Talk:Nauvoo Expositor

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Nauvoo Charter[edit]

Contrary to propoganda or ignorance, the Nauvoo Charter does NOT "incorporate" the Illinois nor the US Constitutions. At most this is something like a counterpart to provisions like the Supremacy clause of the US constitution...a "subordination clause" if I may call it that. It is an unusual provision. The charter does give the Illinois state circuit courts appellate jurisdiction over Nauvoo's municipal courts, but it does not give Fed courts jurisdiction to rule on the matter nor could a city or state give juridiction to a fed court, nor would nor should a fed court rule on the matter because it is only a matter of local and state most this sort of quasi-fed-law issue could only be appealed as far as IL's supreme court as odd as that may seem to give a state the final word on interpreting a quasi-fed-law. B

I agree that the assumption that the US does not apply at all since this happened before the 14th ammendment. I have no idea why people don't understand that. I had assumed that the relationship between towns and states was different than the relationship between states and the federal government. The states granted limmited powers to the federal government while on the other hand the states grant powers to the towns(at least in this case). Based on the difference in their relationship, the state constitution would appear to apply to Nauvoo even though it is not incorporated into the charter. You also bring up the point that freedom of speech/press is not unlimmited. While this is clearly true, a signifficant part of what freedom of speech/press is supposed to protect is political speech. When I read through the first issue of the Expositor it deffinitely did seem like a political publication, not just a mormon bashing paper. It clearly stated that only the first few issues would even deal with mormonism since the Expositor was a political publication. The paper clearly advocates against Joseph Smith's candidacy for president and Hyrum's candidacy for some state office. The discussion about how Joseph ran the mormon church and his alleged abuse of Habeus Corpus to shield people from the law are used to show that Joseph Smith is unfit for office. Politicians are not supposed to use the law to silence their critics; the gaurantee of a free press is supposed to prevent that. I think that your latest revision generally improves what I added, but I think it still needs a little more work. --andyh

Andy, thanks for engaging positively on this topic. This is a complex legal issue that has not been adequately addressed AKAIK. Ultimately, the legality of the censorship at that time is indeterminate since the case was never run thru the even if the law was clear, the most an intelligent mind could do is give an educated guess as to how the state judiciary would apply the law. A further problem is, even if it were run thru the courts, second-guessers who didn't like the outcome in this case wouldn't stop arguing; they would argue the courts decided wrongly because [fill in the blank]. Some of the issues would be novel to the judiciary at that time too, I'm sure...e.g., much of federal constitutional rights was only developed and matured in the last few decades. It will take some good research to develop the article substantially further, but some more tweaking might help the current article B 05:47, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

I don't think anyone can argue persuasively that the Expositor was not political speech, but again, free speech is not absolute, even political speech...In this case where the speech is deemed a public nuisance, the issue is what limitations, if any, did nuisance law have on political speech. There is no immediately clear answer. B 05:47, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

It's not clear what distinction you're tryin to draw b/w the limited powers granted to the fed gov't by the US constitution (ratified by the states with the states reserving all remaining powers to themselves under the 10th amendment) AND the powers (limited or plenary) given to local gov't entities by their respective states. Both of these are completely different structures for allocating power. As I read the 1818 Illinois constitution, it is very poorly drafted. Maybe that's why the IL constitution was later revised, I don't know. But take, for example, the US const 14th Amend: it specifically states that "no state" shall infringe on due process, etc. The IL constitution's provision on free speech is terribly ambiguous: "The printing presses shall be free to every person, who undertakes to examine the proceedings of the general assembly or of any branch of government; and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty." Oookay, "no law". Does no law mean merely no state law? Does that include no local law? And that's not the only ambiguity in that provision. B 05:47, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Oaks comment unsourced[edit]

The quip claiming "even Oaks may have waffled later from his earlier defense" is unfounded. Allow me to quote from a recent (May 2005) talk given by Dallin H. Oaks, in which he confirms his original position: "...Few men have been the targets of more assaults on their mission or their memory than Joseph Smith. I investigated some of these charges by personal research in original records in Illinois where Joseph lived the last five years of his life. The event that focused anti-Mormon hostilities that led directly to his murder was the action of mayor Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo city council in suppressing an opposition newspaper. Early Mormon historians including B. H. Roberts conceded that this action was illegal. However, as I researched the subject as a young law professor, I was surprised to find a legal basis for this action in the Illinois law of 1844. My law review article reminded that the guarantee of freedom of the press in the Unites States Constituion was not declared applicable to the actions of city and state governments until 1931 and then only by a 5 to 4 court's reliance on a constitutional amendment adopted in 1868. There were many suppressions of newspapers on the frontier in the period before the Civil War. We should judge the actions of our predecessors on the basis of the laws and commandments and circumstances of their day, not ours" (starting a little after 34:30 in Session 3, available here: [1]). Unless the claim of Oaks' alleged "waffling" can be proven with a direct quote--with reference--the claim should be removed. --tJM, 22 Jul 2005

