On Vox: BYU Commencement: the Cheney issue


Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to speak at my brother and sister’s commencement this spring. Cheney’s scheduled speech has caused a bit of concern among Brigham Young University students, faculty, and alumni.

Dissent focuses on two claims.

  • Vice president Cheney is a controversial republican, and inviting him to speak at BYU without inviting a similarly controversial democrat to speak at a similar event violates the LDS church‘s stated stance of political neutrality.
  • Vice president Cheney’s public behavior is antithetical to the stated Aims of a BYU Education, serving as a poor example of moral character or spiritual strength.

This week, the BYU Trustees announced that they have invited Senator Harry Reid to speak in November. To some this would appear to address the issue: a prominent democrat is also being invited to speak at BYU, restoring the balance of political speakers by providing a prominent member of each of the two major political parties.

I’m not convinced. I think the second argument is more relevant to the issue at hand.

To the Trustees:

The 3/30/2007 decision to invite Senator Harry Reid to “balance” things politically doesn’t address the key issue: Vice President Cheney’s public life and policies are antithetical to the Aims of a BYU Education.

He has brazenly misled the public about policy decisions, has been found connected to illegal activities in support of his political allies, and has been intimately involved (like other members of the current Bush administration) with the dealings of companies convicted of fraud, malfeasance, and inappropriate use of public and private funds.

I don’t think such an individual should be invited to speak at BYU commencement regardless of the position he or she occupies in our government, his or her popularity, his or her political affiliation, his or her membership in the church, or how appealing he or she will likely be to an audience of the saints.

Surely we can find speakers that embody all the aims of a BYU education in the text of their lives. People whose lives are an example of spiritual strength, intellectual endeavor, strong moral character, and lifelong learning and service.

To BYU alumni, faculty, family, and friends interested in voicing their opinion on the matter to the BYU Trustees, a petition was set up on The Petition Site last week. The petition sponsors have also set up a blog connected to the petition, providing further information.

And naturally I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts here.

Originally posted on xuhoch.vox.com


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