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BYU Letter: Fired for swearing

March 17, 2011
source: The Daily Universe

MR says: Is this a little extreme? Is the full story really being told? We find this Daily Universe (BYU's newspaper) letter to the editor interesting.

The other day I was working on campus and I hit my shin pretty hard. As a reflex, I let out an expletive. Oops. Later that day my boss spoke with me and let me know someone had heard me and was so upset that they called in to complain, and as a result I was fired.

Now I’m stuck with no job, rent to pay, food to buy, a car windshield to replace and other expenses tallying up. Why?

Should I have cussed? Heck no. Should I have gotten fired for it? Ehh. Should someone have been so upset that they called my supervisor to complain about it instead of approaching me and perhaps just letting me know they didn’t appreciate me popping the bubble for half a second? Absolutely not.

Read the rest of this story at universe.byu.edu

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Tags: BYU
Comments 51 comments

patti said...

04:37 PM
on Mar 17, 2011

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It seems extreme that you were fired over this. We all slip and say things we shouldn't/things we regret. The least they could have done is given you a warning.

rintin said...

07:33 PM
on Mar 17, 2011

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I guess free agency is not allowed.

byuguy said...

10:52 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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I happen to know about this incident and he is leaveing out several facts. It was more than a little swearing and this was NOT the first incident with him. People that were around the area were offended and it was totally uncalled for

amb said...

10:52 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Some people has zero tolerance with things. This was extreme and some they need to realize we are not the Prophet, we are humans and we make mistakes.

forrestc said...

11:08 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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I think this was totally unfair. I was inactive in the church for 23 years because of incidents like this one. Makes me sad. I guess that's why it is sad that many are called but few are chosen. Your accusers will someday face actions.

marniwho said...

11:10 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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This sounds like when my teenager comes home and tells me the teacher is out to get him and he did nothing wrong! Then upon calling the teacher there seems to be A LOT of the facts left. Sounds like a lesson learned.

ach said...

11:10 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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As per article, this may seem extreme, however as byuguy stated, it was his understanding that it was a little more then a small slip and not his first time, that he had received previous warnings. I work in Oregon at a hospital. I know of one guy, an x-ray tech, who was fired for a similar reason. It happens that most business' do not like their employees to swear at all, mormon or not! "rintin" believes that this goes against the person free agency, a very big gospel principle to LDS. "Rintin" does not understand that the person still has his free agency, he can swear all he wants, but with free agency, you must be willing to accept the consequence. We are all free to act, but with all acts their is a consequence. In this case, the employer said the man can look for work elsewhere!

lulu said...

11:14 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Before we jump in to add our two cents worth, we need all the facts or else our comments have no valid meaning and just express our own prejudices.

ugtablv said...

11:25 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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I find it interesting how upset we get when people are reprimanded, fired, kicked off the basketball team, etc for doing things that they knew they were not supposed to do. At BYU, you are held to a higher standard, you know that standard and you agreed to that higher standard. If you can not or are not willing to keep those standards then go elsewhere. Yes, some of us swear, some a lot, some only when we "knock that shinbone". In reading this young mans statement, I could already tell he wasn't being fully honest, in reading the persons statement that knew of the incident, this young man deserved to be let go. No one is perfect, but there are consequences to every choice we make!

beesley said...

11:33 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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LDS Living. I am disappointed that you would print this and more than that, use it as advertising to drive people to your site. I have really loved your magazine and web site since the beginning but you have lost credibility with me today and I am sure many others. This "story" is not a news article or a fact. It was a complaint written by an upset student. Definitely many facts were left out of his story and you have damaged the Church and BYU's reputation, may it be small, and I am disappointed. I now question other things that you have posted on your site and their validity. Please be more careful in what you decide to print and what you decide to give amplification to in the future. I just can't understand that you, as an LDS company, would propagate out-right misinformation and damaging falsehoods.

karie said...

11:41 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Unless there is more to this story and he was racing up and down the halls swearing then half the students and faculty should go home. My mother never swore but she slamed her hand in the car door and said "oh S" big shock that she even knew the word but when you hurt yourself its suprising the words you have locked up in that computer in your brain. He should have recieved a warning. I am sure the boys who play football have said worse but they can't fire them, they need them to play ball.

neil said...

