March 20, 2005

Welcome to Utah!

A couple of fun facts about Utah:
  • Bars can only sell beer with 3.2 percent alcohol, as opposed to the usual 6 percent.
  • Utah leads the nation in ice cream consumption.
  • Until fairly recently, public schools celebrated "Missionary Week" once a year, where Mormon students would come to school dressed as missionaries.
  • For a while, the state had a "porn czar," a 41-year-old Mormon virgin named Paula Houston, whose job it was each week to watch piles of sex flicks and surf the net looking for anything that violated Utah's obscenity laws. Sadly, the czar fell victim to state budget woes in 2003.
  • The Church of Latter-Day Saints, apparently, "has also established a security apparatus worthy of the Kremlin. It has infiltrated and spied on gay Mormon groups, rival polygamist clans, as well as historical associations seeking a less censored study of Mormon history.
  • The usual life-cycle for a young Mormon lad is thus: graduate from high school, serve two years as a missionary, and then get married immediately upon return and begin having children shortly thereafter.
  • The usual life-cycle for a young Mormon gal is thus: go one's whole life without sex (or masturbating), get married at a very early age for obvious reasons, get pregnant, drop out of college, have lots of children.
  • All this and much, much more from a fascinating old essay by Stephanie Mencimer. Anyway, Mormons come in for a lot of abuse, so no need to pile on, though I do wonder if the fact that the state's teetering on the brink of theocracy has ever produced any sort of backlash among actual Mormons. By which I mean: Someone somewhere once quipped that if we ever made school prayer mandatory, within a decade we'd have a nation full of atheists. That's funny, and it actually seems to have happened in places like Iran, but a lot Mormons seem to like their force-fed religion just fine. It's hard to find much in the way of rebellion, or even a good old-fashioned Mormon punk subculture. Good news, I suppose, for those who dislike the Establishment Clause.

    UPDATE: New slogan! "Utah: Come for the ice cream, stay for the planetary ownership." No?

    UPDATE II: Matt Singer tracks down the elusive Mormon subculture. An underground Fight Club at Brigham Young? Bizarre...
    -- Brad Plumer 12:19 AM || ||