The characters may change names but 'the Utah Way' and the Utah Legislature stay the same | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

The characters may change names but 'the Utah Way' and the Utah Legislature stay the same 

Private Eye

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For as long as I've lived in Utah, it's been verily documented that there exist two Utahs. There's the Utah everyone seems to embrace—the boundless beauty, the pretty face, the "we want to be loved" Utah, the lakes-filled-with-big-fish Utah, the Utah spirit and the "Utah way" Utah. There's also the other heinous, duplicitous Utah, comprised of people who pretty much can't stand one another.

Oh sure, they dance together here and there, like at ribbon cuttings, Sundance movie screenings, sporting events and mixed-marriage wedding ceremonies (too often with at least one parent absent, especially when the mixing and marrying is with a person of the same gender). However, it's a more common habit of Utahns to "stick with their own kind," as the saying goes.

Truth is, that's everywhere. But it's seldom as overt as here in Utah where exclusion is as common as catfish in Utah Lake. As an old-timer would be wont to say, "The lake is no longer clean."

Research shows that as more outsiders move into Utah and as longtime Utahns produce fewer babies, Utah is becoming more diverse, religiously and ethnically. That's only a good thing so long as the dominant population of Utahns—mostly Latter-day Saint and ethnically white—accept and welcome their new neighbors and their new ideas.

In my lifetime, there have been some great changes among Utahns who view the world with an open mind. But not much has changed when it comes to the practical matter of who's driving the car and who's being driven in it to the edge of the cliff.

Politically, Utah is little different today than it was 40 years ago. This past weekend, I was rifling through some old boxes and found a copy of the Event newspaper from 1982. The Event predated the one you're reading now, and I was a freelance writer for it.

I read a column I wrote about the recent elections (when Democratic candidate Ted Wilson lost to Republican Orrin Hatch in a U.S. Senate race) that I could just as easily run today with the same sentiments and observations. Indeed, I think I'll type it up and send it to Benjamin Wood next week or so to see if he will run it.

All I'd have to change is a few names and substitute one particular political issue for another and that column would be quite current. Both are an easy exchange, because the political issues that Utahns end up quarreling about (Utah politicians especially) aren't really about politics, but about people.

Just a word to the wise here: When the Legislature gets you talking about where you can take a piss or where not to apply for a line of work or for education, what's really going on is political legerdemain, or a legal game of Three Card Monte. You look that way while they steal something this way. Smoke and mirrors.

The best part is, with both the House and Senate stacked to one political party, Utah's entrenched lawmakers no longer have to play the role of magician or card shark—they have plenty of dazzling assistants to do all the distracting they need for a lifetime.

With Utahns all tied up in knots, those political pros just smile broadly while passing legislation that benefits their bankers or friends, even as they themselves secure rights on the properties that will one day abut a new piece of public transit (a gondola, even), a baseball stadium or a housing development. Today, the distractions are primarily being driven by the nonexistent issue of public urination and the imagined harmful effects that DEI—diversity, equality and inclusion—have upon our society.

As a result of that column I wrote those 40-plus years ago, I've been tagged with the label of "liberal," "sick liberal," "uneducated liberal," "goddamned ignorant communist-loving liberal," "Go back where you came from libtard liberal," "Why do you like Mexicans when they are taking your job liberal," "queer-loving liberal" and, of course, for those who skipped history class, "socialist." All of that is garbage, same as if I were to heap similar upon the persons who are most identified as leading the charge against transgender and educated minorities.

So I'll beg off of doing that, while fairly wishing it were anyone but Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, carrying the transgender bill petard—after all, I defended her in a column here a few years ago when she stood the unpopular ground of supporting Black Lives Matter concerns with a legislative bill to require officers to adhere to procedures and to report abuses of using deadly force.

We are simply different units on God's earth, an earth apparently divided on whether one should stand or squat in a restroom. I've yet to hear of a transgender person in Utah who entered a female environment to commit a predatory act.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, who is lionized by our manly Utah Legislature, famously walked into the dressing rooms during the Miss America pageant (which he owned) because he was entitled to perform "inspections." Now that was predatory ... as was his conviction of raping E. Jean Carroll, and as was his bragging about grabbing women by the pussy on an Access Hollywood tape. The Utah Legislature overwhelmingly supports him. They therefore vacate their presumed moral superiority over any and all Utahns. Any non-LDS native Utahn knows what I mean by that.

You know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see a female—present or former—enter the men's restroom on Capitol Hill. My bet is those hound dogs wouldn't cry foul—they'd start a lottery faster than you could say, "Zip it up, Junior."

Sex lottery. Utah would pass that one in a heartbeat.

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas, Utah native and journalism/mass communication graduate from the University of Utah, founded City Weekly as a small newsletter in 1984. He served as the newspaper's first editor and publisher and now, as founder and executive editor, he contributes a column under the banner of Private Eye, (the original... more

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