Storytelling

My Dead Gay Mormon

I earn my living as a professional in the field of Information Technology. I have a B.S.E. in Computer Engineering, and a Masters of Computer and Information Science. I take my job very seriously, but everyone has moments of weakness.

Twenty-five years ago, I worked on a project that created a case management solution for a child welfare agency to use. The point of the software was to keep track of children in foster homes to help ensure for the care and well-being of the children. A lofty and admirable goal.

I programmed the part of the system that captured that data and wrote it to a database. One of the fields on that screen was “Reason Why the Child was Removed From the Home.” It’s an important thing to track, but it was one of about twenty such important items on the screen. At the time I created that part of the software, not all of the requirements had been defined, so I did not have a strong list of predefined reasons. This was database driven, so I just had to make up some reasons for the removal. As there were no dependencies on the specific values, they could be corrected later on.

There were probably two dozen such screens in the system, and each of those had a dozen or so data fields. There was a lot of data tossed around a lot of screens. It took us several weeks to pull it all together, but we did, and so a demonstration of the solution was scheduled.

The client was a State government agency. These well-meaning people were Civil Servants, dedicated to the state, and hoping to improve the lives of the children unfortunate enough to be placed in foster care. They wanted this system to work, and to help them all out. During the demonstration, the system worked well, and screens were projected in front of a large audience. It was operational but with a few minor hiccups. People liked what they saw.

During the demonstration, one of these well-meaning Civil Servants asked to see the list of data behind the field “Reason Why the Child was Removed From the Home.” The salesman in charge of the demonstration directed the systems engineer assisting to access the field.

Recall that I had made up those values. If you have read other parts of this blog, you may have a sense of what I find entertaining. When I invented those reasons, I chose the following reasons that a child was removed from the home:

  • Dead
  • Gay
  • Mormon

And that list was projected in front of the room of twenty officials from the State, the officials that were charged with verifying that our work was correct, complete, and appropriate.

So can you imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this web site the other day:

All Dead Mormons Are Now Gay

Now I have told my “Gay Dead Mormon” story repeatedly over the years but mostly as a cautionary tale about the dangers of made-up data for demonstrations. It’s actually told much better than I do by the salesman who presented that day; but for him it’s a cautionary tale about trusting a young smart ass to build something that might be shown to people lacking humor.

The http://alldeadmormonsarenowgay.com/ website is out there somewhere between performance art and satire based social activism. I applaud it, and leave it up to you, dear reader, to pass your own judgement. And remember, even if the Almighty does not pass judgment, some wise acre will be sure to do it for Him.