By Amelia Nielson-Stowell
OREM ? Filmmaker Michael Moore encouraged audience members at Utah Valley State College to vote in the upcoming presidential elections ? as long as they vote for Democrat John Kerry.
?That?s the good news ? only two weeks of George W. Bush? he said Wednesday to a group of more than 7,000 at the McKay Events Center. ?[The Republicans] know that they?re the minority and it hurts ? they know America has shifted from the right into a more sane, common-sense area.?
Moore, who came to UVSC Wednesday on the 35th stop of his Slacker Uprising Tour, has visited college campuses around the nation this past month to convince young people to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Moore?s appearance has caused weeks of negative criticism from area residents, students and alumni. The speech happened a week after conservative talk show host Sean Hannity spoke at the same venue.
Although Moore spoke in one of the most conservative counties in Utah, the audience was largely pro-Moore. He wore a UVSC baseball cap and received numerous standing ovations throughout his speech.
Moore said he was proud of UVSC student body officers who ?did not back down? when numerous angry critics tried to keep him out of conservative Utah County.
?I feel very bad for the students who have had to suffer through this because they believe in freedom,? he said. ?I?ve never seen a group more dedicated to the First Amendment than at Utah Valley State College.?
Joe Vogel, vice president of academic affairs for the student government, encouraged students not to forget one of their most fundamental values, freedom of speech.
?UVSC students can proudly say, ?The world of ideas is our campus,?? he said. Vogel said he brought Moore to campus because of the values he learned on his Latter-day Saint mission.
After addressing the audience as ?my Republican brothers and sisters,? Moore said former presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon stand for what Republicans used to believe in.
?Now they?ve turned into this radical extremist bunch that could make their founder spit in his grave,? he said.
When asked if he felt safe speaking in Utah, Moore laughed and said, ?The whole country loves Mormons, why would I not feel safe??
?I know everyone says Utah is a red state so why bother, it?s the most conservative, Republican state in the country,? he said. ?We?re bothering because when you?re in Utah, you believe in miracles.?
Moore played clips of suggested Bush ads, which sarcastically made references to Bush?s negative accusations on Kerry. One ad said, ?John Kerry used to have long hair, now he has short hair. That?s a flip-flop.?
During his speech, some conservative audience members heckled Moore, calling him a liar and booing at him. At least three people were removed from the audience, including one man who was seated near the front and pointed an unidentified object at Moore.
Utah native Roseanne Barr made a guest appearance and said young people are the ?manipulated masses of the future.? Moore also spoke about his upcoming documentary, which will target HMOs.
Moore attacked the media and said if the media had informed citizens of the truth of the Iraq war, 1,100 American lives would be saved.
?[The media] know that a true democracy cannot survive unless the electorate is informed ? that?s why we need you to do your job.?
Moore read excerpts from letters he received from soldiers in Iraq who support his views and said America should apologize for sending soldiers to the war in Iraq.
Mark Patterson, a BYU student majoring in political science and Middle Eastern studies, was offended and upset over Moore?s remarks.
Patterson served in the National Guard in Iraq and returned almost a year ago. He said he didn?t want to come to the event, but was filming a documentary with his unit.
?I don?t feel like a victim, and I don?t think the President?s responsible,? he said. ?That man?s a liar. I don?t know a single member of the military who likes him.?