Utah Smug | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

Utah Smug 

Some folks have taken to modernizing the concepts of time measurement.

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I've lost all track of time these past couple of years. I'm not alone. Some folks have taken to modernizing the concepts of time measurement. No longer is our world measured as just B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (anno Domini) or, of late, B.C.E. (before the Common Era) and CE (Common Era), there are now Pre-COVID (PC) and COVID (C) eras. Great. More Jeopardy questions—just what the world wanted.

Still, there has been a change. The seasons feel different now. For instance, I can't recall any time in my youth when I walked outside in mid-February and did yard work in a T-shirt. I don't remember summer and—I can't remember—did it rain last April?

Time moves in a wave during COVID times—sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, not in a predictable tick-tock continuum. January felt like four months. February, just a couple of days. I can't focus to save me. I don't expect to finish this column today, let alone imagine someone reading it.

In PC years, people seemed nicer and smarter. Among those, people who took science, their health and the health of others seriously these past two years were prone to wear masks in most public places. That has proven to be a wise course. Not only did they help thwart COVID via wearing masks—while also diminishing the flu and the common cold—they gained the single thing non-maskers claimed most to own: freedom.

While the non-masked and non-vaxxed wallow at home crafting hard-to-decipher email tomes, honking horns in mini-parades and fighting with airline attendants, the masked and vaxxed have been free to travel the world, eat at any restaurant, watch the Utah Jazz and otherwise go about their PC normal lives. It's ironic that those who claim to cherish freedom the most did little of value these past two years to live it.

Hoisting a flag with Uzis emblazoned on it doesn't bring or express freedom any more than a "Let's Go Brandon" bumper sticker does. Neither has any real impact on a day in a life, but I suppose they give some sort of identity to a person needing validation. I guess that's OK.

On the bright side, they signal to me who I shouldn't invite over for a beer, because they are also clear piss markers of personal turf. Why would I waste a good Fisher Beer on someone like that—someone who indicates he's more prone to shoot his neighbors than to offer them a corkscrew? I mostly just shrug because if such flags and banners really had any impact on society, we'd all be wearing a yellow smiley face.

Such symbols are of a religious nature as well. Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics have worn the Christian cross symbol for centuries. Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists and all the rest have their own identifiers of religious culture. The LDS have their own as well, albeit hidden most of the time except in the dressing rooms of public swimming pools or gymnasiums. However, the LDS do boast of another symbol I rarely see anywhere else: smugness. I've lived in Utah most of my life, and it remains astounding that the only people who seem to recognize such smugness are the non-LDS. Being smug is not universal to all Latter-day Saints, and most are blissfully unaware that it exists.

It's pervasive, however, among politicians and religious leaders who are LDS—also among BYU football fans. Those are the people defined by men like ol' boy Bradley Wilcox, a BYU professor, author and high authority in the LDS Church. Although it was only "revealed" last week, for years, Wilcox has been telling fireside homilies that Blacks should not be asking why it took until 1978 for Black LDS members to get the priesthood. Rather, he said, "we should be asking why did the whites and other races have to wait until 1829?" I am not LDS, despite about 180 years of LDS lineage, so I don't even know what that means.

However, I am a good monitor of smugness, and Wilcox fully defines Webster's definition. To prove that smugness is his birthright, he's willing to piss off the rest of the world's billions of people (there are 16 million LDS worldwide), too. While back-slapping his own religious creds, he reminds the rest of us we're not in tune with his kind. He thumbs his nose at the rest of the world's religions by saying "they're not playing with the whole piano." Isn't that a paralipsis?

Anyway, in the lands where Christianity began over 2,000 years ago, there were no pianos, Bradley. That's what smugness does to people. It makes them diminish everything around them.

Like women. Or people of color. Or people of other faiths. Or atheists, even. Left unchecked, the smug do great damage, and it's only too bad that the LDS leadership and Wilcox's peers basically shrug it off as him being a victim of the culture he was raised in. Nope. He's been rewarded for his bad behavior his whole life. Is that the LDS face-forward culture, then?

But, it's COVID times, right? Where have we seen this before, the act of giving the reins to a smug man? Donald Trump is dangerously smug—the same as Wilcox. No one checked him off.

Being smug and in power is a dangerous cocktail. Utah is full of smugness bartenders. Look at our Legislature, which doesn't listen to the voice of all people. Listen to Gov. Spencer Cox say we don't miss the Outdoor Retailer shows (while ignoring, again, the financial impact on local hospitality businesses and employees) or also his strange relationship with COVID that still downplays the dead and dying. Smug? Just put that word on the Utah state flag and be done with it.

Send comments to john@cityweekly.net.

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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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