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Aargh! Social Foul!

I don't think it's fair of people to press my buttons while we're in the middle of a timed class project and I don't have the luxury of debating.

Yesterday night in my Learning and Teaching class, we were given the assignment of using a few classroom tools to teach someone to jump a dead car battery. I was in the middle of sketching out a sequential illustration when the people on opposite sides of me launch into a discussion of how awful the Religious Right is. How can they claim that it's okay to kill people in war and on death row but it's wrong to have abortions? How dare they tell women what they can and can't do?

I nearly bit off the end of my tongue. Then the guy says, "Yeah, there's no such thing as right or wrong."

Frankly, I was a bit stunned, as I don't think I've actually heard anyone say that out loud, just like that. I've heard people make relativistic statements about morality, but rarely have I heard someone state it so plainly, without sarcasm or irony.

"That's a crock," I blurted out. Three or four people stared at me with something akin to horror. It didn't help that I'd had one too many sodas, so my brain was already buzzing. My hands started to shake with agitation.

The guy says, "Can you describe the color yellow to a blind man?"

I didn't think the analogy was at all applicable, but I ran with it anyway as a place to start. "Just because I can't describe yellow to a blind man doesn't mean that yellow doesn't exist."

"It doesn't exist for him," the guy responds.

"Yes, it does - it exists for everyone equally. It's only that he can't perceive it." Unfortunately, that's about as far as we got, as the teacher was urging us to go back to our project, as the topic was really off-course.

I hate it when people do that! I mean, on one level, I really want the opportunity to argue it with these folks - I want to hear their justifications for their beliefs, and I want to see if they really believe what they're saying, if they recognize the logical implications of such a belief. Bluntly, I want to prove them wrong. Not only is this a spiritually abberant belief, it's a dangerous belief to have in the physical world, as well. People who honestly believe that there's no such thing as right or wrong are not people I want to have voting ability in this country. I don't trust them with any responsibility whatsoever; I certainly don't want them in a position where their decisions will affect other people's lives. Frankly, I think it's a philosophically lazy belief, born of a desire to somehow agree with everyone and yet at the same time believe whatever one wants. I think its a mechanism to justify one's own desires, and little more. Not to mention the hypocritical, nonsensical behavior of criticising President Bush and his supporters - for believing in right and wrong, apparently - and then turning around and claiming that there's no such thing as a moral compass. If there's no such thing as right or wrong, then President Bush has done nothing wrong. He's incapable of doing anything wrong, since "wrong" doesn't exist. What right do these people have to criticize him? On what grounds? What authority are they appealing to when they suggest that President Bush "shouldn't" do something?

The most frustrating thing for me is that now I'm dying to argue with these people. I want to track them down, accost them in the school hallway and start a debate with them, like some kind of street lunatic. But they started it! Honestly, I think students at this school expect to be able to spout off their hemp-addled beliefs without being challenged by anyone. They get into this artsy-fartsy atmosphere and suddenly believe that everyone around them believes the same thing they do, and then have the temerity to be surprised when someone tells them otherwise.

Am I guilty of doing the same thing? I don't think so - I expect this sort of thing from people at this school. I think it's simply that I'd been around the Branches people quite a bit, and in the early weeks of class there usually isn't much opportunity for such expression - everyone is still getting used to their new schedules and what each class will require of them. They're still settling in to their new digs. Later, once we've all adjusted, then we begin to relax and say what we really think. I've noticed the same thing at the workplace; after the first few weeks you see the new people relax and begin to act like who they actually are.

Anyway, I want to argue with them. I'm annoyed that I was denied the chance to do so, and that now I have to go about my business with this argument percolating in my head. I'm hoping that by unleashing all of this onto my blog that I can get it out of my head and relax.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at Wednesday, January 26, 2005 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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