Monday, November 22, 2010

A man thinks that Thing-A is Very Bad. He also thinks that Thing-B is Very Bad. He has to admit, however, that Thing-B makes Thing-A Slightly Less Bad. So he has to concede that if you are going to do Thing-A (which you really shouldn't) then you probably ought to do Thing-B (bad as it is) because it reduces the badness of Thing-A. 

So, for example: someone might say "I don't think you ought to eat animals; and since I don't think you ought to eat animals, I certainly don't think you ought to work in a slaughter house. But since some people are going to eat animals anyway, it's better for there to be some very skilled slaughter house workers who ensure that the cattle are killed quickly and efficiently, than for the job to be done by incompetent botchers who make the poor brutes suffer more than they need to. In that sense, the slaughter-man, while doing a 'bad' thing, is also making a bad thing slightly less bad. 'Making a bad thing slightly less bad' could be described as good'." 

Or: "I don't think we ought to have wars, but if we absolutely must have wars, then at least let's have soldiers who follow the laws of chivalry, obey their commanding officer, don't torture captives or civilians (and lets have clever commanders who win battles efficiently so the dreadful thing doesn't drag on too long.) If war is wicked, then it's wicked to be a soldier; but its possible to be a soldier in such a way as to make war less wicked than it would otherwise be, which is, in that limited sense, good." 

If someone came along and chopped your arm off out of the blue, you would probably be quite peeved. But if your arm was riddled with gangrene and you were about to drop dead, then you'd be quite relieved. You'd probably say "thank you" to the surgeon who performed the amputation. But you'd much rather not have had gangrene to begin with. Something can be "good" in itself, like happiness and sunshine and fluffy animals; but it can also be "good" in the sense of being less bad than the alternative. (Occasionally, without being cruel or callous, we can be thankful or relieved when a very sick or very old person died.)

When the Pope says this, it's terribly surprising, hypocritical and controversial, apparently. 

38 comments:

Greg G said...

Well, it's more because other men who worked with said man used to argue, against scientific evidence, that Thing B didn't help make Thing-A Slightly Less Bad at all.

And I remember having a class on Where Babies Come From where our religious education officer made sure to tell us that "two wrongs don't make a right", so if we did engage in lustful behaviour before marriage we should be sure to not use any naughty protection.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Yes: it's the apparent change of mind (while doubtless claiming that This Is What The Church Has Always Taught) which is striking.

Andrew Stevens said...

If war is wicked, then it's wicked to be a soldier

Actually, this appears to be false.

Mike Taylor said...

Andrew Stevens, are you saying the premise ("War is wicked") is false, and so the conclusion drawn from it is invalid? Or that the syllogism itself is invalid (so that even if we agree that war is wicked, it doesn't follow that it's wicked to be a solider)?

ZZ said...

It's SO LOGICAL the way the same people will mock the Pope and the church in general one minute, dismissing them as irrelevant, and the next minute cast them as all-powerful mind-bending forces that must be resisted at all costs.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Is the point "Even if war is wicked, then it is not wicked to be a soldier, because the main point of having soldiers is to prevent wars, not start them?"

Tim Ellis said...

It is surprising and contreversial, because up until now the pope has not admit[ed], however, that Thing-B makes Thing-A Slightly Less Bad. So he has to concede that if you are going to do Thing-A (which you really shouldn't) then you probably ought to do Thing-B (bad as it is) because it reduces the badness of Thing-A.

Instead he has been much more hardcore - "It is wrong to eat meat, and not only will I refuse to do so, but I will object if you do so too". "War is wrong, and anyone who doesn't support the immediate withdrawel of all British troops is morally a murderer"

Thankfully, such dogmatic extremists are rare, at least amongst grown ups. But it does make it notable and newsworthy when one changes their mind

SK said...

The thing is, the furore seems to be based on some idea that the Catholic church has something against condoms. That is, specifically against bits of rubber which, I am reliably informed by a certain kind of film that I don't watch, make great substitutes should actual water-balloons be unavailable.

But the Catholic church has nothing against condoms, per se.

It has something against artificial contraception, because (they think) it changes the nature of the act from something which is Good (real proper sex, leaving open to God the possibility of using it to produce a baby (possibly by miraculous means cf Sarah / Elizabeth) ) to something which is bad (a perversion of sex which is only about the pleasure of the people involved). You have read Anscombe's essay, right? I don't see how anybody could understand Catholic teaching on contraception without, I certainly didn't.

