Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The BYU/Utah Rivalry

I am a long time fan of BYU, and to a lesser degree, the University of Utah. (I know that's not supposed to be possible . . . yaddy, yaddy, yadda . . . My critics can believe what they want.) And, a few years ago, I had an experience that illustrates for me what is wrong with the BYU/Utah rivalry:

I was sitting in Rice-Eccles Stadium watching Urban Meyer, Alex Smith, Eric Weddle and Company take-on the Wyoming Cowboys. I was there to observe the Ute's outstanding execution and to cheer them on to victory. But, what struck me was how a certain group of vocal fans in front of me were there, apparently, for totally different reasons:

1) To hang out with their buddies.
2) Get drunk. (They smuggled in booze.)
3) Act rowdy. (They were throwing candy and peanuts at people below them in the stands.)
4) And, boo BYU -- who wasn’t even playing!

One of them wore a T-shirt depicting Calvin (from the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbs") urinating on the BYU logo. And, every few minutes they would stand up, toot a kazoo, and rattle off some cheer ending with the words: "BYU sucks!" In their minds, they probably liked to think of themselves as being "great Utah fans." But, the reality is that they were not even watching what was happening on the field. From what I witnessed, they could not have cared less about the University of Utah and the team that represents that fine school. Rather, what they were really all about was rebelling against the dominant Mormon culture, and using BYU as a surrogate for their expressions of bigotry.

That is what is so disgusting about the BYU/Utah rivalry -- the hatred, and the extreme incivility.

I wish that this was only a problem with a few "bad Utah fans." The truth is that there are thousands of BYU fans who behave in as equally reprehensible ways. For example, I was totally ashamed of the way some of them booed MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson when he presented the football team with its championship trophy last year. At least the small group of drunk Utah fans that I sat behind could blame alcohol for some of their boorish behavior. But, the sober BYU fans, who so poorly represented their school, can only blame their own lack of Christian ethics.

Apparently, too many of us are more concerned about watching satellite TV than we are with reading the scriptures. How embarrassing. May we all repent, regardless of the colors we wear.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Community's True Energy

Dear Glenden,

Back in our grandparent’s day, Salt Lake City was known for its extensive public transportation system — both light and commuter rail — the very kind of system we are now trying to rebuild. But, the Democrat partisan community planning you reference actually called for American cities to tear-up their rail lines in favor of building freeways, and Salt Lake City followed suit. That is an inconvenient truth that very few Democrats of today will fess up to, but it is the truth.

The lesson in that story is not that Democrats are dumb and Republicans are smart. On the contrary, what it teaches us is that partisan positions are always changing, and loyalists who staunchly advocate a policy in order to fall in with the official party line may not be acting in the best interest of a community. What we need, then, are leaders who prove themselves to be thoughtful, wise, and prudent — not merely loyal to the central party line at a particular moment in time.

Now, as for Ralph Becker’s emphasis on nightlife, I believe that this is a mistaken position. I am convinced that in order to revitalize our capitol city we need to encourage a more family friendly environment, not just to play, but to live. In short, we need to clean up the city’s neighborhoods and make them desirable, affordable, and livable for families. That is where a community’s true energy comes from — real people living in the city, engaged in real everyday activities — not just strangers who occasionally drive in to get drunk and chase tail.

So, maybe Jake Garn wasn’t so wrong after all. What do you think?


I wrote the preceding in response to an article written by Glenden Brown entitled "Jake Garn is wrong - big surprise" appearing July 19, 2007 in the blog One Utah.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bus Stops and Babies

AW: Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that you are waiting here alone, at the bus stop, WITHOUT children.

RW: I beg your pardon.

AW: Oh, please, don't be ashamed honey. Lots of girls have your problem, but -- thanks be to heaven -- there is hope!

RW: Listen, I don't know who you are, or why you think you have the right to judge me and my life, but I will have you know that I am quite happy with my situation. The fact is that I have no problem whatsoever. So, uh, have a nice day.

AW: I see, you are still in denial. Your internal suffering is so great, subconsciously, you simply refuse to acknowledge reality.

RW: I really do not see how any of this is your business, and . . .

AW: I can't help you, sweetheart, if you keep pushing me away like this. The fact is, though, that if we change you out of those frumpy clothes, fix your hair, add a little make-up, and . . .

