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Some Utah lawmakers should quit, George Pyle wrote. And one actually did

Meanwhile, more about why police shoot us because they think we are dangerous.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Steve Christiansen, R-South Jordan and Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding push for a forensic audit of the 2020 election during Wednesday's Judiciary Interim Committee's meeting on election integrity, to "hear presentations on perspectives regarding election integrity" according to the agenda.

A Tribune editorial published Oct. 22 was headlined:

Utah lawmakers who undermine faith in elections should resign their seats — The Salt Lake Tribune

A few days later:

Rep. Steve Christiansen suddenly resigns from the Legislature — Bryan Schott | The Salt Lake Tribune

... Just days after addressing a conspiracy-fueled conference in Salt Lake City, Rep. Steve Christiansen, R-West Jordan, suddenly resigned from the Utah Legislature. He announced the move in a letter to colleagues on Thursday night.

Christiansen said his resignation was motivated by increasing attacks on his wife and family from his critics. ...

Christiansen and state Rep. Phil Lyman were pushing the phony line that Utah needed a deep audit of the 2020 election, even though there is zero evidence that there was anything wrong with it. Legislative leaders — wisely, and at some political risk — quietly blew them off. The editorial argued that such efforts to undermine the core of Utah democracy were unforgivable and those who pursue them have no place in public office.

Who knew anyone would actually take our advice?

Except our editorial probably wasn’t the reason for Christiansen’s decision.

He said it was because members of his family were “attacked” — a term that could mean anything from a hard stare to an act of violence. That would indeed be a bad thing, out of bounds in any civilized society.

Christiansen offered no evidence or particulars. But in today’s vicious political climate, many boundaries have been crossed. For example, people picketed the private homes of then-Gov. Gary Herbert and then-state epidemiologist Angela Dunn. So what Christiansen said could well be true.

But then, here’s something that we know is true:

Exclusive: Utah lawmaker tried to obtain your personal info through voter registration rolls — Bryan Schott | The Salt Lake Tribune

... According to documents obtained by The Tribune through an open records request, Christiansen asked the Lieutenant Governor’s office for a copy of the entire Utah voter registration database for the 2020 election on Sept. 14. The request included personal information for each voter such as name, address, the date they registered to vote, birth year, political party, and email.

Christiansen also asked for the information for Utah voters who requested those records not be released publicly. ...

To her immense credit, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson turned him down cold.

Christiansen tried to use his position as an elected official to get your private information. He’s not talking about exactly why. But it clearly raises the prospect of sending hither swarms of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to come to your house and bully you into disclosing how you voted.

It’s a really good thing he’s out of office.

Meanwhile.

Last week I wrote this:

Appeals court tells Salt Lake City police they can assume we are all armed, so they can shoot us — George Pyle | The Salt Lake Tribune

... Reading between the lines of a federal appeals court ruling issued Tuesday, we see a reasoning that the United States is so full of guns that it makes sense for police officers encountering just about anybody to assume that person is packing. And when that is the premise underlying police actions, and judicial reviews of those actions, of course the police are expected to shoot first and ask questions later. If at all. ...

Sunday, The New York Times rolled this out:

Why Many Police Traffic Stops Turn DeadlyDavid D. Kirkpatrick, Steve Eder, Kim Barker and Julie Tate | The New York Times

... Over the past five years, a New York Times investigation found, police officers have killed more than 400 drivers or passengers who were not wielding a gun or a knife, or under pursuit for a violent crime — a rate of more than one a week. ...

... The recurrence of such cases and the rarity of convictions both follow from an overstatement, ingrained in court precedents and police culture, of the danger that vehicle stops pose to officers. Claiming a sense of mortal peril — whether genuine in the moment or only asserted later — has often shielded officers from accountability for using deadly force. ...

... In fact, because the police pull over so many cars and trucks — tens of millions each year — an officer’s chances of being killed at any vehicle stop are less than 1 in 3.6 million, excluding accidents, two studies have shown. At stops for common traffic infractions, the odds are as low as 1 in 6.5 million, according to a 2019 study by Jordan Blair Woods, a law professor at the University of Arkansas.

“The risk is statistically negligible, but nonetheless it is existentially amplified,” said [Sim] Gill, the Salt Lake County district attorney and an outspoken proponent of increased police accountability. ...

Bottom line: The cops are scared of us. In a society with so many armed people, they may have cause. But it is more often the innocent and the unarmed who don’t go home that night.

George Pyle, reading The New York Times at The Rose Establishment.

George Pyle, opinion editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, is contemplating an editorial advocating that everyone send him their leftover Halloween candy.

gpyle@sltrib.com

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