Koch Addiction | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Koch Addiction 

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Koch Addiction
Yeah, yeah, the Koch brothers. Still, you shouldn't ignore a Brookings Institution study of free speech on campus just because their money backed it. The study, published earlier this year, brings up some important, if troubling issues surrounding free speech. That includes this: "If speech is violence, then violence becomes a justifiable response to speech," wrote Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post following the study's publication. One-fifth of undergrads actually think violence is OK in the face of hate speech or something offensive, according to the study. Well, the First Amendment protects a lot of troubling talk. And it's not OK to disrupt that, either, when you could just ignore it or better yet, rebut it. The study notes that not all students are part of Antifa, but incoming freshmen are far more intolerant than older students. As Utah State University reviews its rules on speech and civility, somebody's got to get a grip.

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Just Great
A recent Utah visitor asked if the Great Salt Lake still was polluted. The answer is complicated, and indeed, wastewater treatment plants have discharged into the lake, according to the Utah Geological Survey. But pollution is only half the problem as the lake shrinks and Utahns continue to use more water than in surrounding desert states, according to a Salt Lake Tribune article. Then there's the Bear River project, which would suck water from the iconic lake—shrinking it further. But most important is creating a will to change: Lose your lawn and drastically change the agriculture and mineral extraction industries, both of which use an inordinate amount of water. See? It's complicated.

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Actions Needed
Could Utah be stepping up in the fight against opioid abuse? When you hear it from the top, it apparently resonates. House Speaker Greg Hughes recently encouraged county governments to get a lawyer and sue Big Pharma for playing fast and loose with the innocent patients of Utah. Already, five counties are getting ready to join Salt Lake County's lead in seeking redress and the high cost of law enforcement, drug treatment and a host of social services, according to the Trib. The lawsuits allege that the pharmaceutical industry lied about the addiction factor. Yes, Utahns are concerned, and recent polls show that more than 70 percent of Utahns favor legalizing medical marijuana. If lawmakers are concerned about addiction, they should turn against the greed of drug makers and toward the palliative relief of medical cannabis. So far, Hughes is just using his words, not his actions.

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