Andrew McCullough's Blog

Friday, November 30, 2007

State Trooper; and the Blue Boutique

November 30, 2007

First, please read yesterday's blog, if you have not already done so, and do what you can to help. But things are moving so fast, I had to write again regarding new happenings.

Next, the Utah Highway Patrol issued its preliminary findings today regarding Trooper John Gardner and the now famous tasering incident in Vernal. As I predicted last week, they are standing by their own. I think they failed to really see what was in the video, and that is that their officer was near hysteria over nothing more than a bewildered motorist trying to figure out what was going on. The plaintive questiion issued just before the weapon was fired: "What's wrong with you?" has not been answered. And it is clear that UHP doesn't see much wrong at all. But, in a strange twist, they have stated that they will review their policies on the use of force. So, maybe they do see something wrong. For now, however, the officer is vindicated, and we are given the message to be a little more afraid of our police. That is not the message I was hoping to hear. Officers are encouraged to use the catch phrase "officer safety" in all difficult situations, even when, as in this incident, there was no "officer safety" issue. The bigger issue is that of public safety, and this incident did not do anything to increase that. The next time an officer asks, out of the blue, and with no legal authority: "Do you mind if I search your car?" a few more people are going to think that the alternative of standing up for their rights is not worth the trouble. And that is just sad. I would love to hear our present attorney general call for his own investigation into the agency that protects their own at the expense of the public; but it will not happen. So, once again, I urge my readers to do something to be heard.

Lastly, the news has been full of stories about the Sugerhouse landmark store, Blue Boutique, and its attempt to move a few blocks east, after their present building was slated to be torn down for new devolopment. Those who would censor anything they personally do not like are in fine form on this one. They want the Salt LakeCity ordinance defining Sexually Oriented Businesses (SOB's) to be amended so that they can prohibit a store which sells even a very small amount of "adult product" to be classified as an SOB and banned from much of the city. The City Attorney is looking at possible amendments, and it is possible that litigation may be coming. The legal difficulty comes from the theory of "secondary effects" which allows a city to push a business into "outer darkness" if that business is thought to increase crime or decrease property values in its neighborhood. Secondary effects, if they exist at all, have long been claimed to exist around businesses which cater mostly to "dirty old men" who nearby residents and business people do not want around them. This busies, however, is targeted much more at women, and has none of the qualities associated with such effects. This is censorship, and nothing more; and it is both wrong and unlawful. It needs to be resisted. So, Salt Lake residents, let your city officials know that they cannot spend yout tax money on this effort, and that they must preserve the city as a place which allows diversity and a little fun.


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