But this one makes me cringe.
Last night HBO aired the much-ballyhooed and berated episode of Big Love, wherein a character was portrayed participating in a Mormon temple ceremony. Mormons across the nation sounded the "no fair" cry, and HBO apologized for the ruckus. Then aired the episode. In a statement, the LDS Church tacitly endorsed a boycott of AOL and HBO, both Time Warner properties.
Now that it has aired (and I didn't see it, because I don't particularly care to subscribe to HBO), people have their shorts in a twist. When the scene was publicized a week or so ago, the immediate response was, "well, Tom Hanks obviously has an axe to grind." Which I'm sure is true. Hanks has gone on record before with regard to the California constitutional amendment being passed with the support and help of the 800-pound-gorilla LDS Church taking the forefront on the effort in both money-raising and feet-on-the-ground phone banking, etc.
I'm not going to get into the ethics or opinion of whether what the church did was right or wrong. Because it no longer matters in this context. And besides, most who know me, know where I fall on that argument.
However, I think that if The Church can't stand the heat, they shouldn't have stoked the fire. They leveraged the voice to which they had access, namely the ability to mobilize thousands of individuals, both in-state and out, and to raise tons of cash for the effort to defeat Prop 8. Hanks has turned the table, and done exactly the same thing: leveraged the voice to which he has access.
Hanks, who is an executive producer for HBO's controversial series Big Love about a group of polygamist Mormons, spoke out about the religious group's involvement in passing the California law, which bans same-sex marriage.
"The truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen," Hanks told Foxnews.com at the show's premiere in Los Angeles last Wednesday. "There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them."(attribution) Emphasis mine.
A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Kim Farah, took offense at Hanks's comments, telling FOX News, "Expressing an opinion in a free and democratic society is as American as it gets."
Now, in a exclusive statement to PEOPLE through his representative Leslee Dart, Hanks is softening his stance.
Last week, I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California's Proposition 8 as "un-American." I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a right to vote their conscience – nothing could be more American. To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are "un-American" creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use "un- American" lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have.
Bottom line for me in this whole melee is this: If The Church can use all its means in an effort, whatever that effort might be, and in the process, offend and disenfranchise a group of people, then Tom Hanks also has every right to use all HIS means to state his dissatisfaction. And The Church has no expectation that it won't endure some heat for taking their position. In whatever form it comes. If you wade into the water, you could get bitten by the crocodile. End of story. I await your cranky emails. :)