Archive for category Gail Ruzicka

KSL Poll: Should kids see this ad? Gayle Ruzicka says “No”

Eagle Bay Elementary school in Farmington showed a video of a number of celebrities pledging acts of service to the community. But Eagle Forum’s Gayle Ruzicka called it leftist propaganda because it pictures our President Barack Obama, and says it’s something that should not be shown to children without parents’ permission. What do you think? Watch the video and vote in the KSL poll here.

Do OneUtah readers find this to be promoting an offensively leftist agenda?

Help end hunger
Laugh more
Love more
Volunteer more time to help children with serious illnesses
Be a better mother, father
Always represent my country with dignity
Care for America’s elderly
Plant 500 trees this year
Consume less and cultivate more
Find a cure for Alzheimers
Support our president

What’s your pledge


Utah’s Own Practitioners of the Politics of Resentment

In a moment of no political drama, Gayle Ruzicka and the Sutherland Institute announced they were opposed to the Common Ground Initiative:
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Paul Mero, Gayle Ruzicka, Chris Buttars, have you no decency?

Chris Buttars, a man who has already made up his mind.

Chris Buttars, a man who has already made up his mind.

They’ve teamed up and vowed to defeat the full set of bills in the Common Ground Intiatives–bills designed to provide same sex partners with basic legal rights, not marriage, but property and other rights. Indeed, Sen. Chris Buttars committee today in a 4 to 2 vote prevented the first of the four bills from even getting out of committee.

And why are Mero/Ruzicka/Buttars so terrified that gays may get some legal rights? It’s because they believe it’s one step toward legalizing gay marriage. Never mind that Utah already has a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. They won’t bend even a little, and let these citizens, our own friends, neighbors, and family enjoy the legal protections they need when faced with the crises life doles out to us all.

They have no heart. They have no soul. They have no human decency.

In my humble opinion.

Rather than “common ground,” Gayle Ruzicka and the Constitutional Defense of Marriage Alliance are touting “common sense.” And a Salt Lake City-based conservative think tank, The Sutherland Institute, wants Utahns to stand on “sacred ground” instead.

“The family is the central unit of society, and so our efforts in this regard are ultimately to protect the traditional family and protect marriage,” said Sutherland spokesman Jeff Reynolds. . . Next week, his group will kick off its Sacred Ground Initiative, a counteroffensive aimed at defeating the five gay-rights bills. . .

Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, and Reynolds both argue that granting any legal standing to same-sex couples — or even recognizing sexual orientations as classes protected against discrimination — could precipitate a court battle to legalize gay marriage.

That’s what happened in California, Ruzicka said, when the state’s Supreme Court decided gay couples were entitled to wed because they already had many of the same rights as married, straight couples. Last fall, the court’s decision to allow same-sex marriage was overturned when voters approved Prop 8. . .

[Ruzicka]– along with Republican Sen. Chris Buttars of West Jordan and former GOP Rep. LaVar Christensen of Draper — formed the Constitutional Defense of Marriage Alliance, a political-issues committee, to help pass Utah’s Amendment 3, which defined marriage in 2004 as solely between a man and a woman.

This alliance now is drafting a “common sense” rebuttal to the Common Ground campaign, Ruzicka said.

The fact that the Utah Constitution already prevents gay marriage makes California a false comparison, notes Carlson, who insists Equality Utah’s initiative is not an end run to sue for gay marriage.

Photo credit: Francisco Kjolseth / The Salt Lake Tribune
Cross-posted with slight revisions at Utah Legislature Watch


Freedom of Speech and Expression

Seemingly endlessly litigated and legislated around, the First Amendment reads simply:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

For the purposes of this post, I’m interested in freedom of speech.

On a surprisingly regular basis, one hears accounts of “parents” or “family” groups trying to get books banned from libraries on the grounds that they are not appropriate for young people. Or of schools adopting speech codes that restrict speech of an “offensive or harmful nature.” In the interest of rhetorical honesty, I’m willing to grant that in both types of cases the motives are laudable – protecting people from harm. I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again but the perils of protecting people from “harmful” speech are probably greater than the perils of the speech itself.
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Swimming With the Gays

In our society, almost all minority groups face a complicated choice between being fully integrated and between self-segregation. At one time, women’s colleges were the only avenue for women to pursue higher education, same for the historically black colleges. Catholic schools were organized since many public schools openly indoctrinated students into protestantism. Some groups – for instance the Amish – have chosen to deliberately and intentionally remain “separate” within the culture. There is value for some groups to self-select and self-identify. Predominantly black colleges provide African-American students opportunities for leadership and personal development that they might not find in other institutions; same goes for women’s colleges. Conversely, in my experience, better schools produce better leaders.

