Perspectives: Hildale, tragedy, our humanity

OPINION – It was reassuring last week to see that our humanity is intact here in Southern Utah in the aftermath of last week’s deadly flash flooding that claimed at least 20 lives.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the immediate outpouring of service, donations and compassion that flowed to the affected families of Hildale.

It’s no secret that there are deep suspicions and prejudices harbored both toward and from within the polygamist community. I remember well being warned about the “plygs” when I first came to Southern Utah.

My landlord, upon learning that I’d never heard of Colorado City, insisted upon driving me out there, parking at the mercantile and suggesting I go buy myself a candy bar. When I got back to his car, he was howling with laughter at how every head in the store had turned and watched me as I walked in.

I’ll admit, it was a bit unnerving as I clearly wasn’t dressed to fit in.

Over the next few years, I heard many fearful accusations of what “really” was going on out there in Hildale and Colorado City. As with most things based in fear, some were based in partial truths but many were simply falsehoods.

Human beings have a habit of ascribing superhuman traits of evil to those they wish to marginalize.

It wasn’t until I had the chance to personally get to know several individuals from the Short Creek area that I finally recognized how sensationalized many of the claims were.

Any time someone insists that I must view certain groups or individuals as less than human, I remember that this is only possible so long as I have no personal interaction with them. Once you actually speak with another human being, the illusion of them being pure evil is difficult to maintain.

One of the restaurants in Hildale became a sponsor on my radio show and my wife and I became regular customers. During our first visit, within 20 minutes of our being seated, several individuals and civic leaders in the community stopped by our table to introduce themselves.

A defining moment for me came the day that Becky and I took a road trip to the restaurant in my shiny new Mustang. We had just climbed out of the car when a Suburban drove past and a small child’s voice called out to us, “I like your car.”

That’s when I knew for certain that much of the division between the polygamists and everyone else was an artificial barrier.

Yes, the community of theFundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has had serious issues within its ranks. The same can be said for nearly every other subset of society. This does not excuse those issues but instead affirms that all of us are subject to human nature – the good and the bad parts.

When a true calamity strikes, as we saw last week, the need to condemn and accuse took a well-deserved backseat to the recognition of a common humanity.

The crushing reality of more than a dozen innocent lives being lost in a moment was enough to break through the prevailing prejudices. It’s impossible to hate individuals for whom you are praying or performing a needed service.

Sadly, these outbreaks of merciful charity are usually short-lived.

A politicized drumbeat sounds across the airwaves and throughout cyberspace calling us to wrestle new demons. The forces of division work around the clock to convince us that we have a duty to fear and detest anyone they designate as our enemies.

If history is any indicator, it’s depressingly easy to convince the masses that others are mere insects whose deaths make our lives better. Too many people are dangerously passive when it comes to this kind of sinister conditioning that persuades us to regard others as objects.

Whenever someone insists that we jump on the bandwagon to demonize another person or group, that’s a good time to start questioning motives. Our own motives.

So much of what we are bombarded with every day is persuading us to further someone else’s agenda. Learning how to recognize those agendas and to discern between those based upon standing for something rather than simply tearing others down can be a challenge.

I like to apply Charley Reese’s advice whenever I’m being told to accept or reject another person or group. That’s the time to ask yourself, “What do I really know about them that wasn’t spoon-fed to me by someone else?”

If we honestly admit that we know little or nothing about them, that’s a good indicator that we’re not acting on solid information.

When in doubt, apply the Golden Rule.

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

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Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

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

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44 Comments

  • anybody home September 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

    The flood was a tragedy. The law-breaking and abuse and other big problems out there are a reality. When you conflate the two, Bryan, you begin to sound like Donald Trump.

  • fun bag September 21, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Hey Bryan Hyde, I’m gonna throw out to you the question that’s been puzzling me that i can’t get a coherent response to. How come your LDS church that runs nearly every facet of gov’t in this state knowing allowed all those women and children and boys to be abused, exiled, and sexually exploited??? Oh and why did the church/state of UT allow such limitless welfare fraud within pligville. And also why did the church/state of UT allow them to run a corrupt police and judicial system and not lift a finger to change things?
    ..

    Oh and can anyone answer as to whether or not there is an LDS meeting house anywhere in short creek? And yea, I’ve had plenty of pleasant interactions with the plig men (since the women rarely speak), but that doesn’t excuse their history and what they do to people behind closed doors. Hyde, I hope someday you will grow a brain, but i aint holding my breath…

  • BIG GUY September 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I respect the general message in this article: we are a common humanity and we almost always find a lot in common with those who have been demonized once we meet and talk with them face to face. But Bryan’s protestations notwithstanding, there are those who are “pure evil” in my eyes: ISIS fanatics (but not all Moslems), Nazi concentration camp guards (but not all Germans), Communist Gulag guards (but not all Russians), Japanese POW camp guards (but not all Japanese), pedophiles in Hildale (but not all FLDS). So I came away from the article with a lukewarm feeling.