RW: [Gasp!] Why, I have never . . .

AW: . . . Been on a date? Trust me, we can fix that. You really are a lovely girl . . .

RW: Do you have any clue as to how incredibly rude your behavior toward me has been? My reproduction, or alleged lack thereof, is none of your business. I would thank you to please just leave me alone!

AW: Ahhhh, I see. What you need is to read an article in the local newspaper that extols the wisdom, indeed, heroism, of defending human reproduction -- regardless of the taboo associated with it.

RW: What? That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. What kind of a person would ever write . . .

AW: Did you know that the crisis of low birth rates in developed countries is so great that the French government will actually pay a French woman to stay home and have children? And, did you know that the Russian government has recently introduced a similar program for its country? Truthfully, if it weren't for the infusion of Mexican workers into the United States, we would also be in a world of hurt. What we are witnessing, my dear friend, is cultural Darwinism. The self-centered and the materialistic among us simply do not reproduce. (Thus, they have been naturally selected for extinction.) Those that do reproduce are God's people, the humble, those who actually see children as a blessing, and who would not even consider taking the life of an unborn child. Because of that, the future belongs to conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, etc. -- you know, Republicans -- and beautiful brown poor people with lots of children hanging all over them at bus stops. I guess some find that idea offensive. I do not.

RW: Wow! Before, whenever I had seen a woman with many children, I had simply assumed they were all unwanted accidents attributable to reproductive ignorance. . . .

AW: Please, dear, don't beat yourself up for being presumptuous and condescending. You simply did not know. I can tell that you are actually a nice person . . .

RW: Presumptuous and condescending? Uh, that wasn't what I was going to say. But . . .

AW: Don't mention it. It was my pleasure to help you to think about these issues. But, ultimately, the person you should really thank is your mother, the person who gave you life -- not some racist, past or present, who wants to decrease the number of brown babies born into this world.

I wrote the preceding as a parody of the Rebecca Walsh column entitled "Birth control still touchy Utah topic" appearing July 5, 2007 in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Rebecca Walsh: Birth control still touchy Utah topic
By Rebecca Walsh
Tribune Columnist
Article Last Updated: 07/05/2007 02:42:07 AM MDT

Laura Stevens is a very imperfect, modern-day Margaret Sanger.

Like the birth-control activist of the early 20th century, Stevens believes women should have control over the number of children they have.

But unlike Sanger, Stevens apparently offered her advice to just one woman - a Latina mother of six rowdy kids climbing all over the Logan bus depot a few weeks ago. Stevens suggested the overwhelmed woman try a hormone patch.

"I didn't mean to be mean," says Stevens, a 76-year-old retired medical secretary. "Maybe this woman doesn't know how to use birth control. That was the only thing I had in mind."

It wasn't the first time Stevens and the woman had words.

She ended up charged with trespassing and was briefly banned from riding Cache Valley Transit Authority buses. Outside justice court this week, she said she'd be willing to serve time in jail to prove her point. But after a stern talking-to about appropriate bus bench conversation, the charges could be dropped.

"We need to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable and no one feels intimidated," says Todd Beutler, transit authority general manager.

Stevens is a clumsy heroine to champion in a politically correct world. She says what most of us are thinking. She speaks out loud things that are whispered - about welfare moms and polygamists and Mormons and Catholics and immigrants - between close friends and family (the ones who won't judge us). She's easy to label racist or senile. But maybe she's just a pragmatist.

The mother of one and grandmother of none worries about the world's population. She figures America's growing immigrant population will drain the country's resources. She quotes population statistics: 6.6 billion people in the world; nearly 80 million new babies added each year. And demographic studies: the higher a parent's education and income, the smaller the family.

"It's poor people who have child after child," she says. "If we could take care of them, that's fine. But these are children born into a world of need and want. It breaks my heart."

Planned Parenthood Director Karrie Galloway cringed when she heard about Stevens. Over the years, Galloway has mastered the soft voice and gentle demeanor that will be least threatening to conservative Utahns when she says "contraception."

Despite the backlash, Galloway says, the Logan woman has started a debate about family planning that Utah desperately needs to have.

"These types of comments can spring from nobody talking about family planning as an important public health issue," Galloway says. "It's taboo. We don't want to admit that family planning is good."

So for that, thank you, Mrs. Stevens.