Listen up, Davis schools and Sen. Hatch: Courage is about doing what's right

Jun 4 2012 - 6:23pm


I note with dismay that the Davis School District removed a book about gay parenting -- "In Our Mothers' House," by Patricia Polacco -- from its elementary school library shelves after a group of parents complained.

It is not "banned." A student who presents a signed permission slip from home can still read the book.

One wonders if that student will have to wear a sign warning kids without permission slips to stay away. Or perhaps the student will have to read it at the counter, with a guard to keep others away.

What an amazing image for a library, where ideas ought to be free for all.

More troubling is that, in addition to hiding this book, the district asked its librarians to report other books that contain gay themes. The district obviously hopes to head off any other complaints.

DaNae Leu, librarian at Snow Horse Elementary in Kaysville, was brave enough to tell news media that the request for other titles made her feel "like Joe McCarthy is asking me to name names," a reference to the Wisconsin senator who led the 1950s witch hunts for communists that were also based on ignorance and fear.

School district spokesman Chris Williams said the district is just following the law that forbids curriculum advocating homosexuality.

But this book is not advocating anything. It's just reflecting reality.

You don't choose to be gay any more than you choose to be heterosexual, or black, or to have blue eyes. Even the military has figured this out.

The Davis district could have stood up and explained this to the parents who complained, but chose instead to knuckle under to fear.

And speaking of failed leadership:

I talked with Sen. Orrin Hatch at Thursday's rocket motor test about ATK jobs, and as we parted he said "Thanks, Charlie. I'm not as bad as you think."

He was walking fast, so I couldn't get him to clarify. I assume he was referring to my past columns criticizing his policies.

Sen. Hatch, I know you are a nice guy. Being nice has nothing to do with it.

I want you to show leadership in the face of fear. As we see in Davis County, there's too much fear driving decisions around here.

Good example: You just issued a news release saying you are offended that the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional.

DOMA is a federal law to discourage homosexuals from marrying. Despite it, eight states have legalized gay marriage.

The court's unanimous decision defends those states' laws in the face of obvious federal intervention. Two of the three judges who ruled on the case are Republican appointees.

Instead of praising the court's defense of states' rights, you saw that they were failing to condemn gay marriage.

"This is precisely the kind of legal decision that happens when judges substitute their personal views for the law," you grumbled. You called the ruling "lawless decision-making and an abuse of judicial power."

The Supreme Court is deciding the constitutionality of so-called "Obamacare," and betting is heavy that the personal views of those justices -- 5 to 4, conservative to liberal -- will determine the case.

I bet if they overturn you won't say their personal views make the decision "lawless." You hate Obamacare's individual mandate -- originally a Republican proposal -- so you'll praise their legal and constitutional wisdom.

Of course, you supported the individual mandate during the Clinton Administration. You changed your mind because you weren't brave enough to stand up to your party's extremists.

True, Utah's political convention system means those extremists posed a threat to your re-election.

But isn't standing up for what's right, whether it be gay rights or good health care, what we call courage?

The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232, or He also blogs at

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