OK

There has been a diary on the rec list all day that has troubled me greatly.  The title alone makes me wary, WHAT ARE THE MORMONS UP TO IN COLORADO?

Its not that the diary was written that bothers me, its that the diary has almost 300 recs. To my mind, it is a classic example of stereotyping and prejudice.  Let's start with some basic definitions via wikipedia.

Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination are understood as related but different concepts. Stereotypes are regarded as the most cognitive component, prejudice as the affective and discrimination as the behavioral component of prejudicial reactions. In this tripartite view of intergroup attitudes, stereotypes reflect expectations and beliefs about the characteristics of members of groups perceived as different from one's own, prejudice represents the emotional response, and discrimination refers to actions.

Although related, the three concepts can exist independently of each other. According to Daniel Katz and Kenneth Braly, stereotyping leads to racial prejudice when people emotionally react to the name of a group, ascribe characteristics to members of that group, and then evaluate those characteristics.

Possible prejudicial effects of stereotypes are:
1. Justification of ill-founded prejudices or ignorance
2. Unwillingness to rethink one's attitudes and behavior towards stereotyped group
3. Preventing some people of stereotyped groups from entering or succeeding in activities or fields

This is the diary in question.

Found on Reddit last night, here's a video that shows a young girl in Colorado out registering people to vote.

Great, right?

Hold on a minute. The lady whom she is soliciting in the video asks her who she's working for, to which she replies "The El Paso County Clerk's Office." The lady being solicited asks another question: "And who are you registering? All voters?"

The girl replies: "We're out here in support of Romney, actually."

The lady being solicited: "And who's paying you for this?"

Girl: "We're working for the County Clerk's office.

The lady then proceeds to ask her about the propriety of representing herself as affiliated with local government, and registering only one party's voters to vote.

Now, to any who might think this is just an innocent canvasser making $8/hour, and just taking the job for the pay, another person on Reddit points out the ring she's wearing.

If it seems like an odd ring for a teenager, you're not alone. I had to look it up, too; didn't look like any class ring I'd ever seen. It's a CTR ring. CTR stands for "Choose the Right".

Mormons wear them as a reminder to "act righteously", except, evidently, in situations where a fellow churchmember is running for President. The girl in question was asked two particular questions a total of five times, and answered only once honestly and fully. Hard to believe that's not an oversight, and that being the case, why would this girl feel compelled to hide the true provenance of her activities?

[Edit: Ha, I found the "edit" link. Go me. First post here. Bear that in mind. The part bolded above was a subsequent edit whose sole purpose was to bring the post to a close in that paragraph.]

The remainder of this post was originally a deliberately shallow exploration of the history of Mormons applying a doctrine that holds it is not a sin to lie in the service of faith. Several people felt that this was unjust, and that I'd meant it to apply to all Mormons, all the time, this is not so. On reflection, I am removing it. NOT because I think it was factually inaccurate, or not a legitimate point of concern to call attention to, but because those interested in that backstory/angle have plenty of other sources from which to draw, and my paragraphs added little, so while I overall stand behind my own words, I see no harm in deleting them in the service of not being needlessly offensive.]

I've got no problems with the diary until the section in bold.  But the section in bold, I think, shows all the hallmarks of stereotypical thinking.

STEREOTYPES

stereotypes reflect expectations and beliefs about the characteristics of members of groups perceived as different from one's own.
The key here is that the diarist and others think that because she is wearing a LDS ring, she is Mormon (Likely true, by the way).  The stereotypical thinking is that the diarist and others immediately assume "Mormons wear them as a reminder to "act righteously", except, evidently, in situations where a fellow churchmember is running for President."  The diarist and others then identify a lie that was told, and again assume it is because she is a Mormon.  

"The girl in question was asked two particular questions a total of five times, and answered only once honestly and fully. Hard to believe that's not an oversight, and that being the case, why would this girl feel compelled to hide the true provenance of her activities?"

That this is a sterotype can be demonstrated simply.  Why not use this girls sex to say she has a secret feminist agenda, why not use her race to show a racial agenda, or her age a youth insurrection.  None of these other affiliations are even considered, with only a Mormon ring to show her affiliation with a group...and her individual motives then determined by that group affiliation.  Its damn hard to get more stereotypical than that.  To repeat,

stereotypes reflect expectations and beliefs about the characteristics of members of groups perceived as different from one's own.
PREJUDICE

I want to be clear here.  I am not accusing the diarist of prejudice.  Particularly after the editing, I do not see any evidence of prejudice in the diary.  Rather, I want to look at a comment in the diary by another user.

Fear of a Mormon Planet (25+ / 4-)
is not a form of paranoia.  It is recognizing their goal & questioning the loyalty of anyone who runs for higher office, especially someone who has been schooled on The White Horse Prophecy.

Seriously, all the nail biting about keeping hands off of Mitsy's religion is Bullsh*#t.  A significant portion of electorate doesn't even know he is mormon.  They have the right to be informed BEFORE the election.

stereotyping leads to racial prejudice when people emotionally react to the name of a group, ascribe characteristics to members of that group, and then evaluate those characteristics.
Saying that "Fear of a Mormon Planet is not a form of paranoia.  It is recognizing their goal & questioning the loyalty of anyone who runs for higher office..." clearly shows the negative emotional response to the stereotype discussed above.  Mormons cannot be trusted, have a secret goal and are not loyal to the US.  Simply stated, the commenter is saying we should fear Mormons, its OK.  This is prejudice, this is prejudice 101.  Its not complicated.  This comment uses stereotypical thinking about group membership to make assumptions about individuals, and the assumptions are that the person is not to be trusted.

Make no mistake.  I think Romney is a lying scumbag.  I am an athiest, so I certainly don't see Mormonism as any better or worse than any other religion.  My problem is simple.  The diarist and many others saw behavior that they (perhaps justifiably) perceived as sketchy.  That's not the problem.  The problem is that they then assumed that all actions by this girl could be explained by her association with the Mormons.  Nothing else about her mattered: her age, her sex, her race, her life history, her accomplishments, her failures, her joy or her anger.  She was simply a Mormon.  In the comments, this was enough to even condemn her as part of a disloyal conspiracy.

I wish Daily Kos was better than this.

Originally posted to Empty Vessel on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.