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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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Don't hide books. But look out for trains ...

Above: A book trailer for "In Our Mothers' House." [I didn't know there was such a thing, either.]

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UPDATE: Anti-censorship group joins conversation about book limitation in Davis County - The Salt Lake Tribune

Controversy in the Davis School District over limiting student access to a book about a lesbian couple raising a family continued Thursday, when a national anti-censorship group asked school officials to reconsider a recent decision to place the picture book In Our Mothers House by Patricia Polacco behind the counter of elementary libraries.

Kids’ Right to Read Project, a joint effort of the New York-based National Coalition Against Censorship and American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, sent a letter to Superintendent Bryan Bowles.

The letter states that "parents who object to the book could easily supervise their children’s reading choices," but restricting access of others "diminishes the education value of the library whose primary role is to allow students to make choices according to their own interests, experiences, and family values."

- A fearful message: Davis library book decision legal? - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

The American Civil Liberties Union has raised a new issue in the Davis School District controversy over the district’s decision to banish behind the counter a book about a family with two mothers.

As well as promoting intolerance and bigotry among children, which it certainly does, hiding the book out of children’s sight may also be unconstitutional.

In a letter to the district superintendent, the Utah ACLU affiliate points out that "Federal courts have consistently concluded that the First Amendment protects student access to books in their school libraries, free from limits based on the administration’s disagreement with the viewpoints expressed in the books." Access to books portraying gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters has been protected.

That’s a relevant point and one that district officials should consider seriously. The ACLU is careful what cases it takes to court. The letter is clear that the Utah group believes the district position is on shaky constitutional ground, although it says nothing explicit about legal action. ...

... Families headed by same-sex couples are becoming more common. Librarians who have opposed removing this book from library shelves say there are children in their schools whose parents are both either women or men.They are right that those children should feel welcome in the district. But more than that, this public show of intolerance sends a dangerous message to other children that discrimination, especially bullying of gay children or those with same-sex parents, is justified.

After all, they would only be following the adults’ example.

- Courts evolve on same-sex marriage - Washington Post Editorial

- A watershed moment for same-sex marriage - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial

- Apple Adds Gay and Lesbian Couple Icons to iOS 6 - Gizmodo

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- FrontRunner south: Train ties Salt Lake, Utah counties - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

It’s not quite the driving of the golden spike, but the completion of the new FrontRunner line from Salt Lake City to Provo is a big deal. When it opens in December, it will unite Utah’s two most populous counties with commuter rail service, offering an alternative to freeway travel.

That’s a great thing, but it comes with a note of caution. The Utah Transit Authority announced the completion of the 45-mile line this week and began six months of test runs on it. That means empty passenger trains will be barreling down the tracks at nearly 80 miles per hour in some segments. In the past, the opening of new FrontRunner heavy rail and TRAX light rail lines has caused a chain of deadly accidents as walkers and drivers unaccustomed to the hazards of trains have put themselves literally in harm’s way. Utahns should take extra precautions along the new line’s route. ...

- We all win as bike commuting grows - Minneapolis (Minn.) Star-Tribune Editorial

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