RIP, Judge Robert Hilder

A Brief Memory of Former Utah 3rd District Judge Robert Hlder: Rest in Peace, Your Honor, and Condolences to Family, Friends, and Associates

By Ken K. Gourdin

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that former Utah 3rd District Judge Robert Hilder, who was serving as Summit County Attorney at the time of his passing, has died. See the Tribune’s coverage here, last accessed April 26, 2017:

http://www.sltrib.com/home/5222202-155/former-utah-judge-robert-hilder-dies,

Several years ago, I met Judge Hilder briefly at an event sponsored by the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I commented:

My own encounter with Judge Hilder, although it was brief and did not involve appearing before him, was, nonetheless, enough to leave a strong impression on me. He struck me as careful, compassionate, and (when circumstances warranted it) witty. I trust the opinions of those who hold him in high regard because of their professional dealings with him, and I’m sorry I never got the opportunity to encounter him professionally myself. We could do much, much worse than to take Judge Hilder as a role model, and, conversely, we couldn’t do much better (if, indeed, we could do better at all). Sincere condolences to all most deeply affected by the loss. Perhaps the greatest tribute any who are left behind could offer Judge Hilder is to strive, as much as possible, to emulate him.

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Bluntness vs. Politically-Correct Pussyfooting

Might Houston Police Chief’s Bluntness About Homicide Detective’s Firing – Even if True – End Up Costing His City and His Agency?

By Ken K. Gourdin

In my on-line travels I just stumbled across a story from a few months ago from Houston’s Eyewitness News 13 about a former Houston homicide sergeant who was fired for untruthfulness and insufficient case follow-up. (That’s not how Houston Police Chief Charles McLelland put it, which is why I commented.) See the following address, last accessed April 25, 2017: http://abc13.com/news/documents-detail-homicide-sergeants-missteps/27062/. I wrote:

From the story: “He was lazy. He was a liar,” HPD Police Chief Charles McClelland said last week. “He was not forthright with his supervisors and he misled his other co-workers.”

I have been both critical of and complimentary to law enforcement (depending on what I think is warranted) both in print under my own byline and on line. I admire forthrightness, Chief McClelland, but as much as I admire forthrightness, I think you need to be careful. Your blunt phrasing has the potential to open both your city and your agency up to litigation.

As much as the average reader or observer might be tempted to dismiss the more precise use of language as simple politically correct pussyfooting, there is a reason why people use such language as, “He was not as diligent as he could have been” (i.e., he was lazy) and, “His report(s), his account(s), and his testimony do not match the facts” (i.e., he’s a liar).

You might say, “Hey, not to worry: I can prove that he’s lazy, and I can prove that he’s a liar.” That may very well be true, and, in the long run, you may prevail. But even litigation that ultimately is fruitless to a plaintiff still costs time, money, and other resources to defend against.

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In the Thick of Thin Things

Of Dreams, and Treasures, and Excellence—And Poop

By Ken K. Gourdin

A few weeks ago, while I don’t remember what it was about, I had a dream. (Well, I have many dreams, only some of which are likely to be fulfilled. Although Max Ehrmann’s prose piece Desiderata, in spots, is a bit too “new-agey” for me, I do draw comfort from things such as Desiderata over my likely-to-remain-unfulfilled dreams, but that’s another subject for another day.)

I don’t remember what my dream was about, but I woke with the thoughts, “Treasure the grain, cast the chaff away”; and, “Treasure the ore, cast the dross away.” For those unfamiliar with grain farming and with precious metals mining, chaff is the inedible byproduct of grain farming which simply blows away in the wind, and dross is the common, less-valuable byproduct that is left over after the precious stuff has been refined.

I’ve tried really hard to not allow this blog to descend into, “I pooped this morning. It was profound” territory—or, to borrow and to slightly alter a quote from the great philosopher, Ricky Bobby from the eponymous Ballad Of movie in which the title character is played by Will Ferrell, “I poop excellence!” I realize that, without a context, “Treasure the grain, cast the chaff away” and “Treasure the ore, cast the dross away” might be the equivalent of pooping excellence: they are virtually meaningless without a context, and, alas!, I don’t have the context because I can’t remember the dream.

Perhaps my favorite hymn of the congregational collection currently used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “How Firm a Foundation,” and my favorite verse of that hymn is the fifth one: “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace (all sufficient) shall be thy supply! The flame will not hurt thee, I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine!” Economic realities of extensive lettering on headstones aside, I’d like that to be my epitaph.

