Headlines and humiliation
Red Card Roberts
February 14, 2017
In less than one week, the state of Utah accumulated more national front page headlines and top story statuses than it did snowfall.
First, there was the town hall with congressman Jason Chaffetz, who took a page out of Sean Spicer's playbook and offered alternative facts following the event. Instead of considering it's possible many of his constituents are upset with him for failing to investigate the president's growing list of ethics violations, he instead dismissed the boos, heckling and shouting by suggesting he was the victim and the frustrated and angry people in the auditorium were paid protesters. He had about as much evidence as Trump does when claiming millions of people voted illegally, but that did not stop him from claiming this as fact. Perhaps, paid protestors are the one job Trump is actually bringing back to America. Just one question, where do we pick up our checks?
I was thrilled to see national news outlets pick up this story. Utah has a long tradition of obedience, and it has not served us well. When we raise our fists in defiance, the nation notices. Though Mr. Chaffetz has convinced himself otherwise, the people in that auditorium were his constituents. And they are angry. And angry people vote. It would behoove him to listen and actually answer the questions. There were at least two that were not asked that evening that I wish had been. They are:
Jason, please explain how is it scientifically possible for you to stand upright without a spine?
It’s a sad day when a porn site is more concerned for your child’s education than your legislator is.
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And, with a name like Chaffetz, which side of the wall will you have to live on?
A day or two later, I noticed another mention of Utah on a national, not fake, news website. The article focused on a much more subtle, but equally significant protest of outdoor gear companies boycotting the Outdoor Retailer shows held in Salt Lake City.
Heavy hitters like North Face, Patagonia, and REI are telling state lawmakers to keep their oil loving mitts off public lands, specifically Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Outdoor Retailers brings an estimated $40 million into the state each year, and it seems doubtful Governor Hebert can replace this semi-annual event with a coal, oil and gas expo.
I've never expected common sense from state lawmakers, but when will they figure out they can't have it both ways? You can't expect world-class tourism to coexist with Zion curtains and oil rigs pumping in a national monument. The world is full of beautiful places, most of which can be accessed via cities that don't have toxic particles floating in a yellow haze of pollution several months out of the year.
In response to the boycott, the governor has said he "will meet as soon as possible with leaders in the outdoor recreation community to listen to their concerns." Which is kind of like installing a sprinkler system after the house is already engulfed in flames. Our state lawmakers love public lands the same way a rapist loves women, and for the same reasons. Though it would be a significant loss for our economy, I'm glad these companies are taking a stand.
Lastly, there's the comically absurd headline that read something like "Porn Site Steps in to Educate Utah Kids."
Last week our esteemed lawmakers rejected the idea of adopting a comprehensive sexual education program and instead doubled down on the state's abstinence-only curriculum, which the same group of lawmakers acknowledge has had little effect in lessening rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
To help Utah's uninformed and misinformed students understand how to protect themselves against STDs, pregnancy and other consequences of sex, the porn site xHamster announced it was rerouting all of its traffic from Utah to its comprehensive sex education series.
In a statement xHamster said, "Utahns consume the most porn per capita of any state, but have some of the lowest levels of sexual education. We're here to change that."
It's a sad day when a porn site is more concerned for your child's education than your legislator is. But what do you expect from people who deny complete and comprehensive sex education leaving the kids to turn to porn, then declare porn a "public health crisis."
While many in the state have expressed concern and called the site's move "unethical," it's fair to ask, if Jason Chaffetz doesn't worry about ethics why should xHamster?
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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