Independent Democracy

Thought provoking commentary

Utah residents protest Dick Cheney Brigham Young University speech

There is a big debate going on in Utah regarding V.P. Dick Cheney’s planned commencement speech at Brigham Young University. Here is a collection of opinion letters from the Salt Lake Tribune from people upset over the V.P. visit. There have been so many of them in the newspaper this week, you would think Utah was a blue state.

I am not an alumnus of Brigham Young University, but I am a tithe-payer and a concerned member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Why invite Vice President Dick Cheney, who vilifies so many of the Savior’s teachings, to speak at BYU? Read and ponder the church’s 13th Article of Faith; count how many ways Dick Cheney fails this tenet of our beliefs, particularly the part about believing in being honest, true , benevolent and in doing good to all men.
Why invite a man who endorses waterboarding, an interrogation technique considered by many a form of torture, and shrugs if off as a “no brainer.” How does the invitation of this man and what he stands for serve the church and the graduates of its flagship institution? I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the news of even considering him appropriate to speak at BYU.

Mark Tiller

Why not have a Rocky Anderson and Dick Cheney debate for commencement at Brigham Young University to illustrate the difference between a public figure who believes in free speech for everyone and an administration member who thinks it should depend on who it is and what is being said?
Kathryn Levine
Salt Lake City

As a graduate of Brigham Young University I am deeply offended by the news that Vice President Dick Cheney has been invited to be the speaker at graduation this year. Evidently BYU has chosen to forget Cheney’s words of counsel to Sen. Patrick Leahy in June 2004, when the senator questioned the profiteering of Halliburton in the Iraq war. Cheney’s response was “Go f–k yourself!”
Ironically, this obscenity was uttered soon after the Senate had passed legislation allowing the Federal Communications Commission to fine violators $250,000 for saying the F-word over the air. Our “family values” vice president violated the dignity and sanctity of the Senate chamber – and this is who BYU has deemed worthy to counsel our graduates?
At least we know in advance that Cheney’s speech will be short – evidently all of his counsel can be reduced to three words – and BYU can write the check out directly to the FCC.
In the future, however, BYU’s funds for expenditures like this will definitely not be coming from any donations from me.

Carol P. McLean
Salt Lake City

As a Brigham Young University alumnus I was distressed with the invitation of Vice President Dick Cheney to speak at commencement.
I feel that he does not represent the values of this great university.
I also believe that a university should give the forum to a diverse group of distinguished individuals. I appreciate the invitation to someone as controversial as Mr. Cheney, but I also believe strongly in a counterbalance. If BYU would also invite someone who could give a more honest view our world, it would be of great interest to alumni who support the university, not only with our tithing money but our contributions to the many BYU departments, colleges and activities. Without this counterbalance, I will withhold my contributions, and I urge other alumni to do the same.
Anthony J. LaPray

I do not understand the problem with having Vice President Dick Cheney speak at Brigham Young University. I attended the University of Utah and would have been thrilled to have world leaders speak at the U. and consequently to gain insight into their thought processes, be they people of peace or of death and destruction as are our current leaders.
It would be interesting hearing Stalin, Hitler, President Nixon, the list is endless, or Christian and non-Christian leaders who have spoken out of both sides of their mouths and gone on to perpetrate death and destruction upon our planet’s peoples.
Look very closely at President Bush and Cheney. If one is at all psychic one will see the shadow of Lucifer, holding the Holy Scriptures, hovering over their heads, dancing and laughing.
Wayne Healey

As a two-time graduate of Brigham Young University I am highly disappointed with the choice of Vice President Dick Cheney as this year’s graduation speaker.
I believe a fundamental objective of higher education is to instill questioning and critical thinking in students. This includes a careful examination of the available evidence on any important matter. It includes challenging the political status quo when the quo may have lost its status. A critical analysis of Mr. Cheney’s contribution to rational thought and to a more humane planet leaves much to be desired.
I had hoped that an institution of higher learning would lead by example and provide its students with mentors and exemplars rather than settling for high-profile status.
Don Wright

I want to voice my opinion over the recent announcement that Vice President Dick Cheney may be invited to speak at my university’s commencement. Not all students at Brigham Young University support this idea.
I personally find Dick Cheney to be a morally reprehensible man. He has lied to the American public a number of times, including about the Iran-Contra affair and this unfortunate war in Iraq. I do not think Mr. Cheney should be the government’s representative to our school.
The LDS Church and BYU claim to be politically neutral. However, when we invite such a polemic figure to speak at our university we cannot hold that position. We ought to invite someone who can offer moral and spiritual advice to the graduating class, not a man who is a combative politician.
Casey DuBose
BYU junior

As a Brigham Young University student, I feel obliged to make my voice heard about the invitation to Vice President Dick Cheney to speak at commencement next month.
Not every student at Brigham Young University is cast from the same mold. Lively debate and dissenting opinion are alive and well in our little bubble of a campus. I am one of many hundreds of students and alumni who are very upset about such an individual as Vice President Cheney coming to campus. BYU should not tarnish the reputation it has worked hard for by associating its good name with that of Mr. Cheney and the shame he has brought to the office of vice president.
Sara Jane Thomas
Salt Lake City

