Digital Tyranny | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City Weekly

Digital Tyranny 

Breaking Rank, Lone Contrarian

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Digital Tyranny
This week is dedicated to conspiracies, and how we love them. The U.S. Secretary General calls the time we live in a "misinfo-demic." He should know, because so many of those conspiracies revolve around the United Nations. For those who remember Utah Sen. Margaret Dayton, you will also recall her disdain for the International Baccalaureate program in Utah high schools. To her, the program promoted anti-American ideals born in Switzerland—ideals like critical thinking. Today, we have state Reps. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, and Mike Petersen, R-North Logan, who see that specter looming in the form of a digital driver license. Utah fringe groups, The Salt Lake Tribune notes, think the U.N. is getting ready to "launch tyranny" in the state. There's a long history of fear that a digital apocalypse is on the horizon. Maybe Lyman and Petersen launching a podcast proves their point.

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Breaking Rank
Yet again, the conspiracists sink their talons into the Utah Legislature. This time it comes at the expense of a widely accepted and popular voting method. We don't mean vote-by-mail, although they're trying to eviscerate that, too. A bill to expand ranked-choice voting by Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley, was pulled before it got a hearing because of the right-wing echo chamber of voter fraud. Hey, a Tribune photo showed the opposition with printed stick-on "No ranked choice voting" labels, although there has been no evidence that RCV—or vote by mail—opens voting to fraud. It's become really hard these days to fight falsehoods with truth, even after positive polling. Lyman pushed another bill to end mail voting, saying it was about electoral integrity. The lieutenant governor didn't buy it, and it looks like most office-holders support this tried and trusted method. So for now, Utah voters are safe at home.

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Lone Contrarian
Sen. Mike Lee—always the spoiler. Utah's senior senator has a history of voting against issues that would otherwise be no-brainers to anyone with a soul. This time, on the 80th anniversary of the Japanese internment, it's approval of the Amache National Historic Site Act. Ninety-nine out of 100 senators were ready to vote in favor of making the southeastern Colorado landmark a national historic site. The one remainder was Lee, according to PBS NewsHour, who can always find a reason to vote against a popular idea. His opposing vote wasn't about the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans, he said, it was about federal lands. Specifically, he doesn't want them expanded and instead wants to see them in state hands. Here, we're talking about less than one square mile. But to Lee, it's the anti-federal principle.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Katharine Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses column. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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