11:47 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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That's odd...they never fired J. golden Kimball for swearing and he was bleeped at conference.

wakeuphappy said...

11:53 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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I am not buying it. For someone to track down the supervisor, I would bet that the behavior and language were totally out of line. Of course, one would have to play that down to make the "I am the victim" stance more plausible. Just go find another job... off campus.

8tanks said...

11:58 AM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Really? LDS Living linked to someone's one-sided rant about getting fired for cursing? I don't believe for one nano-second that even a small scrap of the actual facts are included in the rant. The rant discredits the author, and the link to said rant discredits LDS Living. Seriously, do you just link stuff because it has some content that is vaguely LDS in it?

barbaralaxton said...

12:06 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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I cannot know all the details of this incident, so I can't comment on how "fair" it was. I can, however, say that whenever we "bump a shinbone" or whatever, we need to have better words to express our feelings. No one has the right to polute the air with dirty words any more than they have the right to throw mud in the air to land all over others. Profanity has been defined as "the efforts of a feeble mind to make itself understood." As for the comment about "going inactive because of such an incident"; what does that have to do with whether Joseph saw Heavenly Father and Christ in the grove? What does it have to do with your relationship with your Savior? The answer should be: Absolutely nothing! The truthfulness of the gospel is not based on the shortcomings of mortal, flawed people. God has to use us to do His work. We're all he has to choose from. Last remark: Swearing is wrong. Stop it!!

capri said...

12:19 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Brian, Congratulations, you just got your 15 min of fame. this wouldn't even have been posted if BYU standards hadn't been under fire already. Really? I have a feeling there is more to the story than this....One word does not a firing make. I guess it really does depend on what you said and how you said it.... You signed the code. This is called being accountable for your actions.

biancab922 said...

12:20 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Really, there are more important things to worry about than swearing or what happened or who is right or wrong. No one can judge here, no one is perfect. It is ridiculous to even have this printed as anything significant.

8tanks said...

12:25 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Wow, that's incredible. I am a long time reader. I was disappointed in your trying to give credence to this feeble person's rant....and you edited out my comment because it's slightly critical of LDS Living? I'm not expecting this to get posted either since now I know how very little it takes to get 'edited out'. I am so very disappointed today. :(

oldseminaryteacher said...

12:36 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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WO! Where do I start? (1) The term "free agency" is one used errantly by a large portion of Church members. Our agency is not/was not "free"! Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, paid so very dearly for our "agency". For that reason alone we must use it responsibly and with respect. In my many years teaching seminary I have found that when someone starts spouting off about their "free agency", they are usually doing something that they know is wrong. (2) If someone leaves the Church because of being reprimanded they have probably been looking for an excuse to leave for a long time. (3) Someone who thinks that prophets are not human beings who make mistakes needs to stop sleeping through Sunday school. Stop using the Prophet's life as an excuse and start living by the example he sets. And...(4) To the best of my knowledge, "LDS Living" is not a Church publication. They are a commercial venture. To think of them as anything else will only depress the "h..l" out of you.

joed said...

12:38 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Guess what kid. In real life, if people complain to your boss about your swearing, you still get fired. Then, when you write in to the local paper to complain they laugh and throw your letter away.

8tanks said...

12:38 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Well, I am now tasting egg on my face. Apparently I was wrong about being edited out. Hmmm....now I've discredited myself. :) Oh well...it's still Friday and I can't take that away from myself. Have a great weekend!

mcclan9 said...

12:47 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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One of the biggest shocks my son received when he started living in student housing at BYUI was the terrible language of his housemates - all of which were returned missionaries. Some of them played disgusting rap music and talked like sailors. It is wrong and I am happy that the BYU employer stood up for the standards that the employee agreed to when he was hired.

ldsbutthinkingstill said...

12:47 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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PLEASE, "amb", do not "pope-ify" the prophet: he is NOT infallible! He is indeed human and does indeed make mistakes. Pres. Kimball said he prayed every single day for God to help keep him from temptation. I'm sure Pres. Monson has said things (not necessarily swearing!) that he has regretted.....or *should* regret. (Craig Jessop immediately comes to mind....even though that will surely remain a powerfully painful and shameful secret.)

bigpicture said...

