Cheney Good? Cheney Bad? Let's Be Civil

BYU hosted two political demonstrations today--one (sponsored by BYU college Democrats) opposed to the appearance of Vice President Dick Cheney ( imagine that!) at upcoming graduation commencement exercises, and one (BYU college Republicans) in favor (imagine that, too!). I thought about going up to main campus to see what was going on, but I decided against it.

The BYU Daily Universe on Monday stated that it had received a lot of letters to the editor regarding Vice President Cheney and implied that many of them could be classified as hate mail, many of which were followed up with correspondences by the same submitters "pleading that we won't publish the first."

I used to think that only the craziest of people would fashion themselves conspiracy theorists, claiming outlandish things with no proof. It seems that for some on both the left and the right that this is becoming de rigueur (the left is more cacophonous right now only because a Republican is in the White House). Such theories and blathering have high entertainment value. But one of the huge problems with America is our insatiable appetite for entertainment. Juxtaposed with our inability to be civil in so many cases, this indicates huge problems for our future, including political decisions being made by those who can scream the loudest. And that may not be the worst problem to develop out of this sad state of affairs.

One of the quickest reactions by many against the Cheney visit was that BYU was showing its true political colors by not inviting any Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat) was invited to speak at the Law School commencement in 2004. He has been invited to speak again at BYU, and the invitation was extended before the Cheney invitation was given.

Considering the political stance (non-political) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it is disingenuous for people to speak out against BYU and the Church for the Cheney visit. The church stated:

First, the Church prohibits any Church leader from endorsing a candidate in the name of the Church. Second, the Church bans the use of its chapels for party political purposes and also refuses to allow the distribution of Church membership rolls to anyone, including politicians and candidates. It also carefully avoids telling its members for whom they should vote. Neither does it tell elected Latter-day Saint officials how they should vote.

Far more important than whether or not Cheney lied, whether he still profits from Halliburton contracts, or whether he holds weekly interviews with the devil or Gordon B. Hinckley is that we can maintain a civil discourse in our society. Some have been able to. Far too many have not. It is ironic that most people's opinions of Cheney fall somewhere on one extreme or the other--either they hate him or they love him.

My opinion is different. I think he should never have been vice president (I didn't vote for George W Bush either time), but he is. I therefore respect the office. And I can give my reasons for not liking him as a politician without resorting to invective and theory.

If we can't learn this fact, then we're sunk. As Abraham Lincoln warned us, we are potentially our own worst destroyers.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.


  1. I don't know if Cheney holds weekkly meetings with Gordon B. Hinckley or the devil either; But knowing him, if he holds meetings with one of them, he is holding one later that week with the other.

  2. Hinckley would visit out of the kindness of his heart to a 'state official', where the 'other dude' would be whispering in Cheney's ear every chance he gets! And a whole bunch of other politicians as well.

  3. I don't really think universities should host politicians as speakers. Universities are supposed to be places where the truth is still valued...politicians use any opportunity to speak as an opportunity to promote themselves, not to discuss the truth.

    Moreover, Dick Cheney flunked out of Yale...he's never written an interesting book or discovered or invented anything...aren't there a thousand more worthwhile individuals BYU could find??

  4. That's actually a very interesting perspective that I hadn't thought about. In today's cut-throat political atmosphere, you're probably right!

  5. Excluding politicians from speaking at universities is an invitation to ignorance rather than protection of enlightenment. I thought it was important for university students to be exposed to a diversity of views rather than being coddled with carefully protected stuff crafted and approved by elitists.

    I remember that the LDS Church and BYU took some heat from people on the right when President Clinton was invited to speak. Some took umbrage when Walter Cronkeit was invited to direct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

    It is good to be aware of why someone is being given an honor, but sometimes we're too quick to see ulterior motives everywhere we look.

  6. "a diversity of views rather than...carefully protected stuff crafted and approved by elitists."

    by "elitists"--do you mean, smart people? ;p

  7. Some of the smartest people in the world have also been among the most evil. Being smart does not give one the right to exclude others' views.

  8. Your blog was on the "right" side of the bloghive, so I expected to be irritated (but hey, you gotta see what the other side is thinking, huh?). Instead, I find myself impressed with what you have written here. If there were more people in politics who agreed with you, on BOTH sides of the isle, we would achieve more, and probably faster. Civility is fading, and it's tragic really.

    One little constructive criticism though. To assert that the Mormon Church is does not choose political sides is foolish. Most Mormon's don't even believe that. Especially here in Utah. You'd have to have been dead or blind for the past 30 years to assert that they do not actively participate in the political world inside the sate, and influence (sometimes even direct) the views of LDS members of national politics.

  9. and most of those evil people were politicians.


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