I’m fascinated by the situation with former Brigham Young University basketball standout Brandon Davies. In case you didn’t know, he violated the BYU honor code.
His crime? Not cheating on a test. Not lying to school officials about receiving booster money. Not violating NCAA rules. Not failing to attend team meetings and practices. Not having other students write his term papers. Not stealing from the bookstore. Not drinking and driving. None of those. In fact, handcuffs were not involved.
He had sex with his girlfriend. (OK, it’s possible handcuffs were involved. Fuzzy ones).
For this, he was suspended from the basketball team, and his future at the school is “yet to be determined.” The school emphasizes that he did nothing criminal in nature.
I feel horrible for the kid. His name is all over the internet, he’s been talked-about on SportsCenter, and everyone who follows college hoops knows of his “indiscretion.” What he did, however, pales in comparison to other high-profile athletes. Sure, they also have sex with their girlfriends, but they tend to change girlfriends on a daily basis depending on what they see in the line outside their apartment door. Also, consider the collateral consequences to the rest of the team and coaching staff. Once a top-seed tournament contender, they responded by losing at home to unranked New Mexico.
Brandon Davis may not be a criminal, but he is being punished harshly and publicly.
BYU, of course, touts their “high moral standards,” and plenty of folks are lining-up in support of the “you’ve got to admire and respect them adhering to their principles” bandwagon. It is a variation on the ever-popular “you’ve got to respect their beliefs” bandwagon.
Bullshit. I’m not required to respect jack if I don’t want to do so. Why on Earth do we believe in this country that religion is beyond reproach? It absolutely should be reproached. Regularly. But, that’s another topic for another day.
For now, let’s check-out a bit of this honor code.
• Be honest
• Live a chaste and virtuous life
• Obey the law and all campus policies
• Use clean language
• Respect others
• Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse
• Participate regularly in church services
• Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
• Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
Interesting. Very interesting. I can already tell you that I’d be expelled on a number of different points. My caffeine intake alone is enough to send the school president into a tizzy. I’m not sure I’d make it past freshman orientation. Probably not.
Now, we already know which of these Brandon Davies violated. It’s obvious, and what’s done is done. It should, however, be known that he was completely forthcoming with school officials, as was his girlfriend (according to reports). That didn’t save either of their status within their respective teams (she is a basketball player, also).
My question here is: How would Brigham Young fare at Brigham Young University? I think it’s a fair question since the university bears his name and honors him in doing so. I’ll assign letter grades to each area of the “honor code” as I perceive his performance in that area.
1. Be Honest. C. According to every report I’ve seen, he was very upfront about his beliefs and perspectives. Gold star. However, there’s the whole matter of blaming the Mountain Meadows Massacre on Native Americans (and his characterization of them as “savages”). No star. We’ll split the difference with a C (and I think I’m being very generous in doing so).
2. Live a chaste and virtuous life. F-. Dude was the Wilt Chamberlain of 1800s LDS society. He married a total of 55 women. In his 40s, he married Clarissa Decker who was 15 at the time of marriage. She bore 5 children for him. Additionally, he married several 16-year-old girls during the same decade. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking pedophile.
3. Obey the law and all campus policies. F. Campus policies did not exist then, so I’ll let that slide. However, the law is a different story. There’s the matter of the Mountain Meadows Massacre as well as Plural Marriage, just to name two. Sorry.
4. Use Clean Language. A. No indication of a potty mouth. Gold star.
5. Respect Others. F-. Look no further than his regard for African Americans (and policies toward them as continued by the business of LDS until 1978. 1978!). Consider his own words (taken from the Journal of Discourses):
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” – JoD: vol.10 p. 110: (March 8, 1863)
Not enough? Consider this, too:
“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un- comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race – that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, [p.291] and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed.When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion. “- JoD 7:290-291 (October 9, 1859)
Wow. The “seed of Cain” is quite a harsh biblical rebuke. It makes one ask the question “What would Brigham Young think of Brandon Davies?” Even more “What would BY think of Brandon Davies attending the university that bears his name?” I’ll let you answer those questions in your own mind.
6. Abstain from alcohol, tobbacco, coffee, tea… A. Great. Please pass your unsipped cup of coffee over to me, Brig.
7. Participate regularly in church activities. A+. After all, this is where he got attention, and access to younger women. A+ for participation, but F- for intentions in doing so.
8. Observe dress and grooming standards. D. I’m not sure that BYU would accept students walking around looking like the male version of the Crazy Cat Lady.
9. Encourage others in their commitment to the Honor Code. A+. He seemed more than willing to push his beliefs onto others as a means of controlling their social behavior and maintain his control over the then-fledgling religion. Great job, Mr. Prophet Dude.
As for Brandon, I wish him the best. I know he knew the standards when he chose to attend BYU, but he is also a kid with hormones and unpolished perspective. Now, he’s a kid whose kid antics have been paraded nationally. But, when we consider his missteps in the eyes of the LDS Board of Directors, we should consider that his faults pale in comparison to those who created the business of Latter Day Saints. The analysis of Big Brigham is bad enough. Imagine how bad it would get if we applied the same honor code to Joseph Smith, the creator of the most fabulous and successful con job in our country’s history.
Brandon deserves to be himself, and he deserves to be happy. He deserves to be a kid, and human. In doing so, he’ll have faults, and that’s just fine.
I wish him a soft landing at a more openminded, freethinking, and accepting university.