There sure seems to be a lot of angst and hand-wringing lately over Utah’s image. The ruckus over .05 DUI level is the latest example.
Lots of people seem to be staying up nights worrying that outsiders will view Utah as an old-fashioned, backwater state where women wearing sunbonnets trail behind their men, where a tourist can’t get a drink, where political leaders are taking jackhammers to Delicate Arch, where an overbearing church dominates every facet of life, and where cops lurk to arrest you for DUI after one sip of wine.
Personally, I’m just fine with Utah’s image. And Utah will never be really grown up until we stop fretting about it. The sure sign of a secure image is when you stop agonizing over it.
I can find lots to dislike about New York City – and lots to love. But, guess what, New Yorkers could care less about what I think. They are comfortable in their own skin. New York is New York with all its liabilities and assets. I can take it or leave it.
But some delicate Utahns and media outlets are just embarrassed (or so they say) to think that some tourist or resident of another state might think that Utah is a little different. In reality, many of them are using the image pretext to push their personal liberal/libertarian agenda on the rest of the state.
I say, let Utah be Utah. If other folks don’t like Utah being Utah they’re free to avoid the state or move away if they can’t stand it.
And, anyway, the facts show the image “problem” is phoney baloney. Utah has the fastest population growth in the country and a terrific economy. Housing is in short supply and parks are overcrowded. Arches and Zion feature nature’s splendor – and hordes of people and traffic jams. Tourism is growing faster than ever. Development is eating up farm land.
So if you want to get high, go to Colorado. If you want to gamble or hook up with a legal hooker, go to Nevada. If you want skyscrapers, go to Chicago. But if you can handle a wholesome, safe, family-oriented place with a booming business climate, low taxes, efficient government, incredible arts and culture, gorgeous public lands and outdoor adventures, with plenty of diversity (Salt Lake City is one of the most liberal cities in the nation) – then come to Utah.
Or don’t. Suit yourself. I’m fine either way.
Utah certainly isn’t perfect. We have plenty of problems, as does every spot on earth. But I think we’re mature enough to be comfortable in our own skin. We’re Utah. We’re different. So be it.