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Fearing to speak up

Published July 10, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The July 3 Tribune story of Weber State University's firing of Jared Lisonbee reminds me of an incident 17 years ago at Utah State University. Lisonbee's job loss was apparently the result of his opposing the naming of a Weber State family center after Boyd Packer.

In 1996 USU selected Boyd Packer to receive an honorary degree. This bothered me, as Packer had recently used his position to cause the excommunication of five scholars at Brigham Young University whose writings caused them to appear to be less than valiant in regard to defending the faith. I wrote a letter in the Logan Herald Journal expressing my displeasure with a state university honoring the man who had been leading the charge against academic freedom at BYU.

I expected to receive a deluge of negative response from church members; however the opposite occurred. There was only one letter defending Packer. All of the other response was supportive of my letter. The most common response was a phone call from other USU professors who thanked me for expressing what they were afraid to say. This rather sad commentary suggests that a large number of members of the Mormon faith live their lives suppressing their perception of justice in order not to receive negative response from church leaders or other family members.

Trevor Hughes

North Logan