ON Kilter: A place of our own, why can’t we be left alone?

Ellis Island

OPINION – “Where do we have to go to be left alone?” This was the earnest question a caller had Wednesday on the Perspectives Show with Bryan and Kate on on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM in Southern Utah, where I am a regular guest.

The issue at hand was the current battle over the legality of gay marriage in Utah.

While it is becoming apparent that the Supreme Court may be headed towards ruling once and for all on the constitutionality of state laws recognizing or denying such marriages, a good majority of Utahns seem to be saying they do not care what the courts say, they want autonomy in the matter based upon majority.

And while it seems futile to try to explain to those who feel this way that the very notion of such majority rule is contradictory to the tenets of individual liberty in this country, the caller did reveal something at the core of Utahns’ stake in this fight: The majority of Utahns want to be left alone to live as they please according to the tenets of their religion.

While they don’t mind if others move here, some only see such people as somewhat unpleasant guests who should buy their goods, pay their taxes, and otherwise be not seen or heard from.

Oh that it were this simple.

But I can relate.

I grew up in California and spent my summers on the beaches of Orange County in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. I often refer to it as the tail end of the golden years of the Southern California surfing generation.

We had a house on the beach where we left the doors unlocked and our surfboards on the porch. We didn’t even lock up our cars. Most of the people who lived on the strand, as the boardwalk along the beach was called, also played on it. They surfed or body surfed. They played beach volleyball. They rode bikes or skated the boardwalks.

And then “they” showed up.

Wealthy elitists moved in, they could afford to build big ugly boxes on the beach that blocked others’ views to the ocean in an effort to gain a pristine three-story view of their own. They needed this vantage point because these people, believe it or not, did not even set foot on the sand. Some of them not only could not surf, they could not even swim in a kiddy pool!

It was invasive.

But worst of all, these people did not like surfers or beach people in their line of sight. They thought our presence diminished the value of their property. And yet, we were there first.

This was a sad time in my estimation but to the real estate investor or the up and coming urban professional, it was a hay day. In shorter than decades’ time, money was made and remade on the sale and resale of these boxes. A new dawn had come.

And I said it. I said: “Why can’t these people stay inland and leave us alone? They are ruining everything.”

It was probably my first real-time lesson in the greatness and the tragedy of liberty.

You see, one man’s paradise is another man’s hell so to speak, but in this country, both men have equal rights under the law, right?

There may have been some bickering and a few legal bouts those of us from that oceanfront area can recall but what most stands out in my mind?

Dallas Hyland, Hawaii, circa 2001 | Photo courtesy of Dallas Hyland, St. George News
Dallas Hyland, surfer, Hawaii, circa 2001 | Photo courtesy of Dallas Hyland, St. George News | Click on photo to enlarge

We learned to get along. We realized that absent some radical form of dissent, we had to. We could no more tell the homeowners they did not belong on the beach because they did not “use” it right, than they could tell us we were ruining their aesthetic.

The battle for gay marriage not withstanding, the mentality of “like it or leave” here in Utah is prevalent and it is two things: unrealistic and un-American.

I do understand the caller’s plight. He said, in essence, he wanted to just be shown a place where he and his could live out their ways in peace and autonomy. It is a great desire that I agree with.

But to go where one can be left alone? That, my friends, for Utahns could only happen by secession from the Union. As long as we are diverse peoples living together in society, liberty demands decent regard for one another’s differences and respect for the system of law of the land, as it presents itself – albeit with some flux we may or may not favor.

I value the rights of others who see it differently than me more than I value my own personal desires. It’s not always easy, but I do.

And the thing is that when I do, I find more often than not I have a lot in common with those people I thought were ruining things for me; and I have usually grown from it. Heck, I even make friends.

