What's going on with Corona Virus?

In case you haven't been following corona virus, here's what you need to know: Because of the slow incubation period, combined with inadequate responses from every government, the virus has already spread to an untold number of places.

By the time enough people are getting sick that the government knows they need to do something, it's already too late. It's only a matter of time before communities in the U.S. start becoming infected in a widespread way.

Here's the crucial point: racism is not going to save you at this point. Avoiding Asian people and establishments is not going to prevent you from getting sick. You're more likely to get sick from a white person who has been to China recently than Asian people who live here full time and have for years.

If you develop cold or flu symptoms, do all the stuff you would normally do for a cold. Clean shared surfaces. Cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid sharing contact of your mouth and nose fluids with anyone else. If your illness turns into pneumonia or you have trouble breathing, get medical attention immediately. Get tested for corona virus. 

My husband's coworker just got tested for it here in Idaho (was negative) so they're doing testing at hospitals at least.

As for emergency preparedness in case your community gets hit badly enough that public services start shutting down, start working on essentials so you would need to leave your house as infrequently as possible. What do you buy a lot that you can't live without? Stock up on that. Stock up on medication to avoid having to go to the pharmacy. And if you have animals, don't forget to stock up for them too.

As for specific items to have on hand, the first items to go through shortages are face masks and hand sanitizer. If you want to access those in an emergency, get them now. Also, stick up on trash bags, as anyone who becomes infected needs to isolate their trash and double bag.

I also saw that the Chinese are sanitizing drains to prevent spread from the sewer. Something to think about if you live in close proximity to other people. 

If you don't have a lot of money for disinfectant, buy bleach and learn how to dilute with water in a spray bottle. Get in the habit of sanitizing items and surfaces that are frequently touched like cabinets, water taps, door handles, remotes, etc.

If you have contact with the elderly, young people, sick people, or immune compromised people, this is especially important for you. Those are the people who are most susceptible to becoming gravely ill. Start enforcing good hygiene for yourself and others.

We can minimize the spread of infection by doing some pretty basic stuff. We already know there's a viable risk, so start taking precautions now.
[Note: This is a repost of a Twitter thread I wrote at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was based on the best available information at that time. For updated guidance on COVID-19, consult the guidelines of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, or the health ministry where you live.]

The Incorrigibility of Kwaku El

There are times in everybody's experience in the Church where they deal with someone who is unwilling, if not incapable, of taking any kind of correction. Whether because their ego is simply that fragile or because they fear the vulnerability and possible rejection of acknowledging their imperfections, the outcome ends up being the same. That is the experience I've had in my interactions with Kwaku El, going back to 2017.

In my first interaction with Kwaku, he was expressing his discomfort with anyone who publicly criticizes the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because I was at the height of my institutional loyalty to the Church in 2017, serving as a temple ordinance worker at the Boise temple, I was undergoing the sensitivity training specifically developed for ordinance workers. These types of inflexible, judgmental attitudes between church members are a real problem in temple service because they have a way of manifesting towards the patrons in really hurtful ways. 

Because I was confronting these attitudes within myself and the harm they cause, and was also aware that most church members wouldn't see those sensitivity training materials unless they served as temple workers, I tried to share those perspectives with others who were truly invested in wanting to see the Church succeed. He was participating in a YouTube series called Three Mormons, inspired by the Good Mythical Morning format, where the topics were focused on conversations about the beliefs and lived experiences of Latter-day Saints. Because I saw potential in what Kwaku was trying to create, he was someone I tried to help in that way.

It didn't exactly go according to plan.

The dynamic at Three Mormons was one where Shelly Williams would give traditional, canned responses and perspectives to topics and questions, Kwaku would either agree or disagree with a bombastic (and at times antagonistic) response, and Ian Forsyth would end up moderating and being the level-headed ringleader. It's a dynamic that can be engaging and fun, so long as it remains playful and ultimately respectful.

Shelly ultimately left the project before it was finished. Three Mormons ended in 2018. These facts surprise no one who watched the show and could see the tension between Shelly and Kwaku, then Kwaku and the other guests on the show. His banter with Shelly crossed lines from being fun and playful into the territory of being disrespectful. At no point was that more apparent than when he hit her on camera during their episode on modesty.

I confronted Kwaku about this at the end of 2017. That wasn't what I set out to do. Another user and I were talking about the treatment of women on Three Mormons. Kwaku entered that conversation uninvited to challenge me on what I said about the show. Here is that conversation:


Notice how I didn't name Kwaku in the initial criticism about someone striking Shelly on the show. He responded and got defensive because he was already aware of exactly what I was talking about, that I was talking about him. He was fully aware of what he had done, took no ownership of that behavior, and expressed no remorse. Doubling down, deflection, and denial are tools by which he shaped his persona and ongoing relevance as a provocateur. This is a pattern that he has followed throughout all of the controversies that have surrounded him. 

The dance parties in the early days of the COVID-19 lock downs. His stint with FairMormon and the death threats he instigated against John Dehlin. These have led to the ongoing suspicion for years that he has creating alternate Twitter accounts, including DezNat accounts, to engage in online harassment of former church members.