Conservative Christians have long had a subculture with Christian book stores, schools, bands, TV stations, programs, movies, and even their own list of celebrities. There are Bible based diets, perfumes, action figures and the whole schlemiel. FWIW, the Christian subculture has a pervasive and well-deserved sense of inferiority to mainstream culture which is by almost ever standard more creative and more interesting. Christian subculture often comes across as a homogenized and sanitized version of mainstream culture – complete with swear free comedians and rappers.

Minority groups face an ongoing struggle between establishing and maintaining a subculture or integrating within the mainstream, a struggle made doubly difficult when group members are increasingly instrumental in creating mainstream culture. Why should we be separate when we’re being represented in the mainstream?

I believe the gay community has reached a crossroads and the choice will be difficult. Huge chunks of American culture are the creation of glbt people. More importantly, the debate about gay marriage has, paradoxically, resulted in legal defeats but cultural victories. The more conservative bitch, moan whine and carry about gay marriage, the more it appears in the awareness of Americans who are growing more and more accepting. The self-aware separateness of glbt people is, as more and more establish long term relationships and lead “normal” lives is becoming less and less viable. Quite frankly, gay marriage – win or lose the short term electoral fights – is a long term victory in which the very ordinariness of being gay is simply being accepted.

Andrew Sullivan – three years ago – wrote:

week after week this summer, couple after couple got married–well over a thousand in the year and a half since gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts . . . .The heterosexuals in the crowd knew exactly what to do. They waved and cheered and smiled. Then, suddenly, as if learning the habits of a new era, gay bystanders joined in. In an instant, the difference between gay and straight receded again a little.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Authoritarianism Revisited

I think we are reaching a nadir in the American consciousness. There are so many indicators both large and small. The surprising populist movement lead by Barack Obama is an obvious one. The changing language and focal points of the Right-Wing are another. Almost no one is left in the media nor in politics who defends Bush. Most are running FROM Bush (returns 454 results).

I long wondered how long it would take for people who voted for Bush to admit it and apologize. We began first seeing them in ’05.

Well, I am one of those “Buyer’s Remorse” republicans and I can’t think of a good way to have it rubbed in my face how wrong I was to support Shrub in Ought-Four.

But I never expected to hear self-confessed, life-long Republicans saying, “I will never vote for another Republican as long as I live” (see C-Span’s Washington Journal on almost any day). You can also find such comments all over the web these days.

I have been a Republican for 20 years , I will never vote Republican as long as I live after what I have seen George Bush get us into, I am not a Democrat either

…sometimes the democrats get too minutely detailed and wonky. but after the utter lies, disasters, greed, disregard for working and middle class people and incompetence of the bush-cheney-rumsfeld-wolfowitz-rightwing-aipac era, i’ll take ANY of the democrats up there now and I will never vote republican again in my life!

An exact Google search on “I will never vote republican again” returns over 2000 results. Try a few variations and you’ll find hundreds of thousands!

I’ve decided to begin to build a links list of source material and references (see homepage sidebar) to serve this kairos moment, to help educate us all on this kind of mental illness, this stifling fear of change, this tribal conformity — which lurks in the nicest people — called Authoritarianism. OneUtah authors were among the first to write about it in this genre.

One of the references I found is from Wikipedia and, I think, should ring true for many Americans and many Utahns in the news and not in the news these days.

