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In defense of BYU's sex suspension

Posted by Jesse Singal  March 3, 2011 01:24 PM

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(Update: A couple of commenters have jumped on me for criticizing BYU's policy on the basis of the separation of church and state. They're right: BYU is a private, religiously affiliated institution, so this is a weak argument. Mea culpa.)

The sports world is abuzz over BYU's decision to suspend center Brandon Davies, a key member of its 27-3, third-ranked basketball team, for violating BYU's honor code by having sex with his girlfriend. It's a major blow for a team some thought could make a run at a national championship.

I couldn't disagree more with BYU's honor code, which is repressive and treats students like sterile instruments rather than human beings. Punishing someone for consensual sex flies in the face of our society's respect for privacy — and our separation of church and state.

But Davies knew the rules going in. He decided to attend a university that made it clear that closely monitoring his behavior was a very important concern. His behavior did not comport to the standards set out by the university, so he was punished.

It's hard to argue with this except by pointing to the stupidity of the policy itself — which, again, isn't the point. BYU's decision was a principled one, and if other schools held themselves up to the same standard with regard to important, substantive matters like academic performance, big-time college athletics would be a slightly less corrupt institution.

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