Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wyoming: Love it or leave it. Really?

Audette Fulbright is a newcomer to Wyoming. She’s one of those bright, creative people most American communities welcome. She is the new minister at Cheyenne’s Unitarian Universalist Church. Reverend Audette is from South Carolina, graduated from seminary in California, and served a congregation in Virginia. Someone like Audette has choices about where to live. Last year she chose Cheyenne.

Last week she made a newcomer’s mistake. Audette had the audacity to actually write legislators voicing concerns about some of the legislation making its way through this session. In all honesty, there’d be something seriously wrong with anyone who didn’t have concerns about a lot of the legislation under consideration this year. But I digress.

One legislator Audette wrote was Hans Hunt, a Republican rancher from Newcastle. It’s always interesting when one politician actually says what others believe but are smart enough not to say (ala Todd Akin). Hans wasted no time telling the good Reverend what he thought about her and her opinion.

“I’ll be blunt,” he wrote, “if you don’t like the political atmosphere of Wyoming, then by all means, leave. We, who have been here a very long time are quite proud of our independent heritage.” He said it offended him “to no end when liberal out-of-staters such as yourself move into Wyoming, trying to get away from where they came from, and then pompously demand that Wyoming conform to their way of thinking.” The he told her not to let the gate hit her on the backside. “So, to conclude, if you’re so worried about what our legislature is working on, then go back home. Sincerely, Representative Hans Hunt-House District 02”

To be clear, Hans was only putting into an email what many of his colleagues and a lot of his constituents believe. It’s kind of like, “Fewer people choose to live in Wyoming than any of the other 49 states…and if you’re so damned smart, how come you moved here?”

Our legislators certainly capture the nation’s imagination. Whether it’s an email like Hans sent, a bill to criminalize the enforcement of federal law or another to legalize the eating of road-kill, neither the Wyoming Business Council nor the Tourism Office have budgets big enough to overcome the loud national guffaws.

During campaigns, legislative candidate wring their hands about how to diversify the state’s economy. They expound on bringing new businesses to Wyoming to create jobs and broaden the tax base. They fail to realize there aren’t enough photographs of Old Faithful erupting or Devil’s Tower rising to overcome the damage they do to the state’s image in those 40 days.

Richard Florida of George Mason University in Washington, D.C. Florida researches economic development strategies for states. His book The Flight of the Creative Class, argues persuasively the answers are what he calls “the 3 Ts” of economic development - technology, talent and tolerance. Florida says while all three are necessary, “the third one, tolerance, is essential.”

He argues “truly successful societies go out of their way to be open and inclusive.” There’s a strong relationship between economic vigor and openness to immigrants, artists, gays, and all levels of socio-economic status. It’s neither harmless nor humorous when Wyoming legislators advertise their intolerance.

From bills targeting Muslims under the guise of prohibiting the use of Sharia law in our courts to the bigotry exposed in debates over the rights of gays and lesbians, Wyoming legislators communicate to the world that we may be “open for business’ but only if you are “our kind” of guys.

Legislators should set aside their prejudices and take advantage of Wyoming’s natural beauty and history to draw diverse talent from around the world. Talented people and creative thinkers want to live and work in communities open to them and others. No matter how pretty the scenery, they won’t come and have avoided a state that adamantly bucks the national tide which daily moves inexorably toward tolerance.

Wyoming has too many Hans and too few Audettes for its own good.  


  1. Ridiculous! Wyoming has JUST ENOUGH natives! She stated that she MOVED to Wyoming because she "loved" all that Wyoming is. And now that she has been here since July, she wants things to change? I agree with Legislater Hunt 100%! Funny how this "educated, good reverend" is allowed to voice her opinion but he is not?? And there seems to be a little bit of an undertone to her letter that there aren't many "educated" people originally from Wyoming, so we need to be appreciative of the ones that move here? I agree with her as well as I do with Hunt, if she feels her family is not safe,she probably should pack them up and move back to the safety of Virginia!

  2. No Leah, Rep Hunt is allowed to have an opinion. He was allowed to write his opinion as well. We(even you Leah), are also allowed to have an opinion.
    When Rep Hunt responded to Rev Fulbright, he was speaking as an elected representative of HD 2. I would like to believe that when the almost 10,000 residents of that district elected Rep Hunt as a Legislator, that he represented the best of what Torrington, Lusk, and Niobara county offers.
    In my opinion he did not. His response to Rev Fulbright was rude, showed a wide streak of intolerance, was disrespectful to a member of the clergy. None of those are traits that I think represent the citizens of Wyoming, let alone the citizens of HD 2.
    The people of Wyoming have a long tradition of "fair play", accountability,and self reliance. This is one of the many things that makes the "Equality State" such a great place for ANYONE to raise a family.
    I have no doubt that Rep Hunt has been reminded that how he responded to a letter sent to him as an elected official, isn't how a Wyomingite acts. I was taken by the "deer in the headlights" look that Rep Hunt had when he was interviewed by Ch 5. Yup....he's figgering it out.
    Leah, I think your opinion about the levels of education in the State of Wyoming are incorrect. Wyoming does a great job of funding education K-12, and the graduation rates show that (yet another reason why Wyoming is a great place to be). Higher education is also made available to a greater portion of people than any other state I've lived in. Any student that applies themselves, can go to U.W.
    To quote my Uncle Cliff..." It's only stupid if you do it twice". I hope Rep Hunt isn't stupid, I have noticed that Wyoming doesn't put up with stupid for long.

  3. Fulbright got exactly the letter back she should have. Conservatives and Libertarians are being forced to leave their hometowns in droves because of the INSANITY and INTOLERANCE that progressive new comers bring with them. Oregonians RIGHT now are being told by their Willamette Valley/Portland liberal dominated legislature that they want a law to only allow them one firearm in their house, register the one they have, and allow inspectors/police to search their home without a warrant. Californians are now facing confiscation of guns they registered. Liberal strongholds like Detroit are desolate wastelands. Progressive infested Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country and yet a murder rate to rival places in Africa with warlords and ongoing warfare. And non progressives like me are faced with the reality we MAY have to flee to states like Texas, Wyoming,Idaho, or Alabama to escape persecution, high taxes, and high crime which are all caused by progressive policies and the garbage people that call for them. Fulbright got EXACTLY the letter she deserved. Hunt is a good statesman representative of his district.