In the case of a male prostitute -- from what I've seen quoted of the Pope's words -- there is no possibility of conception to be, well, contra, so there's no contraception taking place, so the Catholic chuch has never been against the use of a condom in those circumstances (it obviously has other problems with the circumstances, mainly to do with the act being already essentially non-procreative, but wearing a condom can hardly makes it more non-rocreative, hence wearing a condom doesn't make it worse (whereas wearing a condom outside of marriage is making it worse, because it's making a good act (potentially-procreative sex) performed in a wrong context into a bad act (non-procreative sex) performed in a wrong context, which is worse).

So basically as far as I can see this is entirely consistent with the logic of Catholic teaching and there has been no change of mind.

I think the journalists all went a little mad over the weekend because (Beavis voice) 'The Pope said con-dom heh heh heh.'

(I like Catholic theology -- it has a wonderfully baroque beauty, where all these twisty complex conclusion have been built up over the centuries in ways that all make logical sense provided you start form the right premises. It's like an ancient cathedral. I don't agree with it a lot of the time, but I do find it beautiful.)

Bibliography

Anscombe, E. 'Contraception and Chastitiy' http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/AnscombeChastity.php

Andrew Stevens said...

The syllogism itself is invalid. Regardless of the truth of the antecedent, it does not follow from the premise "war is wicked," that it's therefore wicked to be a soldier. Whatever the implicit premise is (something like "anyone involved in a wicked thing must himself be doing a wicked thing") appears to be false.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Andrew -- You seem to be using "appears" in a technical, logical or philosophical sense. Could you clarify for us laypersons? To me "Thing A is Wicked" and "It is Wicked to do Thing A" seem very nearly tautologous.

Is the point that war, being an abstract thing, can't be either wicked or virtuous? And I should have said something like

Killing is wicked
Soldiers are people who kill
Therefore Soldiers are wicked

or

Killing is wicked
War involves killing
Therefore war is wicked

Help me out. We're all here to learn.

And to quote Doctor Who, obviously.

Andrew Rilstone said...

You have read Anscombe's essay, right?

Naturally. But just in case, and for the benefit of anyone who hasn't, what was it called again?

Kevin Cowtan said...

Andrew asked me to repost this from facebook. Am doing so - sorry I haven't read comments so far.

A careful reading of B-XVIs speeches and writing since becoming pope may give a different perspective on what is going on. For more info, you'll need to watch videos 10-12 in this series: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheLaneCenter#g/c/A2C79FE0C8981790

B-XVIs first speech on the family in Rome was significantly different from anything JP-II every said. Notably it changed the emphasis from the importance from number of children to the qaulity ...of life given to those children - i.e. to quote James Alison 'Humanae Vitea is over'.

Alison thinks he is looking forward to a time when the church's attitude to homosexuality will be different - drawing on his reference to Plato in the same speech. I'm not sure about this (although it may lead that way eventually). I actually think he's looking to change the teaching on condoms. But he's trying to do it in a way which won't divide the communion or show up his predecessors. Which means that it has to be done in such a way that in a few decades time time his successor can write it in an encyclical which starts 'As the church has always taught...'.

Andrew Stevens said...

I'm using appears in the common sense way. When I say that x "appears to be false," all I'm saying is that "it seems to me that x is false." Most of the time, when I phrase it that way, I assume that anybody reading will tend to agree with me. I.e. I do expect you to agree that the premise "anyone involved in a wicked thing must himself be doing a wicked thing" is false. If you don't, then I suspect that we are not understanding the sentence in the same way. For example, we can likely agree that rape is wicked and if we combine it with that sentence, we will conclude that a person who has been raped has done a wicked thing.

I do believe that abstract things can probably be virtuous or wicked, so I don't necessarily have an issue with "war is wicked," but I don't think this goes anywhere about telling us who among those involved with war are doing wicked things.

Killing is wicked
Soldiers are people who kill
Therefore Soldiers are wicked


Now, this is much better. As a side issue, the conclusion should actually be "Therefore soldiers are people who sometimes act wickedly." Some worldviews would regard this distinction as crucial, although this doesn't actually have anything to do with our original point of disagreement.

