The Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Kirby talks about his favorite columns.
SHAUNA LAKE: What besides the “Five Types of Mormons” is there an article that really, that has really spoken to your soul that you’ll always remember?
ROBERT KIRBY: Yeah years ago a national organization was running a program to get people interested in getting their private pilot’s license. So they contacted the Tribune and said, ‘Hey send somebody out to the airport. We’ll give them a flying lesson and maybe you’ll write about it. We encourage people to look into becoming a pilot.’ So I did it, went out to the airport, got into a plane, guy flew me around the valley, let me fly the airplane a little bit, and I came back to the newspaper and wrote a column about how you shouldn’t let idiots fly planes because they’ll crash into stuff, smash into buildings, and land on a freeway and stuff like that. That column ran the morning of 9/11. Yeah. So I’ll never forget that one. It was timing. I consoled myself by thinking that if the CIA couldn’t see that coming, there’s no reason I should have, but in humor timing is everything and sometimes you don’t have a say in whether or not you hit your mark. And another one on a more positive note would be in the beginning when I was really going after my fellow Mormons I got asked the question a lot if I was afraid of the church leaders because they’d seen other LDS writers being disciplined by the church. They thought if they were going to ex-communicate these intellectuals, it’s only a matter of time before they do something about this idiot. So when they asked me that question I sort of knew where they were coming from, but I got tired of being asked it so I wrote a column explaining why I wasn’t afraid of church leaders, and I said it was because they’re old. I could beat up President Hinckley if I wanted to. I didn’t that that I would, just that…
SHAUNA LAKE: Yeah if push came to shove that’s right. Oh my gosh.
ROBERT KIRBY: Yeah and you see that, but I didn’t realize, I was having too much fun to see it. So I went home and realized later that night, after it was too late, that it’s probably not a good idea to say that in Utah but nothing happened. I mean it just, nothing. And then later I wrote a column about how you can tell the difference between God and the devil based on the types of pets they had. God had a dog, and Satan had a cat. I got hundreds of letters from people about cats. So you compare the response to those two columns and you can’t predict what it takes to set people off. But I ended up getting a letter from President Hinckley’s executive secretary telling me hey look I talked to him about this. He’s not upset. Have fun.
SHAUNA LAKE: Yeah don’t worry.
ROBERT KIRBY: Yeah don’t worry.
SHAUNA LAKE: Yeah don’t stop being you because you don’t want to feel like you have to edit yourself based on, you know, the fear factor of big brother watching you, right?
ROBERT KIRBY: Yeah you don’t want an ecclesiastical endorsement. You don’t want any kind of endorsement from any one group. You want it to be funny regardless.
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