I will remove the unsourced statement concerning Oaks, but his defense of the "legality" of the city council's action places law above ethics. It is like saying slavery in the US prior to 1863 can be justified because it was legal. --Blainster 19:41, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

Criticism of Smith[edit]

(Smith was in fact actively seeking multiple wives in secret, while publicly denying such rumors and accounts.) Is this a point of criticism or a substantiated fact? by ex-lds mbr. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15:09, June 1, 2006 (UTC)

The parenthetical statement is an editorial statement added by an editor who agrees with the third point of criticism in the Expositor paper. It should be referenced by a published source or removed, according to the policy on Wikipedia, which deprecates personal opinion or original research. Having said that, it is consistent with the research of historians such as those in the John Whitmer Historical Association --Blainster 04:43, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Dallin H. Oaks[edit]

It is my feeling that Mr. Oaks current position in the LDS is very relevant as to his POV on this subject, and should be included in the article itself and not just as a footnote. Duke53 | Talk 04:12, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

When he wrote the article he was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, so it's a bit backwards to want to mention it in the text of the article. If you would like to add the fact that was a practising Latter-day Saint into the text of the article, that makes more sense. In other words, the fact that he was LDS could have affected his POV when he wrote his article. The fact that he was later called as a member of the Quroum of the Twelve could have had no effect when he wrote the article. If he's more notable for something other than the article that occurred after the publication of the article, it is more than appropriate to reference that factoid in a footnote, but it should not be inserted as all it does is disrupts the flow of the sentence. (And we're not just talking a couple of months' or years' separating the events here—the article was published in 1965 and he didn't become an LDS apostle until 1984.) –SESmith 05:22, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

Duke53, it sounds like you think Oaks's analysis might have been tainted by his pro-LDS point of view. If that were indeed the case, do you think it would have been likely that such an unsound analysis would be published in the Utah Law Review and be favorably cited by the U.S. Supreme Court? In particular, doesn't the rigorous editorial process of a law review journal weigh in your mind against the assumption that his work was apologetic rather than objective? By bringing Oaks's current position in the LDS church into the article, forty years after his analysis was done, aren't you making a bigger issue of his supposed bias than the law review editors or the Supreme Court justices have done? And are you comfortable with the idea that any legal scholar's commentary on the subject (if any besides Oaks have done so) should have their current religious activity mentioned, in case they too have a potential bias towards or against Mormonism? alanyst /talk/ 05:54, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

"Duke53, it sounds like you think Oaks's analysis might have been tainted by his pro-LDS point of view". I absolutely do think that his 'pro-LDS' may have played a part in his analysis, just as I would feel that an 'anti-LDS' analyst's POV would come into play with his opinion.
"Oaks's legal scholarship into the history of the writ of habeas corpus was approvingly referenced by the U.S. Supreme Court". Does this equate to his analysis of Smith's role in destroying the newspaper? I do not see the connection. Was he lauded by the U.S. Supreme Court for his analysis on the subject of this article? As far as the Utah Law Review .... ?? I am fairly certain that if an 'anti-LDS' attorney had come up with an alternate opinion about this incident that his 'anti-Mormonism' stance would be noted in the article somehow. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Duke53 (talkcontribs) 06:39, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

I don't think there's a problem with noting his LDS affiliation, but you wanted to note his membership in the Quorum of the 12, which is a separate issue. – SESmith 06:45, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

[Edit conflict.] Okay, good to know where you're coming from, Duke53. I basically agree with SESmith that Oaks's current position has little relevance to his analysis of forty years ago, but that his status at the time of the analysis as an LDS member perhaps merits a mention, something like this:

However, a legal analysis of the issue was undertaken by an LDS law professor, Dallin H. Oaks, while he was teaching at the University of Chicago Law School.