From here:

Research has discovered a wide range of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) scale relationships over the years, which can be organized into four general categories. (The Authoritarian Specter)

1: Faulty reasoning — RWAs are more likely to: Read the rest of this entry »


Sexism in Utah’s Politics

I’ve been thinking for a long about the issue of sexism in Utah politics. Jenny Wilson rightly pointed out that she was asked questions that none of her male counterparts were asked during the Mayor’s race. At the same time, Gayle Ruzicka is incredibly influential in Utah politics – sure, she’s nasty and bigoted and provides our male legislators with “family friendly” rhetorical cover for their various bigotries but she still possesses tremendous influence. It’s influence she’s worked god damned hard to get – and she protects it with a consistency and passion that is truly admirable and a bit scary. Ruzicka seems to know she’s only taken seriously because she is able to influence people and her group – which has a history of some fairly amoral tactics – maintains its influence through lots of damned hard work. Does her influence demonstrate that there is no sexism in Utah politics or does the exception prove the rule?

Talk to any group of women in Utah and you will hear stories of the most blatant sexism imaginable – as well as some of the most subtle sexism. It may sound minor, but look at the four statues in the Utah state capitol. I was there for my day at the leg and I was brought up short when I stepped into the rotunda. There is industry and science – and the statues are male. The others – art and immigration – are female. It may sound minor but as an expression of values it speaks loud and clear – that women are responsible for children and pretty things and the men will do the “real” work.

Any woman in Utah, especially an educated and intelligent one, can tell you that sexism is alive, well, and harmful in Utah.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Repugs in Utah’s Legislature Won’t Listen to the People

IOW, it’s business as usual on the Hill.

While I’m at it, I’d like to take a moment and thank Strom Buttars for bringing his usual nasty little self out on public display for the people and making what was a boring and technocratic session into yet another nasty gay-bashing fest. FWIW, Chris “Strom” Buttars, you’re a narrow minded, bigoted nasty little man and we’d all be better off if you would just leave public life.

Okay, that’s out of my system.

Anyway, I read in this morning’s Trib that the Senate subcommittee that was holding a hearing about Buttars latest gay bashing law refused to let opponents of the law speak and instead turned the time over to Utah’s reliable host of bigots – Gayle Ruzicka (“No I don’t smell anything bad, my face always looks like this”), LeVar Christensen, Frank “gay people scare me” Mylar, and Merrill Cook. The usual suspects of Utah’s antigay police line up had nothing new to say. It’s the usual “We’re just so afraid and gay people are icky” kind of nonsense.

Too many of our state’s legislators ignore the people of Utah and our wishes. It’s not accidental and it’s not just a function of their swollen, gangrenous egos. It’s consistent with their conservative, governing philosophy which holds that the only time they accountable and answerable to the people is election day – call is plebiscite democracy. In this theory, if you are elected, the people approve everything you do and it’s okay to do whatever you want so long as you get re-elected and if the people disapprove of something, they are supposed to express that on election day.

In the many years I’ve been going to the Hill, I can honestly say I’ve been treated as an interloper, as someone who doesn’t really know what I’m supposed to do. On more than one occassion, I’ve had legislators flat out ignore my existence during public hearings – even as I’m speaking. I’ll ask a question and the chair says, “Next speaker.” It’s not just me. I see it happen time and time again. Yes, there are people who aren’t well spoken, who stumble over their words and express themselves badly, but too often our legislators act as if we are somehow violating decorum by expecting our elected officials to listen to us.

Our legislators offer a host of weasel words to explain their actions. I’ve been told “Well I have to represent the people of MY district” and when I say, “What have they said?”, I’m told, “They don’t care about this issue.” I’ve heard, “Well the people of Utah are very conservative and don’t want this.” And when they’re told, “This mornings d-news published a poll showing 75% of Utahns favor this issue,” they say, “That’s just the people who were polled.”

The great divide in Utah’s politics is between our Republicans who actually want to do what they want to do without having to bother with the will of the people and who go through the motions of pretending to listen to the public and the Democrats who actually believe in representative democracy. Utahns opposed vouchers and had to vote them down and we had a legislator (sorry don’t recall which one right now) who wanted to make the initiative process more difficult. Utahns favored hate crimes legislation year after year after year and until Gayle Ruzicka got tired of telling our legislators to kill it, we didn’t get it. So when I read our legislators stack the deck to make sure they only hear from people who agree with their extreme world view, I get angry but I also know it’s how they are going to keep doing it until we the people smack them down and smack them down hard.


