Moral Wimps | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Moral Wimps

Taking a Gander: State leaders hope people will do the "right" thing



We elect our governor, state senators and representatives for a reason. And one of those reasons is the responsible concern for the public good. And yet, when we need it most, we see a form of moral wimpery on display by our local leaders.

Despite the pleading of health providers, and during a week in which new daily cases averaged 664, Gov. Herbert sidestepped the issue of mandatory masking, choosing, instead, to ask everyone to help—not as a compulsory matter, he said—but out of social responsibility. His tack seems all too obvious—he hopes to avoid clashes with the red-neck element of Utah's population.

Out of what appears to be a misplaced loyalty to their national party, Herbert, along with Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson, have embraced a smug acceptance that people have rights, that personal prerogatives and freedoms trump the welfare and lives of everybody else, and have decided that they're not going to interfere. Their attitudes are a deplorable echo of national politics. Utahns, for good reason, have cause to worry about the future in a state where infection and positivity rates are soaring.

Is it really possible that Herbert and the two most prominent members of our state Legislature are so entrenched in Trump's failed Republican leadership that they would risk lives rather than take a rational stand over coronavirus precautions? I guess it's all part of the even-greater pandemic: the failure of reality in the highest places.

In the interest of supporting a dyed-red constituency, they, like their fearless POTUS, won't take the risk of making a moral stand. Adams, Wilson and Herbert find it surprisingly easy to wimp out when it comes to doing the right thing. Certainly, they have their reasons, and, while their necks grow longer and the sand gets deeper, they seem determined to offer a constitutional rationale for allowing every person to make the choice of whether to mask, or risk spreading the virus. "In Utah," Wilson is quoted as saying The Salt Lake Tribune, "we prefer to encourage people to do the right thing rather than issuing mandates and demanding compliance."

If that logic is to be revered, what's to be done about every other Utah law that imposes restrictions on the individual for the good of society? Examples of these perceived affronts to personal choice are everywhere in Utah's statutes, so why, at a time like this, should we be following the lead of a toxic-narcissist chief executive, who's proven he cannot be concerned with the lives of Americans?

Trump is willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives in order to make his point—which is, simply: "I don't give a damn about anyone else as long as I get another term." He's a man who would, without the slightest pang of conscience, throw anyone under a bus. What Herbert Adams, and Wilson need to remember is that this president has ignored science, the law, academia and rationality in order to maintain his own highly distorted delusions of magnificent grandeur.

Let's face it: Over the years, Utahns have accepted any number of laws in deference to public safety. If mask mandates are seen as government overreach, is it time to stop fastening our seatbelts, toss our child seats into the nearest trash bin, use our God-given prerogative to drive impaired if we choose, toss our anti-syphon valves to allow contaminated water to get into our municipal system or defecate on the sidewalks in public places. These laws are not about the rights of the individual; they were passed for the collective good that comes from having reasonable laws.

It's bad enough to have suffered almost four years of lies and reckless decisions from the White House. The reality is that those who follow the POTUS agenda are often expected to sacrifice their personal integrity. Trump employees, appointees and allies remain in favor only if they are willing to abdicate their moral, ethical and civic responsibility. Why, in a state where Jesus sits in the state capitol, are self-respecting Christians so willing to support a leader such a Trump, when a "spiritual" suicide is the ultimate requirement?

If Herbert, Adams and Wilson are so committed to mindless woolly flocking, even at the expense of everyone else's health and welfare, they certainly don't deserve the respect or support of our state. There are times when laws are needed for the protection of our populace, and this, of all times, is one of them.