Sunday, November 20, 2005

I'm Not Mean, I'm Just Right

So Professor Strap thought it would be a good idea to set up a series of "debates" (and here, we are using the term in the loosest possible way) in place of an actual lecture for our immigration law class this week. If we'd been given the topics in some organized fashion and given time and direction on preparation for these debates and NOT told that we shouldn't work too hard on it ("no more than one or two hours"), maybe this wouldn't have come across as a way to get him out of preparing a lecture for class. The topic I was assigned to debate together with War against an unnamed opponent was (and here I paraphrase to 1)properly phrase the question for debate, unlike the professor, and 2)remove the jargon for you non-legal people) "Resolved: That temporary student and visitor visas should be prohibited for all people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia". We were against this proposal.

War and I did some half-hearted research, found a bunch of statistics and numbers and quotes and such from such sources as the Department of Commerce, the National Academy of Science, and the Institute of International Education; we also found demographic information showing that immigrants from the region tend, on the whole, to be well-educated, with lower than average rates of criminality and higher than average rates of applications for citizenship and of home ownership. In other words, exactly the kind of immigrants that our laws do (and arguably, should) favor.

All of that went out the window in the first few moments of the debate when our opponent argued that John Locke's Heirarchy of Values showed that the goverment should do whatever it takes to guarantee the national security.

I'll wait just a moment for you to soak in all the things that are wrong with that sentence.

Have I ever mentioned how I was all into Speech and Debate in high school? And how the hallmark of my stint on the Mock Trial team was the fact that I literally made at least one witness per competition cry on the stand? (Hey, Hulio: "Jess was already an adult and therefore not subject to the curfew law, wasn't he?... Do you remember giving a deposition in this case?... Hmmmm, may I approach the witness, Your Honor? Thank you. Please read the second paragraph on page 3 of your deposition... Eighteen is bigger than seventeen, isn't it?... So, were you lying then, or are you lying now?" Or how about this classic: "Yes, this case is about values as fundamentally American as apple pie: the freedom to worship whatever god you believe in, in the manner you see fit... You gonna cry, private school boy? Huh? Are you?") Chica was going down.

I was all set to jump on the fact that John Locke is not only not the philosopher associated with the Heirarchy of Values-- a fact which would have been revealed by a thirty second visit to Google, together with the fact that Chica has no actual understanding of Maslow's philosophy-- but that the philosophies with which he is associated actually support our side of the argument. Had this been an actual, orderly debate in which each side got a set period of time to present their arguments followed by rebuttal, instead of the I-Think-I'm-Chris-Matthews-Free-For-All "debate" that Professor Strap was conducting, I would, in fact, have gotten to this point. But nooooooo, Chica had to follow up with this gem: "Since we're at war with two of those countries, we shouldn't be issuing visas to them anyway."

It was on.

I turned to War and gave her a look, then turned back to Chica and replied "Oh? Which two would that be?". Being the moron that she is, she didn't hear the warning bells ringing loudly. In the snottiest voice possible, she replied "Afghanistan and Iraq" and though she didn't actually add "Duh!" at the end, you could practically hear it. I raised my eyebrows and turned back to War, asking "Did you know about that? Because I must have missed that announcement. I was under the impression that Afghanistan is our ally in the War on Terror and that Iraq is also a friendly nation that we are helping to rebuild," making air quotes around that last phrase. Professor Strap jumped in and tried to stop me by commenting that "We're not here to discuss the war in Iraq", but I was having NONE OF IT and turned on him instead, letting him know in no uncertain terms that Chica opened the door to exactly THAT discussion and I wasn't about to cede the ground. In fact, War and I jumped up and down on that point for several minutes, pointing out that exposure to positive Western influences could only help in the "war to win hearts and minds", while punitive measures could only drive people into the arms of extremists of all sorts. After all, if you don't have the opportunity to get an education and improve your life that way, why would you turn down the opportunity to get ahead (though perhaps only in the afterlife) or at least fight for the chance to improve your children's lives via the only means available to you? The whole time, Professor Strap kept trying to stop us by insisting that we weren't there to debate the war in Iraq (and for the second time, I just had to go back and correct my original phrasing, in which I wrote "the war on Iraq", which should give you some indication as to how I feel about the subject.) and it took all the self-restraint I could muster to keep from yelling "Well, then maybe you shouldn't have written a question involving eliminating visas to citizens of IRAQ, you effing idiot!". He ended the debate shortly after.

Now, all pretext of civiility will be lifted. THe last three classes are going to make him sorry he ever set eyes on me and War. It's time to participate in class, my friends. And boy howdy, do I plan to be an active contributor to class discussions from now on.


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At 12:46 AM , Blogger vesna said...

Not for nothing, but I think that the man already regrets having met me. After all, I scared him into remembering my name. I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Did he want a cookie?

At 10:48 AM , Blogger Rebecca said...

Let me know when you make him cry... :)


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