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Freedom Fries, Hate Crimes and Lesbian Japanese Monkeys

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Loads of people with living grandparents remember the tales of how patriotic Americans, turning their noses on all things German during WWII, dubbed sauerkraut and hamburger “liberty cabbage” and “liberty steak.” Now it’s time—one, two, three everyone—to turn up our noses to all things French, given France’s spoiler role regarding the invasion of Iraq. And nothing is more sacred than American fast food. Cubbie’s, a humble little eatery in Beaufort, N.C. now sells only “Freedom Fries” on the menu. French fries are for traitors. Expect quick transitions to “Freedom toast” and “Freedom bread.” French teachers? Watch your backs.

• The LDS Church has no interest in politics. The LDS Church takes no political positions—liquor and gay marriage excepted—and the LDS Church leadership actually wishes the state grew more Democrats out of its Republican-rich soil. All familiar refrains, right? So what’s the big deal, then, when church lobbyist Bill Evans gets on the horn to tell legislative big wigs the church will not oppose the umpteenth attempt to modify Utah’s Hate Crimes bill, which could finally offer some protections to gay men and lesbians? The big deal is that, despite all the church’s rhetoric to the contrary, its voice still controls the volume knob. Why else, then, would the Deseret News itself make the church’s pronouncement a story? Because, on some level, it’s politics as usual. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, called it a “validation.” Others called it everything from “significant” to “a major development.” Only Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka isn’t happy. Perhaps Evans will find the time to give her a phone call.

• The religious right has always looked for ways to skewer Charles Darwin. They may finally have found an in, although not quite the one they might have hoped for. According to a Canadian study of Japanese macaques in their natural habitat, there’s a lot of swinging going on. In fact, even with an abundance of male partners, some female monkeys will choose their own sex. This runs contrary to the Darwinian tenet that female primates choose male mates only for the worth of their genetic material. A kink(y) in evolution, then, but no one has a clue about how to work it into those funky “Darwin Fish” car stencils.

• Does the Legislature still need ideas for education reform? Right, then. According to The Daily Telegraph in Britain, the quickest way to fight hooky is a penalty: Fine parents who dare to take their kids on vacation during the school term.

• Middle East martyrs usually fall under the Western category of religious fanatics and other nuts. But in Iran, there’s now evidence that suicide protests aren’t the sole domain of Hamas or Hezbollah. You’re perfectly within your rights to kill yourself for progressive reasons, as well. And all the better, when you’re not killing anyone but yourself. Never mind Western-style bra burnings. In the southern city of Shiraz, five young Iranian women lit fire to themselves in protest of their families, who wouldn’t let them outside the house to work.

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