Today, I live in Southern Utah but I store my boards and diving gear in the garage of a friend who owns one of those boxes with a view. And when I visit him, I gotta admit, I find checking the surf from his third story balcony pretty cool.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • Roberta Johannes January 12, 2014 at 9:24 am

    It would all be fine eventually, and we can all adapt, however, our churches and meetinghouses are being attacked as well and that is not okay. My meetinghouse is the one place I know I can go with my family and know it is safe from differing opinions contrary to the words of God. A place where my family can grow as a traditional family and believe as we wish. A place where we feel people are not trying to push their own ideas and agendas on our traditions and the words of God. I do not push my beliefs on others. I will share, but I do not push as I completely respect other’s beliefs. Please respect mine. That is all I could hope.

    • Tom January 12, 2014 at 10:20 am

      I agree Roberta, with most of these people it is all or nothing. They aren’t happy until everyone is forced to agree with them. Case in point, bakers or photographers who are sued for not catering to same-sex couples when running a private business. Any other client would just go to another photographer or baker, instead of taking them to court and force them to abandon their own belief system. Have your civil marriages, but leave the religious marriages alone (good luck, I bet lawsuits will start flying in no time).

    • Nonbeliever January 12, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Roberta I have searched high and low for these “attacks” on churches and meeting houses.
      I found nothing.
      But I will credit you for inciting more fear and distrust based on pure ignorance.
      I can assure you that no one wants to use a building that perpetuates hatred, fear and oppression for their marriages or functions.
      You and others seem certain that gay rights are being pushed on you.
      How so? Phone calls? Letters? Gay missionaries knocking on your door? Recruiters?
      You can happily go on with your own life believing whatever you want. No is asking you to change your beliefs or religious values. You won’t be asked to share your home, bread or even your time.
      In fact you can put one of those hateful marriage signs on your front lawn. That way you can be sure your home will be given wide berth.

    • JJ January 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      How do you define the difference between “sharing” and “pushing” your beliefs? Have you done some introspection to really answer if you’re not pushing your beliefs on others? Have you given some thought to whether people who believe differently really are “pushing” their beliefs onto you instead of sharing? For example, in Utah it is illegal for a car dealership to be open on Sunday. This is not based on any rational reason, merely a particular religious belief. Isn’t that the most egregious case of pushing beliefs onto others? Also, virtually every church in existence has implemented the rallying cry of “we’re under attack” and “everyone’s out to get us” since they have been in existence. Then, because you then have that bias, it’s confirmed in the things you see and you believe that you really are under attack, even though it’s a psychological trick. It’s time to recognize that they say that to keep you invested in them, not because it’s actually true.

  • mark boggs January 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

    The real irony is that, for many Utahns, they’re part of a group that was harassed, threatened, beaten, murdered, persecuted, prosecuted, you name it, all the way from the east coast to Utah because of the religion they practiced. You’d think they’d have a bit of perspective on being the aggrieved minority. And how being able to vote on the rights of others might eventually see you having your rights voted on by others.

    • Mr. Doug January 12, 2014 at 11:46 am

      “And how being able to vote on the rights of others might eventually see you having your rights voted on by others”. Very well stated. I think the LGBT community in southern Utah would probably like to be left alone to live their lives equally in peace and tranquility also.

  • Jason January 12, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Unrealistic and unamerica?

    Well, thank you for your service!

  • Ben January 12, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Pretty good article, one difference I have noticed with Utah though is that unlike the ocean beach box owners, people move here not even liking Utah and then try to change it. I am sure the box dwellers at least liked the view of the ocean so that is why they moved there. I have heard time and again people complain about Utah’s ways, or how put-out they are to have to drive to the liquor store for their booze, and my thoughts are, if you hate it so bad and if it means so much to you, why did you move here, or why do you stay here? The rest of us like those things. Why come here in the first place if you hate it?? I’m not referring to same-sex marriage with this comment, more or less the culture of Utah or liquor laws that have been on the books for decades. Why move here if you hate it? Those are reasons why I choose to live here! I didn’t move to California to constantly complain about their culture or liquor laws!

  • Amy January 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I was born and raised in Southern Utah and I think its absurd to believe it is only those from elsewhere who are trying to change what is happening in Utah. Generations have different priorities and see things they didn’t like or agree with and work to change them. Utah is a beautiful state and now others know that, the freedom to move is a great thing and when the Utah economy is stronger than most states its hard to keep people out.

