A bit absent of late, but not out, not by a shotSomeone once said that writing was easy. You only needed to stare at the blank page until your forehead bleeds. Or the blank screen, as the case may be. But for anyone who endeavors at the process, the sentiment is not lost, no doubt.

It is also said that if the desire to write is not followed by writing, then the desire may not be to write. Some may have noticed that I have been publishing with some level of infrequency lately. And while it was not by design, it likely had to do with the need for some time off. Some reflection. But rest assured, the desire is to write.

The question of late for me has been just what to write about. I have long contended that a gonzo approach to watchdog journalism is a necessity in a free society. Hell, it’s needed in ones that are not free. It is the cornerstone of free people to have a medium by which to hold those in power accountable.

John F. Kennedy said it like this:

“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. … And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment — the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants’ — but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion. This means greater coverage and analysis of international news — for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security. … And so it is to the printing press — to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news — that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.”

Taken at face value, few argue this sentiment. Albeit some insist that anything that does not align with a their predisposed and ill-informed narratives must certainly be fake news. And not to espouse somehow here that stories are generated to sensationalize while devoid of fact, for this is part of the price of a free press, but I am largely convinced that more often than not the reader is egregiously more ill-informed than should be.

But to the point of what to write about, I admit to some level of discouragement in this community.

This is because there have been incidents within the annals of the power structure here that go so far beyond the pale of ethics and decency that it quite literally confounds the intelligent mind that nothing is seriously done about it.

There is an undercurrent here the likes of which exceeds that of the usual small-town good-ole-boy atmosphere. It involves people in elected and appointed power and oftentimes implicates the church here as well.

And the outsider appears so incredulous that another explanation must surely exist, but to the person who has lived here and experienced it, it borders on the terrifying that people simply get away with shit over and over again.

I’ve taken some time away here and there to reflect and regroup. But if you’ve followed some of my ongoing coverage of some of the events I refer to here, know this. I am not finished. Not by a shot.

My faith in humanity is predicated on a root understanding that while it is prudent to believe that all people are basically decent, they are also curiously flawed by self-interest.

Bastards beware.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is a professional technical writer, freelance writer and journalist, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer and editor-at-large at The Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah. He has also worked the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His photography and film work has received recognition as well as a few modest awards and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in southern Utah, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond.