Monday, August 21, 2006

Protect Me From Myself

So I’m watching the news tonight, and there’s yet another story about people getting pissed off because a particular book is being studied at a local college.

That’s right, another case of ever-sensitive reactionaries, demanding they be protected from something they don’t want to see.

Now the name of this book, its content and the school in question is unimportant, because there are a few points I want to make that cover this whole situation.

Point One:

If you’re objecting to a particular piece of literature, because you feel it’s ‘explicit’ or has too many adult themes, I’m sorry, but you simply don’t belong in a college. If you’re a college student, you should have the maturity and objectivity to deal with it. The world is filled with things that you will find offensive. However, just because something doesn’t fit in with your ideology and way of thinking, does not make it ‘wrong’ or unworthy of study.

Point Two:

Literature classes are not appreciation sessions. You read these books in order to discuss, understand and gain a broader view of the world in general. If you read a book and don’t like it or find it offensive, when you come to write your dissertation, say so and write a critique of why you feel that way. For example, I find anything that was written by the Marquis De Sade absolutely disgusting, so when I found myself writing an essay on him, I focused on how he was obviously a disturbed individual who used his writing as a way to give an outlet to the feelings and drives he couldn’t lawfully do in real life.

I didn’t enjoy the book, and yes, I found it offensive, but it gave me an insight into a particular type of mind that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to explore.

In short, liking a piece of literature is not a pre-requisite for studying and learning from it.

Point Three:

Some literature is meant to be offensive or jarring, it’s the whole point. Moving to film for a second, look at movies like Schindler’s List. That is a film that’s incredibly disturbing, and shows how the Nazi’s treated the Jews like animals. It’s not warm and fuzzy and is certainly not what you’d call ‘family entertainment’.

Does that make it any less ‘important’ or worthy of study?

No.

Point Four:

Quite simply, the world is not a G-Rated place and hiding from it or refusing to acknowledge the parts of life that we don’t like is both dangerous and counter productive. If we keep the fact that there are violent people out there from our children, does that make them safer?

Education is learning about the world…not just the parts we like.

Conclusion

Why are we slowly shifting to the situation where we are flat out asking others to do our thinking for us? Why are we demanding that we should be denied access to certain books and other media? Why can’t we accept that as adults we have the choice to read or view what we like, and that we are responsible for what our own children see?

Obviously, children need to be protected from things they aren’t ready to handle. I’m not saying that 3rd Grade children should be given books like “Black Dahlia” to read. However, this doesn’t apply in college. You’re in a voluntary situation, if you find the course material offensive, drop the course. Don’t kick up a stink because you feel that the literature you’re studying is offensive.

I suppose my biggest question is why go to college if you don’t want to be exposed to things you’re not used to or have no experience of?

Right now I feel we’re taking the first step down a very slippery scope. In schools where there are no longer winners and losers, work is marked in green pen because red is too ‘aggressive’, and parents, of even college level students, are protesting because they feel coursework material may damage their children’s poor sensibilities…what kind of new generation are we trying to produce?

I’ll tell you.

A generation of people who will have no idea how to objectively handle anything outside of their ‘comfort zone’, will live their entire lives with their horizons limited to a laser like point, and will expect a gold star and be thanked ‘for trying’, when they drop the ball at work.

In the end, I understand that everyone has their own moral compass and what is socially acceptable varies from person to person. However, just because something offends you personally does not give you the right to demand no-one else can study it.

For example, I find organized religion offensive. I feel that organized religion has become nothing more than a business designed to work on guilt, exercise control over people and a way for one group of people to make sure everyone else acts and behaves in a way that’s acceptable to them.

However, I understand that just because I feel this way, does not give me the right to demand that a stop is put to organized religion.

If I could sum up this whole post in a couple of sentences, it would be this:

Live and let live. You have no right to force your moral code or ideology on anyone else.

6 comments:

OzzyC said...

When are we gonna do that "Straight Talking 101" class?

mistyforeverlost said...

Hey, this is one post I would love to to put up on my blog and direct folks here. You said it and you said it well. Good job!

Paulius said...

Feel free to link, Misty... I can use all the links I can get.

mistyforeverlost said...

Thanks!

Milli said...

Misty sent me over...I am millimom (milli) or Laurie depending on the forum. I'll answer to anything. Nice to meet you.

I think you wrote one helluva a blog - excellent points, intelligently stated. I agree with you 100%. I also think that parents of legal adults need to step away from the kid's leash a smidge. If your "child" is old enough to consent to marriage or military service, maybe you shouldn't be attempting to shelter them from *ideas.* Frankly, maybe you should be ashamed of the infantilizing an adult.

delmer said...

We share similar views on organized religion.

Like you, I don't agree with it, but I don't try to foist my ideas on others or bring the religious (casual religious person or zealot) around to my way of thinking.

If only the zealots would respect my privacy and opinions (as I respect theirs) and quit knocking on my door.