    • Rainbow Dash September 21, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      You’re absolutely right BIG GUY, there are pure evil people in every culture of society. They make up a total of MAYBE 1% of the population in any given society but even that is probably a huge stretch. Unfortunately 1 “bad apple” can ruin the whole bushel. I have ranted on this site many times about the evil in their community but my frustration is not with the people who knew nothing or were victims but with the people who committed these atrocious acts or enabled it to happen through either silence, a stupid excuse like “it’s my religion” or ANY other means. IMO, there is NO excuse for what those *insert expletive here* did! I believe that there are many more VICTIMS in that community then there are perpetrators and enablers. I feel bad for the victims (yes, that’s what they are) who are still under the hold of those evil *insert expletive here* excuse for human beings and I pray that their exit from the clutches of those “people” *shudder* is quick, as painless as can be and that they find peace in this life.

      • fun bag September 21, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        simone?

      • ladybugavenger September 22, 2015 at 3:25 pm

        “1% of the population”who was the judge of that figure?

  • Real Life September 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    So Bryan, am I wrong to “demonize” the whole sex with children thing?

    • fun bag September 21, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Bryan’s LDS church seems to have been ok with it all these years. I guess that makes Bryan ok with it by proxy

    • Dexter September 24, 2015 at 5:40 pm

      Bryan doesn’t care what you think.!

    • Dexter September 25, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Cluck cluck cluck

  • fun bag September 21, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    U PPL ARE AWFULLY QUIET TODAY. SPOOKY.

  • SteveSGU September 21, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    This bears repeating:

    “Any time someone insists that I must view certain groups or individuals as less than human, I remember that this is only possible so long as I have no personal interaction with them. Once you actually speak with another human being, the illusion of them being pure evil is difficult to maintain.”

  • Ronnie Keith September 22, 2015 at 6:38 am

    I see exactly what Bryan was trying to say. I had a pest control route that took me out to Short Creek. Many customers were a bit shy and reserved at first. But once you got to know them, the were warm hearted caring folks that readly welcomed you into their homes. And even referred you to their neighbors for being honest and doing a good job. To out right call them evil only proves your ignorance and bigoty. You have clearlyy never had anymore interaction with them, other then to mumble insulating things under your breath as you passed by them in a store or other business. Not all are child molesters as many so claim. And to re-victimise the unfortunate one who have been abused by, stating the should have left or reported it. Is evil in it self. You have no idea how hard it is to stand and face your abuser. Let alone turn them in. I bet many homes in St George have unreported abuse containing to this day, maybe in your very house. It is so easy to hide behind your keyboard, and your assumed persona.

    • Accountable September 22, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Excellent response Ronnie. My experience with the FLDS community has been the same as yours. It’s no wonder they are shy, given all of the hateful people who are constantly attacking them.

      • fun bag September 22, 2015 at 2:34 pm

        hey trolly, no one is attacking anyone. grow up!

  • Ronnie Keith September 22, 2015 at 6:59 am

    And funbag, think before you attack me as you have done to many on here. I am as real as it gets, I post under my real name. I say what I know to be the truth. So there is no need for me to hide. And many in this city know just who I am. I am not hiding from you or anyone. Because I am not afraid of telling the truth. There is no need for me to hide. I fear for you and your tribe of trolls one day you will mock and libel the wrong person. And they will bring the full force of the law crashing down upon your heads. You need to understand hate speech is not free speech. And has no protection under the law…

    • fun bag September 22, 2015 at 10:30 am

      HEY RONNIE KEITH, I NEVER SAID ALL PLIGS WERE EVIL, BUT THEY LIVE A CORRUPT LIFESTYLE AND WORSHIP A CONVICTED PEDOPHILE CHILD RAPIST AS A PROPHET OF GOD. THEIR PARTICULAR LIFESTYLE CHOICE BECOMES A REFUGE FOR THE SICKEST KIND OF PEOPLE. OF COURSE SOME OF THE PLIGS ARE EVIL, AND THERE PLIG CULTURE BREEDS THE WORST KIND OF EVIL… WHY DON’T YOU ANSWER MY QUESTIONS ABOVE ABOUT THE LDS CHURCH’S ROLE IN ENABLING SUCH THINGS. no one can seem to put forth a credible answer… and is there an LDS meeting house in shortcreek?

  • Dexter September 22, 2015 at 9:04 am

    And now we return to Law and Order. LOL.!

