Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Codes of Honor

I’d like to weigh in on the Brandon Davies Thing. That’s Thing with a capital “T”…because it’s a big deal, not only in the press that it is getting, but in the way it differs from other unacceptable conduct, most notable recently, Charlie Sheen. For those of you who may not be aware, Brandon Davies was a notable basketball player for the BYU Cougars, and a major reason (along with Jimmer Fredette) that the Cougars are in the heat for the NCAA Basketball title.

Sadly, Brandon will not be playing in the tournament because it was leaked (and he did not deny) that he had premarital sex with his girlfriend. And he attends BYU. And he signed the Honor Code that all BYU students sign, which includes a morals clause. But that’s not the point I want to make. The point I want to make is that his fellow players, along with his fellow students, did not cry for him to leave school. After all he has expressed remorse and asked forgiveness, but he could no longer be a participant in the team, at least for this year. He had willingly made a choice that placed him outside the common group.

That’s what makes a Code of Honor different from a community law. When you break the law, you might have consequences, especially if your infringement placed others at risk, but you might not, for instance, going through a stop sign on a deserted country road. When you break an element of an Honor Code, you weaken the collective group, tarnish their image. Bring shame on them. Weaken the trust element of their strength.

In my career in the Navy I learned there was a difference in the Navy and Marine Officers who attended the Naval Academy and those who gained their commission through other avenues. Not that Annapolis graduates knew more, or were brighter and cleverer, nor that they had a stronger sense of honor. They did have a bond with other “ring-knockers” that was impossible to describe, because they knew something about their fellow officers, just by knowing what they had committed to when at the Academy.

Without ever having attended BYU, I can appreciate the student commitment to the Mormon principles taught there, as did Amar’e Stoudemire, the very wealthy and talented player, presently with the New York Knicks. Stoudemire, who never went to college, was asked what he thought of the BYU coach’s decision to allow Davies, in civilian coat and tie, to get a piece of the net following the game that clinched their Division championship. He said, “The school has the right to administer punishment, but I hope Davies will have another season to prove himself.” Stoudemire attended Mount Zion Christian Academy in Florida during a time when his father had died and his mother was in prison. He credits a faith in God for getting him through that period. Tim Tebow, who did attend BYU, agrees. “Everyone messes up, almost every day. We deserve second chances.”

My son teaches at a parochial elementary school, where the students and their parents sign an Honor Code. Recently the entire Eighth Grade was suspected of some suspicious activity during their taking a test, a test on Religion. When confronted, they admitted the irregularity and accepted group punishment: detention, a zero score on the test, with a chance to redeem themselves in the future.

Someone smarter than me is quoted as saying, “Honor is doing the right thing when no one knows you are doing it.” I think this is a nice differential from breaking laws to ponder. What do you think?

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