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More Dogs on Main Street

Tom Clyde, Contributing writer

The last time Denmark was in the news had to do with the theft of the Little Mermaid statue. Before that, it was "Hamlet." Denmark is such a benign and irrelevant country that even my grandmother, whose family was from Denmark, didn’t have much to say about it. "It’s close to Norway," was about it. But now, little Denmark has managed to incite riots from Jakarta to Copenhagen. A small Danish newspaper has managed to upset the entire Islamic world. They published a cartoon that showed a picture of the prophet Mohammed with his turban shaped into a cartoon bomb with the fuse lit. There were a couple of others in a similar vein. While they haven’t been published in the U.S., they are widely available on the Internet.

Apparently in the Islamic tradition, it’s OK to name every third falafel vendor Mohammed, but all hell breaks loose if somebody draws a picture of him. The cartoons were published in Denmark last September, but just recently managed to get wide circulation. Then cartoon riots started. Things have become very violent and dangerous in just about all the Muslim countries, and in European cities with substantial Muslim populations. Several people have been killed by the rain of random gunfire, embassy fires and explosions. My goodness, if they keep this up, people are going to get the impression that Muslims are a bunch of humorless, bomb-throwing fanatics.

One of the favorite activities at cartoon riots seems to be burning the Danish flag. In countries that seem to be lacking even the most basic necessities, there appear to have been warehouses full of Danish flags on hand, just in case the occasion to burn them came up. I can sort of understand them keeping a supply of U.S. flags on hand for riots, but Denmark? There appear to be more Danish flags in Iran than there are in Denmark itself. As Hamlet said, there is something rotten in Denmark.

The Danes are stunned. In addition to the flag burning and rioting, there is a boycott of Jarlsberg cheese that is costing them about $1 million a day. As a percentage of their GDP, the Danes are among the world’s most generous nations in terms of pouring aid into the poorest regions of the world. It’s hard to imagine anybody disliking the Danes (except for maybe the Swedes who hold some kind of grudge according to my grandmother). But now they are burning their prime minister — whoever that might be — and also Queen Margaret in effigy.

The Muslims seem to take their blasphemy pretty seriously. In the last few months, I’ve seen items of such questionable taste as a Joseph Smith nutcracker and a bobble-head dashboard Jesus. Tacky, and offensive to many, without a question. But the Mormons in Salt Lake weren’t burning the store selling the Joseph Smith nutcrackers, and not even the most hardcore of the fundamentalist Christians were lobbing explosives at the stores with the plastic Jesus action figures.

Here at The Park Record, it’s an official editorial policy that we try not to incite riots. John Kilbourn has come close with a couple of his cartoons, but those usually end with a phone call to the publisher threatening to pull advertising over something. I’ve generated some hate mail every now and then; almost always from the most unexpected quarters. I proposed trading Provo to North Dakota once, and got a stack of angry letters from North Dakotans saying they had it bad enough without having to take Provo. We would get Bismark in the trade, which really set a few people off. The closest thing we had to a riot was a column by Teri Orr in which she questioned the extent to which scantily clad high school drill teams were bumping and grinding at the football games. That one generated pickets. But no bombs, no burning anybody in effigy, and no flags were torched, Danish or otherwise.

There’s just no reasoning with some people.

On other fronts, it’s very easy to ski the whole season and more or less ignore the ski patrol. But a couple of things recently reminded me why they are there, and made me appreciate what they do. The most visible was the evacuation of the Bonanza lift at Park City. I was, by the slightest of whims, not on the chair when it broke. At the last second, I had turned off to McConkey’s (or McMonkey’s, depending on which map you have). By the time I got to the top of the chair, the patrol was roping off Puma and explained that Bonanza was dead in the water. I skied over that way and watched as they evacuated the lift.

Some chairs were filled with children who couldn’t get the rope and harness threaded alone. Others had parents with them, but were understandably terrified at being told they were going to get pushed off the chair. The patrol handled it with great skill, comforting the frightened kids but keeping the process rolling along. In a lifetime of skiing, I’ve never been roped off a chair, and hope to keep that streak going. But if it has to happen, I feel pretty good about the way the patrol handled it.

The other incident was a nasty injury up in Jupiter, where a guy had launched off the West Face traverse and shot head first into some trees. His friend was there, trying to keep him still. This had head, neck and back injury written all over it. I rushed down to the lift where the lift operator called it in. The patrol spent a long time getting him properly braced for a difficult transport. They seemed a little shaken by the whole thing, but got him down the mountain.

After watching those two, I just wanted to give a big thanks to the patrol at all three area resorts for the important, but usually unseen, work they do.


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