That mention of his religion, together with the link to Oaks's own article that details his professional and ecclesiastical activities, should be sufficient to alert the reader to possible influences on his legal scholarship, I think. Do you agree, Duke53? It's actually not entirely to my liking, as I don't care for the implication that just because someone has a set of beliefs that their academically-reviewed scholarship is questionable, but I can see how omitting mention of his background can make it look like someone is trying to sneak in an apologetic viewpoint to the article. I don't believe anyone's trying to do that, but if it makes the article seem more honest then I'm okay with it, for my part. alanyst /talk/ 07:05, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

Some people's versions of 'academically-reviewed' or 'peer reviewed' articles are not exactly 'to my liking' either, but I am told that I have to live with it. Oaks didn't get to his current lofty position in the LDS church by publishing anything that might upset the powers-that-be of the LDS church; my feeling is that this work of his follows the church's view very closely. Duke53 | Talk 01:22, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

The ironic thing about this "conspiracy-theory"-style outlook being floated here is that if there is any law review in the North America that tries extremely hard to avoid presenting or appearing to present pro-LDS Church material, it is the Utah Law Review. The University of Utah—and particularly its law school—is not exactly well-known for its positive view of Mormonism or the LDS Church. Had the article been published in a BYU law review, your argument might have legs. I also don't understand why pet theories about how Oaks got to his current position is in any way relevant to this article. –SESmith 01:28, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

And if the review had been done at any other law review outside the state with the largest LDS population in the U.S.A. your argument might have legs. Duke53 | Talk 01:40, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

You obviously aren't familiar with the editorial biases of the Utah Law Review. It's called "overcompensation". Oaks has published other legal works touching on Mormonism, some of which have been published by the University of Illinois Press. I would bet that you, due to your personal biases and pet theories, would find these just as suspect, despite the fact that they were not published in Utah. –SESmith 02:07, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Have you any documented cases of this 'overcompensation' by the Utah Law Review, or is this simply your perception of them? If some people keep repeating something long enough then other people will start believing it, without any documented proof of it. Duke53 | Talk 02:54, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I have tape-recordings of their editorial meetings from the past 45 years. :) My point was not to "prove" anything: it was merely to note that it is ironic that you bring up these concerns when a common perception among many lawyers about the Utah Law Review is the complete opposite of your apparent concerns about it. My saying this doesn't "prove" anything, except maybe that you are not at all familiar with some common perceptions of the ULR.
Anyway, should I assume you also have researched the issue and have independent documented proof of the biased nature of Oaks's legal opinions and that the nature of these opinions were taken into account when deciding to make him an LDS Church apostle? -SESmith 03:50, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
You may assume anything that you choose. By 'documented proof' I meant something in a public record or such, not some OR that you may have. I will understand if you don't have proof, just some perception about them. I never stated as fact that Oaks was biased ... you did state as fact that the Utah Law Review was biased. Duke53 | Talk 04:37, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Um, you don't need to apply WP article standards to things someone writes on the Talk page, you know. That's a bit ridiculous. It's not like I'm including my opinions about ULR in the article. And incidentally, my point was not that the ULR is biased: one of my comments above clarifies that there was a general perception amongst lawyers that they tried to avoid being or looking pro-LDS Church. If you misunderstood my point due to my jovial, colloquial and abbreviated style of writing on a talk page, that's really what it was. You did, however, state without much equivication that Oaks gained his current position by avoiding the publication of anything that "might upset the powers-that-be" of the LDS Church, and you haven't modified this view with a subsequent comment. So if you're worried about OR on the talk page, it's right under your nose. :) Silly ... Let's keep the OR worries to matters that are actually edited into the article.

I think that it could probably constitute a violation of WP:OR to require the article to state Oaks's current position in a section talking about a piece of legal research and writing he produced in the 1960s, which was the original issue here.-SESmith 08:13, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

I don't understand the problem here. Oaks at the time was a law professor with a prestigious clerkship and few years of practice at Kirkland & Ellis under his belt. Being a Latter-day Saint, his analysis could have been biased, but we're not citing here him as an apostle. We're quoting him as a Mormon attorney and professor. I think the most problematic part of this article is right before the Oaks quote. It seems to be original legal analysis from primary sources. Can we get a citation for it? Cool Hand Luke 08:31, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Incidentally, we might want to augment Oaks' 1965 view with his co-written treatise Carthage Conspiracy (Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill , Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1975). I've not read it, but it appears to cover much of the same ground. The BYU Law Review wrote in a book review of it with this excerpt: "The Mormons' destruction of the press of the Nauvoo Expositor, a clearly unjustified act, and Joseph Smith's flight to avoid arrest are frankly described..." 1976 BYU L. Rev. 353, 354. Cool Hand Luke 09:15, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Actually, scratch that. The enormous copyright violation known as Google books tells me that they just cite Oaks' earlier article approvingly for legal analysis. Marvin S. Hill, a BYU History professor, does not add credibility to the source if we're worried about his pro-Mormon bias. Cool Hand Luke 09:23, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Re-hash attempt: POV over Oaks[edit]

