Buttars crossed the line

By By Aaron Zundel

By Aaron Zundel

Political correctness is a plague, a diseased type of thought-control wielded by those who are either too insecure to own up to their own attitudes and stereotypes or who wish to maintain intellectual control over an issue. Although being PC is a roadblock to the free exchange of ideas, being respectful certainly isn’t.

Take, for instance, Utah Sen. Chris Buttars, who has a long track record of making statements that are inflammatory, childish and just plain nasty. Buttars spewed some of his slimiest rhetoric yet during a recent interview with documentary filmmaker Reed Cowan, comparing homosexuals to radical Muslims.

“They’re mean,” Buttars said. “They want to talk about being nice. They’re the meanest buggers I have ever seen. It’s just like the Muslims. Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side.”

Never one to play nice with the other kiddies, Buttars couldn’t help but add that “the radical gay movement” is “the biggest threat to America going down that I know of.”

Wow. Biggest threat to America? Really?

Aside from his shockingly poor grammar, Buttars’ points aren’t even rational. How does one possibly draw a parallel between homosexual orientation and “America going down” without a few leaps of logic8212;or some very strong innuendo?

However, I believe that what Buttars meant to say, minus all the nastiness, was not all that offensive, just unpopular. If I understand him right, Buttars is asserting that certain sections of the gay community, especially locally, are known to be unreasonable and spiteful and to act morally superior to anyone with whom they do not share ideology8212;a sentiment I agree with, by the way8212;and that these sections are a danger to the community and our American way of life8212;a sentiment I do not agree with.

Such sentiments have a right to take a seat at the table of ideas and, regardless of whose feelings might be hurt in the exchange, receive a fair discussion without charges of political correctness hobbling the debate. But for Buttars to use the language he did and to compare a small, obstinately vocal subgroup to the murderous, self-detonating terrorists of al-Qaida and the Taliban is not only unfair and extreme, it’s dumb and unconstructive.

When anyone slathers Buttars’ brand of rhetorical garbage on a discussion, real progress and exchange come to a halt, and the parties involved have to step back and start untangling what is important to the issue from what is simply meant to hurt and incite. Political discussions (and even our political positions) ought to be used to further the advancement of our society, not sling barbs at those we don’t like on a personal level.

As this year’s legislative session continues, we should encourage everyone (including Buttars) who opposes any legislation to speak their mind freely and voice their opposition to the issues without fear of being called on a political correctness foul. However, those who voice their opinions have a responsibility to stick to the issues and refrain from dragging the debate down into the mud.

Students would do well to learn from Buttars. By all means, say what you want. State your position in no uncertain terms. People will respect you for it8212;and if they don’t, they’re not worth talking to. But do it in a way that allows for emotional space, and lets the other side know that your feelings toward an issue do not necessarily correlate with your feelings toward them. Who knows, they might even listen to you.

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Aaron Zundel