“Clown Questions” and Expectations

A week ago, baseball phenom Bryce Harper briefly topped twitter’s trending topics when he characterized a reporter’s question as foolish. The Toronto-based reporter had asked Harper (who, in case you don’t know, is a 19-year-old LDS player in his rookie year) if he was going to take advantage of Canada’s more liberal drinking laws (which allow drinking at 19 instead of 21) to celebrate his home run during the game, and if so, what brand of beer he would drink.

Harper replied, “I’m not answering that. That’s a clown question, bro.”

His response probably wasn’t as rude in a testosterone-filled post-game press conference room as it might seem on paper. Nor was it quite original with Bryce—his brother Bryan reveals that the phrase originates with a non-Mormon Las Vegas friend, Donn Roach, who plays in the Padre’s system.

But, Bryce’s attitude implies what is, I think, an important question: given this latest Mormon moment (and given Harper’s well-publicized LDS beliefs) shouldn’t reporters and the well-informed be expected to know some basics about Mormon beliefs? And if so, what minimums should they be expected to know?

Harpers response basically suggests that he believes the reporter should have known already that he is LDS and that LDS Church members don’t drink alcohol. I have the impression that the fact that Harper is LDS is fairly well known — but I think I could be biased about that. But, I’m even more certain that the fact that Mormons don’t drink alcohol should be well known among reporters.

I don’t want to criticize any reporter in particular (I don’t know what this reporter knew or should have known about Harper or about Mormons), but I do think that some general expectation of what reporters know is reasonable. Its really necessary in order to communicate with others and to understand them that you know the basics of their beliefs and who they are.

What do yo think? Is that reasonable? Is Harper right? Was it a “clown question?”

[Cross-posted from Mormon Baseball — http://mormonbaseball.com/mlb/2012/06/clown-questions-and-expectations/ — comments must be made there.]