Monday, November 21, 2011

BYU Student Taylor Petty Defends LTE Against Homosexuality To Daily Universe, Criticizes Politically-Correct Editor Joel Campbell For Pulling It

On November 18th, 2011, BYU Daily Universe Managing Editor Joel Campbell took down a letter to the editor by a student, Taylor Petty, which was critical of homosexuality, after it was published. Campbell allowed himself to be bullied by a few activists who were offended and expressed their discontent by printing up a protest flyer and inserting it into a number of copies of the newspaper. A screenshot of Petty's letter is included in my original post.

But Taylor Petty has fired back. On November 21st, the Deseret News reported that Petty, who wrote his letter in response to other letters the paper had published on the subject of whether society should or should not accept gay adoption, defended his position and has no regrets about writing the letter. Petty said "No. I definitely agree with what I said. I think a lot of people misunderstood what I was saying. When I said the word homosexuality, I was not referring to people who felt temptations inside but hid them. I was referring to homosexual acts or acting homosexuals as the sin."

Petty also condemned Campbell for taking down his letter while leaving the original letters prompting it up, considering it inconsistent. In regards to the T.V. show Modern Family (a show portraying a gay couple who adopted a child), which started this whole debate, Petty said that although he has never watched the show, he disagrees with all shows depicting people living openly gay lifestyles as acceptable in society. He's also strongly against Glee for the same reason, because it portrays a gay kid that's openly gay.

The Student Review, which is BYU's newly revived off-campus, student-run newspaper, also decided to enter the debate on November 18th when editor Hunter Schwartz also criticized Taylor Petty's letter, zeroing in on the second to last paragraph where Petty implicitly compares a homosexual or transgender to a prostitute or a serial killer, which was clearly hyperbolic and misleading. Schwartz's premise was that regardless of one's opinions on gay adoption and parenting, words like that can be counterproductive, offending those that disagree and delegitimizing one's argument.

Really? So criticism of homosexuality is now illegitimate in our society? If that's the way BYU students think, then the suitability of BYU to provide a college education fit for LDS students must now be called into question. The day that Brigham Young feared would come has indeed arrived -- one can now hardly distinguish a Saint from a blackleg.

It would have been much more courageous and principled to leave Taylor Petty's letter up and allow the community to weigh in vigorously on it in their own LTEs. The prophet Joseph Smith didn't fear offending people when he proclaimed the restoration. Yet Joel Campbell is not cut from the same cloth as Joseph Smith -- he fears offending people more than he loves free speech.

Here was a good comment posted to The Student Review which effectively highlights the dilemma:

Bryan says Nov 18, 2011:
I personally think that we have sort of an impasse. The religious types call the behavior what they see it to be by the definition that they have been taught to use: sinful. The more liberal types call such a forceful reaction to their rights to free expression by one key word which labels and nullifies any ability for constructive argument: bigot. I think the broader issue here doesn’t have much room for debate, acting upon homosexual impulses is a sin. The real issue is this: How do follow Christ’s command to love the sinner but hate the sin? We cannot condone such behavior but we miss the mark when we condemn the person. The problem: as soon as a dialogue starts it gets shut down either by extreme intolerance from the right or cries of bigot from the left. I think we need more open minded dialogue addressing this issue on both sides of the table.


Anonymous said...

I had a discussion with Petty. It's one thing for him to be against homosexuality but it's another to speak ignorantly and hatefully. His letter reflects his hate. Our dialogue reflected his hate. If he would feel comfortable saying those things in the presence of the Savior, as he claimed, then he must know a different Jesus than I do.

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for your input. Petty's letter alone did not communicate the hatred of which you speak.

Anonymous said...

Uh. I tend to disagree. It is simply implied that with words like disgusting or abominable that there is a sense of hatred. His letter doesn't reflect Christian love but reflects ignorance and fear.