Back to the previous discussion, I would suggest that it is POV or agenda-driven to insist that Oaks be called out as a current LDS apostle in the article. This info, which is certainly interesting, should remain in the footnote. Only someone with a conspiracy theorist's mind (or an axe to grind about the LDS) would feel the need to stress this fact, which has little to do with Oaks' research as a lawyer. I'm not Mormon and I see no justification for the inclusion in the body of the article. Best, A Sniper (talk) 16:49, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

If Oaks were labeled an ' anti-mormon ' here (which almost all who don't accept mormon doctrine as gospel are labeled) there would be a stampede to include that info in the article. Tit for tat ... it provides a useful fact to this article. Duke53 | Talk 22:42, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Right on time, the swarm arrives to begin tag teaming. Good show. Duke53 | Talk 06:43, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Why don't you keep your snide comments to yourself? I don't accept Mormon doctrine and I've never been called an anti-Mormon. This is actually about a bad edit - yours. A Sniper (talk) 10:28, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Why would you ever be called 'anti-mormon' ? Describing an 'expert' fully is not a bad edit ... avoiding mentioning his status is a horrible edit, however. We are back to a situation where a single editor cannot make any edit that a team of pro-mormon editors can swarm with reversions ... same old, same old. Oaks didn't reach his lofty perch in the lds church by preaching anything BUT 'company policy'. My comment stands: it is what it is. Duke53 | Talk 15:16, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

How about agreeing to settle the editorial question by asking an uninvolved editor for their opinion as to the amount of emphasis that should be given to Oaks's current position? Can the two of you mutually agree on a person to ask? Maybe User:Newyorkbrad, who is an arbitrator here, a lawyer in real life, and widely considered on-wiki and off-wiki to be a fair-minded person? (To my knowledge, NYB has not been involved in any of the LDS-related disputes, so I have no reason to believe he'd be biased one way or the other.) Or pick someone else...just please focus on resolving the dispute. alanyst /talk/ 16:29, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

With all due respect, there is no need for an uninvolved editor. This is a simple case of NPOV vs. POV. Neither editor is a Mormon, but it seems the other editor (based on his/her statement) is exercising "tit for tat" editing - trying to balance a perceived bias by stressing an irrelevant, though interesting, piece of information. By linking Oaks to his current Mormon leadership position, the user seeks to discredit Oaks research as a lawyer. This should be obvious, even to my non-Mormon brain. There is no dispute here - there is one editor who has made a POV edit. A Sniper (talk) 18:02, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
It's typical of both sides in a dispute to believe sincerely that they are taking the objective stance and that their opponent is the biased one. Even if one of the parties actually is more accurate in this belief (not to say that's the case here necessarily), what harm would it do to seek someone who both sides can agree beforehand is likely to provide an objective view? alanyst /talk/ 18:10, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
By NOT mentioning Oaks' status, it appears that the editor is trying to hide it. Discredit his research? Hardly. Not mentioning his position is the POV edit; passersby might not recognize his name, and might believe that he was / is an uninterested laic, which he most certainly is NOT. Put the facts out there and let our readers decide for themselves whether there is / was a slant to his research. Duke53 | Talk 19:33, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
You and A Sniper have proved my point: both of you think you're on the side of NPOV against a POV-pushing opponent. I will approach NYB about this tomorrow unless the two of you can agree on someone else to ask to intercede, or can resolve the dispute on your own. alanyst /talk/ 19:48, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Fine by me. Duke53 | Talk 20:35, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Waste of time. However, I'm curious what the motive of the user is for highlighting Oaks' current Mormon leadership position...My take on it is that he wishes to diminish Oaks' credibility. I would challenge the user to explain his motivation, other than the tit for tat he has already mentioned. A Sniper (talk) 18:48, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

For the record, I restate my position from above. I don't think adding Oaks title is a big deal but I don't think it's necessary—we're citing him as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who had a legal and academic career ahead of him, not as an Apostle of the LDS Church. However, since I have affiliations with both institutions, I may not be an impartial party.

