Thursday, January 17, 2008

they tell you who you need to be

Early this morning while walking to class, some girls were handing out hot chocolate. It was so cold today, so I really appreciated the hot chocolate. As I was balancing things in my hands, one of the girls said that it was Karl G. Maeser's birthday today and then stuffed a giant honor code magnet into my back pack pocket.

What is it about the honor code (and honor code paraphernalia) that sends a shiver down my spine? Is it the feeling of being painted into a corner of hypocrisy? Is it the personal rights one must freely give up to attend the school his culture, religion, and family pressure him to attend? Is it the feeling of paranoia that at any time someone could use even this very blog to report me to the dreaded honor code office where an investigation would be launched into my personal "behavior?"

On this particular magnet it was the word "comply" that sent the shiver down my spine. "Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code." Is it just me or does that word conjure up images of Nazi Germany or Stalin's USSR? I can just see the that Nazi guy in Sound of Music at Captain Von Trapp's door requesting that he "comply" with the Nazi's request for naval service. *shudder*

In all honesty, I believe that the concept of the Honor Code is a good one, but I think it goes beyond not only practicality, but reasonability. According to the Honor Code, "advocating" a homosexual relationship is punishable. I'm not talking about having gay sex, I'm talking about "advocating" someone else holding hands with a member of the same gender. Something is wrong with that, in my opinion. That means that I can't protest on behalf of, or assemble to support, or say anything in support of gay rights. This nation revolted against Britain over similar injustices.

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic here, but I wish that instead of celebrating Karl G. Maeser's birthday we would just celebrate Martin Luther King Jr's birthday like the rest of the country.


Abelard Enigma said...

I have to confess, I had no idea who Karl G. Maeser was until I googled his name - and, it being 'Maeser' rather than 'Maiser' did complicate things a bit :)

Personally, I am ambivalent about the honor code. On one hand, you are right in that it conjures up images of the Nazi Gestapo. On the other hand, although there may be cultural and family pressure, nobody forced you to go to BYU - you agreed to comply with the honor code of your own free will and choice.

What bothers me most is not that the honor code exists, but how it pits neighbor against neighbor. Clark (The Stripping Warrior) talks of how he was called into the honor code office frequently as many people reported he was openly gay - although he was exonerated each time.

I have zero respect for anyone who turns someone into the honor code office if they were not personally impacted by the alleged infractions and/or the alleged infractions are not hurting anyone else. After all, - didn't we reject Lucifer's plan? The only conclusion I can come up with is that they were the fence sitters at the great council.

Josh said...

Comply?!? What are you trying to say, comrade?

Calvin said...

Professor Bott once explained the whole agency vs. Lucifer's plan thing in an interesting way that I tend to agree with. I believe he basically said that Lucifer's plan was not to take away our choices, but to take away the cause/effect relationship between choices and consequences.

As a proud former member of the Student Honor Association, I may be a little biased, but... I doubt any of us ever learned at church that our choices are supposed to have no consequences. Really, would any of us learn anything if our choices were so "free" that there were no rewards or penalties? The purpose of the Honor Code isn't to take away your ability to choose-- nobody can take that away. It does, however, enforce consequences for wrong choices. Again, Satan's the one who doesn't like the idea of right and wrong.

And honestly, I'd have more respect for the views of people with complaints about the Honor Code if I saw more people who live it complaining. Unfortunately, it seems that too many people who get worked up about gay hand-holding being against the rules are the ones having gay sex. It's hard not to question their motives.

Abelard Enigma said...

Lucifer's plan was not to take away our choices, but to take away the cause/effect relationship between choices and consequences.

An interesting idea - but I don't agree with it. Lucifer wanted to take away our free agency.

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man ...
Moses 4:3

If you merely remove the consequences of our choices then we are still free to choose; ergo, we would still have our agency.

As I said before, I am ambivalent about the honor code itself. BYU is a private institution and can do anything they darned well wants to - they could require all guys to shave their heads and wear knickers for all I care. The students at BYU have their agency to choose to attend there and, by so doing, agree to abide by its rules.

What I take issue with are the Gestapo tactics used to enforce the honor code. But, I don't think that necessarily is a reflection on BYU itself, more so on the students who resort to such tactics.

October Rising said...

I had the same experience. I had to laugh, I didn't give a rip who Karl G. Maeser was (or is) I just wanted some hot chocolate. And boy it felt good!

Pan said...

Unfortunately, it seems that too many people who get worked up about gay hand-holding being against the rules are the ones having gay sex. It's hard not to question their motives.

Boy howdy! Them's fightin' words. And painfully presumptuous. And Peter's not worried about the ban on gay hand-holding, it's the ban on support of gays' right to hold hands that gets him.

The more I think about it, the more incredible that statement is. That's a sentence-load of judgment right there.

And I don't care what anybody says, nobody lives the honor code (not even Jesus; seen his hair lately?), though we all did agree to try. So, I agree with Abelard. Everyone should first worry about the order of their own house.

Peter said...

I am all for actions having consequences. Actions have natural consequences. For example, if I steal, then the consequence is that the store I stole from is missing inventory, looses money, and wants to catch me so it can redeem its loss. I suffer the loss of self-respect, fear of being caught, and rising prices from the store which must up its security. These and other consequences make it very naturally wrong to steal.

What I am against is adding unnatural consequences to actions. For example, making it so that holding hands (and I'm just talking about holding hands, not sex)has increased unpleasant consequences beyond the inherent ones. To me that is not punishing something that is wrong, it is making something seem wrong.

The same can be said with something less controversial. Shaving. It is not wrong to go a few days without shaving. However, since BYU "punishes" people who don't shave, they are making it "wrong." I don't think they need to do that.

I understand their right to control the atmosphere they have on campus as a private institution, but I think there should be a distinction between something that is wrong and something that BYU doesn't want to have on campus. For example, academic honesty has a place in the honor code. Grooming standards could have a place in a campus policy- something separate that doesn't effect your personal integrity but that still allows campus to be scruff free.

Calvin said...

All I'm saying is that I'd rather hear helpful criticism from someone who's living it, rather than someone who, underneath it all, seems to really be saying, "I don't wanna get caught." (I'm not talking about Peter.)

Point taken. I have my doubts about the necessity of the beard thing (let's face it-- scruff can be sexy), and I'm neither perfect in following the Honor Code nor having beard sex. Thanks for your explanation.