Higher moral codes on rise?

By | March 10, 2011

What raised the stakes in the case is that BYU’s was — with Davies — ranked No. 3 in the nation and a potential number one seed for the NCAA Tournament. Without Davies, the Cougars immediately lost to an unranked team: New Mexico (82-64).

In another story, Warner Brothers Studios fired one of its top stars, Charlie Sheen, for “moral turpitude.”

As a legal term, moral turpitude broad-ranging and generally means “conduct considered contrary to community standards.” It is apparently commonly used in contracts with stars.

Moral turpitude refers to something that offends the average person. In a climate like Hollywood’s — where drug use, premarital and extramarital sex and some very bizarre lifestyles are everyday events — pointing out a “moral turpitude” seems noteworthy.

More noteworthy still is that, like BYU, Warner Brothers will be hurt by cutting Sheen. “Two and a Half Men” is one of the top rated TV comedies. Financially, this seems a bad move by Warner Brothers. (Just as BYU made a bad move for its sports ranking.)

No doubt there is a legal reason for Warner Brothers’ move, but it also sends an interesting message to society.

Do most people know that moral turpitude can prevent you from getting a visa under Homeland Security rules? (Just being arrested and charged with moral turpitude — not convicted — can do that.) It can prevent you from being a firefighter in many cities. In certain cases it can get you deported under U.S. immigration laws. It can prevent you from being elected to state office.

Moral turpitude is not just an out-dated term, it is serious — even though most of us haven’t heard of it. But more of us will now, thanks to Charlie Sheen. (It should be noted that, as Warner Brothers did in their letter, Sheen “appears to be very ill.” He needs help and prayers.)

And while most of society seems to condone casual sex, it is surprising that BYU’s actions have been applauded. (Granted, not by sports stars like New York Knicks center Amare Stoudemire, who urged BYU to “let kids live a little.”) However, the Chicago Tribune, in a March 6 editorial, noted: “Agree with BYU’s old-fashioned rule or not, this is what it looks like when a school actually is what it professes to be. It pays more than lip service.”

Denver Bronco’s quarterback, Tim Tebow, who came out in support of Davies, still didn’t condemn BYU’s actions. Instead, he just asked that Davies get a second chance. (It should be noted that Davies had reported himself for the morals violation.)

Granted, these are small incidents in society. They aren’t a huge shift in any moral compass. But they are of note. And they just might be a signal that this country’s underlying moral codes are alive and well, and perhaps even working their way back into pop culture.

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