"Diplomacy is more than saying or doing the right things at the right time, it is avoiding saying or doing the wrong things at any time." (Bo Bennett)
No one would ever accuse Ross C. Anderson of being a diplomat. Or a statesman. Or even a reasonable person. Instead, he appears to be hell-bent on generating as much attention for himself being a liberal in Utah as possible. Although I can respect a man who marches to the beat of his own drum, "Rocky" appears to be marching to the beat of a drum being pounded by some hippies sitting in a circle in Liberty Park on a Sunday afternoon.
Almost a million Americans have died to preserve Rocky’s first amendment rights. Just because he has a right to protest Bush’s visit to Utah, however, does not make his protest "right." Born in 1951, Rocky was a teenager during the 1960s. No doubt he reflects fondly on the anti-war rallies of his youth. But at some point, he should have grown up. It is enlightening that Rocky is more comfortable expressing his views in a ranting crowd than in a formal meeting with the president as the ambassador of the Utah’s largest city.
As the mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky speaks for hundreds of thousands of people. He dilutes his effectiveness when he stands on the corner shaking his fist at the president’s passing car. Isn’t it ironic that a man who stifles dissent among his own employees is so interested in expressing his own in a protest? Since he was elected in 2000, more than 42 of the employees of the mayor’s office have quit or been fired. (There are only 17 positions in that office, which amounts to a turnover rate of about 250 percent.) His former staffers complain of abusive and demeaning language, ridicule of LDS beliefs, and an overall hostile work environment. The man who wants Bush to listen to his protest refuses to listen or even speak to some members of his own city council.
Anderson has apparently become bored with the mundane routine of being a mayor. Instead, he seeks out pet projects that draw him national attention. He would much rather travel out of state to talk about wind power, recycling, alternative fuels, gay rights or same sex marriage than remain in Salt Lake and fix pot holes. The sparkle in Rocky’s eye has a national tint, and his protestations of Bush a second time has little to do with serving his constituents. Rocky showed his true colors by inviting (and then claiming he didn’t) an out-of-state media hound to secure himself a full dose of international media attention.
In a nutshell, Rocky’s actions are immature and self-serving. As Soren Kierkegaard said, "People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use."
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Larry Aleva writes in a guest editorial that City Hall must be more accountable and transparent.