In light of all of the national publicity this past year surrounding the Romney campaign and Prop 8, let us resurrect one of Tagore’s posts from 2007 entitled “Being from Utah“:

To many a native Utahan [sic] living elsewhere, almost nothing brings more social discomfort than the simple, “So, where are you from?”

And it’s socially acceptable to make fun of Utah. On more than one occasion, upon hearing that I’m from Utah, someone has responded with a condescending, “Oh — I’m sorry.”

I was also born and raised in Utah but currently live in the Boston area. Several times in the past few years (but especially in the last twelve months) people have responded very negatively – even viciously – to my telling them where I am from.

I find this somewhat surprising because, in general, New Englanders traditionally shy away from prying into other people’s personal lives. More importantly, however, I just cannot imagine myself responding in a similar fashion to anyone, no matter how strong my personal aversion to their place of origin might be. Who raised these people? Unless you are talking sports, I just do not understand how people think this is okay.

(Important mid-post clarifications: I’m not talking about good-natured ribbing, which I both practice and endorse, nor am I trying to get into a debate about the fallacy of the “Utah Mormon.” I’m talking about people that you meet outside of church.)

My question is not whether they are justified in their Utah-hating or not, but rather, how should one appropriately deal with this situation? So far, it has been my policy – regardless of my opinion on the reason for their loathing – to give them a disdainful look that says “so, you’re a tactless buffoon” and shame them into backpedaling or a stammering “just kidding.” Sometimes this works well enough that you can even use their discomfort to manipulate the rest of the conversation to your advantage.

Tagore suggests another tactic that I like in one of his comments to the original post. Simply respond to any criticism with the following: “And this coming from a someone from [insert place here]?” Since being self-conscious about one’s place of origin is hardly exclusive to Utahns, it’s an easy thing to exploit to shut them up fast. This also dovetails nicely with one of DKL’s subsequent suggestions:

I think that it’s important to eliminate all geographical [sacred] cows, and just make fun of everywhere. The Earth, after all, should be a source of joy.

[...]

What I’d like to see is a post asking people to advance humorous stereotypes about people from every region of the globe. I’ll start here:

People from Antarctica are a bunch of agoraphobic lock-ins.

This could work.

Still, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I am so tired of dealing with this that I often choose to avoid the situation completely rather than face it like a man. What is an exiled Utahn to do?

(This phenomenon also extends to what happens when people find out that I did my undergraduate degree at BYU. Feel free to address that in your comments as well.)