To me the bigger problem is the mass of apparent original research that precedes the section on Oaks' analysis. I'm no expert on Illinois constitutional jurisprudence, and I would like to see some citation for the proposition that the Illinois Constitution meant x or y in 1844. As with the U.S. Constitution, interpretations of state constitutions can change over time, and I think this whole mass should be deleted unless there's some existing secondary analysis we can use. This section seems to have entered the article as a sort of OR debate early in the article's history. Cool Hand Luke 21:20, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

It was claimed Oaks analysis was cited favorably by the Supreme Court. To clarify: that citation is not about this article at all, but is instead about criminal procedure in California v. Minjares about the exclusionary rule. His work on habeas corpus and criminal law has been cited by the 2nd, 7th, D.C. circuits.
I have a PDF copy of the article from HeinOnline, 42 pages; it does not seem to be online. If anyone needs a copy, email me. The article does not seem obviously biased to me. In the section on damages covered in this article, Oaks says:
"there was no legal justification in 1844 for the destruction of the Expositor press as a nuisance. Its libelous, provocative, and perhaps obscene output may well have been a public and a private nuisance, but the evil article was not the press itself but the way in which it was being used. Consequently, those who caused or accomplished its destruction were liable for money damages in an action of trespass." 891.
He says the Illinois free press section was passed through states originally from Pennsylvania, where courts took a "no prior restraints" interpretation in 1788, an interpretation reiterated by one of the drafters of the Pennsylvania 1790 constitution, and by an 1805 anti-sedition case. Oaks also says that the Massachusetts Supreme Court reached a similar determination for its (different) free press provision in 1838. Oaks surveys several press suppression cases, and takes a keen interest in Near v. Minnesota, a suppression case originating 1927 where that state's Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the suppression because "It is the liberty of the press that is guaranteed - not the licentiousness." 901. The U.S. Supreme Court only narrowly overturned this 5-4. In conclusion he writes:
"A historian friendly to the people of Nauvoo has called the suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor "the grand Mormon mistake .... " 220 That its consequences were disastrous to the Mormon leaders and that alternative means might better have been employed cannot be doubted. Nevertheless, the common assumption of historians that the action taken by the city council to suppress the paper as a nuisance was entirely illegal is not well founded. Aside from damages for unnecessary destruction of the press, for which the Nauvoo authorities were unquestionably liable, the remaining actions of the council, including its interpretation of the constitutional guarantee of a free press, can be supported by reference to the law of their day." 902-903.
Cool Hand Luke 21:44, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Dallin Oaks[edit]

It doesn't matter 'what' Oaks was when he wrote this ... it does 'matter' what he is now, and his high rank in the lds church is relevant.

Typical WP ploy used here: say that something should remain as it is until it has been thoroughly discussed, then do not actually have that discussion. Let's have this go before the entire group of WP editors and hear their thoughts. I am sure that this information will be included then. Duke53 | Talk 15:09, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Looking a few sections back, it appears that there was a discussion (mostly last year), with most involved editors disagreeing with you that it is relevant. What new arguments do you have for the additions of your edit? Have you any documented cases of Oaks' current high rank in the lds church causing his previously published legal analyses to be suspect, or is this simply your perception? Alanyst did try to get an uninvolved, neutral third party involved, and if that isn't sufficient, go to the WP:RFC and place a notice. --FyzixFighter (talk) 16:23, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually, you place a notice here, and it's automatically added on the RFC list. I've done that below. I've tried to describe the dispute neutrally. Let me know if it's unsatisfactory. Cool Hand Luke 17:18, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
I would just again state that I am not LDS - my only interest in editing these articles is for accuracy (and personal motivation, as I've stated, has been as a Smith) - and I see no reason whatsoever that the Oaks info is essential at that point in the article. I view it more as an effort by an editor to discredit the research. Best, A Sniper (talk) 18:47, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

RFC - Oaks[edit]

The article includes the legal analysis of a historical event by Dallin H. Oaks, written and published in the Utah Law Review in 1965 when Oaks was a law professor at a University of Chicago. Oaks concluded that the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor press by LDS and Nauvoo municipal leaders would not have violated the constitutional principles of 1844, although it could have been the basis of a tort suit. Oaks is now a high-ranking authority in the LDS Church, an Apostle. Should his current status be mentioned inline in the article, as opposed to merely in a footnote?

We would like outsiders to the dispute, particularly those who have no connection to the LDS Church. Most of this talk page discusses this dispute, so feel free to read through it. Thanks in advance for your help! Cool Hand Luke 17:18, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