With this new syllogism, I straightforwardly deny the first premise ("killing is wicked") as overly broad and still don't accept your conclusion, but I would agree that the syllogism is valid and does not contain a clearly false implicit premise as your original argument did. Moreover, there are many people who believe the premise "killing is wicked" and, while I deny it, I don't know for certain that they're wrong.

By the way, this all may have sounded very pedantic, but I really do object to your original syllogism. There are a great many people who will agree that war is wicked who do not accept that being a soldier is wicked and they are not being inconsistent with those belief. I much prefer "If all killing is wicked, then it's wicked to be a soldier" and wouldn't expect too many people to disagree with that. (The people who believe the antecedent will virtually always believe the consequent and the people who deny the consequent will virtually always also deny the antecedent. The exceptions probably are being inconsistent.)

You know, I am so constantly outwitting the opposition, I tend to forget the delight and satisfaction of the arts... the gentle art of fisticuffs.

SK said...

See the bibliography provided for the citation of Anscombe's essay, though the URL seems to have been pinched off. The last bit should be 'AnscombeChastity.shtml'.

Greg G said...

Pope Ben has clarified that use is ok for females and transsexuals as well, as long as the *intent* is not to prevent conception but to prevent disease transmission.

@ZZ - it's possible to consider the Pope irrelevant from a theological or ontological perspective while also admitting he has a degree of political power.

ZZ said...

Greg:

How on earth is a position on condom use a political position?

It's a moral / theological matter. Either one should admit he has authority in that area, or ignore him. Nobody would expend energy denouncing my opinion of Ming porcelain because I am laughably unqualified in that area.

Greg G said...

It's a political issue in that the Church has been actively and knowingly putting people's lives at risk by spreading misinformation on the efficacy of condom use, particularly on the African continent and in Eastern Europe, and lobbying against lifesaving programs and laws that conflict with their moral/theological teachings.

If it was purely a moral/theological issue they wouldn't have to lie.

SK said...

Okay, that clarification does seem to represent a softening of the stance -- I mean, it's a perfectly logical application of the Doctrine of the Double Effect, which is a standard RC principle, but I don't believe it's ever been applied to this situation before.

So it seems I was misled by the translation and there is actually a shift there.

ZZ said...

"knowingly putting people's lives at risk"

Umm, I think promoting abstinence from recreational sex would count as REDUCING risk of contracting STDs.

You would be right if they lobbied against condoms while simultaneously encouraging recreational sex, but that's simply not the case.

Anyway, back to the main point, if the church / pope are nothing but fish oil salesmen or hysteria promoters, then the most effective way to attack them is simply to mock them, not treat them like some grave threat. Apparently most of their detractors realize there's too much heft there to just dismiss.

Greg G said...

Because abstinence-only campaigns have a documented high success rate throughout the world?

Also, please provide evidence that mockery is an effective tool in undermining major worldwide politco-religious movements.

http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/03/30/uganda10380.htm

Phil Masters said...

Am I right in thinking that catholic doctrine on contraception is based on the idea that the specific, defining purpose of human sex is procreation? With everything else as a secondary consequence or a side-effect?

Because if so, reading through the rest of the argument would strike me as a huge and stupid waste of time. Because when the initial premise of an argument Just. Is. Not. True., everything dependent on it is just so much flatulence.

Andrew Rilstone said...

The interesting thing is that the Pope's position on this may be shifting. That's interesting because he's the Pope and people pay attention to things which Pope's say. It's also interesting because some people have assumed that he's very conservative (funny name, spooky foreign accent)and other people now think he's actually subtly liberal. Like, it would be interesting if the Dali Lama's understanding of "reincarnation" changed, because that would have effects on Tibetan Buddhism, his relationships with China, etc etc.

I don't think Catholics ever quite said "Sex is only for making babies." I think it was more like "When God invented sex, he meant it to be fun, because God likes people having fun (otherwise food wouldn't taste nice), and he intended it to be about being in love, and he intended it to be about having relationships and making families. If you try to separate any one element out and have it on its own -- the physical sensation without the love, the love without the relationship, the relationship with out the kids -- then you are doing it wrong."