I am a Brigham Young University alum and a professor emeritus from BYU. I strongly object to BYU’s Board of Trustees inviting Vice President Dick Cheney to speak at the coming graduation exercises.
I realize that the university and its sponsors are interested in having government officials of that stature speak at the university. But it should have been in another context, such as a forum, with a follow-up speaker such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invited to give a counter set of ideas.
The fact that LDS Church-owned KSL Radio features conservative Sean Hannity and that Church-owned Brigham Young University welcomes VP Cheney sends the wrong message. I urge the Board of Trustees to make another statement of political neutrality to Brigham Young University students.
Bruce Van Orden

I totally agree with Katie Hatch’s letter of March 26. For Brigham Young University to invite Vice President Dick Cheney, a dishonest, immoral individual who has had a major hand in the killing of thousands of innocent people in Iraq, to address the students at graduation is very, very disappointing and disgusting. What happened to BYU’s so-called “political neutrality?” Maybe next year they could invite Rush Limbaugh.
Lamar Beatty
Central Point, Ore.

As a Brigham Young University graduate and a member of the LDS Church, I was shocked to learn that Dick Cheney may be invited to speak at BYU’s commencement ceremony.
Cheney’s ties to the recent Scooter Libby fiasco, Halliburton and one of the most controversial and despised U.S. presidencies in history makes him a poor choice to impart wisdom to graduates of any institution, let alone one that prides itself on its high moral standard.
The LDS Church continually reminds its members that it does not endorse any political candidate or party. Cheney’s invitation not only endorses the Republican Party, but sanctions a needless war and corrupt presidency.
I beg BYU and the LDS church to reconsider this choice. If Cheney’s visit comes to pass, I will withdraw my support to BYU. I will not make any more donations, purchase another sweatshirt or attend another of its sporting events.
Perhaps an addendum to the BYU Honor Code is in order: “Dishonest politicians shall not be invited to speak at commencement ceremonies.”
Katie Hatch
American Fork

“You shall know it by its fruits,” was Jesus’ advice for recognizing evil cloaked by respectability. Let’s apply that test to Dick Cheney, Brigham Young University’s commencement speaker.
This is the man who advocated the invasion of Iraq, a major foreign policy blunder in American history, an unprovoked, pre-emptive war, the disastrous consequences of which – for U.S. security and world peace – we’re just beginning to see.
This is the man who, more than any other, is responsible for the present government’s policy of imprisoning without trial and torturing prisoners of war in secret prisons.
This is the man who designed our present policy of dependency on fossil fuels, as a result of which oil companies are reaping historic profits even as scientists warn of global warming disasters to come.
For which of these fruits does the LDS Church recognize Dick Cheney? With which of these messages of peace and well-being does the LDS Church itself identify?
Choosing Dick Cheney as commencement speaker isn’t just a mockery of the church’s supposed political neutrality, it’s a mockery of doctrine. Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and Jesus of Nazareth, all of whom had choice things to say about wolves in sheep’s clothing, now are supplanted by the alpha wolf.
Ed Firmage, Jr.
Salt Lake City

Disclaimer: There were pro V.P. Cheney visit opinion letters in the paper but this post is focusing on the protest ones because they appeared to outnumber the pro ones by a wide margin. Comments belong to the individual’s themselves. This blog is not for or against anything the author’s said. It’s posted here for informational purposes only.


April 1, 2007 - Posted by | Current Events, Politics, Utah


  1. I believe what I see here in the one sided blogs being posted are those that see the world through rose colored glasses. The misinformed, misguided and obviously those not willing to see that freedom requires resolve and sacrifice. If it were not for people like George Bush and Dick Cheney this country would be not be fulfilling its God given role as a bastion of freedom carrying the banner of the title of Liberty. I would come to hear Mr. Cheney and would be proud to declare my allegance to the principals of right verse wrong and for those that are willling to endure the misguided attacks even by those that should know better. It amazes me that there are so many that profess to know the difference between right and wrong yet are only concerned about their own personal welfare. Open your eyes and stop listening to those that would have you believe that black is white and wrong is right. I do believe those in these blogs that are expressing such misguided criticism have failed to search for the truth but have only listened to those that wish to marginalize this country and those that are trying to lead it in a way that would allow all of us to maintain our freedoms and rights to be all we can be. Many of you sound like those that would also dismiss Mitt Romney from speaking because you may not fully agree with him or his idealology or hopes for this country because he might take a tough stand against the evils of this world and disrupt your apple cart.


    Comment by Steve | April 3, 2007 | Reply

  2. I am a current BYU student and was one of those who participated in the recent protests on BYU campus, and I have to say that I am very proud of what was accomplished. I doubt that the protests will change anything, but it did show the world that at least some of the students of Brigham Young University are informed members of society.
    The fact is that a war of aggression can only be justified by unjust men. It is not, nor has it ever been, the role of the United States to impose our will on other nations. We can support positive steps in those nations and even encourage political dissent against unjust leaders, but it is not our role to “export Democracy”. Truthfully, the more the United States attempts to tighten its grip on the world economy, the more we should expect the unsatisfied majority to push back. With a history of economic imperialism only confirmed by the current administration, is it any wonder that much of the world considers the United States to be the “most evil nation” ever to exist?

    Comment by Matthew Lee Myers | April 5, 2007 | Reply

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