  • I think a mention in the footnote is sufficient, since (1) his becoming an apostle happened after the article was published, and so is irrelevant from a time standpoint; (2) mentioning of the heirarchy position appears to be a type of an attempt to discredit the research. While it may be slightly relevant in assessing the research, it's not central, and a footnote should suffice. Theoretically, the wikilink to Oaks's article should be enough, but I see that's probably not an acceptable option to those involved in the dispute. (Caveat: I am not exactly "an outsider", as I have edited numerous other LDS-related articles. But I haven't done much on this particular page.) Good Ol’factory (talk) 23:46, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
OMG, so appallingly petty. Grow up, learn to use Wikipedia besides something for venting your angers and/or agendas; and come to consensus that's good for all: adding a parenthetical at the end of the paragraph where Oaks' opinion is mentioned -as a simple statement of fact- should suffice, since it's not quite inline and it's not quite a footnote. ("Oaks' later became an official with LDS.") (talk) 10:27, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
No need to attack others, anon. Good Ol’factory (talk) 23:03, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Third opinion: I read a lot of the above commentary on the topic, and the arguments presented are fairly okay, and interesting. I think perhaps the one where it is mentioned in passing in the sentence that says he was a law professor that he was a member of the LDS (or, what is the correct way to put it, a believer?), and then a footnote about being an Apostle, would be okay. The second seems odd though, it seems irrelevant? Well anyway, a footnote would be fine for that, it's basically just a tidbit. These are my thoughts on it, I don't know anything about this debate, I just read through the comments and found the arguments interesting, if for being sometimes slightly biting.--Asdfg12345 22:55, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

The current article relies quite a bit on the Salt Lake Tribune article. There has been a lot published on the episode in a variety of history books (Bushman, Donna Hill, Browdie, etc), which I consider to be more authoritative. In particular, the allegation that Joseph Smith approached Law's wife is one that I was not familiar with, though I have read quite a bit on the subject, and that seems to stem mostly from the newspaper article. Honestly, I don't know anything about the reliability of the allegation, but I do know that newspaper articles do have a pretty high rate of getting facts wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:45, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

Obvious inline inclusion

Why do we even care WHAT Oaks thinks? Is it because he's a professor with an opinion-- no. Everyone's got an opinion and it is WP:SYNTH to just start mixing them.

So, my instinct was to chop the entire Oak's section as OR/Synth. BUT-- Oaks isn't just some professor, he's a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles! THAT is why we care about his opinion, much like we might care about the opinion of a Catholic cardinal.

If I'm correct that Oaks's opinion is relevant because of his standing in the church, then we can include Oaks analysis, citing inline his high standing. Alternatively, if we think Oak's standing in the church is irrelevant, then Oaks' opinions aren't worth hearing absent some evidence they're influential.

