Brigham ‘U’ right to cut student loose

Published 10:52 am Monday, March 14, 2011

Brigham Young University’s recent suspension of a basketball player has created a public reaction, which reaction betrays a moral perspective more significant than it actually allows. The general news reportage focuses on the young man being suspected “only because he had sex with his girlfriend.”

This much is biased by political correctness against this Mormon institution and respected university, but editorial opinions have been blatantly hostile. Brigham Young’s action is totally correct and actually commendable, because the player was entirely wrong, although his acceptance of the discipline is itself commendable.

A typical reaction in the media, although not necessarily the worst, was the gratuitous remark by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “A heavy price for standing up for what you believe in.”

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The fact is the student (who neither needs nor deserves to have his name repeated here): 1) broke a clearly stated and universally known school rule; 2) broke his promise to abide by the rule; 3) lied, by his behavior, that he was complying with the rule.

The rule is that no student shall engage in premarital or extra-marital sex. It is as clear and simple as this. Describing the act as with his girlfriend seems a disingenuous attempt to soften the student’s offense and exacerbate the school’s. Not merely that the school does not approve such or does not want to know about any such or would tolerate such only off campus. Nor is it that the school disapproves of homosexual activity. Reflecting and expressing straightforwardly the moral conviction of the Church of Latter Day Saints, the rule observes in practice what this church teaches in doctrine.

Although institutional rules are most often expressed negatively (i.e., what must not be done), this is actually the implementation of a distinctly positive value and standard. The strongest publicly recognized quality of LDS, when understood accurately, is its wholesome valuing of family and family life. Nothing could be more Mormon than to insist Brigham Young students, staff, and faculty prepare for, create, and maintain wholesome families.

People in the media may believe, as they obviously do, that marriage can be same-sex, that consenting adults may engage in sexual activities without marriage, outside marriage, or, indeed, engage in any kind of sexual or pseudo-sexual activity they wish. Even if this were the majority opinion of the American public, which it is not, or if such should be legalized, this is entirely beside the point.

The only points are that it is a school rule and that the student consciously and willfully violated the rule to which he pledged agreement with full knowledge of the consequences of violation.

I find irony in those who promote same-sex marriage and then ridicule Mormons for polygamy, which in fact they haven’t practiced for generations. (If you can marry someone of the same sex, why not two. Or perhaps it can be one of each sex.)

Let’s return to George Stephanopoulos’ judgment: “A heavy price for standing up for what you believe in.” Just what is it he thinks this Mormon student believes in? Is it the liberty to violate school rules? Is it the morality of breaking your word? Is it rejection of common morality?

I classify Stephanopoulos’ remark as gratuitous, because I give him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t mean what he actually said.

Moreover, I sense ABC soon came to back off from this subjective reporting. They did also report the suspended student’s acceptance of the discipline and even agreement with its validity and appropriateness. They broadcast interview with other players who also agree.

Finally, a few days latter they interviewed at some length a former

Brigham Young football player who had been suspected for a similar offense in the late 1990s. This young man, now an outstanding NFL player, testifies that not only is the school’s rule appropriate, but that when the school disciplined him, it turned his life around positively. He says, “I am proud I attended a school that knows what it believes and stands up for it.”