The recent remark about condoms didn't seem to be saying that birth control was a bad thing because it killed all the innocent little tadpoles. And it didn't seem to be saying that birth control was a bad thing because it second-guessed God, preventing certain people coming into existence. It seemed to be saying that wanting the physical sensation without the love and the relationship was bad for the person doing it -- it downgraded sexuality, and therefore degraded the people doing it. And therefore the saying "I'm only using this human to get a quick physical fix, but I'll at least take some precautions to stop them catching a disease" was taking a step in the right direction.

(In the Olden Days, the Church may have had a more overtly hostile view of sex: I think the Medieval Church taught that sex was thought up by the devil, and although some people had to do it to keep the human race going, it was at best a necessary evil.)

Andrew Rilstone said...

As ever, incidentally, I'm more interested in the reaction than in the original event: "Clever man who believes odd thing seems to believe in thing which follows logically from original odd thing, shock!" (Remember all the fuss about the Passion of St Mel? "Evangelical Christian Thinks Crucifixion of Jesus Has Religious Significance, Shock!")

Andrew Rilstone said...

Because abstinence-only campaigns have a documented high success rate throughout the world?

Yes. Advice on this stuff has to be realistic. (When HIV first became an issue in the 80s, it was fairly clear that there were people who wanted the church to start preaching about traditional sexual morality purely because it would stop the spread of HIV; and people who positively welcomed HIV because it gave them a pretext to promote the traditional sexual morals that they believed in anyway. It's been said that Thatcher was reluctant to allow public health information to mention condoms at all. Though perhaps more because she didn't think that you should talk about willies on the BBC than because she was against birth control per se.)

But: it is interesting that when Mr Infallible says "You mustn't have sex at all, until you are married, and then, only with the person you are married to" everyone ignore him, but when he adds "And even if you ignore me on that, you mustn't use any protection" the invisible mind control rays snap on and all the Catholic Male Prostitutes (a small demographic, I'm guessing) obey him to the letter. And he gets all the blame for all the people who are doing it without protection, but none of the credit for the people who aren't doing it at all.

Phil Masters said...

The recent remark about condoms didn't seem to be saying that birth control was a bad thing because it killed all the innocent little tadpoles. And it didn't seem to be saying that birth control was a bad thing because it second-guessed God, preventing certain people coming into existence. It seemed to be saying that wanting the physical sensation without the love and the relationship was bad for the person doing it -- it downgraded sexuality, and therefore degraded the people doing it.

Isn't that a rather large shift from "condoms are bad, even with, say, people who are too old to have children, because it denies the possibility of conception - yes, even in that case, ref. Sarah/Elizabeth"? And if trying to separate sex-for-pleasure out from sex-for-conception is inherently Bad, how is Vatican Roulette - sorry, the rhythm method - legitimate?

And he gets all the blame for all the people who are doing it without protection, but none of the credit for the people who aren't doing it at all.

Because, I suspect, in the judgement of the people saying such things, the number of lives saved by people not doing it at all is small, and is completely overwhelmed, numerically and morally, by the number lost due to people doing it without protection.

Incidentally, one small but interesting implication of this latest statement is the implicit admission that condoms do actually work. Which should at least save the world from flaky bishops proclaiming that they don't. Small mercies and all that.

SK said...

Also, in the judgement of the peopel saying such things, the lives saved by people not doing it aren't worth very much because, well, they can't be having much fun, can they, and isn't that the point of life? The idea of choosing chastity is quite alien to them, so they cannot understand how those who do so are really living.

Regarding the rhythm method, I recommend reading the whole of the Anscombe essay, but here is the relevant portion: 'For in contraceptive intercourse you intend to perform a sexual act which, if it has a chance of being fertile, you render infertile. Qua your intentional action, then, what you do is something intrinsically unapt for generation and, that is why it does fall under that condemnation. There's all the world of difference between this and the use of the "rhythm" method. For you use the rhythm method not just by having intercourse now, but by not having it next week, say; and not having it next week isn't something that does something to today's intercourse to turn it into an infertile act; today's intercourse is an ordinary act of intercourse, an ordinary marriage act. It's only if, in getting married, you proposed (like the Manichaeans) to confine intercourse to infertile periods, that you'd be falsifying marriage and entering a mere concubinage. Or if for mere love of ease and hatred of burdens you determined by this means never to have another child, you would then be dishonouring your marriage.'

Tom R said...