We need to get this right-- he's a religious leader with an influential opinion, or he's a non-historian with a non-notable personal view. I think it's the former. --20:14, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Oaks was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time. The current wording, that he was a law professor at the time (important because this was a legal analysis) and later became a leader in the church gives all the helpful information. Bahooka (talk) 20:21, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
So, I'm not certain what you're saying. Is Oaks' opinion just the opinion of a professor who happens to be mormon, or are we claiming that Oak's analysis is an 'influential' opinion within LDS?
Mentioning his influence isn't "an attempt to discredit the research"-- indeed, mentioning the influence is the only reason I can see the section survives NOR. --HectorMoffet (talk) 20:27, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
The analysis was published in a reliable source (the Utah Law Review), so it can stand on that alone in my opinion. I think explaining that the analysis was done by a law professor who later became a leader of the church is the best approach to explaining who Oaks was and is. It would seem odd to not mention his standing as a law professor at the time and just state a church leader did a legal analysis in a legal journal. Bahooka (talk) 20:34, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Explaining him as "church leader and former law professor" works fine for me. It just seems odd to omit his status as a church leader (and I agree it would be just as odd to omit his status as a law professor). Why do we care what a random lawyer in 21st century is arguing? Because he's not just some random lawyer-- he's a leader and his arguments carry weight. --HectorMoffet (talk) 20:47, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
(ec x 2) Oaks, a credentialed legal scholar at the time, wrote a scholarly paper in a peer-reviewed journal on the legal aspect of this article's subject. That alone qualifies his analysis as a relevant and reliable source; his current position in the church has nothing to do with the reliability of the source but is mentioned to alert the reader to Oaks' possible biases. Wikipedia's policy against original research (i.e., synthesis originating from Wikipedia) doesn't seem to be at all germane to this (very old!) RfC. Are you saying this article was cherry-picked from the hundreds of other legal analyses of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor out there? alanyst 20:50, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't think Oaks's article is notable because he is a church leader or an active Mormon. It's notable with respect to this topic because it's pretty much the only article on the subject that has been published in a peer-reviewed law journal. We would such a source in this article regardless of the person's religious status. At the time the article was published, Oaks was a garden-variety Mormon elder but was not a general leader of the church until 1984, after he was CJ of Utah. Good Ol’factory (talk) 20:51, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
To GoodOl'-- If what you say is true, that Oaks's opinion doesn't carry any special weight, then I think we're looking at OR/Synth or Undue. 150 years have passed-- why is this one opinion from 1964 worth explaining? Put another way, why are no other contemporary opinions worth sharing?
The best answer I have is that Apostle Oaks' opinion is held in high regard because of his religious position.
At present, we need to either cut Oaks, add other opinions for NPOV/UNDUE, or specify to the ready why Oaks' opinion matter to the reader. Just saying he was a law professor, with no mention of his religious standing, suggests nobody cares about about an "armchair historian"'s legal opinion was in 1964, with no suggestion that anyone else cares what Oaks' thinks.
I understand not wanting to use the man's religion "against" him somehow, but it's a GLARING omission. --HectorMoffet (talk) 03:56, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
"Why is this one opinion from 1964 worth explaining?" Because it is a legal analysis of the legality of the Nauvoo city council's action against the Expositor, provided by a legal scholar and published in a peer-reviewed law journal. Any other similarly qualified law professor's article on the subject, similarly published in a peer-reviewed journal, would similarly deserve mention regardless of the author's relationship with or feelings toward the LDS church. "Why are no other contemporary opinions worth sharing?" If you have access to other legal analyses of the Expositor case that might qualify as reliable sources, by all means provide them. alanyst 04:20, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
That's a fine solution, if we want to get into the whole discussion of what modern legal scholars think. I think the cleanest and easiest solution is to point out just how respected Oaks is in the hierarchy-- making the section more of a "what a respected a LDS-leader has said" about the subject.
Alanyst's way would work fine too-- making the section more of about "what modern people say" about the subject and adding RSes for balance. --HectorMoffet (talk) 04:58, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
So ... where are these other sources? I have yet to see anyone propose anything specific. There's probably a good reason for that—there are very few. I don't know of any other peer-reviewed articles by legal writers on the topic who perform independent analyses. So why do we favour Oaks's analysis? Because it is the only one! (Typically, Oaks just gets cited and his opinions regurgitated.) Oaks did not say what he said as "a respected LDS leader", and no one that I have ever heard in the LDS Church quotes Oaks's article in presenting a "church view" or a "respected LDS leader's opinion" of the incident. (Again, at the time he was not a general authority at the time and had no authority—real or implied—to speak on behalf of the church and its members, and since his becoming a general authority there has been no effort to retroactively endorse his paper, for example by publication in the Ensign.) I have, on the other hand, seen other non-Mormon legal writers cite Oaks's analysis and essentially repeat his analysis as a sound one. I also object to the suggestion that the section exists "with no mention of his religious standing"—there is—in the footnote. That was the approach that was adopted after the previous RFC on this very issue. Good Ol’factory (talk) 16:33, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Nobody reads footnotes; On the one hand, I think mentioning his later role in the church tells us something important about how his work has been received-- i.e. his analysis isn't "considered heretical", quite the contrary. Put another way-- suppose he had been disfellowed after his analysis was published-- that would also tell us something important about how his work was received and demonstrate a lack of respect for it. --HectorMoffet (talk) 20:00, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
"Nobody reads footnotes". Oh my dear sir, don't extrapolate your own behavior cover everyone in the world at large. If we all did that, I could say: everyone reads—nay, relishes—footnotes, and usually finds them more interesting than the text in which they are found. Good Ol’factory (talk) 20:16, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I do know of one quasi-church source which explicitly cites the Oaks article: a CES manual on church history called Church History in the Fulness of Times p. 275. The paragraph that cites Oaks states: "Joseph Smith, as mayor, ordered the city marshal, John Greene, to destroy the press, scatter the type, and burn any remaining newspapers. The order was carried out within hours. The city council acted legally to abate a public nuisance, although the legal opinion of the time allowed only the destruction of the published issues of the offending paper. The demolition of the press was a violation of property rights." This is not dissimilar to the non-church references to Oaks that I have seen. The church doesn't really treat the issue as a matter of doctrine for which there is a orthodox answer. As far as I can tell from their other material, it's essentially regarded as a technical legal issue and really is not what most Latter Day Saints focus on much when they consider the lead-up to Smith's death, so there is little written on it from a church perspective. Good Ol’factory (talk) 20:16, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, G.O. that was really helpful. "it's essentially regarded as a technical legal issue and really is not what most Latter Day Saints focus on much" especially made a light bulb go off in my head. --HectorMoffet (talk) 01:35, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

The glaring omission[edit]

So, let's assume for the moment that we should ascribe ONLY secular weight to Oaks' words-- which is one way to do it.

This creates a new problem. I think every reader to the article is going to ask "So, what do modern mormons think of this incident?". To use an example, what if the article on Jesus's Cleansing of the Temple never mentioned what modern christians make of the event.