And lack of context for the “profound insights” from my dream notwithstanding, becoming “caught up in the thick of thin things” is part and parcel of the human experience: At various times and in various ways, everyone does it. Are we attaching undue significance to things which, in the long run (in the eternal scheme of things, if you believe in an afterlife and in a Higher Power) don’t really matter? If so, perhaps treasuring the grain and the ore while casting the chaff and the dross away isn’t such bad advice.

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Clippers Lead Jazz 2-1: Series Over?

National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Clippers Lead the Utah Jazz 2-1 in Their Best-of-Seven First Round Playoff Series; Does the Clippers’ Victory on the Jazz Home Floor Mean That the Series is Already Over? One Utah Writer Apparently Thinks So

By Ken K. Gourdin

During the Jazz 1984 First Round Playoff Series against the Denver Nuggets, Denver sportswriter Woody Page made a similar prediction after the Nuggets took a similar lead over the Jazz in that series. I responded to coverage of the Clippers’ victory on the Jazz home floor by The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kurt Kragthorpe thus:

From the article: “The [Clippers’] quest [to advance in the NBA playoffs] has become even more difficult with [forward Blake] Griffin sidelined and Golden State presumably next for the Clippers, once they get past the Jazz.”

“[O]nce they get past the Jazz”? “May’s well shut ‘er down now, Clancy! She’s pumpin’ mud!” Mr. Kragthorpe, I’ll grant you, the fact that the Jazz immediately ceded home court advantage by losing their first game at home after working so hard to get the split in Los Angeles does make the prospect of the Clippers advancing more likely, but i hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t think the Clippers should be packing for a trip to Oakland quite yet. I’m not comparing the Clippers to the 1984 Denver Nuggets, but I’m sure the name Woody Paige rings a bell.

While I doubt the Jazz need any additional motivation, and while you’re certainly welcome to call it like you see it if you honestly think that the series is over already (I would be the last to suggest that you should open yourself up to accusations of being a “homer” simply to appease readers such as me), if the Jazz were looking for locker room material, I do think it’s ironic that they wouldn’t have to look outside of their own market.

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Of Desires and of Sorrows

Of Desires, and Of Sorrows

By Ken K. Gourdin

Another poster at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion has suffered some kind of a reversal of fortune lately which he implied has affected both his outlook and the tone of his posts negatively, for which he posted an apology. In response, I posted a Reader’s Digest ™ Condensed version of my own tale of woe—some might even call it a “sob story,” and I’ll be the first to admit that this might be an apt description. I wrote:

I hear ya.

Every morning, I wake up and I’m still breathing. I can still move (usually), so I figure I might as well trade my horizontal state for a vertical one. [Referring to my decision to attend law school, I continued:] Longer ago than I care to admit, I left the drudgery of answering phones (all workday, every workday) and eventually decided to go back to school in hopes that it would prompt someone to hire me to do something else. Initially, I lost my nerve, withdrew before receiving any credit, and got a job … answering phones (all workday, every workday).

I said, “OK. Well, I may not be sure about this other thing [law school], but I am sure as heck that I don’t want to answer phones (all workday, every workday), for the rest of my life.” So, I swallowed my pride and went back. After several years of emotional and intellectual carnage, literally* against all odds, I finally got the degree. Then I was denied admission to my would-be chosen profession. After ten years of earnest rehabilitation, I thought I might venture to reapply to my would-be chosen profession … Only to have those efforts blithely swept aside by a careless evaluator.

In July of 2015 … since it seems to be the only thing anyone thinks I’m good for, and since, if ya can’t beat ’em, ya might as well join ’em … I took yet another job answering phones. Since, last time I checked, whoever does that was still willing to keep signing my paychecks, I show up for work at my assigned hour … and answer phones for another eight hours.  It’s far too little, far too late, but I have an appointment with an attorney who represents my state’s Protection & Advocacy Agency tomorrow. (I dunno what she’s gonna do for me now, but … finally, finally, finally … at least someone’s gonna listen. :blink::shok:) The sheer shock alone almost killed me. In a way, I wish it had! ;)

Yes, yes, yes, I know! No, I’m not planning anything drastic. Yes, I’ll talk to someone if I need to (But the last time I did that, I got into deep trouble; that’s how this whole mess started!) I shoulda simply said, “Welp, I have an eval from 2006 that says my behavioral health diagnosis is in ‘sustained full remission’! We’re just gonna go with that, and even though it’s [at that time] 2014, if the Bar’s not impressed, the Bar’s not impressed!” But I had no reason to think that this idiot would undo all of that. He had me sign a malpractice waiver, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking “Should I?” I should’ve listened better to that faint little voice, but, 20/20 hindsight.