  • Ron January 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    “Why can’t we be left alone?” I don’t see how legalizing gay marriage equates to not leaving “us” (heterosexuals) alone. Whether gays are allowed to marry or not has no impact on my life whatsoever. In fact, I don’t see how it can have an impact on anyone’s life outside the LGBT community. So I say let’s leave them alone and let them have the same rights the rest of us have.

    And Roberta, I’m curious as to how your churches and meetinghouses are being attacked. Are you being forced to perform marriages for gays? I doubt it. Is there dissent within your church? Perhaps that’s a healthy sign.

    • Mike January 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      There are a lot of laws in place that have no affect on you. What about legalizing prostitution? Just because it doesn’t affect you does not make it right. I agree with most people in Utah. It is fine the way it is without people trying to change laws to fit their lifestyle. If you don’t like them, there are many liberal states that would be glad to have you.

      • Tracie January 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

        It’s fine the way it is as long as you aren’t a gay person I guess. Or have gay friends and family like I do. The fact is, my friends getting married doesn’t had any affect on you. If anything it stabilizes society, which is a worthy goal. We are all native Utahns, so this whole “if you don’t like it, move” mentality is insulting, at best, and harmful to our great state. Maybe some of those horrible liberals and/or gays make great contributions to our state? Maybe some diversity improves a place? Utah wants all this economic development, but they don’t want to welcome anyone who might not fit their mold.

        Not to mention why do you think “most people in Utah” think it’s fine? The numbers are changing, and they’re not headed in your direction. Utahns may have been 70% in favor of a ban on gay marriage in 2006, but it’s not 2006. The split is nearly 50-50 these days and as the older generation dies off, it’s going to tip in the other direction pretty quickly.

        It boggles my mind that the descendants of people who were driven out of several states because they were different, now suggest that other people who are different move.

        • Mike January 13, 2014 at 1:38 pm

          I did a wick google check. In San Francisco alone, there have been 28,793 cases of aids from the 80’s to 2010. In the entire state of Utah, there were under 2,000 cases. Which group of people were the majority in those cases? Gay men.

          • Mike January 13, 2014 at 1:40 pm

            Sorry. Meant to spell quick.

          • Hunter January 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm

            Dubious figures at best, also not accounting for significant differences in population.

            I guess my question to you then (if we choose to go with your numbers as cold hard facts) is wouldn’t it be in society’s best interest to encourage stable, committed, monogamous relationships to reduce the rate of these cases?

    • Roberta January 13, 2014 at 6:59 am

      There was an article posted by the St. George News entitled, “LDS church issues instruction to leaders on same-sex marriage.” You can read the comments and see for yourself. I fear it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. We are not being forced to perform marriages but one fears how far this will be pushed when it should not even be an issue to begin with. The LDS church has had years and years of prosecution and grief for what they believe, so we know how it looks and feels. Too many people jump to conclusions on things they are unsure of and want to tell others how to act and feel when they don’t even know you. Most of the comments on this issue all go one way, and that’s telling people of this faith how they should act. I care about everyone, regardless of who they are, and embrace the diversity, and I know most in this church believe the same. Believe me, I have my own things to deal with, but do not expect others to agree with everything I do with my life. It’s my life, it’s your life, and we all have the right to choose for ourselves how we want to live that life.

      • Joyce Kuzmanic January 13, 2014 at 7:15 am

        Here is a link to the report Roberta mentions:

      • Hunter January 13, 2014 at 9:57 am

        Roberta, because the LDS church took it upon itself to issue such instruction does not in any way imply there’s actually been anyone asking for (or insisting upon) a same sex marriage in a LDS meeting house or temple. That’s akin to me issuing a statement to the Ivins/Santa Clara PD instructing them to keep aliens from outer space from defecating on my house. Just because I tell someone not to do it doesn’t mean anyone ever has…or has even tried. This whole “fear” based argument is silly. My sister and her husband (hetero married couple) were not allowed to marry in the church they would have preferred because one was not a member. That church had (and still has) the right to refuse to let them marry there because they did not meet the standards of the church. This happens each and every day across the US to heterosexual couples. Somehow implying it will change for same sex couples seems silly and a bit of a red herring.

