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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Intolerance by any other name?

By Aaron Zundel

On June 6, the Bountiful City Council convened to vote on a proposed skate park within its city. The park would have been situated next to the local recreation center and would have provided a place for young people to congregate and socialize. The park lost the vote three to two, and the space will now be used for a parking lot instead.

The reason the skate park lost the vote was not financial concern, nor was the land needed for another, more important project. Indeed, the surrounding area already has plenty of parking-and, if it needed more, could have found it close by.

No, the reason the skate park got shot down was due to stiff opposition by local residents, many of whom thought the skate park would introduce an unhealthy element into their community. One local citizen had the audacity to say, “It’s not your neighborhood children who are going to use the park. They [the skaters] come from all around. We need to have a place for them to go-California.”

Before we go any further, I think it’s important for me to state that I am not a skater, I have never been a skater and I don’t plan on ever being a skater. Hell, I don’t even live in Bountiful. As such, I have no personal interest in whether or not the park is built. That said, those who voted and rallied against the park should be ashamed of themselves.

Perhaps if there had been a good reason to nix the park, the final vote might have been understandable. As it is, the new parking lot will stand as a monument to the bigotry of the citizens of Bountiful.

Their unspoken assumption that “kids who wear their pants too low are bad influences on the community” is narrow-minded intolerance of the highest degree, and the citizens of Bountiful who perpetuate such ideas might as well just start burning skateboards on their front lawns.

The fact of the matter is there is no evidence to substantiate the fear of the Bountiful citizenry. In reality, had the public done its homework instead of nursing ignorant stereotypes, it would have found several studies showing that skate parks actually reduce crime.

Some may feel that, as this is such a small issue, why would one bother worrying about it? And normally I would agree. The question of whether or not a skate park gets built is small potatoes compared with many of the issues being dealt with, both on the local and national level. But I fear this is not an isolated incident. Utah culture has a nasty habit of excising anything different, regardless of whether or not it is dangerous. This is not so much about a skate park as it is about the motivation behind it.

By building the park, the community would have been sending a message of acceptance to a group of kids who are arguably already on the fringe. Now, not only has the community not accomplished anything (at the end of the day, those kids are going to skate regardless, be it in a designated park or on the steps of the local high school), it has put another wedge between itself and that particular section of society.

In the future, I hope that Bountiful City can recognize its mistake and make an effort to set things right-no matter if it’s building another skate park or just extending some charity to the next group that comes along. I hope the rest of us can learn from its example and avoid its mistake all together.

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