m making a time capsule today because I’m doing some remodeling. There is a spot inside a wall behind a closet that won’t be remodeled again for 50 years or more. I’ve printed this post and comments to include in the capsule. (Really it’s just double zip lock bags.)

    It chose it because it summarizes current issues, as well as different opinions and predictions. So, it’s in there with the Twinkie (real one) and toys and stuff.

    Comment by Carol — April 20, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

  16. Oh, my! Immortality next to a Twinkie!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 21, 2013 @ 1:56 am

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