Brandon Davies: Justice Vs. Injustice-Martin Luther King, Jr. and Socrates
Recently, Brandon Davies, forward for the Brigham Young University Men’s basketball team was dismissed from the team for breaking the school’s honor code. Each student who attends the University signs off on an honor code which they pledge to uphold. What did he do you might ask? Brandon Davies was booted from the BYU men’s basketball team (ranked # 3 in the nation) for having pre-marital sex with his girlfriend. After hearing about this incident my mind was sparked to think back to earlier in the semester when we spoke in class about justice versus injustice. It is interesting to consider how Martin Luther King Jr. and Socrates, if still around today would have looked at this issue. Would they have decided the punishment was just or unjust? Would they feel that Brandon Davies got what he deserved and therefore must live with his punishment as Socrates did when he was sentenced to death?
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King, Jr. discusses the issue of just versus unjust. According to Dr. King, in any nonviolent campaign one step is the collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist. In collecting the facts in Brandon Davies situation, it is clear that he broke a code which he vowed to uphold. Having pre-marital sex does break the portion of BYU’s honor code which states, “Live a chaste and virtuous life.” Davies himself admitted to the pre-marital sex and therefore helps prove the school’s decision to be just. There is no brutality taking place, no racial violence, or inequality. The school has had this honor code for many years and felt that letting Davies off would prove detrimental to the values which the school has upheld for many years. In fact, in 2010, Harvey Unga, BYU’s all-time leading rusher, withdrew from school after being kicked off the football team for a violation the honor code by having pre-marital sex. As king states “ An unjust law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.” In this case BYU is punishing Davies for breaking a code which everyone at the University has decided to uphold. Both the minority and the majority are willing to follow this code and therefore according to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. the code is just and therefore so are the consequences that must be faced if the code is broken.
In my opinion, based on his Speech of the Laws in Crito, Socrates would feel that Davies has never previously complained about the honor code and therefore must accept the consequence that have been placed on him just as Socrates accepted his death sentence. Socrates had never previously complained about the government and therefore decides it would be wrong for him not to accept their punishment. This idea is supported in the Speech of the Laws when Socrates states, “You have had seventy years during which you could have gone away if you did not like us, and if you thought our agreements unjust. You did not choose to go to Sparta or to Crete…(53e)”. Under Socrates beliefs it seems he would say that Brandon Davies must accept his consequences. He agreed to this honor code when deciding to attend Brigham Young University and therefore must be willing to accept the consequences of breaking this code.
“Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” Martin Luther King, Jr.” Birmingham, Alabama. 16, April. 1963.
“Crito” in The Trial and Death of Socrates, translated by G. M. A. Grube, revised by John M. Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company 2001).
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Video via: ESPN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN7jSEAfCNM&feature=fvwkrel