Those familiar with it call it “happy valley,” or “the bubble.” For those
not familiar with either of these terms, it refers to Utah County, a
predominantly Mormon community and one of the most conservative counties in
the entire country; the county voted over 81% straight Republican in the
2000 General Election. It is the home of Brigham Young University, the most
conservative school in the nation according to the latest Princeton Review
numbers. Right next door to BYU is Utah Valley State College (UVSC), a feeder school for the major
university, and site of a rapidly growing controversy.
UVSC is hosting the notorious trouble maker Michael
Moore on October 20th, less than two weeks before the General Election of
2004. Derrick Hall, the spokesman for the school, said that Moore was being
brought in “because it’s an election year, to educate the student body.” He
lamented, however, that the education would be one-sided. The very thought
of Michael Moore being used to “educate” anything is hard to swallow.
Moore is charging the state school a $40,000 speaking fee. Security, travel
and clean-up costs are estimated at over $10,000; this when the entire
budget for the year is ironically, $50,000. Previously, the highest fee paid
to a single speaker for a similar event at the college was $16,000. Much of the student body is furious that their student fees are being used
to bring in the highly controversial Moore (90% of UVSC students are from
Utah – which is 75% Republican).
UVSC is a very large state school with over 24,000 students; the event will
be hosted in the McKay Events Center, which holds nearly 8,000 people. This
means that only one third of the student body will have access to an event
that requires the entire student association’s budget to put on. Pretty
The student association does expect to gain some of the funds back in ticket
sales, which are $10 to the general public and $5 to students of other
universities. But with every ticket sold, one more UVSC student won’t have
access to that portion of their student fees for the year.
Following the heated controversy, the college is now trying to secure a
conservative to address the students a short time after Moore, but all money
used for a conservative speaker would have to be raised from ticket sales of
the Moore visit. Conservative host Sean Hannity has offered to come to the
college and debate Michael Moore for free. “This,” Hannity says, “will
provide both sides and be a real education for the students.” He has
offered to allow the student association to keep the $50,000, and to raise
an additional $50,000 to give to a children’s charity in the area. It is
unexpected that Moore will accept such an invitation as he has refused many
in the past.
Perhaps the most telling detail of all is that Moore contacted UVSC for the
visit. He offered to come! Why would he want to come to a school and
community whose views are so polar to his own and step into a figurative
bee’s nest? The answer is because Michael Moore is only out for Michael
Moore. He knows that the effects of protest, outrage, and controversy are a
polarization of the population and huge box office success. What he doesn’t
understand is that his visit to Utah might confuse some voters, but its main
effect will be a more motivated right, causing woes for democratic
incumbents. So Utah Republicans should have three words for Michael Moore,
“BRING IT ON!”
A recent graduate of Brigham Young University, Abraham Taylor is an intern at Accuracy in Media.