Chris Buttars speaks for me. He speaks for all Utahns. That much was made clear last week in how Buttars’ latest episode of verbal diarrhea was handled by legislative leaders.
The public back-slapping Buttars got even as he was being stripped of committee chairmanships wasn’t the sort of hollow endorsement typical in legislative bodies after a colleague’s scandal. (He’s a good man. He just needs to spend a little time with his family/ a few weeks in rehab.) No. This was the leadership of Utah’s Senate stepping to the microphone and saying: We believe and profess everything Chris Buttars believes and professes about the Gay Threat.
And legislative leaders aren’t the only ones who’ve got Buttars’ back. Buttars is endorsed by the good people of West Jordan, South Jordan and Herriman who re-elected him with a solid majority in November. Buttars’ views are presumably endorsed by the good residents of most of the rest of the state whose own representative to the Legislature are happy to serve with Buttars. He’s tacitly endorsed by the good people of Salt Lake County whose own, Democratic, representatives apparently think it would break decorum to call out Buttars on the Senate floor.
Sure, maybe we’re a little embarrassed it got out. (One lawmaker let it slip Buttars lost his committee chairmanships for breaking a back-room agreement to leave talking about gays to the professionals.) But we believe Buttars: Gays are immoral; they should stay in the closet, or leave town if at all possible. Now at least we can own it.
For years the anti-gay lobby has hidden behind conservative think tanks and out-of-state public relations firms that busied themselves crafting reasonable sounding arguments for denying civil rights to part of the population: Rights for gays would devalue our marriages, erode our culture, etc.
Imagine how such mush went over in West Jordan, or with America Forever, Utah’s very own mini-Westboro Baptist Church? You can picture Buttars-and-friends fuming until finally, when gay-rights bills were proposed at the Legislature this spring, they simply couldn’t hold their tongues anymore: It’s not about protecting “traditional” marriage. It’s about the gays. The subhuman gays who have a secret plan (we’ve got a copy) to take over the schools and force the children to perform horrible sex acts. We don’t want a little marriage protection law. We need a new set of Jim Crow laws to prevent gays from renting apartments, getting jobs or being seen in public.
That, in a nutshell, is what Utah stands for. (That and some other of Buttars’ thoughts apparently so dirty that decorum prevents the public from knowing what they are.)
So much for $10 million of tourism ads last year trying to convince out-of-state vacationers to give the Beehive State a try with the promise of “Utah: Life Elevated”— wiped out by a five-minute clip of Buttars on YouTube.
Remember, “The World is Welcome Here” from the 2002 Olympics? We knew in our hearts it was kind of a joke, but hoped if we threw up enough photos of purple lycra-clad minorities that visitors might be too distracted to notice the locals. It worked for five years. Now Utah might as well take out in-flight magazine ads featuring Buttars’ famous snarl and the tagline, “Utah: We Don’t Want Your Kind.”
No good feeling all superior to funny-looking, backward Chris Buttars. If you are from Utah, Buttars speaks for you. Buttars is us.