        • Mike January 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm

          Hunter, I understand your point, but do you really think they needed a marriage certificate to be in a safe, stable, monogamous relationship? I guess I don’t understand why so many people are glorifying gay relationships. I am not religious at all but it seems pretty obvious with the anatomy between men and women, that same sex isn’t right. I’m sure that statement will offend some, but that is my opinion.

          • Hunter January 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm

            Mike, a couple things that come to mind with your post. If in fact, as you insinuate you don’t need state sanctioned marriage to enjoy a stable, monogamous relationship, then why have it at all, even for heterosexuals? Your implication is that recognizing the value of these relationships has no bearing or meaning, so then why is everyone so protective over it?

            And, your anatomy argument boils everything down to parts is parts. If you don’t understand that my relationship with my partner involves more than a couple penises, then I’m not sure there’s much I can really say to help you see a deeper meaning. That kind of statement has a lot of the “ick factor” ring to it, as well. And, you’re right…it is your opinion and you’re entitled to it. But, you’re not entitled to deny me the many federal and state benefits and protections marriage offers based on simply your opinion and that you’re grossed out by the thought of two men or women together.

      • JJ January 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

        “The LDS church has had years and years of prosecution and grief for what they believe”

        This is a dishonest statement- historically, “persecution” (which is what I think you meant to say) has come about because of their actions, not beliefs.

  • Bender January 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Views are too nuanced and reasonable. Please report to Brian Hyde for freedom lessons.

  • Annie January 12, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Regroup Roberta.

    • Believer January 13, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Seems to be a problem with people being able to express their feelings regarding this issue on this link should it be different. That is very very sad.

      • Hunter January 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        Roberta is free to express whatever opinions or beliefs she has, but like anyone else on this board, she better be ready for criticism or challenges to those opinions and beliefs. Her comments state that LDS meetinghouses are under attack, so many pushed for a clearer explanation on that.

        • Believer January 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm

          There is such a thing as “verbal attack”, and I have seen enough with these comments. Regarding the article, it is very well written, however, in reviewing the comments, I can see where she felt there was an attack on the meetinghouses. I have read both this article and the other she mentioned. Neither says there is a physical attack, however, in reading comments, there is a verbal attack against the LDS church and anyone who believes in this church.

          • Dixielambs January 13, 2014 at 9:01 pm

            Disagreeing with someone and attempting to show them why they are in error can be construed to be an “attack”. But, in fact, it is not.

          • Hunter January 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm

            Can you please clarify the verbal attack that LDS meetinghouses are subject to? Roberta’s position is that the LDS church issued a statement saying they are not to marry same sex couples, and reminding their members to be civil in their discussions on the topic. How does that imply that anyone (or in this case anything) is under a verbal attack?

  • profm January 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Everything Roberta complained about in her original post could as easily apply to HER faith telling her family what to believe. I wonder what would happen if Roberta left her children alone to believe according to THEIR conscience, not hers.

  • Sweet Jude January 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    The reason the LDS church believes as it does is because there is only one way to society’s own well-being and happiness. Children know better too, but unfortunately society speaks too quick on their behalf when the two contradict. Families are much better off between a traditional family. Everything that was ever created speaks to this fact. You don’t have to go to looking for the very scientists are willing enough to back up whatever false ideas you try to get society to follow. Skew statistics, and skew the truth. You will never skew the ultimate truth, though.

    • Hunter January 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      And where does this “ultimate truth” come from? It’s very easy to point and say someone’s statistics are skewed while insisting your own are not. Facts are facts, which is why it’s important to set a high bar for measurement. In the cases of science and social science, that bar is generally considered to be peer-reviewed scientific journals and research studies performed over many periods of times for validation. So far, there have been several of these performed over more than two decades that have demonstrated no difference in the well being, scholastic performance and happiness in children raised in two parent same sex households than those raised in two parent hetero households.

