Friday, November 18, 2011

Good, better, best

Here are some thoughts on the latest Daily Universe opinion page controversy:

It all started with a letter to the editor written by Alex Hairston, one of my old sports reporters and fellow sports editors. He wrote about a conversation he had with a friend about the TV show "Modern Family." One of the families on the show is a same-sex couple with an adopted little girl.

Alex and his friend were sharing their opinions on whether we should support same-sex couples who want to adopt and raise children. His friend said he would rather his taxes go to build orphanages and prevent children from going to same-sex couples. Alex said he wasn't so sure.

But I thought Alex's letter was great, because it was totally benign and simply curious. He honestly was just wondering what people thought of the issue.

"I’m not sure the LDS Church has ever commented on this particular situation, although the proclamation to the world calls clearly for a mother and father in the home, if possible."

"Personally, I can’t say I’m opposed to a situation where a gay couple raises a child, but that could change if the Prophet marked it as a practice that should be avoided."

Certainly no rebellion or false doctrine. Alex was just being inquisitive.

Here's his letter:

Ways to raise

Of course, Alex's letter sparked a lot of responses. Of two that were published in the paper, one was supportive of same-sex couples adopting, one wasn't. But both of them were mostly thoughtful, and added to the conversation without resorting to insults or pettiness.

"Modern" immorality


But then, a letter was published by someone named Taylor Petty (ironic enough). He sounded like someone who has never met a gay person in his life. He was very adamant, harsh, very zero-tolerance and downright heartless.

(I'll just interject myself here to remind all of you that just because a letter is published in the paper doesn't mean any of us in the newsroom or the university or the Church agree with it. And a letter is different from an article. An article would be the voice of the newspaper, a letter is the voice of some random guy.)

His letter is no longer available online, so I have to paraphrase, but the most striking point he made was something like "Would we let a baby be raised by a mother who was a prostitute or a father who was a serial killer?" (If you happen to have a Daily Universe paper from yesterday, you can find it there on page three.)

The letter was published in the paper and online, but was taken down last night. Here's the explanation by our managing editor Joel Campbell:

Letter removed

I thought Professor Campbell's statement was perfect and I totally agree with what he said. The letter did not reflect the opinion of The Daily Universe, BYU or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All three institutions (and myself) oppose same-sex marriage and oppose complete acceptance of homosexuality as merely an alternative lifestyle. At the same time, homosexual couples are not evil monsters. The Church has supported pretty much every right that homosexuals fight for except for marriage. (Here's an example.)

To anyone who cries censorship and says this is a violation of the First Amendment to take it down, I'll refer you to the U.S. Supreme Court case Miami Herald v. Tornillo. Basically, someone who writes a letter to the editor does have a right to speech, but a newspaper editor also has a right not to speak. If we don't want to publish something that's hateful and against the doctrine of our sponsoring organization (the Church), then we don't have to. (If you want to go somewhere that does publish things that might be newsworthy but against the doctrine of the Church, go here instead.)

The Daily Universe had a similar case last year, with a letter that I think was the opposite view of Taylor Petty's letter. I say "I think," because the letter was not clear whether it was rebelling against the Church and the prophet or wasn't. It was ambiguous to me, which is why I supported its removal last September.

Taylor Petty has every right to say what he wants to say. He even has the right to say that homosexuality is as bad as prostitution or murder. But he doesn't have the right to say so in The Daily Universe. If he demands his letter be republished or reposted online, or demands that other letters are taken down, then he is infringing on our First Amendment rights.


For the record, I haven't totally decided my stance on this issue. But I lean toward what Alex and Katie Peacock said.

I remember one time having a conversation with a mission companion of mine while I was a missionary in Argentina. I don't remember how the subject came up, but we were talking about same-sex parents. I said this partly to annoy him, haha, but I also believed it, "I would rather live in a home with two dads or two moms who loved each other than a home with a mom and a dad who hated each other." I think same-sex parents are definitely better than abusive parents. And I think same-sex parents are better than no parents at all.

Any home without both a mother and a father is not what God would hope for His children. But, of course, many of us have been raised in other types of families, whether it was by a single parent, a grandparent, another relative, or two moms or two dads. I think someone raised in another type of family has just as much of an opportunity to be an upright citizen and a righteous child of God.


And, by the way, I happen to love "Modern Family."


UPDATE: This KTVX article gets some things wrong.

1) I don't know why this "Josh" kid thinks he would be expelled. I wonder where he got that idea.

2) The letter to the editor didn't actually criticize "Modern Family." Hey, ABC 4, if you want to actually do some research, read the original letter by clicking here. (Maybe you were thinking of this letter, but this isn't the one that started it all.)

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