Thursday, February 19, 2009

Senate Colleagues And West Jordan Constituents Weigh In On Utah State Senator Chris Buttars; He May Lose Judiciary Committee Chairmanship

The controversy involving Utah's District 10 Senator Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan), initially described in my previous post, continued to ferment on February 19th, 2009, but the focus began to shift away from his "insensitivity" towards gays to his personal integrity. Many now believe Senator Buttars lied when he claimed he was entitled to exercise approval over use of his input to the documentary being produced by former KTVX reporter Reed Cowan before its public release.

In his response posted on the SenateSite blog, Buttars stated in part, "He [Cowan] told me the interview would be public in about a year and I would be allowed to see his work and approve my part before he released it". However, a copy of the release signed by Buttars, which is posted on Eric Ethington's blog, shows that Buttars did not receive such assurance in writing as a precondition. This was also reported by KSTU Channel 13 on February 18th.

Consequently, a lot of people who are anti-Buttars are over-reacting and automatically assuming that Senator Buttars deliberately lied, when that is a value judgment not yet objectively substantiated. Since none of us witnessed the entire encounter between Buttars and Cowan, it is quite possible that, during casual conversation, Reed Cowan may have said something offhand which was interpreted by Buttars to mean that he would have approval power. It could well be an honest mixup in communication.

But a comment posted on the KTVX Channel 4 website casts some aspersions upon Reed Cowan's intent and integrity as well:

Kimberly4211 8:09 PM
Let me be first to point out the obvious. The comments made by Senator Chris Buttars were in a documentary. He was asked for his opinion by Reed Cowan who already knew where Buttars stood on these issues. He is a conservative republican senator who stands for family values and traditional marriage. If he didn't want his opinion then why did he ask for it? Secondly, Reed Cowan use to work for Abc4news [KTVX] and gave the"story" to Chris Vanocur. Thus creating controversy thus creating publicity for Reed Cowan's documentary. A responsible journalist would have pointed out the facts. This is not responsible journalism. It sounds like Chris Buttars was set up.

Meanwhile, not only did KTVX briefly talk to Buttars, but they also sent a reporter to West Jordan to take constituents' political pulse. But while they found a considerable number of people who defended Buttars' position, if not necessarily his syntax, a greater number disapproved of Buttars attitude. Comments also continue to flood the KTVX website. KTVX video embedded below:

Also watch a KSL Channel 5 news video which is similar in content.

And finally, Senator Buttars' legislative colleagues started damage control operations. They huddled today to determine how best to handle this issue, and when they emerged, Senate President Mike Waddoups indicated he'd reached a decision and would announce it on during a 9:30 A.M. (MST) press conference on February 20th. Prospective sanctions against Senator Buttars could range from a mere reprimand to the loss of committee assignments; the Salt Lake Tribune strongly believes that Buttars will lose his Judiciary Committee chairmanship. Ironically, the Judiciary Committee initially hears all gay rights bills.

Update February 20th: Senate President Mike Waddoups announced Buttars' removal from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

An additional valuable reference is the ChinoBlanco blog, where the editor has gathered all significant news videos associated with this story under one roof. Good initiative!

Analysis: I continue to support Chris Buttars' unswerving defense of traditional cultural values and his determination to confront the ever-growing promotion and state-sponsored protection of the homosexual lifestyle. Senator Buttars' absolute refusal to grovel to the forces of political correctness is positively inspiring during an era when everything and everybody seems for sale. Compare Senator Buttars' rock-solid consistency with Governor Jon Huntsman's serpentine opportunism (the way he threw Jackie Biskupski under the bus) or John McCain's troglodytic insipidity.

However, after two major political brouhahas in two years, I must reluctantly concede that it's time for Senator Buttars to re-visit his style of discourse. The weight of one's words when in elective office is greater than as a private citizen. I seriously have to wonder how a gay resident of District 10 would feel about approaching Senator Buttars with a problem knowing that the Senator used terms like "pig sex" and "smearing of feces" in association with homosexuality. It's one thing to suggest that homosexuality may be a gateway to other sexual deviancy; it's another thing altogether to use such imprecise terminology as to suggest that all gays are perverts. The Salt Lake Gay Pride Parade in 2008 bore absolutely NO RESEMBLANCE to San Francisco's infamous Folsom Street Fair.

I suggest that Senator Buttars can perform his mission more effectively and avoid marginalization by using the English language more fully and precisely in order to better say what he really means. Words have consequences.


Chino Blanco said...

Thank you for the link. It's reassuring evidence that we can disagree vehemently about politics without sacrificing mutual respect for the efforts made to defend our respective positions.

That said, not to pour salt in an open wound, but it seems we nearly agree that defending Buttars is a hopeless cause at this point.

If Senator Buttars does not resign, we can expect a repeat of this drama when the complete documentary footage becomes available for distribution.

Or maybe somebody forgot to let Chris know, when he was auditioning for his part, that it was for the role of former Utah state senator?

In any case, if the film is anything as exciting as the preview, it's gonna be a blockbuster.

All sarcasm aside, seriously, how is it going to make Utah look when the rest of the country gets a reminder a few months from now that Buttars is still a Utah state senator? And when that reminder comes, it's not going to be just a few minutes of YouTube or audio, it's gonna be the whole enchilada ... and it's gonna make the rest of the country sick to their stomachs to think Utah did nothing about it the first time around.

Chris needs to think about putting Utah's interests before his own at this point. Otherwise, it's going to be a very long summer.

Eric Ethington said...

Thanks for the link!
I disagree that Buttars was setup though. Of course Mr. Cowan was there to hear his thoughts, but I don't think anyone (including Mr. Cowan) could have expected the hateful lies that Mr. Buttars told. An honorable thing for the Senator to do after the story broke would be to have simply apologized. He didn't need to reclaim his thoughts, just apologize for any insult they may have given. But instead, he chose to go on the defensive and make claims against Reed Cowan that were imaginary, and disproved through video, the copy of his release, as well as at least 2 eye-witnesses who were in the room.

P.S. Since that first post, it has been update to show a lie the Senator told during the documentary regarding the Canadian Boy Scouts being blacklisted for allowing gay scout leaders. I received an exclusive email from the Director of that program saying that Senator Buttars was once again, lying to his constituents.

Deseret Dawg said...

Chino Blanco - you provided a valuable service for consolidating all those videos in one place, so I was glad to let my readers know about it.

Of course, Utah's real interests may be debatable. Many people live in Utah because of the way it is now. They prefer the distinct culture and lifestyle that exists there. So to pressure them into, let's say, catching up with the rest of the country will not be in their best interests unless it can be shown that they will benefit. And when you compare Utah's crime statistics with those of more diverse areas, I'm not sure how you could successfully make such a case.

I suggest real diversity should present a mosaic appearance rather than a kaleidoscopic appearance. Utah's option to be different should be just as valid as New York or California.

Deseret Dawg said...

Eric - you provided additional information that I considered important to my readers, so I was glad to link to you.

Although I am a pro-Buttars partisan, I want my readers to be at least exposed to contrasting viewpoints.