Thursday, March 3, 2011

Judge Not Lest Ye be... Praised?

This is going to be a slightly more serious entry.  Apologies.  Here, I take an extended sabbatical and then repay the patience of those of you who waited out my self-boycott by gifting you a decided lack of humor.  I don't mean to kick you when you are down, I really don't.  I just can't help it.  You're so easy to kick.  All the way down there, right next to my feet.

Also, dinner wasn't ready... AGAIN.
For those of you who had not heard, a BYU player was recently dismissed from his basketball team for having sex with his girlfriend.  There are so many, many things that upset me about this.  So many aspects I can criticize.  I could easily write 2-3 entries on it and, you know what, I will.  Because it's my fucking blog.  My first major issue with all this after the jump.

There are legal and religious aspects about this that I will comment on more specifically in future post(s) but, for now, the things that annoys me the most is the social aspect.  Since BYU has booted Brandon Davies, the response among the talking sports heads has been, largely, supportive.  The chorus rings loud and clear: "We might not agree with BYU's standards and policies but we respect the school for standing by them."  That is asinine to the extreme.  Listen, it is honorable for anyone, person or institution, to stand by their own personal code when that code is legitimate.  There are many politicians over the years who have beliefs in policies I did not support but I respected them for standing by those policies.  Chuck Hagel, Barry Goldwater, and Bob Dole all spring to mind.  But there is a difference between legitimate political debate and archaic, harmful, regressive standards.

The mere fact that someone stands by something is not respectable when the thing they stand by is reprehensible.  There is an obvious Nazi analogy to be made here but I refuse to make it for the sake of maintaining enlightened debate.

I will, however, cry if needbe.
Instead, let me make a more enlightened analogy.  Let's say that BYU's policy, instead of saying "thou shalt not have premarital sex" said "thou shalt not attend African-American Rights rallies."  Would people be so quick to support it then?  "But!" the chorus screams, "That is an unfair comparison.  There is a difference between political speech and boinking your girlfriend!"  Okay, what, instead, if the BYU policy said "thou shalt not read for pleasure."  Would they be so lauded for adhering to such a code?  Before people condemn me as unfair, allow me to strengthen the analogy.

I can write for pages about the idiocy of forbidding premarital sex.  The reasons for ancient religious and societal bans on it were very real.  Disease, unintended pregnancy, social strife, all derived from the act.  It was banned as a protectionist measure.  But, one by one, those valid reasons have been eliminated.  Birth control, personal responsibility, medicine, etc. have rendered proper, safe premarital sex harmless.  The promulgation of fiction of the abstinent teenager (and even more ludicrous, the abstinent college student) leads to secret sex.  Rather than teaching kids to be responsible about sex, we teach them not to have it so, when they do, they have no idea how to do it maturely.

Maybe "mature" is too strong a word.  Let's stick with "responsible."
Yes, this is a bit of a rant about abstinence-only education but it also extends to religious schools embracing it as a code for college students and renaming it "premarital sex."  It's the same fundamental policy dressed up in a new coat.  A continuation of dogmatic irrationality.  And, returning to me analogy, just like leisure reading, it is something done for fun that has nothing to do with school.  Regulating a student's sexual habits is just as intrusive and outside the realm of their core academic concerns as regulating their outside reading habits.

Further, and here is the part where people get their torches and pitchforks from whatever store still sells them:  It is just as counterproductive.  We support people in general, as especially college students, reading for pleasure because it develops important skills and serves to educate them.  Even if they aren't reading great works of fiction or peer-reviewed research articles, the mere act of reading improves their vocabulary, stylistic abilities, rhetorical skills, and even the trashiest of novels generally serves to educate on SOMETHING, even if its something as benign as literary style or cultural stereotype.  Not all extracurricular reading has the same value, but the vast majority of it has value.

Ironically, there is probably even some value in the stuff written by sexually-repressed Mormons.  PROBABLY.
Here comes my bold premise.  Get those torches lit.  Sex is also crucial in development and growth in college.  It's really high time society stop pretending that people don't have sex and that sex isn't a crucial part of our culture and who we are.  And sex, just like experimenting with political beliefs, reading diverse literature, and eating foreign foods, is an important part of a college kid learning who he or she is.  Sex, when done properly, is key for emotional development and for becoming a fully functioning adult, capable of forming healthy relationships.  How can we expect adults to regard sex properly if they aren't allowed to ever experience it and learn from it.  We expect people to just suddenly, magically, have appropriate emotional responses, use sex properly as a relationship tool and know how to do it when they go on their honeymoon?  Really?

Wait... you're supposed to put what where??? Oh... oh shit.
Denying that college kids have sex is serving to retard their proper development, period.  And it is harmful.

I, for one, am not a fan of "viewpoint neutrality."  These commentators, looking at and opining about BYU's code, are essentially saying "we will not pass judgment on the underlying rule, we just support your decision to stand by it."  I do not.  Listen, if BYU wants to stand by productive rules (don't lie, cheat, steal) I fully support that.  Hell, I will support their right to stand by arbitrary and neutral rules (no caffeine or cursing) or rules that are harsh but likely produce some benefit (no alcohol) or even rules of ambiguous worth (attend church services.)  But I will not support an overly intrusive rule that, quite likely, actually serves to harm students.

There is no honor in standing by archaic codes and commentators do society a disservice by not judging BYU for that stance.  Fifty years ago, viewpoint neutrality was what led people refusing to pass judgment on schools that racially segregated.  Sure, maybe we don't agree with it, but that's their policy and we respect them standing by it.  I'll speak to the legal issues of this in my next post but, in summary, while I support BYU's RIGHT to make this code (in that I do not believe government should intervene), I also believe that it is the duty of commentators to not turn a blind eye.  There is nothing wrong with criticizing and pressuring an institution to change for the better.  Stop pretending "not having sex" is equally pious with "don't steal."  One is wrong, the other is natural and healthy.  It is your job, as the media, to make that distinction and to advocate for social change rather than letting some poor college kid be run out on a rail for being a college kid.

1 comment:

  1. Less complaining about morals. More sexy rumpus