Sunday in the Park |

Sunday in the Park

Teri Orr, Record columnist

This is one of those weeks in my little life where everywhere I look, I have to admit, I am confused.

First, the complicated, for me, news that Sony’s Blu-ray technology has won out over Toshiba’s HD-DVD technology is over my head. I think what it means is that my old DVD player from Toshiba is about to become obsolete. I heard some commentator say it was similar to the old Beta/VHS format issue. Back then the technology was beyond my comprehension too. If you had tapes you loved on Beta, you had to transfer them to VHS or toss them out. That’s what I remember. Blu-ray is, I think, related to Blue Tooth technical advances which might be related to Blue Note and perhaps even Blue Moon. I am left slightly confused and just plain blue that I may need to buy a new DVD player before what would have been the natural lifetime of my equipment wearing out. Sigh.

Super delegates make sense to super politically informed people, I think. Most folks I know scratch their heads and wonder how the whole process works and why. These folks are anointed super delegates because of their loyalty to the party and because they are mostly office holders in their various states in both state and national offices. They are not bound by the popular vote in their states so they can be real spoilers come convention time. They also have a history of switching loyalties at convention time. And stories abound of committed super delegates being given great perks like cushy hotel rooms at the convention. In this election season, super delegates for the Democrats could alter the outcome at the nomination and make the whole process unpredictable in way it hasn’t been since 1952. This, according to Wikipedia, on the Internet. Which, we all know, is only as relevant as the last person who modified the information.

Finally, my greatest confusion of the week concerns Utah State Senator Chris Buttars. Why has he not resigned? Why has he not been forced to resign? If you have missed this whole controversy because you don’t live in this state or you don’t follow local news sources, let me try to sum it up. This long-time homophobic racist (you can go to Wikipedia and find these same words used to describe him) senator had a defining week. You could disregard his past statements and actions about squishing high school gay/straight alliance clubs. And you could even disregard his wacky statements including a letter to the editor in USA TODAY — last summer, I think — that defended his views on divine design and the need to teach creation in the classrooms. You could just say, after all, that this is Utah and a number of people share his views. But these past few days, Buttars has been hit by such a stupid stick he has become a national joke. I found over 29,000 references to him on a quick Internet search. And for what now, you ask?

Well, it started with a photo that I hope Salt Lake Tribune photographer Scott Sommerdorf wins an award for. It shows a young, attractive woman, Christy Gleave, who could have just come from a Relief Society meeting but instead is testifying before the Senate about being denied visitation in the hospital when her same-sex partner was injured in an accident. Buttars is sponsoring a bill to deny rights to ANY dependent adults who choose to register that they need to count on each other. This would include many elderly adults who receive benefits because their adult children help them with housing and medications etc. The photo shows Buttars listening to her testimony with a look of such disgust that it is palpable. His mouth is turned down, his nose wrinkled, and he looks as if even listening to this woman tell her sad story sickens him. He has become the very face of homophobia.

And now, too, the very voice of modern-day racism. While another bill was being debated on the Senate floor, he referred to it as "a black baby a dark and ugly thing." He was forced by the Democratic leadership to apologize and did so in a backhanded way, saying he was sorry to anyone who took offense. When the local NAACP president, Jeanetta Williams, asked for his resignation, he was shocked. And his comments continued. He said the response to his comments had "created an angry, lynch mob." And failed to see those comments as racist. And when a reporter pointed out how that term historically meant the murder of blacks, he replied, "How do I know what words I’m supposed to use in front of those people?"

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Perhaps by the time this column runs he will have resigned. But I rather doubt it. Racism and homophobia usually come with such hubris and arrogance it is blinding. And he isn’t without his band of supporters. Comic figure Gayle Ruzika and her ultra-conservative Eagle Forum issued a petition of support and found 100 people to sign it. And on the Web I found a blog that I won’t dignify by naming that blamed the media for all the outrage by even reporting on the issues surrounding Buttars in the first place. It concluded with the chilling, "I’m thinking of burning down the Salt Lake Tribune offices myself." The blogger lists his address as Fairfield, Utah.

Hate breeds more hate. Intolerance is the " ugly thing" here. And the comments made by this un-evolved senator need to stop. Like the aforementioned DVDs, the format for such discourse was, long ago, forever altered. Human rights demand our attention worldwide, but certainly no less than here in our front and back yard.

And about the power of the super delegates, I think I’m beginning to understand better. They just may serve to help confirm the nomination of Barack Obama for president of the United States. And he just might win. And then that black man would work to unite all the states in America.

Even Utah.

It is all so much to think about and research and thank whatever god you worship that we can speak out and change mistakes in this country whose forefathers had the forethought to say that we are all created equal. Pursue some happiness this week, amidst your own mid-winter confusion, as we spend another Sunday in the Park, learning how to joyfully live together

Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Delores Dore Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. Orr is also a former editor of The Park Record.