01:08 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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To LDS Living: If you want to maintain readers and not just get people worked up please print stories that represent two sides of a story. Did you not learn your lesson with the story about the cheer squad sunday competition debacle in Sandy? To BYU Guy and many more: We are taught to not be easily offended. Swears are a state of mind in how one perceives it. The more its "wrong" the worse it feels. Some swears clearly have ugly meanings. But some, and I won't list them lest I offend anyone, really don't have deep seated meanings and simply add emphasis. Some have dual meanings and as a child felt so confused with the S word when used to refer to the stuff on the farm and that was OK but to use it otherwise wasn't. I've relaxed a bit on swears and unless someone wants to go off like a Howard Stearn, then you are talking offensive. To ach: who claims that "most businesses" don't like or allow swearing based on the one incident given...I hope you don't do research or anything that deals with statistics. It is my experience that the many places I have worked prefer to not have degrading comments made which would fall into HR Harassment issues. But swears? I haven't run across that yet and worked but for the church and outside the church and in Utah and out. But that is just MY perspective. It would take a larger sampling to make a statement that most businesses don't want this. LDS Living these articles do not bring out the best journalistic banter.

floppygoth said...

01:26 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Injured on the job? Sue for workers comp. It's the American way.

floppygoth said...

01:27 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Also.. I have nothing but love for J. Golden Kimball...

rucnme said...

01:50 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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After having ten children of my own and teaching school I have decided there is no way to judge because we never know the whole story. We don't know what others feel and have experienced and never will be able to. I have to agree with "oldseminaryteacher". We don't know both sides and can't know perfectly enough to judge or take offense at the church because of one article that was published. Jesus Christ has already taken on all of our sins, pains and sufferings and to become more irate at something He has already paid the price for only adds to His pain and keeps us from being happy. I don't see or hear or read much of the news and I am really disappointed in this being a headline. I would think this email isn't worth my time if this is the sort of "news" that makes the headline in this publication.

denae said...

02:46 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Old sem teacher: my understanding is that LDS Living is part of Deseret Book, & the Church does own it. As for this kid's complaint, I'm inclined to believe that there was a lot more going on than what he tells here. However, I'm more interested in the fact that he ONLY got fired. Isn't BYU's honor code absolute? Where's the story about him being kicked out of school completely? Or is that just for kids who sin, confess, & show contrition?

denae said...

02:48 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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And LDS Living, I'm with everyone else who is disgusted that you even saw fit to print this nonsense.

prettyinpink said...

05:03 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Why don't you all stop with the argumentative behavior, get of your electronic devices, and do something positive;). Spend quality, uplifting time with someone you care about or get something done that you've been procrastinating about. Life is so much better for you and the people around you when you are doing something positive. Spread happiness and don't give in to the negativity!

bigpicture said...

05:34 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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8tanks, sure your comment wasn't edited out and then restored? My comment that posted and is now gone simply questioned LDS Living for posting a 1 sided story, that this does not promote the best journalistic banter and asked if they did not learn from the cheer squad sunday competition debacle. Comment GONE. Just like this one will be. BYE BYE LDS Living, no need for this kind of journalism.

bigpicture said...

05:41 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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2 comments removed now and can't figure out why. I'm impressed with the controlled content efforts. Its not like I SWORE! Is there something wrong with saying this kind of article doesn't bring out the best in journalistic banter?

bmdevine said...

06:31 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Actually BYUguy is the one who is lying. They didn't give me "several reasons" the only thing they said was because of my having sworn. They mentioned one other instance when I let my tongue slip out due to pain, but they had never spoken to me about it. So, no there was no prior warning, they fired me on the spot without a chance. I the point of my letter wasn't to complain about being fired, 99% who i talk to about this agree I shouldn't have been fired, and a large group of students on campus were willing to start a petition for me to get my job back. But, to be honest, I don't want to go back to that job and atmosphere. I really ok with leaving.

richchipper said...

07:57 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Man, I hope one day to be as awfully perfect as some of you. If, as someone suggested, this guy should be kicked out to school for this, you've never sat during a U of U game where BYU was getting killed!!! Not condoning bad behavior, but we could all due to have a bit more tolerance. After all, every one of us is likely to have something we struggle with.

tutankhamen said...