  • fun bag September 22, 2015 at 10:32 am

    OH, RONNIE I COULD CARE LESS WHO YOU ARE. SO ANSWER THE QUESTION AND STOP WITH THE PERSONAL ATTACKS

  • Roy J September 22, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Although it might be said there’s good and evil in everyone to varying degrees and in various ways, the observation alone does not change the nature of either those evils or those goods in any way whatever. Look at it this way: if a group of slaves and some of their slave-owners in this day and age were washed down the river, and some few of each were rescued by some good Samaritans (who were not, for the sake of argument, themselves slave-owners and who considered slavery a moral wrong), what would be the reaction of those good Samaritans as they watched that little social group head back to their miserable plantation? Point being, either assisting those in need is good, or it is not; either polygamy is an evil, or it is not. ANYBODY is right to say that the two should not be confused, though as qualities they may exist in the same person.

    • fun bag September 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      roy, do u think the LDS church/state of utah enabled(enables) the polygamist pedophile child molesters by not enforcing the laws? or is this my imagination?

      • fun bag September 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        to clarify, that’s the LDS church state of utah. One item– not two. forward slash not needed, lol

        • Roy J September 22, 2015 at 5:23 pm

          Hey FUN BAG,
          I’m a transplant to the area, and not LDS, so I would be the wrong person to ask for a good answer. But that being said, I spent alot of hours working in the Short Creek area, and I agree with what Bryan said about the people, and polygamy is still morally wrong. I suppose any community that flouts the law openly or otherwise must have some kind of sway with the governing bodies, and its reasonable to suppose that the LDS church might have something to do with that, given that this is Utah; however, if you grant that supposition about the LDS and the Utah legislature, wouldn’t you also have to grant it of the Arizona legislature where Colorado City or Big Water are concerned? Anyways, I think the predominant religion in any region can have an adverse (or a positive) effect, it just depends on the people involved. You probably know lots more than I do on the subject, and so do a great many other people around here, so I’ll have to defer to your judgment.

          • fun bag September 22, 2015 at 6:57 pm

            yea, i’m trying to get someone to answer the question honestly. No one so far has been forthcoming at all. I believe the mormon LDS religion has a stranglehold on that part of AZ as well as utah. That might explain why there was almost complete inaction on the AZ side as well as UT. And yea Roy, i agree, many pligs can be very personable and friendly, but still they worship a make believe “prophet” that may very well be one of the worst pedophiles this state has had. Can any mormons out there explain this quandary or answer the original question of why the LDS state of UT allowed and still allows all this to go on?

  • Roy J September 22, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Yeah, FUN BAG, I understand the sense of futility. But I guess every Protestant movement goes back to some kind of prophet and they are no different (though smaller) in that respect.

  • Ronnie Keith September 23, 2015 at 5:05 am

    1. I do not attend and I could careless what others think about that. Last I checked it was FLDS not LDS out there a whole different religion going their own way. Maybe you should ask the LDS church office your question. And stop harassing everday people .
    2. You do attack any that reply, then you call them trolls for making a comment. You treat this newspaper comment forum like it is your personal playground. And your the playground bully, always struting your stuff acting the fool. Trying to prove your the biggest dog in the yard. We all know what that means. And we all know that bullies are the first to run away when confronted. They rule by fear not by power. In fact many if not most, are just weak individuals trying to hide their own fears in an outward show of false strength. I just wonder if your not a bishops son, taking out your anger at your father on the those who comment on this newspaper forum.

  • Ronnie Keith September 23, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Just wanna throug this out there, anyone else think funbag is a bully and a troll? Have any of the loyal readers felt like he has personal attacked you, belittled, or demeaned you?

    • Rainbow Dash September 23, 2015 at 11:04 am

      I do. Though I cannot say I haven’t been a bit rude in my replies to some as well, I try to include at least some information in my replies.

    • Accountable September 23, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Ronnie, we can only petition STGNews to require a Facebook login so that these trolls can longer hide. I posted this in response to comments on another article: The gang of misanthropes on this site are incapable of behaving with any dignity or intelligence. They maliciously tarnish the character of St. George and Utah as a whole. It’s a shame they are allowed to continue; however, STGNews is confronted with a difficult situation when censoring free speech.

      • Roy J September 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

        ACCOUNTABLE,
        There are any number of other ways to solve a trolling problem: a greater degree of moderation, guidelines for posting. This is the format that is implemented by most sites whose intent is to foster serious discussion on various topics, and it works very well. However, I have never seen any of those sites require a Facebook login, as it does nothing for the moderators as such. Not sure why you feel the need to ‘know’ everybody by name or face, that seems sort of odd to me.

        • Accountable September 23, 2015 at 8:18 pm

          My suggestion for a Facebook login was made in the belief that these creeps would never want their family, friends, neighbors, etc. to know who they truly are. Maybe I’m wrong, giving them too much credit, and they’re all loathsome, hateful, detestable in their lives as well as online.

