My Appearance on KUER’s Radio West

On Thursday (June 10, 2010) I appeared on KUER’s Radio West show, hosted by Doug Fabrizio. For those who don’t know, KUER is the University of Utah’s public radio station. Because I don’t live in Utah, I haven’t listened to the show except by accident when I am visiting. In researching the show, however, I see that it is highly regarded and covers a potpourri of subjects, many of which would be very interesting to me. I see it is possible to stream the shows live on a computer or download podcasts of past shows.

[Left: Doug Fabrizio, host of KUER’s Radio West]

The subject of the show I was on was the documentary film “8: The Mormon Proposition,” which debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The primary interviewee was Reed Cowan, the maker of the film. I think the main reason KUER asked me to be on the show was to get a more moderate Mormon view of the fallout of Prop 8 in California. Some of my conservative Mormon friends may question the use of “moderate” to describe me – they no doubt consider me to be a liberal. On the other hand, many former Mormons and gay activists probably consider me to be on the conservative, or at least moderate, end of the spectrum. It reminds me of when I was a kid and used to think of Chicago as being “back east,” never realizing that Bostonians thought of it as being “out west.”

Reviews of “8: The Mormon Proposition” have been mixed. An article in the liberal Huffington Post promised that it would “knock your socks off” and “could well be the movie of the year.” The Salt Lake Tribune called it “a vital, important cry for an open dialogue.” Variety said the film “covers a lot of ground in a short space, not always in the most organized way, but on enough fronts to spark an informed dialogue.” I haven’t seen the film yet and can’t comment. However, I should note that whenever I see a documentary with a specific agenda I tend to take a hard look at it and try to come to the defense of the other side. For example, I’ve done that with every Michael Moore documentary I’ve seen. That doesn’t mean that such a documentary doesn’t have a lot of truth – just that I tend to accept there will likely be exaggerations, just as there would be if the opposite side had made a movie promoting its agenda.

From personal experience I know that many of the campaign documents and films produced by the forces who promoted Prop 8 were terribly biased (which I would expect) and also terribly misleading and bigoted (which I hoped could have been avoided, especially by religious organizations who ought to value truth and honesty).

Reed Cowan is an articulate man and an interesting individual. He is relatively young (in his thirties), filled a full-time mission for the Church, and returned to work at various journalistic jobs, including as a reporter for television stations KSL and KTVX in Salt Lake City. Among other things, he anchored Good Morning Utah, covering such major news stories as the terrorist attacks of 9-11, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, and the murder of Lori Hacking. He has won Emmy awards for his reporting.

[Left: Reed Cowan, journalist and “8: The Mormon Proposition” filmmaker.]

His first documentary, “The Other Side of the Lens,” tells of his own personal tragedy of losing his young son in an accident and how that helped refocus his own life. He has dedicated his efforts to build schools in Kenya to the memory of his son, started “The Wesley Smiles Coalition” and is involved in several organizations and initiatives to help stop bullying in school.

Cowen also happens to be openly gay and it has cost him many of his former friends in the Church, as well as relationships with his family. He does not condemn everyone in the Church, but on the issue of the Church’s political stand regarding gay marriage he is outspoken. He sees much good in the Church, but felt that for his own sanity he needed to leave it. I find it hard to fault any our gay brothers and sisters who come to that conclusion, especially in the wake of aggressive campaigns such as that for Prop 8.

Most of the Radio West show focused on Cowan and the documentary, as it should have. Doug Fabrizio got to me about 36 ½ minutes into the show. Anyone interested can listen to the show at this link. It can also be downloaded for free at Apple’s iTunes.

I tried as best I could to respond to Fabrizio’s questions honestly and fairly and to avoid as much overt bias as possible. Of course, I recognize that everyone who has thought seriously about difficult issues such as these has some sort of bias and that isn’t always easy to leave it completely behind.

For my readers who aren’t familiar with Radio West, here is a sampling of a few of the recent subjects that demonstrates the show’s eclectic nature:

  • 2010 Summer Book Show: Doug interviewed representatives from Sam Weller’s Zion Bookstore, Ken Sanders Rare Books and The Kings English Bookstore, all iconic independent booksellers in Salt Lake City, who gave their suggestions on good books to read this summer.
  • Libertarianism: An emerging force in politics, scholar David Boaz and historian Jennifer Burns looked at what it is and what role it is playing in our political landscape.
  • War: Journalist Sebastian Junger, who spent over a year on the ground with American soldiers in Afghanistan, was interviewed about his new book called War and what he learned about relationships, trust and honor.
  • New Music of 2010: Doug was joined by NPR’s Bob Boilen – host and creator of All Songs Considered. They took a look at what’s happening with music so far in 2010 and suggested songs to make your iPod summer-ready.
  • Morality and the Economy: The theologian and activist Jim Wallis sees an opportunity in the economic crisis. He says it’s a chance to ask questions we couldn’t ask before. If ideas like “greed is good” and “it’s all about me” got us into this mess – then how do we want to come out of the recession?
  • Immigration and America’s Identity: In the wake of Arizona’s new immigration law, Doug talked with Rep. Stephen Sandstrom about his proposed similar bill for Utah and historian Gary Gerstle about immigration reform and what it means to be an American.

It seems like a show worth listening to.

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