Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A NEW LOW

Avid readers of this blog will remember that I recently celebrated the return of good sense to the city of Provo in conjunction with their efforts to curb (no pun intended) the predatory towing that has now been lamented by BYU students for several consecutive decades. I applaud Mayor Curtis and the Provo Municipal Council for their efforts in this unglamorous but very, very necessary endeavor, and I hope it is indicative of a change in the Silurian mindset that plagues so much of Provo’s politics.

Then I read the Daily Herald this morning, and I utterly lost my faith in humanity.

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/opinion/utah-valley/question-for-brt-what-is-the-fundamental-unit-of-society/article_239f8df1-eae8-544d-88cc-76e25dafe8cd.html

You see, I didn’t realize until now that I, an active, devout Mormon, was complicit in the demise of the traditional family. To wit:

“And yet the family is under attack right here in Provo . . . the Wasatch Neighborhood (aka “The Tree Streets”) has been under relentless pressure . . .”
- Because the Wasatch Neighborhood is the only neighborhood in Provo with families. Good families, anyway.
- . . . bus, and that starts with B! B, and that rhymes with T, and that stands for Trouble! Right here in Provo! ***townspeople gasping***

“. . . allowing dozens of family homes to convert into duplexes, apartments, even 6-plexes that are now filled with single students.”
- 6-plexes! You poor dear.
- Single BYU students, who are clearly in the business of corrupting your children.
- Wasn’t there this one time when some apartments got built on the east side of 9th East—for MARRIED students? Wasn’t that apartment complex exclusively created for the righteous peopling of the earth?

“Parents and children have been in decline ever since.”
- Are the children born at Wymount Terrace not fit to play with yours?

“Lately the single most important, most expensive, and most controversial issue Provo City has ever faced and will ever face . . .”
- Sorry; you don’t get to say “lately” and “has ever faced or will ever face” in the same sentence, talking about the same thing. I like to think that you know that but forgot because you composed this article in haste, rather than assume that you are completely lacking in logical reasoning capacity.
- You are entitled to your opinion that this is the most controversial issue Provo has ever faced, but you might want to reserve your judgment about the future—last days and all, you know.

“. . .directly in front of Wasatch Elementary School . . .”
- As opposed to Provost School, Timpanogos Elementary School, and Sharon Elementary School, just to name a few in the Provo-Orem area, where we send the expendable children.

“. . . and the 750 traditional families who live east of 9th East."
- Actually, the bus won’t go directly in front of all the homes east of 9th East, as it’s not proposed to go down every single street in the Tree Streets. Use your head.
- Are you counting all the families living east of 9th East? Or just the traditional ones? Make sure you haven’t accidentally included any homes with single parents, any grandparents who live with their child’s family, or, heaven forbid, any parents who have allowed their married children to live downstairs for a year while they get back on their feet.
- What about the people who live east of 9th East but south of your neighborhood? Did you count them as well? Oh, wait; I forgot for a moment that the bus already makes stops on that portion of 9th East. They must be lesser people not included in your thorough analysis.

“The Tree Street homes in Wasatch and Oak Hills have a long legacy of raising families with many children.”
- As was aptly pointed out in the online comments today, homes don’t raise children. People do.

“This neighborhood has always been a desirable destination for hundreds of BYU employees to raise their children within walking/cycling distance to work.”
- You would rather bike on 9th East than take transit? Clearly you have an underappreciation of air conditioning and an overappreciation of exhaust.

“Half of this money comes from local taxes and the other half comes from the Federal Government.”
- As opposed to roads, which are built by kindly elves at no charge, and parks, which were covered in green, green grass even before Brigham Young sent the pioneers over the Point of the Mountain.

“Generally speaking public transportation is made viable by ‘individual’ ridership … [sic] people like students, commuters, etc.”
- So commuters don't belong to families?  All fathers work from home?  Boy, did I miss that memo.

“After all, it seems illogical that UTA would be building a ‘rapid’ transportation system for moving parents and their children to/from soccer games, birthday parties, and family date nights.”
- Illogical? To you, maybe . . .
- Clearly you have never visited Temple Square on TRAX during the Christmas season. You can’t move without stepping on a child. Families, families, families, as far as the eye can see.

“It is equally inconceivable that a mom would hop onto a ‘rapid bus’ to go grocery shopping at Costco with her 4 children in tow, and return home with all her loot and children via the bus or train . . .”
- Inconceivable? To you, maybe . . .
- If you are consistently shopping at Costco with your 4 children in tow, you should probably reorganize your life. Where is the father in this traditional family that can’t supervise the children for a few hours on a Saturday so that mommy can do all her shopping?
- If you live in Provo and you’re getting on the train to get home from Costco, you went to the wrong Costco. Think, man.

“. . . or a dad to take his wife and five children out to eat at a family restaurant via ‘rapid transit.’”
- Why couldn’t you visit a restaurant on public transportation? I once went to a restaurant with my sister, father, grandmother, and grandfather in Ogden. We got there by train. No injuries were sustained, and no serious sins were committed.
- I suppose you think you’re terribly clever putting “rapid” and “rapid transit” in quotes like that. I hereby sentence you to drive to and from every session of the next LDS General Conference—your penance will be to count the number of TRAX trains that go past you while you sit in traffic for over an hour after each session. Then, and only then, can you put “rapid transit” in quotes.

“. . . it is not uncommon to observe empty bus after empty bus along the streets of Provo . . .”
- What? You sat on the street corner and watched? Don’t be ridiculous. (I have.)
- This sentence betrays your true reason for writing this letter: you think the bus is beneath you. The bus is unclean. Its denizens are the scum of the earth. They are freeloaders who can’t man up and drive themselves around. You are better than them. It has never, ever occurred to you that you may someday be rendered unable to drive; that there are many productive members of society whose mobility is impaired because they can’t drive a motor vehicle at ridiculous speeds through ever-more-complicated intersections and interchanges. I hope that when that day comes for you there is good enough alternative transportation that you can meet your own needs. That, or I hope you enjoy waiting around for people to give you rides.