The whole damn thing feels like “Groundhog Day,” [The movie starring Bill Murray in which the protagonists relives the same day over and over] except, rather than reliving the same day over and over, I’ve come full circle right back to where I started 20 years ago.:rolleyes:

Now? My much more modest aspiration is to work one day in any full-time, benefitted position for which my employer thinks I’m good for something … besides answering phones!

OK, I realize this is turning into the old joke where a guy spots another guy who’s about to jump off a bridge, so the first guy thinks he can help the second guy, stops and gets out of his car, and they talk for two hours … then they both jump off the bridge. :D:rofl::D

Sorry. :huh::unknw:

I wish you well. :) 

*Yes, I realize the word “literally” is overused … literally.  But it applies in this case … literally.

Someone else recommended two General Conference addresses by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Sunday Will Come” (from October 2006 and available here (this and all other links last accessed April 16, 2017): https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/sunday-will-come?lang=eng); and “Come What May, and Love It” (from October 2008 and available here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/come-what-may-and-love-it?lang=eng).

I replied, “As long as we’re looking for Conference talks to read so we can avoid doing any actual work ,” and posted a link to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s address from October of 2014, “Grateful in Any Circumstances,” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/grateful-in-any-circumstances?lang=eng.

Another poster said he planned to call me that evening and talk to me on the phone for hours. “I’m sure you won’t mind,” he assured me. I responded, “OK, as long as you don’t mind if I answer the phone by saying, ‘Lexus Enform ™, this is Kenneth. Where would you like to go today?’ while I look at Google Maps ™ on the Internet.”

In response to the general tenor of the discussion regarding unfulfilled desires, another poster, quoting the Buddha, wrote, “Desire is the beginning of sorrows.” I responded, “Yep. If I don’t want, I don’t have to be disappointed about not getting.” The thread’s originator responded, “A life without desire is bereft of joy,” and signed that “quote” with his screen name. Then he continued:

This is why I cannot stomach Buddhism. It implicitly concludes that between joy and sorrow sorrow is the more prevalent and powerful and it is better to kill both. I would rather be a human who weeps and smiles and laughs with all the pain and rapture that involves than to cut out the potential for both.

I responded:

You (and [another poster, who upvoted his comment opposing the Buddha’s teaching]) misunderstand the Buddha, my young Padawan. (And I’m treading in very deep water here, since I’m sure that the venerable [poster who posted the quotation from the Buddha] has forgotten more about Buddhism … among many other things … than I’ll ever know: By contrast, one can fit everything I know about Buddhism in a very small thimble!)

While I believe (as I’m sure you do) in the principle of opposition in all things as taught in the Book of Mormon and in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ [see 2 Nephi 2:11], and while everything does have its opposite, the absence of [x] does not necessarily dictate the presence of [y]. [Not x] is simply [not x]. Thus, one need not be sorrowful even in the absence of joy. One can, for example, be content, even if one is not necessarily joyful. The Buddha was teaching a principle similar to that taught by the Apostle Paul: “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Daniel, Meschach, Shadrach, and Abed-Nego taught and adhered to a similar principle: They didn’t want to die in King Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, but they were prepared to accept whatever came (see Daniel 3:17-18). And while I may not agree with it in every particular (and while it’s a bit too “New-Agey” in spots for me), there’s a lot of wisdom in Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”: http://mwkworks.com/desiderata.html.

And if our overarching purpose in being here is to learn to subject our will to God’s (see Matthew 26:39), perhaps that’s why “desire [at least, if our desires and God’s desires are different] is the beginning of sorrows.”

Then, I concluded, ‘I expand a bit on the idea of a neutral between extremes (opposition in all things notwithstanding) here,” and posted a link to an essay I posted earlier on the Blog, “I’m Okay”: https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/im-okay/.

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Religious Freedom—For All

Religious Freedom for Me, But Not for Thee? Have Evangelicals Turned from Defending Islam and Muslims in the Bush Era to Discriminating Against Them in the Trump Era?

By Ken K. Gourdin

I think this item from The Atlantic is interesting (this and all other links last accessed April 12, 2017): https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/when-conservatives-oppose-religious-freedom/522567/. To be fair, the prospect of Christians turning against Muslims and against Islam in the Trump era is not solely a problem of evangelicals—although, given evangelical Protestantism’s close alliance with the political right, the high correspondence between support for President Trump and evangelical affiliation, and evangelical Christianity’s sheer number of adherents in the U.S., it is, perhaps, most notable among evangelicals.