There should be a section where we mention that this wasn't just dispute about a free press-- the events have theological significance that should be talked about.

I think Oaks is one great spokesperson for this, but if we don't want to bring up his religion, then we should find a different source or two to explain the mormon perspective and make a new section for it.

Readers want to know "What does the LDS church say about this"-- if we're not pointing them to Oaks, let's fill that hole with a different source. --HectorMoffet (talk) 05:24, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

What sources do you have in mind? There are relatively few on this topic. It's nice to speak in idealistic terms, but practically speaking, what is being proposed? What are the sources? Good Ol’factory (talk) 16:40, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
hehehe well, that's the rub isn't it.  :) Maybe someone will suggest one here on talk-- if not I'll try to dig up source when I get to that section. --HectorMoffet (talk) 19:55, 26 September 2013 (UTC)


The overall percentage of this article which is directly quoted text versus summary is much too high. Please see wp:QUOTEFARM. I tried to trim this down a few days ago, summarizing trivial & non-central information, but this was out-of-hand reverted. Since then the overuse of quotes in this article has only gotten worse in the article. -- (talk) 19:06, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

Direct quotes are sometimes the best tool for the job, but not always. Do any sections jump out to you as especially needing summaries instead of quotes? --HectorMoffet (talk) 05:54, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
Anything with more than maybe three sentences, as well as the trivial information. -- (talk) 16:19, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Given that we have a link to the Wikisource on the page, I don't see a need to quote the affidavits verbatim. It's pretty easy to just briefly describe the contents of the affidavits in a sentence. I'm also not sure why we need the verbatim orders to destroy the press, the letter from Governor Ford, or the writ of arrest. I see that's basically all the stuff in dropdown boxes. None of this is information that is very hard to summarize. Good Ol’factory (talk) 21:27, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Modern analysis[edit]

This section is in a sad state. It contains a singular response by one Mormon who essentially claims that its legal for a local government council to hold court and circumvention justice systems. This is not the case in the US. The singular source indicates that this is the modern authority on the matter, which is not the case either. I have no problem with the piece staying if it has counter arguments presented, but alone it is not suitable for Wikipedia. I will delete the section again if no additional material is found. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 16:50, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

The cited analysis is by a Mormon, true (who is now a prominent leader in the LDS church), but is also the only scholarly, peer-reviewed legal analysis of the case that appears to exist. It is the modern authority on the matter until someone publishes another peer-reviewed legal analysis. If you know of counter-arguments that meet Wikipedia standards for reliable sources, let's have them. In the meantime, though, the section is informative and neutrally reports what the only reliable source has to say about the legal aspects, so it should remain. alanyst 17:24, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment. This issue has been discussed before. I agree with alanyst that the section should remain. The Oaks piece is a reliable source and is the only peer-reviewed treatment of this incident that users have been able to locate. I don't know of any other, and the Oaks one is cited frequently when the issue is mentioned by other authors. I would suggest that users should hesitate to criticize the Oaks argument unless they have read it in its entirety—its rationale depends to a large extent on the nature of the Nauvoo Charter, which was a legal document of the type that is uncommon in today's United States. I have read it and I find the conclusion to be basically sound, from a legal standpoint. The morality or wisdom of the incident was not Oaks's focus. Good Ol’factory (talk) 21:17, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Per comment, I'd like to at least change the section name to something less POV. Its not the modern general viewpoint so much as one modern view. Arguments against Oaks are already considered in other sections of the article. "Oaks Analysis", perhaps? Considering the expansion tag, simply identifying Oaks' potential sensibilities/alignment would be enough. But, as you said, it seems unlikely at this point that we might find another view. i would imagine the ramifications of one somewhat obscure action in Mormon history is not exactly the most discussed topic in the general legal world. I would say this specific detail is of interest almost exclusively to Mormons, and people opposed to Mormons in some way. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 18:08, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
"Modern analysis" seems pretty neutral to me. It is a legal analysis from the recent past. How does it suggest a particular POV to you? alanyst 18:38, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
The section title can be interpreted as singular, given the circumstances. We might as well make it 'the modern analysis', from my viewpoint. When articles feature "modern commentary", that's generally the section that shows commonly accepted modern viewpoints. Continuing with that reasoning, when there is only one commentary, there is only one upheld relevant modern view. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 03:25, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
"The modern analysis" might unintentionally imply that Oaks's analysis is the only possible correct legal analysis, or the one that has been universally accepted. I don't think either is the case. Good Ol’factory (talk) 04:35, 2 March 2015 (UTC)