> "the invisible mind control rays snap on and all the Catholic Male Prostitutes (a small demographic, I'm guessing) obey him to the letter"

Well, either that, or the large majority who believe the religious authority concerned on all matters make it legally difficult or practically impossible to obtain the items concerned.

There are plenty of non-teetotalling Americans who have been very much affected, especially but not solely from 1918 to 1933, by the fact that most Baptists consider drinking alcohol to be sinful.

Likewise Protestants as well as Catholics in the Republic of Ireland were affected by the Catholic Church's views about divorce and contraception.

Having said that, I am bemused to learn via the Pope's critics that condoms are both (a) so reliable that they can make casual sex with strangers anything other than Russian roulette so far as STDs are concerned, and (b) so unreliable that their widespread distribution in no way reduces the need for abortion on demand as to only way to Prevent Involuntary Pregnancy.

Phil Masters said...

So far as I can make out from that quote from the Anscombe essay, the rhythm method is legitimate so long as the user is proposing to have children at some point. Or something. But frankly, it all looks like the kind of tortuous, self-torturing logic-chopping that would just make me angry to read in more detail. So, sorry, I won't be reading it. I am a peaceful person, and the thought of being driven to put a fist through a computer screen, or of wanting to punch several popes, has no appeal to me. I don't have the sort of temperament that seems to, for example, drive some people round here to read the Express a lot.

And yes, I realise that this disqualifies me to discuss the Catholic position on contraception in detail. So I will merely observe that it clearly starts from a set of assumptions that, in my opinion, range from the merely wrong to the actively idiotic, and leave it there.

Phil Masters said...

Also, in the judgement of the peopel saying such things, the lives saved by people not doing it aren't worth very much because, well, they can't be having much fun, can they, and isn't that the point of life? The idea of choosing chastity is quite alien to them, so they cannot understand how those who do so are really living.

I think that you're assuming rather a lot about rather a large number of other people there, by the way.

Tom R said...

Anscombe's essay is worth reading even though your teeth will end up ground down several millimetres afterwards. (Eg: a large part of her argument is that "Once you accept artificial contraception, even among married heterosexuals, you have no grounds whatsoever for objecting to anal sex". Gotcha! But now Christopher West, a Catholic author and leading NFP-Onlyite, is saying that anal is fine as long as any and all seed goes per vaginam).

Eric said...

Andrew wrote, "the invisible mind control rays snap on and all the Catholic Male Prostitutes..."

That's been my problem with the criticism of the Pope in this regard, if you're going to ignore him about abstinence, well go ahead and ignore the bit about condoms too.

The other thought here I have trouble getting away from is this:

Suppose I had a wonder drug, that was 100% effective in stopping the transmission of HIV.

Because of it's effectiveness, anyone who used it would not contract HIV... and if we could talk a whole generation into using it, HIV would be eliminated completely.

Now suppose that it was free.

How much would you pay for the development and distribution of such a potion? What would you, personally, be willing to give up to make this a reality?

With that much of a payoff, abstinence until monogamy doesn't seem like a bad deal to me.
It is an option that is cheap, effective, doable, scalable, and readily available.

The Pope has an idea that could eradicate AIDS, save millions of lives, and trillions of dollars...
and it doesn't cost anything.

I understand the criticism, but the alternatives at the moment seem, well, bad.

Phil Masters said...

How much would I pay?

If I knew that people weren't going to use this wonder drug - and were going to lie to their partners and say that they were using it...

Not a lot.

Andrew Rilstone said...

This reminds me a little of the Hawk vs Dove argument. "If everyone refused to fight, there would be no wars!" "Er...But all those enemy soldiers coming over the hill, with the intention of burning your women, and abducting your houses, seem to have decided that they are going to fight." "That's not the point. If they'd refused to fight, there wouldn't be a war. So obviously, I'm going to refuse to fight." "Er...but they won't distinguish conscientious objectors from soldiers when the shooting starts" "Yes, but if everyone refused to fight there would be no wars". Etc. Pacifism only works when everyone believes in it. (Who said that?)

