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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Editorials: Messages from the reality-based community to the Utah Legislature ...

Twice today, the Salt Lake Tribune Opinion page sends up a flare from the reality-based community, hoping to get the attention of the Utah Legislature.

No, we didn't expect it to work, either.

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- Disorderly conduct: Openly packing a gun in public - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

A priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar. They’re all packing six-guns on their hips, openly displayed, but they do nothing else to incite alarm. Are they guilty of disorderly conduct?

Under a bill that has passed the Utah House, they would not be. So long as the three armed clergymen did nothing that would cause a reasonable person to believe their firearms were carried unlawfully or with criminal intent, no police officer could cite them for disorderly conduct.

This bill begs the question whether openly carrying a gun in a public place is, by itself, disorderly conduct. We think it is, for the simple reason that it will cause fear, if not panic, among many people who see this behavior.

Why is that guy carrying a gun? What does he intend? I should call the cops. Those are the thoughts that will dart through the mind of most onlookers. Does it disturb the peace of these people? Absolutely.

Rep. Paul Ray, the sponsor of HB49, doesn’t see it that way. He lives in an alternate reality in which Utah police officers use the disorderly conduct statute to prevent law-abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional right to openly carry firearms. ...

- Common core: Standards help Utah kids compete - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

"Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd." — Bertrand Russell

It was bound to happen. After the State Board of Education voted last year to adopt the Common Core academic standards, some conservative Utahns and groups such as the really conservative Eagle Forum became suspicious. After all, the standards did not originally spring from Utah, specifically from Utahns like themselves.

They want Utah schoolchildren isolated from any outside influence. It’s the provincial fear of "otherness" that most often stems from ignorance. Apparently not understanding that adopting the Common Core standards dictates nothing related to political views or social agendas, the Legislature has made changes in several bills related to Common Core. Discussion during a late-night meeting of Republicans brought forth a recommendation that federal directives having to do with the Common Core would have to be approved by the Legislature. ...

... Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, said the legislative mandate to review any federal Common Core directives would keep Utah safe from "federal tentacles." If Ivory had done his homework on the subject, he would have known that states, not the federal government, formulated the standards in an effort to make sure that schools across the country are aiming for the same goals and to make comparisons more meaningful. ...

... Eagle Forum leader Gayle Ruzicka played to this irrational fear, saying that with a "national curriculum you run the risk of a federal takeover and end up with national standards." Utah schools already use classroom materials that originate out of state. They always have.

Utah is not threatened. Rather, Common Core will help children compete in the real world, not the imaginary one conjured by a common core of paranoid legislators.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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