Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Dick @ BYU

The state of Utah is once again at the center of another passionate free speech war. Vice President Dick Cheney has been confirmed to speak at Brigham Young University's commencement on April 26th. Brigham Young University (BYU) is owned and run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), and it was the top leaders of the church (including "the prophet", Gordon Hinckley) that wrote the letter of invitation to the Republican Vice President.

BYU Spokesperson Carri Jenkins says, “We are honored to have the Vice President be with us at the April commencement.”

You would think that inviting one of the nation's most conservative leaders to one of the most conservative universities located in one of the most conservative states in the union would be a slam dunk success. Think again...

Hundreds of upset BYU students, professors and alumni are signing a petition in an attempt to convince BYU's administration to cancel the Cheney speech and invite someone else.

In their own words:
  • “As someone who’s been heavily involved and advocated for things like torturing prisoners, and what-not, I just feel like that doesn’t coincide with a Christian university.” - BYU student Eric Bybee
  • "In our estimation, Vice President Cheney does not embody the ideals taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Inviting Cheney ... violates long-standing LDS Church and BYU policies regarding political neutrality and sanctions the actions of a prominent political figure who demonstrates questionable ethics," -Portion of a letter written by four BYU professors
  • "Cheney is of such an unsavory character, that he makes his protégé, felon Scooter Libby, who was recently convicted of perjury and obstructing justice, seem as pure as a nun. If BYU seeks to bring a model of abuse of power, greed and political extremism, which seeks to decimate citizens' rights guaranteed by our laws, then Cheney is a perfect choice. But if, on the other hand, the university hopes to offer a model to graduates of love and service to humanity, then better candidates are available." - BYU Professor Warner Woodworth
  • "If Cheney's visit comes to pass, I will withdraw my support to BYU. I will not make any more donations, purchase another sweatshirt or attend another of its sporting events." -Katie Hatch in American Fork, Utah
Wow. This sure sounds familiar. Why you ask? A brief history:

During the heated 2004 presidential election season, Utah Valley State College (a slightly more liberal college about 7 miles from BYU) invited Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore to speak on campus. UVSC resides in the town of Orem, which had been officially named, by city councilmen, "Family City, USA". A predominately Republican town with strong Mormon roots, residents were foaming at the mouth about Michael Moore's approaching speech. They claimed he was "the devil" and "would corrupt the children" or, even worse, that would "destroy us all". A social and political firestorm descended upon UVSC with petitions, lawsuits, bribery attempts, and even death threats towards the student government officers responsible for inviting Moore. At one point during the me lee, it was asked if they should wear bullet-proof vests for safety.

Michael Moore pissed a lot of people off in Utah.

Arguments over free speech were shouted up and down the hallways of the college. Conservatives claimed that Michael Moore did not "represent the family values" of the community and thus shouldn't be allowed to speak. Liberals claimed that since they were the minority voice in Utah, a spokesperson representing their views should be welcomed with open arms. In retaliation, Republican donors to the college pulled over $200,000 in donations. One even offered the administration $25,000 to cancel the Moore speech.

In the end, despite all this, Michael Moore came and spoke at UVSC. But not before Utah conservatives invited FOX News' Sean Hannity to speak the week before Moore to "balance" the debate. (As if there exists only two points of view in this complicated world).

And then it was all over. We made a movie about it, THIS DIVIDED STATE. It's an observational documentary that shows what happens when civil discourse fails and name-calling and ad hominem attacks prevail... division and hatred.

And here we go again.

But now the tables are turned. It is now a conservative speaker who is getting the ire of those opposed to his ideology. And many of the Cheney opponents are reacting the same way as the Moore opponents, claiming "he doesn't represent our religion", "he doesn't represent family values", or "he is pure evil". Republicans and conservatives, on the other hand, are fighting for Cheney's right to speak.

Will BYU Campus greet the Cheney posse as liberators?
  • Marian Monnahan, chairwoman of the Utah County Republican Party, does not see a problem with Cheney speaking at BYU. "I think it's wonderful," she said. "I don't know what the problem is. ... Republicans in this county are still with President Bush."
  • "I'm fine with Dick Cheney coming," says BYU student Brad Royal, "I'm a Republican and I support, usually, President Bush and what he's doing right now."
  • David Laffen, chairman of BYU's College Republicans, said that he was "excited about the vice president of the United States coming to BYU. Cheney's visit is good because it is sparking debate and dialogue, as well as encouraging people to become involved. Whether you agree or not, you should be excited."
I couldn't agree more with Mr. Laffen. Cheney's visit is good because it is sparking debate and protest at a highly conservative university that has a history of suppressing free speech and endorsing prejudice toward minorities. It is a great opportunity for those who oppose the war in Iraq, who oppose torture, who oppose corruption and greed, and who oppose what the Bush Administration has done to tarnish the ideals of the American Way, to stand up and march in protest against BYU and the Vice President.

