Most of you won't be surprised to read this:
I have lived a sheltered life.
This isn't to say that I wasn't intellectually aware and informed of things that are bad and ugly and twisted in the world (I did take and TA for criminal law, after all; and there was also that one night I got lost on the Metro in D.C. [::shiver::]-- oh, and the overnight ferry to Amsterdam). Just I hadn't really met them for myself.
So it is with some enthusiasm that I have jumped into the middle of what-is-going-on-in-the-world at community college.
Today I took No. 4 to her flute lesson for the sole purpose of having a good excuse to sit and read my postmodernism book. It was the typical (for me) academic exercise in what other people think and why.
Then No. 3 and I went to speech class.
This week it was our job to give informative speeches on controversial issues. Mine was embryonic stem cell research; No. 3's was genetically engineered vegetables. My desk neighbor, whom No. 3 and I had previously found out is planning a trip to Italy with his "'partner," gave a speech on the pros and cons of legalizing gay marriage.
Today a girl gave a speech on outlawing smoking in public places. The arguments in favor were basically (1) smoking hurts children, (2) people who choose not to smoke are offended/injured by smokers (second-hand smoke), (3) smoking is bad for you.
It struck me as she was speaking that these are all pretty hip arguments to make. If you make anti-smoking arguments in a college classroom (even though there are a few smokers in there), you get support for saying smoking is bad.
On the other hand, to say that gay marriage (1) hurts children, (2) offends/injures other people, or (3) hurts the people involved -- that is not cool. (And if you DO say it, you'd better be careful to say it's just your opinion.) By the same token, it's "not cool" to say that destroying a human embryo is destroying human life, or to say that it is wrong for women to be in combat.
Soooooo not cool.
So, for smoking -- which is a health issue but not a moral issue -- it's okay to take an absolute position. But for moral issues (homosexuality, murder, absolute gender roles), absolute positions are absolutely not allowed. At least, not in favor of what's right.
The scariest part of all is that positions I would be happy to take at home or at church (about the sanctity of life, the evil of homosexuality, or the respective roles of men and women), I would be afraid to take at school.
Oh for the boldness to actually take a stand for that which is foolishness to the world!