Heard Around the West

  • Ouch.

    Jim Thayer


Even after he was caught making an outrageously racist remark, Republican state Sen. Chris Buttars refused to resign. Buttars had criticized a revenue-sharing bill for school districts, saying, "This baby is black, I'll tell you. This is a dark and ugly thing." Buttars said he was sorry, but he apologized only after the Senate president announced that he'd caused "a breach of decorum." This was not enough for Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who said she was appalled by Buttars' language and urged him to quit. Buttars told the Deseret Morning News he wouldn't oblige: "I stand by my apology. That's it. This issue is done as far as I'm concerned." Well, maybe not entirely. Buttars later complained to the Salt Lake Tribune that he'd become the target of a "hate lynch mob," and added plaintively: "How do I know what words I'm supposed to use in front of those people?"


If you're going to deliberately plow your vehicle into a herd of antelope, it's a stupid idea to post pictures on the Internet. But there were the photos on an off-roading discussion board, along with a bragging account of what happened near Farson, Wyo.: "So here we are cruising down the road, jon (bonbon) driving and me sleeping when Jon wakes me up. ... I look ahead and there's a herd of about 20 antelope just standing in the road. ...we sped up. Most of the herd got out of the way, but two ... dumber ones turned back. ..." Accompanying photos showed "mangled and bloody antelope carcasses," reports the Associated Press, "a man giving a thumbs-up next to the blood-splattered grille of a pickup truck, and HA HA!!! written over the image of a severed antelope head." An anonymous tip on Wyoming's "Stop Poaching" Web site led authorities to the narration and photos, and one picture conveniently included the pickup truck's license plate. Now, 23-year-old Jonathan Hefner, a gas-field worker, has been charged with two counts of wanton destruction of big game, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, and a $10,000 fine for each count. Hefner, who no longer works at National Oilwell Varco, has pleaded not guilty; others may still be charged.


Reed College in Portland, Ore., is crowing because it can boast that it possesses the earliest known recording of "Howl," Allen Ginsberg's legendary anthem for the Beat Generation. Ginsberg read his poem at Reed College a few months before it was published in 1956 to acclaim and controversy. Recently, literary scholar John Suiter came upon the tape in the college's library, where it had been cataloged, filed and forgotten for 52 years. The tape, which was made as Ginsberg read to students at a dormitory, doesn't contain the complete "Howl." Ginsberg quit before completing Part II, saying, "I don't really feel like reading any more. I just sorta haven't got any steam."


Fed up with armed nut cases invading schools to kill students, two state legislators from Mesa, Ariz., are writing a bill to give teachers and older students the right to bring loaded guns onto campuses, something the law now prevents. Gun owners, however, would have to obtain a state permit to carry their concealed weapons. "This way, nobody knows who has a concealed weapon," said Republican state Sen. Karen Johnson, one of the co-sponsors. Reaction at the Capitol has been "mixed," as the Arizona Daily Sun put it, with some legislators approving of arming teachers at schools and colleges -- but not students -- and others fearing yet more outbreaks of violence with so many armed people in classrooms. Phoenix Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema had a practical concern: If police were called to an incident at a school, "How do they know who to stop when there's like 18 people wielding guns?"


Guns are busting out all over the political scene, including Washington, D.C., where an amendment to a reclamation bill for public lands would allow national park visitors to carry loaded and easily reached firearms. This amendment has nothing to do with guns, says Bill Schneider in NewWest.Net; it's about embarrassing the two Democratic senators vying for the presidential nomination. He suggests introducing a five-word resolution that every member of Congress must vote on: "We support the Second Amendment." Once that's out of the way, he says, "we won't have to deal with such counterproductive amendments and riders that have no relation to the legislation they delay or kill."


There's a real deal of a rental in the college town of Logan, Utah, reports the Herald Journal. There is one catch, however: You can rent the mobile home for $250 a month only if you "agree to milk cows two nights a week."


Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.

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