There was also an entire debacle in which Kwaku was accused of harassment and reported to the Title IX office at BYU. What transpired after that is a tangled mess that spread to the friends and supporters of the women who made the accusation. Part of this debacle has been the continued doxxing of a former BYU student who is gay, estranged from his family, and specifically changed his name because of alleged childhood sexual abuse. This is separate from the undisclosed accusations of sexual harassment of multiple women of color, as well as accusations from at least one unnamed victim who has confided in others that Kwaku El sexually assaulted her.

Needless to say, Kwaku El doesn't have a great reputation online or offline. Like all bad reputations, this comes from both the true and untrue things people believe about him. Because some of these things are unknowable and unprovable to anyone but him and the people directly involved in these situations, the only thing people have to judge him on are the interactions they've had with him personally.

If Kwaku is confused about why so many people are willing to believe pretty much anything people say about him, he doesn't need to wonder. I can tell him that directly. It's because he has a long history of being as ungrateful and disrespectful to the people trying to help him and teach him as he is to the people who hate him. He is incapable of telling the difference between those two groups when it comes time to take any kind of correction about his own words and behavior, lashing out against both groups indiscriminately.

As long as he stays in that place mentally and emotionally, especially when he has a documented history of attacking people, anything and everything he's accused of will always appear plausible to some degree. 

That's what happens when you and your personal brand cross the line from harmless provocateur to schadenfreude and stochastic terrorism.

"If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out"

My LGBTQ+ friends and church family: 

I'm sorry the institution that brought us together continues to reject you, willfully misunderstand you, and persecute you. I'm sorry for your pain. In whatever way it helps, I'm the Church too. There's always room next to me.

And I swear to God, if any of you conservative, follow-the-prophet-off-the-edge-of-a-cliff, don't-say-Mormon-it's-a-slur-now types have something to say about it, I will unhinge the underpinnings of your entire worldview until you're as broken and lost as you've made LGBTQ+ people feel.

My words are so feeble to express the anger in my heart for the people I love, and how sick to death I am of them being hurt by bullies in pews and suits. 

Beware of the evil behind smiling eyes and faces. That's what prophets taught me. 

That's what these policies of exclusion and punishment are.


Our Heavenly Parents are not defined or constrained by the smallness and frailty in us. No one can separate them from the love they have for their children. They will love and bless with arms outstretched, unceasingly. This changes nothing in the kind and heart of any God worth worshiping. 

This is what I know to be true. I have felt it testified to me in every interaction I've had with the LGBTQ+ community. 

This prejudice, this refusal to yield to affirmation and acceptance is not of God. This is human fear and failure, pure and simple.

I made covenants to serve God, not men. These policies are the words of men, and they will crumble to dust and be silenced forever when we finally arrived home in Their presence. 

That's the hope and faith I'm leaning on today: that God is great when we are not.

A Lesson in Scriptural Literacy: Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Reading

Let's talk about something that has been on my mind since the last time someone brought up racism in the Book of Mormon in my mentions on Twitter.

There are two types of scripture reading: descriptive and prescriptive. Prescriptive reading is when we look at the text, and in an effort to apply it to our lives, we ask it to tell us what to do and think about a variety of subjects. This is in contrast to descriptive reading, which is when the text is simply telling you what happened, independent of what the human author/God intends you to take from it in terms of your actions.

This may be obvious, but not everything that happens in the scriptures is good. We're not intended to copy every single thing that we see happening in them because the scriptures are not a purely prescriptive text. So just because there were petty, judgmental, and racist characters in the Book of Mormon, that doesn't give license to us to be petty, judgmental, and racist in our day. Rather, their inclusion is a descriptive warning about the moral rot these forces caused an entire civilization.

To interpret everything that happens in the scriptures as instantly transferable lessons into absolutely any situation, with no independent thought whatever, is to ignore the endowments of intelligence and common sense God has given to us all.

If I have to explain to anyone that you're not supposed to look at the racism in the Book of Mormon and think "surely THIS is the salient information God intended for me to take from this text and apply to my life," it's because you don't understand critical reading. You're also probably a little bit racist and looking for reasons not to deal with that. And honestly, I don't think there's a worse text to justify that, because d'you remember what happens to all the racists in the Book of Mormon?

They die. Bloodily and meaninglessly.

Which is why, for most lessons in the Book of Mormon, there are prescriptive and descriptive passages that teach the same lessons. 

Sermon on the Mount/at Bountiful? Jesus is telling me exactly what he wants me to do. Prescriptive.

The moral inventory in Alma 5, where I'm supposed to engage with every uncomfortable question about the impact of my actions on others, with no appeals to my good intentions? Clearly prescriptive.

The rapes, genocide, racism, sexism, classism, dereliction of duty, slavery, exploitation of labor, addiction, prejudice, and hosts of other depraved human behavior? The scriptures do not give license for these things to exist just because they're in the record. These things are in the record to describe how they happen. They're the harm and injustices of living that we need God to save us from. They're the punishable offenses we have God's solemn oath he will punish us for if we don't repent.
These things exist in the scriptures because they exist in our lives. These are the testimonies not just of God's power, but of ours: to be better than we often choose to be. To give into our better natures in resistance to evil. To do the right thing, even when it's hard.
So the idea that there is racism in the Book of Mormon shouldn't surprise anyone. The Book of Mormon wouldn't be of much value in speaking to the evils of our day if it didn't.

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