Baylor grad pushes app for cheaters?

A long, long time ago, I was a journalism major at Baylor University, which, as you may know, is the world’s largest Baptist university. Baylor is located in Waco, Texas, which many folks in the Lone Star state like to call “Jerusalem on the Brazos.”

It didn’t take long, as a young journalist, to realize that stories linking Baylor to anything having to do with sin and sex were like journalistic catnip in mainstream news newsrooms.

Even in the world before search-engine optimization, it was rare for copy-desk professionals in Texas, or anywhere else, to pass up each and every opportunity to put, let’s say, “Baylor” and “Playboy” in the same headline. It appears that this a subject that never dies, decade after decade, as journalists have fun with the whole idea of Baptist co-eds choosing to pose for this noted feminist publication.

Well, Playboy isn’t planning another visit to Waco — at least, not that I have heard about — but Newsweek recently ran a rather depressing little story that could have been seen as an update on this whole Baylor and the Sexual Revolution riff.

Don’t get me wrong. I am rather glad that the publication didn’t choose to push that button. Frankly, I am amazed that Newsweek didn’t push that button — so much so that this rare act of inky restraint actually made me pay more attention to this story than I normally would have. Paying attention made me think that there could be a ghost in this mini-feature.

So here is the top of the report, complete with the B-word. The headline sets the stage: “New App Helps Cheaters Cover Their Tracks.”

Great News for all you current and aspiring cheaters out there! Neal Desai, a 25-year-old pre-med graduate of Baylor University, has a smartphone app designed to help keep your dirty little secrets a secret.

The app is named CATE, short for Call and Text Eraser — which pretty much explains its basic function. Once set up, CATE keeps hidden any and all contact from certain special friends until the user inputs a secret access code. Better still, the app isn’t even visible on the phone until you enter the code, providing an extra layer of protection from snooping spouses.

So a graduate of the world’s best known Baptist school has come up with a way to help husbands cheat on their wives or wives cheat on their husbands (since the story later notes that about 70 percent of the downloads, so far, appear to be by women).

Meanwhile, what the potential impact of this technology on those who, at any given point in time, are being tempted to this sin for the first time? How about those who are trying to walk a path to recovery after a marital crisis?

Anyway, I am glad — I guess — that Newsweek passed up the Baylor angle, although it certainly would have been valid to note this irony, briefly. However, I now question whether theis news story should have been written in such a values- and ethics-free manner.

So, readers, thumbs up or thumbs down on omitting the Baylor irony? How about the editorial decision to make this a rather lighthearted, jolly report about the destruction of marriages? Would mentioning moral concerns be dangerous, since that might validate the views of those who consider adultery to be sin?

Just asking.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Mike

    The story does discuss the ethical concerns, to the the extent it alarmed the funders and the reaction of people who had been cheated in, as well as the promoter’s ethical rationalization.

  • Dave

    All news stories are written in a “values and ethics” free manner unless it’s about global warming, republicans, SUV’s, oil companies, profit, or gay marriage. I have zero expectation that the media will cover the facts, let alone any ethical concern. Expecting as much from Newsweek is like expecting a toddler not to eat a cookie on a plate at eye-level when hungry.

  • Randy

    For many Baptists, Baylor ceased to be ‘Baptist’ long ago. It has asserted its independence from the conservative wing of Baptists, and therefore, outside its divinity school, it comes across the same as any once Christian university. I think not taking the Baptist angle is good in that the school itself has downplayed that angle for many years now.

  • suburbanbanshee

    The app seems to be a simple anti-identity theft/anti-pry/privacy one, but is being sold as a cheater app, thus getting much more attention than a humble privacy app would ever get. Sigh.

    If they could sell Photoshop as being a pornmaker, they would.

  • sari

    He’s a graduate, not a current student, which makes it unfair to bring Baylor’s religious orientation/affiliation into play. People change as they travel through life. In addition, there does not seem to be a religious requirement to matriculate. Several of my child’s friends were accepted last year; none come from religious homes. At least a couple were not Christian. but all had high test scores and GPAs, and were offered substantial packages to attend.

  • Sarah

    I think that it’s obvious that this app allows for a much wider application than cheating on your spouse. It is merely an app that allows for privacy, and if I were still living at home with my nosy mother, I would definitely use it. Apparently corporations could use it too, possibly for illegal activity. Those alternative possibilities, in my opinion, are the “ghost” that the journalist barely touched on at the end of the article.

    Should the journalist have written about this topic gravely and sternly, wondering about the moral implications? …It’s just a cell phone app. I think a more serious tone might come across as tongue-in-cheek. In fact, it’s probably difficult to write about this topic without sounding cheeky in general.

  • SK

    The app could be used to maintain one’s privacy in dorm rooms and workplaces. Plenty of phones already require a secret code This password protects certain features. I would think that it would be useful to protect client lists of lawyers and service providers.I wonder how adultery was the first use that came to mind?

  • jcb

    If they weren’t going to play up that angle, it seems a little strange that they mentioned his alma mater at all. How is it relevant, except for the possible irony? Maybe it’s common practice, but I’ve never noticed it.

    “John Smith, who received a degree in history from Florida State, was recently given the Prettiest Lawn Award by the Pine Creek Neighborhood Association.”