          • Roy J September 23, 2015 at 8:58 pm

            ACCOUNTABLE,
            I don’t think people post all that much without their friends, family, etc, knowing their viewpoints. That group is going to have common knowledge already. The only people who would be likely to learn something would be someone like you or I, who don’t actually know the person. That much is obvious, I think to everybody. So if that’s your reasoning, I’m afraid i can’t get behind it, given my own experience.

  • Real Life September 23, 2015 at 10:16 am

    What fun bag has a hard time with, is the same thing that I have a hard time with. Why is a blind eye turned to this in this area? FACT is there is many, many cases where child brides are forced into marriage, and even many cases of young boys being sexually abused occur in that setting. And nothing is done. In fact we are told that they are just “misunderstood”.

    • Dexter September 24, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      Write a letter to the governor and tell him what your concerns are. LOL.!

      • Real Life September 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm

        Here we go again. Dumpster, proving his intellect, yet again. This time don’t cry like a baby when the troll gets trolled.

  • Roy J September 23, 2015 at 10:18 am

    RONNIE,
    This is a fairly open forum, comment on opinions, vent type thing. If you don’t like the content or the contributors, or you think the comments should be more strictly moderated, you should write the editor. But, really, come on, this editorial will be buried and gone and long forgotten by everybody here in a matter of hours, and probably bickering and ‘arguing’ over the next little thing. Sort of like the agora…or a public bath…if you get splashed and jostled, well, it’s sort of to be expected. I wouldn’t worry too much.

  • fun bag September 23, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    seems like there’s an LDS meeting house in nearly every small town in utah. it would be odd to not have one in short creek since that town has a substantial population. Very strange indeed. hey “Ronnie” this is a comment section for adults to post thoughts on things. This is not daycare for babies or mormon sunday school. Can you not handle adult discussions and commentary? your the one starting in with personal attacks not me… you need to grow up.

  • fun bag September 23, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    I think what the trolls like RONNIE and ACCOUNTABLE have in common that they hate seeing their precious LDS cult/corporation examined for it’s lies and hypocrisy. They want to see anyone censored who doesn’t share their exact mormon belief system and unquestioning obedience to the LDS corporation. I think all religions should be fair game to be questioned and examined. And when they behave in such despicable ways as the LDS inc. it should be brought into the light. This is the real and only reason these trolls have problems with my postings. As far as I can tell there is no LDS meeting house in short creek and the LDS corporation are perfect enablers if not supporters of the plig lifestyle and the child exploitation that it encourages.

    • Ronnie Keith September 24, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I am WICCAN if you please, Funbag Your assumption that I pander to LDS inc offends me greatly.

  • fun bag September 23, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Hey trolls, why not contribute to commentary instead of just attacking other posters?

  • Ronnie Keith September 24, 2015 at 7:12 am

    It is so funny you keep attacking and calling me names even in the very post where your claiming you don’t. And anyone with an opinion you call a troll. Lets be clear you are acting like a child , If you want to continue thats all you. I stated my opinion, and you (as I expected you would.) You just had to try and belittel me for sharing it. I still think many out there in shortcreek a great folks. And many need some help right now. Some are fighting for their rights to their houses, built by their own hands. Some are fighting to get their children back. Some are trying to cut theie ties to the Jeffs all togather. Many were born out there, and that lifestyle is all they have ever known, and all they have ever been taught. That does not make them evil, just different. There are many sides to ever story. But to realy see, one must go there and look for yourself. Talk to them, and get to know them. That is what truly being human is all about. Having empathy for someone caught up in something so overwhelming.

  • Ronnie Keith September 24, 2015 at 7:43 am

    I realy wish it could be a discussion, a debate, a give and take of thoughts and opinions. A chance to learn from each other. And get a glimpse of the other side from a new perspective. Perhaps one you have never thought of or even considered before. When I first moved here, 20+ years ago. I thought this place was so backwards compared to San Diego. And the Mormans were the strangest folks I had ever met. No fences in their front yards to hide behind. No curtains in their front windows either. Just a clear view of a picture of the Temple (How strange one only needed to go downtown to see it) and always a picture of Christ next to it.They all seemed to go to bed at sundow. (Go figure, there was nothing to do at night. Everything being closed and all) But I got used to it. It became the normal, welcome and familiar city I know and love. Lots of things have changed since 1990. Some good, some bad. But one constant thing remained same. The people that live here love and care for their neighbors like family.

  • Ronnie Keith September 24, 2015 at 7:51 am

    So enlightening to see those folks I once thought were so odd and strange to me. Were not evil after all, just different. Funny how time and patience mixed with an open mind can change ones perspective.

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