The fact of the matter is, defenders of religious freedom must be consistent: They (we) cannot afford to say, in essence, “Religious freedom for me, but not for thee.” If we’re not willing to defend even unpopular religions, that obviates the very raison d’etre of religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution in toto. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney faced a similar problem in his U.S. presidential bids of 2008 and 2012, respectively (though I laud the notable exceptions: see, e.g., http://evangelicalsformitt.org/).

Given the ongoing secular and legal assault on religious freedom, the time is rapidly approaching when divisions among people of faith such as those described in The Atlantic piece will be seriously counterproductive. It is time for the devout to realize that what we have in common and what unifies us is far more important than any differences which divide us.

Chances are very good that those who are antipathetic toward religion in general are not likely to be any better disposed toward evangelicals than they are toward Muslims. Thus, it is time for the devout (of all religious stripes) to unite behind the principle (speaking metaphorically and not literally, since, in a literal sense, such enmity is antithetical to the Christian ethic, as well as to that of other faith traditions) that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

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Player Discipline at BYU

A Comment on the Suspension of then-BYU Receiver Cody Hoffmann A Few Years Ago

By Ken K. Gourdin

A few years ago, then-Brigham-Young-University football receiver Cody Hoffmann was suspended for a game for an unspecified violation of team rules. See Salt Lake Tribune coverage here (last accessed April 11, 2017): http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/sltrib/cougars/56930560-88/hoffman-football-game-byu.html.csp. To someone who called BYU’s rules “nonsensical” (by implication, although he didn’t specify, he was probably referring to the school’s Honor Code, which forbids premarital sex, along with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs). I responded:

I’m just guessing, but since you think BYU’s rules are “nonsensical,” you probably didn’t go there, right? Similarly, nobody held a gun to Mr. Hoffmann’s head and forced him to commit to BYU or to attend once he did so. The rules are nonsensical? Fine. Don’t come here. There are plenty of other schools where that’s not a problem. The solution isn’t for BYU to “grow up” or to stop being “nonsensical” by bending its rules. There are plenty of schools which would be willing to soft-peddle alleged “rules” for people with Mr. Hoffmann’s talent. “That” happens all over college football. You’re welcome to your opinion that BYU should be just like a lot of other places, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

The poster doubled down on his criticism, adding the pejoratives “puritanical” and “childish.” When another poster asked, “What if Hoffmann’s violation related to academics?” this same poster responded that student-athletes are never suspended for a single game for such violations, I responded:

Evah, evah! No doubt, [this poster] has conducted an exhaustive survey of modern and historical practices relating to rule violations by student athletes (or has found such a survey which was conducted by someone else), and has found no such instance: not a single case in which a student athlete was suspended for a single game for any violation relating to academics. [This poster] has so spoken. What else needs to be said? Evah, evah!

This poster wrote that adolescents will be adolescents, and that, as such, inevitably, they will engage in such behavior as premarital sex. I responded:

You seem to be arguing out of both sides of your mouth: on the one hand, you say that student athletes aren’t mature enough to make a decision about where they should go to school (especially if such a decision might involve going to BYU, with its “puritanical and childish” rules); on the other hand, you say that Mr. Hoffmann is “too far along” in his college career to change that decision. Doesn’t the latter contention mean that he also should have been mature enough by now to know the consequences of violating the rules?

When the poster conceded that Hoffmann was mature enough to understand the consequences of violating the rules, I responded:

If he is mature enough by now to know the consequences of violating the rules (regardless whether he was mature enough to understand all of the consequences of committing to BYU when he made that decision) yet he still violated the rules, then we have to conclude one of the following: (a) as a “star” athlete, he figured the rules applicable to everyone else on the roster didn’t apply to him, so there would be no consequences; or (b) he violated the rules knowing that he might well face adverse consequences for doing so, but concluding that whatever short-term benefit he got from violating them was worth those consequences. In either case, I see no reason why he should escape sanction for whatever violation he committed.

Another poster excoriated the tactics recruiters use to lure non-LDS athletes to BYU, and I responded, “Well, then … If those alleged “tactics … is [sic] pretty well documented,” then I’ll welcome some documentation. (But don’t worry; I’m not on the edge of my seat, waiting with ‘bated breath!)”

Further commenting on BYU’s rules, I wrote:

Mr. Hoffmann knew the rules. He signed a contract to abide by them. If he did not wish to do so, there are numerous other programs in Division I (or whatever the heck it’s called now) to which he could have gone. Mr. Hoffmann is the one who needs to grow up. Hopefully this sanction will help him to do so.

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