Ah, Utah. As Bob Costas once called it, “The land of the blonde and the bland.” Utah used to be a place that went largely unnoticed by the rest of the world and chances are, unless you are a skier, a Mormon, or an Osmond (or some combination of all three), you probably never paid much attention to it yourself. Since Utah’s population has traditionally been a rather, shall we say, homogenous culture that focused on what are labeled derisively or otherwise as family values, politically charged events were not the norm for many years.
But times change and while Utah is not the most famous of states, it has seen its share of Left-versus-Right upheaval, especially in the recent past. In the wake of the death of George Floyd, there was rioting in Salt Lake City, and even in Provo, the home of the ever buttoned-up Brigham Young University, a place not known for activism.
The latest kerfuffle involving the Beehive State comes to us from Utah County, where a school bus driver for the Alpine School District has been terminated. The cause for dismissal was the driver’s decision to place posters and signs on much of interior of the bus. The material was right-wing and religious in nature and some people claimed that there were links to PragerU. Along with the decorations, the driver apparently channeled his inner Limbaugh from time to time and used the bus intercom to lecture students on his political ideas.
Those on the left were, of course, outraged, but before we start revving up our afterburners to complain about the censorship of free speech, please keep in mind that this is the same school district that fired a teacher for her in-class left-wing rants about conservatives, Trump, and the vaccine—and who threatened anyone who criticized LGBTQ people. So the district is applying the same criteria to both sides of the aisle, and cheers for doing so.
But it does bring up an interesting issue. It’s obvious that progressives hold the high ground when it comes to messaging. You don’t need me to tell you that they control the media and the web and in some instances the schools. And I am sure if I asked, every conservative reading this could name multiple cases in which the leftists propagandized or even lied and were either given a pass or support by their peers. So it may be tempting to look at this bus driver in Utah and say, “Go man, go!” But was his approach the right one? Some of the posters look a little puerile and heavy-handed, and this only gives ammo to progressives, who are all too eager to label anyone who is toeing the line du jour as a right-wing nutcase and enemy of the state.
Some people can troll and get away with it. Take Matt Walsh’s recent visit to the Loudoun County, Va., school board. You have to admit that the man pulled that off with flair and style from start to finish. But Matt Walsh is famous. You and I are not. He can, to a certain extent, get away with things we probably can’t. For some perspective, find the scene in Bull Durham where Crash Davis lectures Nuke LaLoosh about the fungus on his shower shoes and you’ll see what I am talking about.
So, I’m interested in your thoughts. Was the driver’s heart in the right place and his head somewhere else? Since the left goes low and gets away with it, should conservatives go low as well? Or should those on the right find their tweed jackets with the patches on the sleeves, pick up their meerschaums, and offer up thoughtful discourse? How much trolling is the right amount? How can the right, or even those in the center, surmount the left’s communication domination? With dignity and comportment? Or since judgment will already be passed by the legacy media and its cohorts no matter what the message may be or how it is conveyed, should conservatives simply pull out all the stops? I’ll be looking for your answers in the comments below.