Last night, my wife Candice wrote a letter to the Deseret Morning News. I’ll repeat the text of the submitted letter here:
I would not expect Deseret Morning News, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to display sexually offensive advertising images on its online articles. I recently saw an ad for “Macy’s Free Ultimates Panty” (whatever that is) showing a seductive model wearing extremely tight, thin, and revealing undershirt and panties. The ad is in full color, large, and unavoidable, in the very center of the text. The paper must be aware that this kind of advertising is distasteful and offensive to the majority of its predominantly Latter-day Saint readership. I realize there are probably pressures for printing such ads, but perhaps the paper should follow the advice given last weekend by W. Craig Zwick in the LDS General Conference: “Live by your standards and stand up for what you believe in. Sometimes it is not easy, and you may be standing alone for awhile.” Shouldn’t Deseret News take a lead in making a stand against sexually offensive advertising? What message does this kind of advertising from a Church-owned newspaper send to the world? And what message does it send to Latter-day Saints about taking a stand against destructive yet popular worldly trends?
The newspaper printed the letter in its Reader’s Forum.
Well, sort of.
Here is what was printed:
The Deseret Morning News must be aware that the sexually suggestive advertising on its Web site is distasteful and offensive to the majority of its predominantly Latter-day Saint readership. I realize there are probably pressures for printing such ads, but shouldn’t the Deseret Morning News take a lead in making a stand against sexually offensive advertising?
Let’s dissect what was not included:
- Reference to Macy’s or the actual ad. This is a crucial omission, considering that the letter was not a complaint to sexually suggestive advertising in general, but to a specific ad. REAL newspapers are not worried about offending their advertisers. It is also unfortunate that the actual description was removed.
- Reference to the Deseret Morning News being Church-owned. This is also a crucial omission, considering that the bulk of the argument is geared at the fact that the newspaper is owned by the Church. Without this crucial fact, the argument considerably wanes. Why would the Deseret News omit this crucial fact? Perhaps because it paints the Church in a bad light? But it’s not the letter that paints the Church in a bad light, it’s the advertising itself!
- The quote by Elder Zwick. These words likely sting too much. Far better to leave them out so we don’t have to deal with cognitive dissonance.
- The last two questions: “What message does this kind of advertising from a Church-owned newspaper send to the world? And what message does it send to Latter-day Saints about taking a stand against destructive yet popular worldly trends?” These questions are perhaps the most provocative points of the whole letter. By removing them, the Deseret News is disallowing a crucial conversation that needs to be had on their forum: Is the Deseret News, as a Church-owned newspaper, not held to the standards that the Church expects of its members? If not, how come? And what does this teach our children about the seriousness of “standing for something”? Is it just empty rhetoric? What does it suggest if the newspaper ignores these questions?
Considering that the letter is probably published only in an online forum, “space restraint” is not a satisfactory explanation for these omissions. Even if not, there are plenty of letters that are much longer.
In light of all of this, it is very telling that the newspaper is very quick to remove words, but not to remove its offensive advertising.
And this fact is beautifully portrayed by the striking irony that the ad itself (at least right now) is linked up to the letter!
Well, perhaps not so beautiful.
UPDATE: It looks like the Macy’s ad has been pulled. I can no longer see it anywhere on the Deseret News website, and the Tribune is still running it. Good for the Deseret News. Now we just have to work on their hack job censorship.