But don't cancel his speech. Yes, let him speak. All those Utahns who fought to get Michael Moore into Utah and now want Dick Cheney silenced should step back and re-evaluate. It is in our system of democracy to provide forums of free speech, especially for our elected leaders.

Some will argue that Cheney is speaking at a BYU's Graduation Ceremony and that he "doesn't represent" the student body. I spoke to a BYU student today who said, "If this was a mid-semester speech where one could decide to go or not, then fine. But this is graduation. I paid tuition for 4 years and worked my butt off. I want to go and enjoy it. I don't want to sit through Dick Cheney's rhetoric."

I guess that's a good point, but boo-hoo. BYU makes every student sign an "honor code" document before admittance can be delivered. All the rules and ideology of the school are right there and students sign on the dotted line. So BYU students know exactly what they're getting into. It's like a Berkeley student freaking out because Al Franken was invited to come speak at graduation. So, BYU students and professors, go ahead and pass around the petition and fight your damnedest, but the fact of the matter is that the Mormon First Presidency, who claim to personally talk to God every day, invited Cheney. They're not going to back down.

Mormon President Hinckley (left) says, "I like Dick."

I'm not saying, "don't try", because it's your American right to do so. I'm just saying, welcome him to Utah, voice your idealogical dissent, and then protest the hell out of his speech. Imagine the headlines, "Conservative Utah Sees Mass of Dissent Against Cheney". So get out your Sharpies and make up those "Impeach Him" signs. And I'll be right there with you. My sign will say, "Surprise, Surprise. Another Dick At BYU". Because you can't have a Cheney protest without a "Dick" joke. That's the real American Way.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, protest, but don't ask BYU to reconsider the invitation? Isn't that part of the protest? Phase 1 being an attempt to get as many people as possible to tell Cheney to stay away, with phase 2 being marching around campus with the funny signs? I like your "Dick" joke, but I hope there's some anti-Bush signs as well. My personal favorite is "Drunken Frat Boy Runs Country Into Ditch."

I loved you movie, btw.

Stenar said...

Like the anonymous student you quoted, I think Cheney should be perfectly welcome to speak at BYU at any time of the year other than graduation.

Not just because the students who don't want to hear him are forced to sit through it, but because it always seemed to me that graduation speakers were people not just of high stature in the community or nation, but people who you hoped students would go out into the world and emulate. Graduation speakers are supposed to be inspiring and I can't imagine anyone wanting their children to go out into the world and do the things Cheney has done to America.

Sarah Loverock said...

Steven,

I find it odd that you would give the advise to "protest the hell out of Cheney's speech." before you have even heard it.

What specific points of his graduation speech are we to be outraged by? And how on earth did you get a copy of his speech so far in advance?

You remind me of the idiots who hate Michael Moore and all of his films yet haven't seen a single one.

Let's hear what he has to say in his graduation speech before we decide on protesting it.

If you want people to protest his policies, that's one thing but you are no better than those who protest books or films without reading or seeing them if you think it's a good idea to protest a speech before it's delivered.

Best of luck with your little protest.

Steven said...

Sarah,

No, you don't understand.

Some of us really don't give a fuck about what Cheney is going to say.

We'll be protesting the fact that he's a warmonger and a war profiteer. The fact that, for decades, he's been making money off of the suffering of others.

And people haven't died because of Michael Moore's lies.

Over 3000 American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died because Cheney lied about a litany of "facts" about Saddam Hussein.

And as for our "little protest", thousands have already confirmed to protest that day.

Little, indeed.

STEVEN

sarah loverock said...

So you AREN"T protesting his speech?
You're protesting his war policies?

GREAT!

I'm glad I was able to help you clear that up because ealier you said for people to "protest the hell out of his SPEECH" - (not his war policies.)

And like I said:

"IF YOU WANT TO PROTEST HIS POLICIES, that's one thing but you are no better than those who protest books or films without reading or seeing them if you think it's a good idea to protest a speech before it's delivered."

So it sounds like we now agree on the matter.

Next time, Say what you mean and say it MEAN!