If everyone followed traditional sexual morality, then there would be very little sexually transmitted disease, and hardly any unwanted babies. That may, indeed, be one of the places that traditional sexual morality comes from. The problem is that the Pope knows (according to his own arguments) that not everyone will follow traditional sexual morality -- we're all sinners, original sin makes it hard for us to do the right thing at all times, until everyone is converted to Catholicism, not everyone is even necessarily trying to do the right thing. So it's confused an hypocritical to tell people to be moral because it will stop them getting sick, while at the same time telling them not to take precautions (which will stop them getting sick) because it's immoral. And while it so happens that several activities which the church disapproves of (sex between men, promiscuous straight sex) are "unsafe", several other things which are relatively safe (masturbation, sex between women) are still disproved of. (*)

It seems to me we're all too inclined to take an instrumental view of the church. Obviously, I would no more watch Hitchens talking to Blair than I would bash my head against a brick wall: but I hope that, when asked "Is religion a force for good" at least one of them said "That's a stupid question. The question is: is it true?" (I don't care if it makes you do good things: it's still a load of rubbish. I don't care if it makes you do bad things: it's still true.)

The Pope, I think, thinks that sex is a "magic" or "taboo" thing -- what you do with your willy has an effect on your soul. He thought this before there was AIDS, and he'll carry on thinking this after AIDS has been cured. Most people -- including most Christians, even most Catholics -- don't really thing this. They think its something you do with your body, and like most things you do with your body, it can be done in good ways and bad ways, helpful ways and harmful ways. It would be awfully helpful if all sides would be clearer about what they do think.

Am I the only one who think that earnest articles in the Guardian about the evils and dangers of internet porn are only a few centimetres away from saying that it will make you go blind and give you hairs on your palm?

My original point was that the Pope's off-hand remarks about prostitutes seemed entirely consistent with his beliefs, and that journalists should stop telling lies about them.

Have you noticed how often it happens that when someone believes something Really Stupid, people need to invent a different Really Stupid thing and pretend he believes that instead?

(*)If we followed the pope's particular version of sexual morality, there would also be lots of poor people with huge families that they couldn't afford to feed, who would either starve to death or else be supported by the evil communist welfare state.

Andrew Rilstone said...

brilliant new feature of blogger: it tells you that your post is too long to upload, and then uploads it anyway

Phil Masters said...

I don't think it's a stupid question, Andrew. You can say it's a rather abstract question of historical analysis, if you like, and you can argue that it's less important than "Is it true?", but it's a question about which it's possible to debate fairly rationally, with facts adduced and so on. It also has fairly important implications for personal behaviour and public policy.

And it surely must be quite important to religious believers. After all, if religion is (a) true and (b) inevitably prone to making people do bad things, what would that tell us about God?

But anyway - whether you like it or not, it's clear that many religious believers really want their religion to have concrete consequences - to make unambiguous, even verifiable statements about material reality. Otherwise, creationists wouldn't get so hot under the collar about evolution, and Catholics wouldn't actually pressure governments into not funding contraceptive medicine, as opposed to just explaining that it's wrong in the abstract. People seem to want their religion to have practical, material sort of point.

Andrew Stevens said...

I agree with Phil. It's a different question and I agree that it's a less important question, but it's not a stupid question. One of the reasons I am a non-proselytizing atheist is because while I do believe religions are largely false, I am also inclined to the view that most religions have historically done more good than harm.

I do believe that your average debate about "Is religion a force for good or evil?" is usually shadow-boxing. It doesn't make a lot of sense for Hitchens and Blair to debate it since they don't even agree on whether religion is true or not. It only really makes sense for, say, Phil and I to debate it. Or a Quaker and a Catholic on whether the Church post-Constantine was a force for good or evil.

Tom R said...

> "Now suppose that it was free."

If the effect of the wonder drug was that it only worked if you fasted every Tuesday and Saturday from sunup to sundown, and made sure you were strict vegan the other days, then I would call this stretching the meaning of the term "free".

Without any monetary costs, maybe. But without any costs at all? There's a catch.

Tom R said...

> "my problem with the criticism of the Pope in this regard, if you're going to ignore him about abstinence, well go ahead and ignore the bit about condoms too"

To repeat my answer (not, by any means, a final and infallible answer) above to this point:

"There are plenty of non-teetotalling Americans who have been very much affected, especially but not solely from 1918 to 1933, by the fact that most Baptists consider drinking alcohol to be sinful."

Ask non-Mormons living in Utah whether they can easily ignore pronouncements of the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Chrst of Latter-Day Saints.