Big Daddy Is Not Happy

Rebecca Walsh is rapidly becoming my favorite local newsperson.  Her article in today’s Trib is yet another perfect example of her ability to accurately record the seriously messed up politics of Utah.

Walsh writes:

As is so often the case, Salt Lake City is acting out, testing the bounds of this big conservative family we like to call a state.

And like any good domineering father, West Jordan Republican Sen. Chris Buttars has whittled the willow switch himself. He has pounced on his annual anti-gay cause – nullifying Mayor Ralph Becker’s registry. And he’ll do whatever it takes, even inverting beloved conservative principles of local control and hands-off government to turn Utah into his version of a top-down patriarchy . . . Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka and anti-gay attorney Frank Mylar sat behind them, acting for all the world like parents at a piano recital.
 . . .  Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth, insinuating himself like a smarmy favored son, argued against government closest to the people. He begged lawmakers to protect his suburban city from the corrupting influences of the capital.

“I don’t always agree with what the Legislature mandates to us. But I appreciate the safety – that the Legislature is charged to guide and direct cities,” Applegarth said. Leave the decision, he said, not up to individual cities, but to the “great minds of the Senate, the wisest minds. You have the right to direct us.”

Like parents.

The glaring hypocrisy of Buttar’s butting into the city’s business is of course invisible to the small minded, cowering, pants wetting bigots known as Utah’s conservative legislative majority.  If it means abandoning all their other values, they’ll give Salt Lake City what-for for not kowtowing to their towering egos and tiny pricks (am I the only one who’s sure that Buttars and his cohorts suffer from button mushroom syndrome?  The metaphor works on two levels – the first about size, the second about growing up in the dark and being fed shit.).

Anyway, it’s obvious Walsh has been reading her Lakoff.  The whole nation as family metaphor works at a deep level here – from the perspective of the legislators like Buttars, Salt Lake City acts like a wayward child who must be firmly and finally put under the control of the strict father.  I honestly think Buttars and others like him are surprised that Ralph Becker is actually more liberal than Rocky – Rocky fit their stereotype of a liberal, Ralph by contrast is quiet, unassuming.  That he would “act out” like this is all the more surprising and all the more demanding of a smack down. 

In the conservative model of family, big daddy is always right, even, perhaps especially, when he unreasonably asserting his parental authority.  Lakoff examines the model – Riverton’s mayor even manages to invoke the contagion metaphor so common to this model in which a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel.  (FWIW, contagion is also a common metaphor within Utah’s Mormon culture wherein people will avoid associating themselves with people who drink coffee or alcohol, have sex and generally refuse to engage in bitter self-abnegation for in the desperate hope that somehow, somewhere God might give a shit about them.)

And while I’m thinking about it – exactly what kind of God do these bigoted wingnuts believe in?  Think about it- if God is the omniscient, omnipotent, creator of the Universe and if the universe is even half as vast and wonderful as it appears, then the idea that God actually cares what people do while naked and if we have same sex marriage or not suggests that God is little more than feckless, petty thug.


The Legislative Freak Show Unveils Its Acts

It’s impossible to attend the Utah State Legislature year after year as I have without developing a sense of cynicism. The majority of Utah’s legislators strike me as well meaning but useless when it comes to actually effecting changing. The few commonsense proposals that actually make it to the floor are usually killed by the majority which follows sheeplike the wingnuttiest of their colleagues (yes, I do mean you Chris Buttars). Their reflexive conservativism tends to keep our legislative majority from really thinking through the proposals before them. If it’s conservative, they figure it must be a good idea, if it strays from their party line groupthink, the figure its bad. And this year is looking like a banner year in the wingnut circus on the Hill. Read the rest of this entry »


Not Going Anywhere

Sunday, the Tribune ran this article about declining support in Utah for the Iraq war.  Highlights:

Jeffrey Jones wasn’t surprised to see that a two-year compilation of Gallup polls showed American Mormons, more than any other religious group over that period, believed the United States was right to invade Iraq.

A January poll by The Salt Lake Tribuneshowed a precipitous drop in support for Bush’s handling of the war among Utah’s Latter-day Saints. 