Douche bag! (Just kidding)

Sarah Loverock

PS

I'm really not kidding, I do think you're a douche bag (I'm totally kidding) Sort of.

Steven said...

Sarah,

I was talking to the people trying to CANCEL his speech.

I think they should stop focusing their efforts on canceling his speech and plan more for a day of protest. (Which, from what I hear, people from around the country are flying in just to protest for).

But, me, personally, I would protest him based on his record. Not his speech per se.

So, thanks for meeting me in the middle.

Let's go out sometime.

STEVEN

Bitch said...

Yeah. Let's go out with Sarah (the dums ass) sometime!

HA!!!!!.............

sarah loverock said...

Steven,

There was some pretty freaky crap on this thread which is now gone. Was that intended to piss me off?

I don't understand what porn, "milfs" and your wife have to do with me.

I just thought it was ill-advised to protest his speech before it was delivered.

I think if people are successful in stopping Cheney's speech at "The BY", then every time someone tries to give a speech other than Mormon leaders at BYU then we can expect some group to be all bent out of shape and protest it because they don't stand for "our values."

I have always considered the most important voice to be heard, the one's that are different than our own.

Protesting his war is another thing all together and I support it. (the protesting - not the war)

As for us "going out", I don't think your wife would approve. But maybe we could go out on a "HOT DOUBLE DATE" sometime though.

It's now clear that you don't so much support the idea of protesting his speech but rather the protesting of his war.

I believe your explaination but you might consider changing your original post because I can't believe I'm the only person who found it strange for someone involved with THIS DIVIDED STATE to advise people to protest someone opening their mouth essentially.

BTW I saw TDS and it pissed me off. I'm glad that Moore was able to speak and I hope the same for Dick.

Bitch,

It's very clear by your post that you're no dumb ass.

Oceans of Love,

Sarah

Steven said...

Sarah,

First of all, that wasn't me. That was some one with security issues pretending and wishing they could be me.

That's the thing about "Anonymous" posting. You can post anything using anyone's name.

So, sorry if you thought all that crap was from me.

I'm not married, for instance. I have a cute little girlfriend, but why someone is bringing up "a wife" is beyond me.

But, again, I advocate protesting Cheney for being a douchey war monger, not because of what he may, or may not, say on April 26th.

Cheers,

STEVEN

p.s. Glad you liked the movie.

sarah loverock said...

Steven,

It looked like it was someone quoting you.

Was the quote an actual quote from you?

Still confused by what I read,

Sarah

Steven said...

Sarah,

You have to understand, there are literally 4 Anti-Steven Greenstreet websites out there where people with absolutely no lives, and no hope for any lives, dedicate their time to stalking me and slandering me.

So, no. That's not a quote from me.

That's something someone is using to misrepresent me.

STEVEN

sarah loverock said...

Where are these websites?

Simon Malthus said...

the attempt here to draw a parallel between protests against Moore and protests against Cheney overlooks the objective difference between the two.

fact is, Cheney shares a great portion of responsibility in the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. were justice not a creature of the powerful, he'd be on trial for crimes against humanity right now. and compared to this Moore has done what? make a few movies?

beyond that, Dick Cheney's advocacy of war and torture is in fact contrary to a Christian ethic. to argue that because BYU students sign an honor code prior to admittance, they are therefore implicitly in support of people like Dick Cheney, is an argument based upon a confusion of "Christian" and "conservative" with "pathological" and "evil." while such a confusion is often the case in actual fact (i would label much of institutional christianity as pathological), i doubt this pathological reality is spelled out in the honor code document students must sign.

Puffdragon said...

Note to Sara Loverock

Hi,

Please consider the following:

Have you noted that Cheney transferred directly from Halliburton to Veep? Are you aware that Halliburton has been the greatest beneficiary of the Iraq invasion, driving Cheney's stock options higher than Enron Towers?

You may be a conservative, but Cheney is not: he's a radical warmonger, war profiteer, and shameless corporate whore. Cheney openly advocates torture, against every domestic and international law.

Though my values are probably further to the left than yours, I don't see why integrity in public servants would be less important for you.

If it were me, I wouldn't have such a man speak at my university.

Anonymous said...

Since when does Cheney have the "right to speak" at BYU? He doesn't have the right to speak at BYU, any more than Michael Moore had the right to speak at UVSC. They were invited; they didn't have a "right."

They both have the right to freedom of speech, of course, as do those who protested or supported them, but that freedom of speech doesn't imply that they have the right to a particular venue.

In a time when so many people are careless with declaring their so-called rights, I think we should all be more careful about what we say.