      Now, if you want to talk single parent vs. two parent households, and I bet we’ll be a bit closer. There are many, many studies and more than a half century of evidence that demonstrates children raised in two parent households fair better in nearly every category than kids raised in single parent households or broken homes. Again, that’s not to say there aren’t many fine single parents out there, but the facts don’t lie in this case.

  • ladybugavenger January 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    The LDS church won’t let me in to their temple, apparently I’m not “GOOD” enough. And I’m not a member, nor do I want to be. But I’m not gay so what the problem is. If your not good enough they won’t accept you even if your straight. That’s what makes it a cult. Thank you rJesus!

    • ladybugavenger January 13, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you Jesus! without the r. 🙂

    • bub January 14, 2014 at 11:58 am

      you got to pay to play

  • JJ January 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I feel this problem could be solved if people could accept the notion of their own utopia, whether it’s political or religious, is best realized in their own household, and their own household only. You can’t create a society where everyone has the exact same values and opinions, it’s against human nature. Furthermore, people just don’t like it- so these issues are always going to come up. However, you can make your own rules and your own guidelines in your own home, and if you can allow yourself to be satisfied with that, you’ll be happier. It’s this idea that our community has to perfectly reflect a certain religious belief that causes conflict.

    • Believer January 13, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      I agree.

    • Simone January 14, 2014 at 3:54 am

      I agree. Furthermore, I would like to award this comment “Simone’s Medal of Awesomeness”

  • Roy J January 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I don’t agree. Religion and politics are not just personal beliefs; they are social by their very nature. Asking people to keep their notions on these subjects to their own households won’t fix anything. It won’t stop there either; the next step has been and will be to refuse a parent the right to instruct their children in the religion of their choice, followed by the total destruction and integration of the family into society and the purposeful disintegration of the human personality. That’s not a conspiracy theory but a historical fact that can be proven from the multiple instances of its occurences, some as recent as the old Soviet Union and the current People’s Republic of China. Both Solzhenitsyn and Dr. Hongda Harry Wu can and have provided proof of this. I understand and appreciate the difficulty of the problem you are trying to solve, JJ, but what you’re suggesting has not ever worked. So long as there is an inherently moral social conflict you will have this problem, especially when it is one between religious and legal entities. The phenemonological spirit which Hegel roused in the 18th century is a prime example of trying to solve the proble your way, and that attempt resulted in the destruction of the last of the European monarchies and two world wars.

    • Roy J January 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Sorry, that should have been ‘phenomenological’, and ‘problem’.

      • Hunter January 15, 2014 at 11:34 am

        In the examples you cite where parents have been prevented from instructing their children in the religion of their choice, were their religious inclinations and decisions constitutionally protected? I’m pretty sure they were not, which is one key (and very significant) difference to the United States.

        • Roy J January 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm


          You’re kidding, right? I can’t do the reading for you.

          • Roy J January 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

            Eh, sorry that was pretty rude. But coming to the conclusion I came to in the above comes from alot of different and diverse subjects and authors. If you really want to know it would be Hegel’s ‘Phenomenology of History’, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ by William Shirer, “The Judgement of the Nations’ and ‘The Making of Europe’ by Christopher Dawson, ‘The Unity of Philosophical Experience’ and ‘God and Being’ by Etienne Gilson, ‘Gulag’ and ‘August 1914’ by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, ‘Laogai’ by Dr. Harry Wu, ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ by Nietzche and probably ‘God and the Atom’ by Ronald Knox. Those are just what I was thinking about and referencing when I made the comment. I’m pretty sure nobody cares where I am coming from, though.

  • JAR January 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hum, I wonder how these conversations would gel if our community was like thati of Dearborn, Michican? That town is so close to Shirea Law it’s scary. I don’t think it be wise for a same sex couple to walk down main street lip locking (kissing) each other. We in southern Utah can turn our heads and look the other way. In that community, heads will roll shortly. And what will the Supreme Court say when that happens?

  • Roy J January 15, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Hem. That is ‘God and Philosophy’ by Gilson.

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