Perspectives: Group rights, abolishing personal conscience

OPINION – Not so long ago, it was common to think of our rights in terms of individual human rights. With the spread of identity politics and political correctness, we are reaching a point where we’re allowed to only consider group rights.

Collective rights artificially divide us into squabbling tribes pitted against one another in a desperate quest for power to impose themselves on each other.

Naturally, this division leads to increasing collisions between individual rights such as freedom of conscience and the imperatives reflecting the consensus of the collective.

Take, for instance, the recent news accounts of the former Salt Lake City police motorcycle officer who was removed from duty following accusation of being “intolerant” or “biased” toward homosexuals.

What was this officer’s alleged offense? Did he publicly or privately utter slurs or use hateful speech? Did he refuse to assist members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender community when they needed his police protection? Nope.

The officer drew the wrath of his administration by quietly asserting his conscience.

I had the chance to hear this officer’s story directly from the source last week when Eric Moutsos was a guest on my radio show.

Last summer, Moutsos and other members of his police motorcycle squad were assigned to perform choreographed maneuvers in the annual Pride Festival parade through downtown Salt Lake.

Concerned that being an actual part of the spectacle could be construed as approval, Moutsos requested that his assignment be switched to crowd or traffic control. Switching assignments had previously been allowed for other events but this time his superiors came back with an emphatic denial of his request.

Alarmed at their demeanor, Moutsos emailed his supervisor and told him to disregard his earlier request and that he would be ready for practice and to ride in the parade.

But two days later, Moutsos was called into a meeting with his superiors and relieved of his gun and his badge. He was placed on administrative leave “for discrimination” and labeled as a bigot.

His department issued a misleading news release saying that an unnamed officer had been put on leave for refusing a gay pride parade assignment. The problem is, Moutsos had never refused the assignment; he had only asked to be reassigned to other parade duty.

Recognizing that knives were being sharpened, Moutsos voluntarily resigned from the Salt Lake Police Department before they could fabricate an official rationale to terminate him.

Eric Moutsos policed his community with distinction and professionalism. He served and protected among the homeless and other societal outcasts in the Pioneer Park area of Salt Lake.

He provided police security when same sex couples were descending on the Salt Lake City-County building to get marriage licenses. One Salt Lake paper lauded his fairness when responding to a complaint from security guards over a gay couple kissing on Mormon Church property.

In an interview with KSL, Moutsos spoke directly to the LGBT community, telling them:

I probably agree with 95 percent of your life or more. And I wish we could find the things that we do agree with and build from there. But there are just certain messages that I will never advocate.

Gay pride parades, by their very nature, are at least as much about flouting the standards of traditional morality as they are about showing pride. Moutsos’ personal disapproval, in this case, stemmed from an evaluation of practices rather than people.

To claim that he was unwilling to fulfill his professional duties by not performing motorcycle tricks in a parade is a stretch, to say the least. He simply did not wish to appear to be supporting certain messages that were contrary to who he is.

His private request to be given other parade duty has been misrepresented by his former police chief Chris Burbank into justification for a very public flogging for failing to be inclusive enough of a favored group.

For the past 7 months, Moutsos has been a lightning rod for the kind of undiluted vitriol that defines intolerance. It’s supremely ironic that his most vehement critics cannot recognize that they are personifying the offense of which they accuse him.

If we’ve reached the point where an individual’s peaceful disapproval is equated with actual harm and hatred, then we no longer have a clear right to follow our conscience. That is the goal of those who are constantly seeking power to impose themselves on others.

A moment of truth arrives when our personal conscience is at odds with the consensus of the collective.  That’s when we must choose where our allegiance truly lies.

It may be a good time to remember the courage of Eric Moutsos.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • My Evil Twin March 2, 2015 at 9:50 am

    This may be the first time that I have agreed with what Mr. Hyde has written. I usually don’t bother to read him, because his writings just irritate the heck out of me. But this time, I believe he is right on.
    I do have to wonder what was behind this entire scenario though. It is difficult for me to believe that Chief Burbank is really this coldly self serving. It appears that all he is doing is pandering to special interests, by putting the knife in one of his officers.
    Unless there is a lot more negative things with this officer, Burbank himself should lose his job. Every officer in that department needs to look long and hard at this situation, and ask themselves, “am I next?”
    Perhaps it is time for the brotherhood of officers to stand up for one of their own!

  • SSTEED March 2, 2015 at 10:27 am

    The issue is that what he doesn’t like, is different from what we are being told to not like. If he had said something about Muslims or polygamists he would have been just fine. If he had said something about the gays a generation ago, he would have been just fine. Now our lovely infotainment industry is gently guiding us to love what our parents were taught despise so its only natural that we get some variance from the majority. I don’t trust this guy simply because he is a cop, and my experience with them, has led me to believe that all of the law enforcement organizations are rotten to the core. I must say though, that the SLPD is one of the better ones in Utah. It is almost as if they have enough to do that they don’t need to go out and create problems like the cops down here love to do. They are all still being used to dredge the population for revenue, and any cop who hasn’t realized that by now has to be so very distracted. I shouldn’t judge or separate myself from them; we are all brothers and sisters so I still love him as a human. I don’t trust him for a second though.

  • ladybugavenger March 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Mmmm mmmm mmmm, very terrible. From what I read, the officer doesn’t hate homosexuals, he just doesn’t agree with some things, understandable. Why is this world making differences into discrimination? If your not for gay marriage, your labeled intolerant, a hater, homophobic and discriminative. Pleeeeeze, its totally the other way around. The person that has a personal choice to not support something is labeled, hated, and discriminated against. No such thing as equal rights.

  • BIG GUY March 2, 2015 at 11:13 am

    As seems to be the rule rather than the exception, it is members of the LGBT community and those who vigorously support them that exhibit the hate that Bryan describes above. Every time I see the bumper sticker reading “Hate Is Not a Family Value,” I am reminded of the shocking intolerance of those who demand the rest of society not only tolerate but support their LGBT lifestyle. They need only look in the mirror to see hate and intolerance.

    The world will be better place when we can coexist with one another as human beings and not see each other as members of some identity group. You’re on target, Bryan.

  • sagemoon March 2, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Great piece, Bryan.

  • fun bag March 2, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    personal conscience says: should of took a cab…

  • NotSoFast March 2, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    It’s really sad. Is it political correctness or the highway/ no exception now?
    Do I hide my Personal Conscience, as this officer did , in the shed or something?
    I applaud you Bryan for bringing the subject up.
    I suspect the county attorney put a lot of pressure on Chief Burbank to make this case go away Quick!. The ACLU is asking questions and our budget is thin.

  • chupacabra March 3, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Well thought out piece of writing, it’a a shame that an upstanding officer paid the price for the insecurities of another man.

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