Origin of label "Mormon"

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Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby SDR » Sun 13 Oct, 2013 10:28 pm

All the recent hubbub about whether or not "Redskins" is an offensive name for a football team got me to thinking. I've heard that using the word "Mormon" as a label to identify followers of Joseph Smith was originally used as a pejorative, and later the membership of the church embraced it and it has subsequently lost its potentially offensive status. The Wikipedia article "confirms" this, though with a "citation needed" note attached.

Does anyone have a definitive / scholarly source that can confirm or refute this? I'm not having much luck finding one myself.

I can appreciate why some might find "Redskins" offensive. Whether or not the team's name is changed makes no difference to me, but I wonder if an alternative to complaining about the use of the term would be to embrace the term, thus diminishing or eliminating the power of those that mean to offend.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Eric's Fat Brother » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 09:32 am

While Mormon is not the full and correct name of the Church, and even though it was originally given by our detractors during our early years of persecution, it has become an acceptable nickname when applied to members rather than the institution. We do not need to stop using the name Mormon when appropriate, but we should continue to give emphasis to the full and correct name of the Church itself. In other words, we should avoid and discourage the term “Mormon Church.”

-- M. Russell Ballard, "The Importance of a Name," October 2011 General Conference
https://www.lds.org/general-conference/ ... e?lang=eng
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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby SDR » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 10:17 am

Thanks. Exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Eric's Fat Brother » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 10:22 am

On the other point, I don't think it is reasonable to expect groups to just embrace offensive terms just because it has happened once in history. If someone (for example) calls your mom a dirty word, your response will not be, "Thank you! I know you didn't mean it kindly, but I have decided that that word means 'lovely and kind,' and I get warm fuzzies when I hear you use it."
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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Momma Snider » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 11:21 am

I had not realized that Native Americans were offended by the term Redskins until Jeff and I were talking about it the other day. Makes sense; I just hadn't thought about it.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby SDR » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 12:10 pm

I hope I didn't come off as saying "this is what I think they should do". Just musing. Maybe a better comparison would be the use of the n-word by certain members of the black community being considered "acceptable" by many vs the same use by people outside the community.

As for the use of a negative term against one's mother, I guess for *me* it would depend on the intent behind the use of the term. You are correct, if the use of the term was meant negatively, my reaction would be different than if it were to be used ... "casually"? I can't think of a better word. If George Jefferson were to call my mother a "honky" I doubt I'd be very offended, even though the character did not mean it kindly. Of course, I'd be far more interested in how the character became real or how Sherman Hemsley came back to life to really worry too much about *anything* he said.

I do find it interesting that the term "redskins" is considered politically incorrect but is still acceptable for people to use in discussing the controversy, whereas the n-word is so taboo that we don't feel safe using the actual word in similar contexts. I've never heard the word "redskin" used negatively, but the n-word I've mostly *only* heard used negatively. Is that the whole explanation? Is there more to why the one word is off limits even in a factual discussion of the word but not the other?

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Eric's Fat Brother » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 12:37 pm

The N-word is a special case. Whether that's right or wrong is probably debatable. "Redskins" didn't really start as a slur, just as a simple-minded description. It's offensiveness has come over the years, as we've come to realize that the people who created the term probably didn't really think of them as actual people, and chose to describe them more the way you would describe a car or a tree or something else -- by color. The N-word originated in bigotry.

The Washington City Paper has stopped using the word "Redskins," instead referring to the city's football team as the Pigskins.

For me, the "Redskins vs. N-word" comparison isn't right. I think the N-word is like Hitler and Godwin's Law. No one compares to Hitler, and no other slur compares to the N-word. I think a better comparison would be to terms like "colored people." It's not outright offensive. Heck, it's right there in the name of the NAACP. BUT ... it is outdated, and the only people who say it these days are people who don't know any better. And if you were starting a football team right now, would you even CONSIDER naming the team the "Colored People" or the "Redskins"? I don't think so.
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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby SDR » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 12:46 pm

I was thinking of naming my team the Aboriginals.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Momma Snider » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 02:03 pm

I almost said American Indians instead of Native Americans.

Jeff's explanation makes sense, as do most things Jeff says, meaning he usually says what I'm thinking, or would think if I thought about it at all. Since the N word has never just been an ignorant term, but was always a slur, it's different from other terms.

