‘This Divided State’


As more than one interviewee in This Divided State points
out, Mormons—who need receptive audiences for their mission work—should
be temperamentally suited to listen to others. But when Michael Moore
was invited to give an October 2004 speech at Utah Valley State
College, the response was anything but welcoming. Bowing to protests at
the lack of balance—in a county where Republicans outnumber Democrats
12 to one—the student government quickly scheduled Sean Hannity to
speak one week earlier. Local millionaire Kay Anderson offered $25,000
to buy back all tickets for Moore’s event, rejecting his appearance as
“disrespectful” to community values. One college administrator notes
that the protesters who’ve complained to him have not seen
Fahrenheit 9/11
; Anderson’s wife eventually rents it for her
husband from the censoring video chain CleanFlix. Directed by a
Mormon-raised BYU dropout with sympathies for both sides, This
Divided State
develops into a lively but simpleminded valentine to
liberal tolerance. Sad to say, similar ideological battles erupt on
blue-state campuses, from controversies over what should be taught in
Middle Eastern studies departments to the public immolation of Larry
Summers. It would be nice to report that Moore comes across as more
erudite than Hannity in his speech, but both men behave like what a
Mormon might hesitate to call assholes.