In the survey, just 44 percent of those identifying themselves as Mormon said they backed Bush’s war management. That’s a level considerably higher than Bush gets from Utah’s non-Mormon population and the nation at large, but it’s also a 21 percentage point drop from just five months earlier. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

Though brooding heavily on the consequences of war in general, Hinckley never mentioned Iraq or President Bush specifically. But in the following days, online message boards and e-mail discussion groups lit up with conversation about what Hinckley – “prophet, seer and revelator” to millions of Mormons worldwide – might have meant in regard to the nation’s current wars. 

“He may or may not have intended anything by it, and he certainly didn’t mention Iraq in that speech, but the speech certainly may have been interpreted by the LDS community as an indictment against the world’s violence,” said Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. “Small phrases by President Hinckley are to the LDS community as Alan Greenspan’s words were to the financial community.”

While ambiguous in relation to Iraq, Hinckley’s words wouldn’t be the final indication that Bush’s war leadership was rightfully subject to question among the LDS faithful.

The moves in Mormon support for the war, however, is not a move of Mormons from the GOP as Pastor Dan suggests here. 

That’s a remarkable change illustrating the power of this stupid, immoral war to break the back of the Republican coalition. God knows no reasonable person wants the war to drag on for another two years, but if it does, the GOP will lie in tatters.

There’s two not necessarily connected points here – Mormons no longer supporting the Bush war are not necessarily abandoning the Republican party and its conservative culture war.  The other aspect here is the general obedience to authority found in Utah’s Mormon population.  As Mormon leaders have given their tacit approval of being anti-war, the Mormon population has followed.  I suspect that the real difference is not in opinion but in the willingness to express that opinion – Hinkley’s speech referred to in the article provided rhetorical cover for Mormons to publicly oppose the war in Iraq and free to do so publicly they have done so.

I disagree with Pastor Dan’s conclusion that Mormons are leaving the GOP coalition.  The culture war wing of the GOP is not going anywhere anytime soon, despite various noises from conservative activists.  Despite alienating most Americans, the Bush administration has retained a tight hold on the culture warriors; cultural issues will continue to define and dominate a sizable (albeit minority) swath of the US political culture.  When PD said the other day (links in the original):

Every conservative Christian leader I can think – every last one of them – either has been compromised by hate and intolerance or corruption, or they have been repudiated by the other leaders. They have pushed war and assassination in Israel, gone to ridiculous lengths to avoid discussing the possibility that gays and lesbians might be people too and used the issue to advance secular partisan politics; not only fought the protection of the environment but actually sought the ouster of evangelicals who thought it might be important to talk about;  shown themselves to be massive personal hypocrites; actually ignored the teachings of Scripture to agitate against immigrants; pushed a stupid, immoral and illegal war; and not only have they taken Caesar’s money, but they swindled it away from him – and laughed at their co-religionists while they did it.

he could have been talking about a great many of Utah Mormon leaders, including but not limited to the folks at the Sutherland Institute, the Utah Eagle Forum and a very vocal contingent in the Utah legislature who have made gay bashing, slut shaming, fetus worshipping, reproductive rights denying a huge portion of Utah’s political culture.  The official Mormon church leadership may never have officially signed onto the right wing anti-modernity crusade, they certainly made the political environment in Utah conducive to the crusade; their tepid defenses of the rights of glbt persons to be, you know, people, have never been very passionate or convincing.  Their slavish devotion to a mythical image of family has certainly done few favors for anyone but Gayle Ruzicka and Chris Buttars.  But it has cemented in the minds of many Utahns a belief that liberalism and progressivism are somehow anti-thetical to “family values” and it will take decades to undo the damage.


Please Support Gov Huntsman to Do The Right Thing

Governor Huntsman will decide today whether to VETO the anti-gay school clubs bill or sign it into law. While the bill does not specifically prohibit Gay Straight Alliances in Utah public schools, that’s what is is meant to do. Buttars and Tilton have failed in previous years to get such bills passed, so this year they contorted the bill so badly it creates a huge additional administrative burden on schools and also cripples kids ability to form afterschool clubs.

Even the State Board of Education says this bill is unnecessary.

Please contact the governor and support him. You know he wants to veto the thing too. He just needs some moral support.

Phone: 801-538-1000

Example e-mail

Dear Governor Huntsman,

Please VETO HB236 Student Clubs Amendments. Tell the grownups to leave the kids alone.



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