Charles Dickens opened his classic story surrounding the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities, with a line something like this: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Now, a guillotine may not be stationed at Temple Square and heads may not be rolling down Main Street, but in some sense the same could be said about Utah in the days heading toward our Olympics and, presumably, our place in the sun.
To say that Utahns are divided, of course, is to state the obvious. But lately the schism between Mormons and non-Mormons is as sharp as shattered glass. The 70 percent majority has apparently been pushed around long enough. They’re mad, Robespierre, and they’re not going to take it any more.
We learned recently from luminaries such as Gov. Mike Leavitt that ill-feelings between LDS and their gentile neighbors regarding the state’s strange laws controlling liquor is the fault of the Salt Lake Tribune. Some at the morning paper must be basking in the glow of such influence, whether or not the arrows in their backs are still flaming.
While the Tribune is at fault for ruining Utah’s image on the liquor front, certainly federal Judge Tena Campbell and the University of Utah—that den of inequity—must take blame for discriminating against Mormons and their beliefs while generally holding Latter-day Saints up to ridicule. The judge has thrown out a suit by a former U of U drama student, alleging discrimination because faculty insisted that she read Shakespeare as it was written—that is to say, no censoring of words the young Mormon woman didn’t want passing over her lips. Oh, the heck of it.
All is not lost, however. There are ways to fix things. The Legislature can exorcise whatever possesses the state-run university. Liberals there who would demand that classics go uncensored can be dealt with. As for federal judges … well, perhaps a telephone call to Sen. Orrin Hatch is in order. Enough said. Sssshhhhh.
The morning newspaper, on the other hand, is proving to be a little more problematic. But in due course, with enough lawyers and enough lawsuits, that too can be wrested away from those who would fan the flames of discontent on such things as liquor, Mormon history and LDS church policy. Certainly when the Tribune is firmly in the hands of an owner approved by the LDS church there will be less tension in the community.
Newspapers can operate here, as long as they mind their Ps and Qs. People can get a drink in Utah, if they will follow regulations—and quit complaining. Judges and drama departments—good things, certainly, if they observe the rules of the culture. And if they can’t, then let them eat cake.