Are the Indians being asked to change their name, too? I just thought of that. I don't think it's derogatory, but is not politically correct. Old crazy Christopher Columbus thought he was in India.
Last edited by Momma Snider on Mon 14 Oct, 2013 02:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Eric's Fat Brother » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 02:11 pm

The Indians aren't under pressure to change their name, at least not the way the Redskins are. The Indians ARE under pressure to stop using the Chief Wahoo image on their uniforms:

Image

The Atlanta Braves are under similar pressure to stop using the "Screaming Indian" logo, although the pressure is less because they haven't used it much in the last several years:

Image

Someone came up with a couple fictional logos to demonstrate why the Chief Wahoo logo is offensive:

Image
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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Momma Snider » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 02:20 pm

The Braves need to be forced to quit using the Tomahawk Chop.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Momma Snider » Mon 14 Oct, 2013 02:23 pm

Come to think of it, the Dodgers forced the Braves to quit that until April, didn't they?

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby EricDSnider » Thu 17 Oct, 2013 12:08 am

A lot of people don't realize that "American Indian" is totally acceptable and inoffensive, even though it originally came from a mistake. The AP Stylebook prefers American Indian over Native American, for example. (Ideally, you're supposed to say which tribe.) I guess the difference is that we called them Indians based on an honest mistake, not as a dehumanizing slur.

Anyway, in general, your opinion on whether a term is offensive doesn't count unless you're a member of the group being described.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby SDR » Thu 17 Oct, 2013 01:26 am

So does it matter if somewhere around my great great grandfather (so no more than 6.25%, probably a bit less) is American Indian? Doesn't matter anyway as I don't self identify in that way and have never tried to use it to my advantage.

I brought it up originally after the crazy nuts went after Bob Costas for daring to speak an opinion about the issue on Sunday Night Football. Not sure what his background is. Wikipedia indicates Irish & Greek, but who knows what else might be in there.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Eric's Fat Brother » Thu 17 Oct, 2013 10:15 am

More accurately, Eric, would be to say that your opinion that something is NOT offensive doesn't count unless you're a member of the group being described. In the case of the Redskins, if they ever do change their name, it will inevitably be based on the decision of an old white man (or a group of them).
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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Ryan Reeder » Fri 18 Oct, 2013 12:43 am

I've wondered about this issue myself. It's not just "Mormon" that was originally pejorative; "Christian" likely was; "Yankee" definitely was.

As a non-member of some other groups, I don't have a right to say how other terms should or shouldn't be used, but I've wondered why some groups embrace their pejoratives, even vulgar ones, adopting them as badges of honor, and others become taboo. It's become more socially acceptable to use some of the worst profanity and blasphemy than it is to use some of these words. Do we control the names or do the names control us?
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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby SDR » Fri 18 Oct, 2013 01:38 am

Well said / asked Mr Reeder. We let the wrong people drive the issue. By that I do not mean American Indians (or any group) is wrong to feel however they want about names they find objectionable. I'm thinking more along the lines of a type of person that believes their freedom of speech is sacrosanct, including the most vulgar of vulgarities (which they don't find vulgar at all), but your speech must conform to their definition of decorum (such as politically incorrect names applied to ethnic groups) then it is taboo.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Momma Snider » Fri 18 Oct, 2013 09:34 am

I was thinking that it's kind of along the same lines as calling myself old or fat, but I wouldn't want anyone else to call me either. But it's not the same because I wouldn't call another old or fat person those things. So never mind.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby SDR » Sat 19 Oct, 2013 01:47 am

Another thing to consider: You've got to know your audience. There are some things that would not be appropriate to say over the pulpit at church but might be acceptable in a small group of close friends. Things you can safely say jokingly one on one to someone you know well that you would never say to a total stranger upon a first meeting. Things you might say at a Klan meeting but you wouldn't dare say at an NAACP rally. Stuff like that.

I am obviously a bad person, but I would use the terms old and fat to describe people that I thought were old and/or fat. Of course one must realize that when *I* think of "fat" I'm coming from a position of having topped out at 450 pounds or so. As a result, for me to think of someone as fat, they pretty much need to have their picture published in news media or the Guinness Book of World Records. Old pretty much has to be "older than my parents". So my grandparents are old (also all deceased), but my parents or anyone younger are not.

There are exceptions, of course. Some people live hard lives (either by circumstance or self infliction) and look old before their years. I just saw a picture of Macaulay Culkin that makes him look pretty old relative to what I know. Some people like Dick Clark look young almost to the day they die.

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Re: Origin of label "Mormon"

Postby Momma Snider » Sat 19 Oct, 2013 08:44 pm

I refer to people as old or fat or weird or ugly, but not to their faces.


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