“. . . if BRT is forced up 9th East . . .”
- Or voted . . .

“On the contrary, authorities from BYU, UTA, and the mayor’s office have often ignored the pleadings of these deeply-rooted families . . .”
- BYU has hardly been a supporter of public transportation the last few years. They are probably more your ally than you realize; you might know that if you had researched the issue better.
- BYU is also owned by the Church you invoked at the beginning of this diatribe—a church that subsidizes bus passes for many of its employees, contributed significant funds to have a TRAX station next to Temple Square, and recently financed the building of a major retail center literally on top of another TRAX station.
- Does that mean that the Church is contributing to the demise of the traditional family? Fortunately, it does not. Unfortunately for you, that means you are incorrect.

“ . . . the need to ‘swiftly’ take advantage of a federal hand-out.”
- Who on earth are you quoting? Yourself? Who has ever said this was being done “swiftly?” Nobody that I’ve heard.
- Again, if you knew anything about this project, you would know that it has been in development for more than 10 years. MAG is about to cut half the funding for the project because they have been waiting for so long. You can say many things about this project, but “swift” is definitely not one of them.

“So the question again is this: ‘Are families the fundamental unit of society in Provo City?”
- That was not, in fact, the question you asked at the beginning.

“’What impression do we give the thousands of students, athletes and missionaries, who ‘come here to learn and go forth to serve?’”
- According to your earlier remarks, the impression we are giving the students is “We don’t want you in our neighborhood.” Congratulations.
- What impression are we giving the missionaries? They don’t really see much of Provo outside of the MTC. I really doubt that their MTC experience will be much damaged by buses running down 9th East; the 832 or 833 has run past the MTC all day since 2000 and I’ve never heard a single RM complain about it.
- Students and athletes are not the same people—interesting. Some of them did not come to BYU exclusively for your entertainment, you know. Some of them are also pursuing an education.

“Do they observe Provo City upholding the family, or not?”
- I was a BYU student for 8 years. I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now.

“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society. We commend to all a careful, thoughtful, and prayerful reading of this proclamation. The strength of any nation [I’m leaving out your addition] is rooted within the walls of its homes. We urge our people everywhere to strengthen their families in conformity with these time-honored values.”
- This is a lovely statement. It is one I support wholeheartedly. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Bus Rapid Transit. Your inclusion of it in this discussion is, I feel, a disservice to the Church we both belong to.

“Society owes their greatest support to parents who raise children, above all else.”
- Above all else. Except mode of transportation, of course.

This editorial was clearly quickly cobbled together by someone with little foreknowledge of the situation. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I had spent more time on this rebuttal than was spent on the original missive. But I did it, so that everyone can understand that just because someone reactionary sits down and writes an op-ed piece, it doesn’t make it true.

I don’t know how the vote will turn out tonight. Whether or not 9th East is approved, I will probably sleep in peace. But if 9th East gets rejected, I would ask only that the author of this piece and others of like mind take the time to go outside after every BYU game, survey the cars stuck in traffic in both directions as far as the eye can see, take a deep breath of the exhaust that fills the air, and say with pride:

"I did this. For my children."

And if you can say that honestly, peace be with you.

15 comments:

  1. I think I love you. Marry me?

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    1. Sadly, BUSNINJA is already married with children. I, however, am still single. ;)

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    2. Lol, yes, sorry; I am taken! But thank you so much for your support!

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  2. Fantastic rebuttal. Thank you.

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  3. So perfect. So, so perfect. I'm not a Provo resident, but I'm the wife of a commuter who rides Frontrunner daily (and a mom of five who rode trax often during my undergrad at the U...while being a mom of five). His editorial made my brain hurt. That can be fun sometimes...like when you laugh so hard you get an exertion headache, but this wasn't one of those times. Thanks for the point by point takedown.

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    1. I admit that I was flabbergasted that he thought families couldn't go somewhere on the bus or train--or that someone would have to be single to use the bus to commute! Absolutely flabbergasted. I just couldn't let it go uncontested. Thanks for reading!

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  4. This is so incredibly well written. I think you should submit it somewhere!!

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    1. It is slowly making the rounds on social media--which is more than my posts usually do :) I haven't decided if I want to actually send it to people, but I'm thinking about it.

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    2. Well, Jeff Speck tweeted it to his almost six thousand followers, so it's going to get a lot of reads! :) Hopefully people will realize that not everyone in Utah is as misinformed as the guy who wrote the op-ed.

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  5. Thanks BUSNINJA! I love it when you tell it like is! Keep being hopeful!

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    1. Thanks as always for your support! I'm afraid I am quite irrepressible when it comes to transit, even in Provo. This is a setback; it is not the end . . .

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  6. BusNinja - I guess he would be devastated to know that the MTC is sending missionaries on FrontRunner and Trax to the Airport every week to serve all over the world. BTW when I was a missionary in Chile I rode the bus to some investigators house, they were baptized and they went on missions also. Please do not tell the City of Provo they may never let me go to another BYU game again. Oh yeah! my children ride on FrontRunner to the games with me!

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    1. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me . . . just try not to look too smug as you waltz past freeway traffic on the train, and no one will be the wiser.

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  7. This coming from the husband of a well known mormon blogger/book author. He is so out of touch with reality for his age it's sad it must have been nice for him to grow up extremely wealthy and priviledged to not have to take awful public transportation.

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