Amy Roberts: Utah parties like it’s 1920
A few weeks ago I purchased some items online. Mere moments after I confirmed my order, I received an email with my tracking number and the estimated date my package would be delivered, which was Jan. 1, 1920. I chalked it up to an amusing glitch in the system and didn’t give it any additional thought.
And then last week I read several news articles that made me wonder if the entire state of Utah had indeed time-traveled back to the last century.
How else do you explain state senators supporting a bill to ban almost all abortions — while using the word “colored” to describe a person who didn’t agree with the vote? How else would you explain a sixth grader from a small town in Rich County being told she was not allowed to turn down a request to dance from a boy who had made her uncomfortable? And what year would you expect it to be for a woman to pay a $600 fine for being topless in her own home?
Good god. No wonder Amazon was so confused. In no particular order of absurdity, here’s Utah’s week in review:
Republican state senators voted in favor of a bill to ban almost all abortions in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned. The vote was made along party and gender lines, to which Allen Christensen who (allegedly) represents Summit County said, “I’ve never even thought about it being male vs. female, and even less so white vs. colored.”
The latter comment was a reference to Sen. Luz Escamilla, who voted against the bill and is originally from Mexico.
Christensen went on to claim he holds women in higher esteem than men because, “she is a gentle soul and she has that reproductive ability.”
He also confirmed he voted for the bill because he believes life begins at conception — the very moment a sperm smashes into an egg — which is undoubtedly a personal religious belief the rest of us are (allegedly) constitutionally protected from having to subscribe to. And here’s one of the many reasons the First Amendment matters: The idea of when life begins varies greatly by faith. For those following Islam, a fetus is thought to become a living soul at 120 days. Many Jewish followers believe a fetus is not legally a person until it’s delivered. Some Hindus believe personhood begins at three months in the womb. The Navajo believe life begins the first time a baby laughs. In short, just because most Christians believe life begins at conception doesn’t mean the rest of us do. One more time for those in the back: Bibles don’t belong in a uterus.
There’s much more to unpack here, but my gentle soul is getting in the way.
So I’ll move on to the sixth grader from Laketown, Utah who was excited to attend her school’s Valentine’s Day ball. Azlyn Hobson hoped the boy she had a crush on would ask her to dance, but instead, a boy who she says had made her feel uncomfortable in the past asked her first. She politely declined, only to be ushered out onto the dance floor by the school’s principal who told her she had to accept the request, and later told her parents it was a school policy to ensure no one felt left out.
What is this, the Harvey Weinstein Winter Formal?
Every person of any age or gender has a right to set personal boundaries and say “no.” School policies should be focused on the importance of consent, not protecting developing egos. Being assured you will get everything you want with no possibility of rejection doesn’t set anyone up for adulthood. Didn’t we already try this with millennials?
Even though she was forced to dance with a boy she didn’t want touching her, at least Azlyn wasn’t fined. The same can’t be said for Tilli Buchanan, who was charged with lewdness involving a child after her stepchildren saw her breasts in her own home. She and her husband had been hanging drywall and the kids walked into the room where she was removing the itchy clothing. After a good deal of legal back and forth, last week Buchanan accepted a plea deal claiming the stakes were just too high to go to trial. If convicted, she would have been required register as a sex offender.
Instead, she agreed to admit a misdemeanor, which will be dismissed after one year assuming she showers with her clothes on when her stepchildren visit. She also had to pay a $600 fine.
Ironically, the year my Amazon order was due to be delivered — 1920 — is the same year women were granted the right to vote. If we don’t want these current headlines to become the norm, we damn well better practice that right in force this year.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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