It was announced today that Vice President Dick Cheney will be receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service tomorrow, when he delivers his commencement speech to graduates of Brigham Young University. You read that right. Dick Cheney, chief architect of an energy policy that rapes consumers and the environment, chief architect of no-bid contacts to Halliburton that rapes taxpayers, chief proponent of torture of God's children, is going to receive a Doctorate in Public Service from the University owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Inviting him to speak at commencement in the first place caused a swell of outrage amongst students of all political stripes (the controversy has been well documented here on the Huffington Post (here, here and here), YouTube and the "This Divided State" Blog) and this is merely going to increase the level of outrage. Students I've spoken to on camera for our documentary piece about this have expressed concern that the invitation is tantamount to endorsement by their church of Cheney's gruff vocabulary, immoral policies and disregard for human life. Both the LDS Church and BYU put enough spin on the story to assuage some concerns of seeming as though they were implicitly endorsing Dick Cheney. By honoring him with a doctorate, in Public Service of all things, the University seems to say that the things Cheney has accomplished as Vice President somehow were to the greater good of the public when even a brief glance at his record says the opposite. Honoring Dick Cheney for public service the day after impeachment papers have been filed seems to me like giving Vladimir Putin an award for his work to liberate a free press in Russia the day after another Russian journalist is found face-up in a ditch.
I spoke with Carl Brinton, one of the chief organizers of the alternative commencement, about how he viewed the honorary doctorate and he said, "I feel that this is as clear as an endorsement as you can get. I'm a little crestfallen that the University would do this, but I do understand that this is common procedure. But this is too much an endorsement for my liking. An honorary doctorate should be given to someone who we honor, but Cheney's actions, rather than meriting honor, merit dishonor."
If anyone that reads this is as outraged by this as I am, you should probably do your best to make it to Utah tomorrow, both to attend rallys and come to the alternative commencement. Maybe Utah can show the world how people really feel about the man I like to envision as the troll under the bridge who eats goats. Only the goats are American ideals.
As always check back for more updates on the "This Divided State" blog.