The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis County Clipper.
The state’s tourism officials open up the public’s wallet to promote Utah’s spectacular scenery, adventurous recreation, and reasonable accommodations for visitors wanting a vibrant nightlife.
Yet during my recent trip to California, the emphasis was on none of the three. Instead I was asked about the BYU rape victims/honor code controversy and the liquor police making a mess of a silly infraction during the hit movie “Deadpool.”
Both stories earned front page (and, in the case of CNN.com front-screen) coverage. Both made Utah look like a Third World-thinking banana republic.
In the BYU case, school officials were caught in the vortex of unintended consequence. Some two dozen women spoke of being threatened with Honor Code violations and school expulsion if they reported being raped. (In the most horrific tale, a now 34-year old woman reported being raped and trapped in a man’s bedroom for an entire weekend. When she told her ecclesiastical leader, she claims she was told that if she became pregnant as a result of the rape, she would be kicked out of BYU.)
The solution should be obvious. BYU can either keep or rescind the Honor Code – that’s the school’s (and the LDS Church’s) business. But any semi-literate, rational-thinking adult should understand that stepping a toe over the Honor Code line and being victimized by a rapist are not equal transgressions.
Breaking curfew or drinking a beer is more analogous to driving 5 miles over the speed limit whereas rape is “Breaking Bad” behavior. When confronted with the two, the smart compassionate religious leader knows when to blink. Our legal system reacts similarly. If a drunk driver plows into a pedestrian, the judge doesn’t harangue the pedestrian for walking after dark.
BYU officials are deliberating about altering its policy in cases of sexual assault, but in the meantime Utahns are being portrayed as a mean-spirited pack of “good old boys” only willing to slap the knuckles of perverts while shaming the actual victims.
And then there is the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (DABC) punishing the Brewvies Theater for allowing a customer to drink beer while viewing “Deadpool.” Yes, the fine type in Utah law states that theaters cannot sell demon rum if a motion picture contains nudity. But if you and I were prosecuted for sometimes skipping over the small type, few of us would have a home, a vehicle, or – gee, we might even be in jail.
Message to the DABC: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! Instead of selecting a pornographic film, the DABC selected one of the most popular action-adventure movies of the year. A nude scene here and there is not going to turn a guy drinking a Coors Light into a rapist – even if he does wander onto the BYU campus!
C’mon Utah officials….stop embarrassing us! The vast majority of Utah adults can figure out right vs. wrong, and we understand that the “letter of the law” is not always just.