09:54 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Hmm . . . If I were a student at BYU these days, I'd be excommunicated. Thank goodness I'm not there. And God—who is actually MERCIFUL—also is thankful I'm not there. He wants his children to treat each other with love, with compassion, and with justice; something that too many at BYU don't do.

jab said...

10:28 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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You stated you were (1)"working on campus"; so you were 'representing the school". You were overheard; so 'represnting the school in a (2)public place'. Your boss was judging how well you were representing the school while you (3)completed an assigned task. He probably also considered (4)your attitude when he spoke with you. Four factors that any employer considers as he hears a "consumer's complaint". You failed to measure up to his requirements. Donald Trump fires people for seemingly insignificant reasons, but they are signifcant to him. BMW will fire their engineers or any employee for being late to work three times. No excuses are allowed. Good luck in your next job. I am comfident you will have many opportunities.

beesley said...

11:09 PM
on Mar 18, 2011

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Funny, I left a comment earlier today expressing disappointment with LDS Living. It posted and then shortly after it was deleted. LDS Living what kind of censorship is this? Are you afraid to let others see that some of us are disappointed with you? I have now lost all respect. Does your editor know that this is what is going on? I can't imagine they do. Your editor would surely know that this would be the means to LDS Livings end. What is the goal, purpose and Mission Statement of LDS Living? Is it to stir up anger - create doubts and shake testimonies by printing "stories" like this? (See earlier posting by some sweet sister who is on the verge of leaving the Church and instead of printing something to help her, it seems you have given her that last push out the door.) I'll say it again. I am disappointed. The story was one sided complaint from a student. That lacked critical facts, therefore misleading readers. I wonder how long before this comment is deleted as well. I'll send a copy to the editor and encourage everyone that had comments deleted to do the same.

twspears6007 said...

11:32 AM
on Mar 19, 2011

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Over the years a part of our society has excepted the down grading of our moral direction. I know of no other organization that is trying to correct or improve morality than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I commend BYU on its outstanding leadership on moral standards required by its students and employees that choose to work or attend BYU. We talk of freedom to choose and we do have that agency. That choice is not to be taken lightly as some in the world would chose to do so. It comes down to where we want to stand on the direction of a society that either choses morality or immorality. We do have a choice there is no in between as the world would have us believe. That choice is ours, that choice will have consequences, either for good or for evil. We must be an example of what is good in the world and be willing to support the standards set by those who would lead in the quest for rightousness such as the BYU Moral Code. Sincerely, Trenton

ugtablv said...

11:51 AM
on Mar 19, 2011

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Funny, I left a comment the other day and you deleted it. I didn't say anything more than anyone else. I agree with some of the others, I am disappointed you would share this low life story with the world.

justamom said...

10:07 AM
on Mar 20, 2011

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Free Agency is Free but it comes with consequences blessings or the alternative. I am sure disappointed that this letter from this student was given space on LDS living.

lakerdawgz said...

11:37 AM
on Mar 20, 2011

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Whether he was telling the whole story or not it's always up to management & the high Archy at hand. When the Prophet Lehi was reprimanded for murmuring against the Lord that's all he received & maybe more that we don't know about. I'm not a scripture expert. He was not cast off where he wasn't allowed to perform what was asked of him. Someone stated there was more to this story we don't know about which is always true, there are always 2 sides to every story. We live in a world where standards are always changing but the Lords will always remain the same. We are asked to live a higher law you don't need to attend BYU to live that. We should be living it daily but that's where repentance helps us because we will never be perfect but we try our best to attain it in this life & the life to come. Learning to love those that have sinned not the sin it's self. I'm not saying that it didn't happen in this case. just a reminder ..... one Love yall. Peace

fish said...

07:41 PM
on Mar 20, 2011

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Everybody just needs to calm down and lighten up!

salty said...

