Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

September 30, 2013

A lesson about honor from a high school football coach

WASHINGTON, D.C. —

I trust you're as impressed as I am by the news that Matt Labrum, football coach at Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah, has suspended his entire team — all 80 players — for what he calls a "lack of character." Unlike the win-first coaches celebrated in the sports pages, Labrum was referring to what was going on off the field, where a minority of the players had been skipping or failing classes and were perhaps involved in cyberbullying as well.

Understand what's happening here: Everyone is being punished for the actions of a few. The unspoken suggestion is that members of a team should watch out for one another. If Player A breaks the rules, Player B shares responsibility. This communal understanding of good character provides an admirably clear illustration of the elusive concept known as "honor" — a swiftly dying virtue in an era in which ends always seem to outshine means.

Honor implies more than honesty. It often requires, in the words of the Oxford English Dictionary, fealty to "a moral bounden duty: sometimes implying that there is no legal obligation." One who seeks to be thought of as honorable may see life as guided by a code that governs the means through which we may pursue our ends. Writes the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah: "An honor code says how people of certain identities can gain the right to respect, how they can lose it, and how having and losing honor changes the way they should be treated."

Although the idea of living by a code of honor goes back at least to classical Greece, the concept is nowadays reflected for most young people in the honor codes that their schools require them to sign. An honor code typically constitutes a student's agreement not to violate the norms of academic integrity. In its traditional form, an honor code requires not only that students agree not to cheat, but also that they agree to report violations of the code by others. If Student A is aware that Student B is cheating and does nothing about it, A and B are both in violation. Academic dishonesty, in this understanding, reflects badly on the entire institution.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Pensions need to be addressed I will have to admit that I am slightly overwhelmed today with the receipt of articles and suggestions for a column. One of my Fitness Mafia colleagues constantly tells me the columns are too long and trying to address different subjects just dilutes

    July 22, 2014

  • VA still failing our vets Jymm’s preferred attire is a skin-tight Minnie Mouse T-shirt with bright pink windbreaker pants. Even when not sporting his choice outfit, he dons short shorts and shirts with holes in them, because that’s what he finds most comfortable. His Santa Mo

    July 22, 2014

  • Feed your home piggy bank with a 15-year mortgage This summer, we finally decided to take the plunge we’d been contemplating for a while: converting our 30-year mortgage to one with a 15-year payoff. It’s a big step. Our payments will go up somewhat (the PITI — principal, interest, tax, and insuranc

    July 19, 2014

  • Under the dumb There is a TV series about an entire town trapped under a giant, mysterious crystal-clear dome that appears out of the blue one day. The dome is impenetrable; no one can get in, no one can get out. Who made the dome? Aliens? God? A super-secret branc

    July 19, 2014

  • Widening the loopholes This week, two more U.S. companies moved to reestablish themselves overseas, allowing them to pursue lower corporate tax rates. They will join dozens of others who have chased lower tax bills abroad while maintaining operations in the United States,

    July 19, 2014

  • Patriotism not questioned Editor:I am responding to Mayor Mary Jane Chesley’s Reader’s View article in the Thursday, June 19, 2014, Register-News “Patriotism is strong.”The mayor has missed the point of my Reader’s View/opinion article in the local newspapers regarding Flag D

    July 19, 2014

  • Who's telling a story now? For this administration, failure is always the result of a “communications” problem. Otherwise, failure might be taken as evidence of misguided ideology and incompetent execution, right? It’s a weird excuse for the president who fancies himself to be

    July 18, 2014

  • Why cutting corporate taxes won't help the middle class WASHINGTON — Earlier this week, I testified in front of the Joint Economic Committee on the topic of assessing the recovery after five years.As you can imagine, congressional testimony can be pretty frustrating these days for members of the fact-base

    July 18, 2014

  • Heart of darkness in buffer zone BOSTON — “Be careful. This is a dangerous corner.”It’s not until you visit the Boston Planned Parenthood clinic at the heart of the recent Supreme Court buffer-zone case that you realize the unnecessary danger it created. And I’m not even inside.On t

    July 18, 2014

  • When should U.S. use force? Was the Iraq war the greatest strategic error in recent decades, as some pundits have suggested recently? The simple answer is no. That honor belongs to the failure to take action against al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden before the attacks that killed ne

    July 17, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks