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Kirby: It's really annoying when disagreements turn into dogfights
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Last week, the LDS Church acknowledged a word change in the introduction to the Book of Mormon.

Depending on one's personal opinion, the change is either insignificant or huge. My own take is that it's boring. Judge for yourself (http://www.sltrib.com/lds/ci_7403990).

Two seconds after the story broke, defenders of the Book of Mormon were damning challengers, who in turn sneered at all things Mormon. As with any dogfight, the participants were less interested in being understood than they were in getting their teeth into another dog's ass.

For daring to write a story about the change, Tribune religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack received this reasoned response from a Book of Mormon supporter: "You skank!"

I didn't write the story, but still got collateral e-mail telling me what an idiot I was for being Mormon.

I didn't respond. I don't get involved in religious debates. The last one was years ago, back when I was a genius. The subject escapes me, but I do remember the outcome.

In the middle of debating a religious point that neither of us could prove, it suddenly occurred to me that the only thing I actually knew was that it was a big fat waste of time.

Since then I don't "discuss" religion, not even with people who say they'll agree with me. Sometimes I forget, though. Like I said, I'm not a genius anymore.

On Thursday, producers of CNN's Glenn Beck show called and asked to interview me in connection with a lawsuit atheists filed against the Utah Highway Patrol Association for posting crosses on public land in memory of fallen troopers.

I agreed because the cross project was my idea and because I had never seen Glenn Beck in action. Also invited was Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists.

It doesn't bother me that atheists are suing us over the crosses. They're atheists. That's their job. We'll let a judge decide. In the meantime, we should at least try being nice to each other.

Here's what happened. I sat in front of a television camera in Salt Lake City. Glenn and Ellen did the same in other states, but I could hear them on a wire stuck in my ear.

Glenn welcomed us to the show and asked me about the crosses. I said a few words, maybe a dozen. Then Ellen said something about the Constitution. I said some more and Beck cut me off. No problem. I actually get that a lot.

But when Ellen tried to explain her side further, Glenn told her to shut her pie hole. They hollered at each other until it was time for a commercial.

I won't do that again. I'm pretty sure that makes me the winner.

rkirby@sltrib.com

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