08:33 AM
on Mar 21, 2011

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to Rinton: D. Todd Christofferson Ensign June 2009 In years past we generally used the term free agency. More recently we have taken note that free agency does not appear in the scriptures. If the student in question has always been allowed to "Slide through life" doing whatever he wants, he probably feels ill-used now that someone has required him to be responsible and accountable for his choices. I feel bad for the young man who was fired but it could be worse. Yesterday I met a young man who was missing an arm because of a bad choice he made while on patrol in Afghanistan. Please quit whining and making excuses. Man-up and move on. by the way, leaving the Church is NOT an answer. You hurt only yourself and those who look to you for guidance. Man-up, take your medicine, and move on.

blurocket9 said...

04:30 PM
on Mar 21, 2011

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To Salty..so where is forgivness and tolerance? To be removed so as to loose ones livelyhood is an extreme and over the top punishment for uttering a profanity. Furthermore how does one make a "mistake" on patrol in Afghanistan to loose ones armsand what is the relevance to this story? Did the soldier use the F word and loose his arm. You sound like and unyielding and intolernant individual who probably yearns for the establishment of a mormon "sharia"

fidhealgaelach said...

10:12 PM
on Mar 22, 2011

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Dear byuguy (and others channeling his sentiment), Kicking back to the Old Testament, are we? Maybe we would be, if this qualified as "an eye for an eye." What we actually have here is "an eye for a toenail clipping." People were "offended" by the expletive? How much does that offense hurt compared to the pain of losing your livelihood? Charity suffereth long (and that's assuming that hearing an expletive constitutes actual suffering), and he who hath not charity is nothing. "Nothing" which apparently includes "the backbone to talk to your coworker instead of running to teacher." Brave soldiers for Christ? I don't think so. As for the other factors you speak of, I still have to say that the timing here is positively impeccable.

ladyluck said...

08:58 AM
on Mar 23, 2011

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I would like to know the rest of the story. I would like to hear the other side.

bmdevine said...

11:10 AM
on Mar 24, 2011

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@ladyluck I'd like to hear the whole story too, since they apparently neglected to tell me the whole story when they fired me. All they told me when I was fired is that I was fired for swearing, they didn't say anything else. If there is more to the story, well it's news to me.

brchbell said...

04:29 PM
on Mar 24, 2011

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it seems a little extreme to me because my son left BYU Provo 5 years ago and returned to our state University because he was assigned to clean up the common areas of dorms and was sick and tired of cleaning up after beer parties. BYU officials refused to deal with it. Guess someone finally grew a backbone!

boycottmariothotels said...

09:05 AM
on Oct 23, 2011

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please a boycott all Marriott Hotels. My friend got fired because a manager stated my friend swore which is totally false. This manager of Mariott stated that this swear word totally offended her that is why she wrote a page report to my friends employer. But in return we find out this lady swears at the hotel on a common basis. She must not be so offended if it comes out of her own mouth. Please Boycott all there hotels this is a 2 faced company. I am a Vet please all other Vets do not spend your money at a 2 faced business.

oracle said...

12:54 AM
on Dec 19, 2011

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I can't stand to hear swearing, but there is one thing that the young man said that is being overlooked by many people defending the action, and that is that he hit his shin. He hit his shin. As a convert who joined the Church while in the Marines, and who doesn't swear, period, I can tell you without equivocation that there is no intent involved, no agency, and no choosing to swear. It is, as he said, a reflex that happens before any ability to prevent it. Whatever your judgment, if you don't give due credence to this fact then you are not judging fairly. The only question would be, what happened afterward? Did the young man look around to see if there were people nearby and, if so, was an apology the next thing out of his mouth? If the opportunity was there but not taken, then that's where a judgment by his boss would be appropriate. But the tone of his letter tells me he regretted it even though it was a reflex. BYUGuy's vague statement that "I happen to know about this incident" tells us nothing - so do we. His statement that "this was not the first incident" was reworded by ACH into "He had received previous warnings." But my biggest question is for the person who complained. Why did you choose to get him fired rather than confront him like an adult? If I have something to say, I will say it to the person themselves. It's not as easy as telling their boss, but I sleep better knowing I didn't just cost someone their job when I may not have had all the facts.

hustler68 said...

01:53 PM
on Apr 20, 2013

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Go ahead and keep publishing things like this. It has made for some very interesting reading and it allows us to search out "the truth" and use our moral agency to do so. I love LDS Living.
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