Niedrich: Bigoted Buttars’ big baby boo-boo

By Anastasia Niedrich

Because of recent events, you might think Utah’s Legislature has unfortunately found itself in the middle of another episode of the soap opera “As the Bigot Speaks.”

During a Senate floor debate Feb. 12, Sen. Chris Buttars made a comment that other legislators, the NAACP and the multitude of other people who have heard about it have found offensive, bigoted and racist. Analogizing his dislike of a proposed bill to a baby, Buttars, R-West Jordan, said, “This baby is black, I’ll tell ya. It’s a dark, ugly thing.”

To his credit, after Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, and others voiced that they were upset over Buttars’ comments and Senate leaders spoke with Buttars, he issued an apology. However, even that apology has been viewed as half-hearted — more of an “I’m sorry you were offended by what I said” than “I’m sorry I said something offensive in the first place.”

That’s not all. After issuing an apology, a private meeting was arranged between Buttars and the leaders of the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP, who called for Buttars’ resignation over the comment. Apparently, the NAACP changed the terms of the meeting and wanted it to become public, with news media and the public attending. Buttars was displeased with the change and decided not to attend at all.

It gets worse. Since making the “ugly baby” comment, Buttars has made other comments that the NAACP and others have found to be racist. He incorrectly used the term “lynch mob” and called black people “those people.”

This might all seem to be one big misunderstanding that led to other misunderstandings — if not for the fact that this isn’t Buttars’ first time making bigoted, racist remarks. In 2006, he called the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools “wrong to begin with” in an interview.

I’m not a black person. However, I was horrified when I learned about Buttars’ comments. I was upset by his incorrect and insensitive use of the term “lynch mob.” I was disappointed by what I perceived to be his half-hearted apology for what he said. What offends me most of all about Buttars is his bigoted mindset, evidenced by all of these statements and others, especially his use of the term “those people.”

What I find more offensive than almost any of this is that Buttars has been allowed to make bigoted, homophobic comments and take actions to deprive the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Utah of any and all rights possible for about seven years now, and no one has had much of an issue with his homophobic actions or statements. It was not until Buttars made racist remarks that we heard a lot about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely believe Buttars’ comments about the “ugly baby,” “lynch mobs” and “those people” were intentionally stated, racist, bigoted, offensive and wrong. I believe racism is wrong. What I’m saying is that I am hurt at the ironic inequity that is illustrated by this situation.

For seven years, Buttars’ constituents have elected and re-elected a man who I would wager has as much or more hate and judgment in his heart than most KKK members. They have essentially said, “It’s OK, bash the queers all you want,” until now. But now that he’s made racist remarks, they’re up in arms, ready to possibly throw him out of office.

What is wrong with our world? How can one type of hate or judgment be “OK” and another so “wrong?” Hate is hate. Bigotry is bigotry. Added together, they equal inequality. Bigotry and hatred should not be tolerated in any form — against black people, gay people or anyone else.

Both in action and by his word, Buttars has personified bigotry for the last seven years he has been serving in the Utah State Legislature. If his anti-gay actions and hateful, gay-bashing remarks weren’t enough for his constituents to vote him out of office before, hopefully his recent comments are enough for them now. I am his former constituent, and these comments are more than enough reason for me to vote him out if I still could.

If you’re not a bigot, don’t elect one to represent you this November or in any other election. Elect people who represent your values. Utah prides itself on its family-friendly values. Last time I checked, bigotry and hatred weren’t family values.

Use your vote to see your values represented on Capitol Hill. If you are a bigot, you should start making your “Bigots for Buttars” bumper stickers soon to help with Buttars’ re-election campaign. If you’re not a bigot, don’t vote for him or anyone else who is a bigot to represent you. No “Buttars” about it.

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