Friday, June 30, 2006

An Uncomfortable Moment In Philosophy 101

Back when I was fresh out of the military I decided to cash in on the G.I. Bill, this was in the late 70's when, if you were in a State or other reasonably priced institution you could get a decent education in return for your years of service. Having spent the last eight years in the Navy, three of those years in Viet Nam, with two more years in other, smaller conflicts in Africa and Central America I was wrapped a wee bit tighter than the usual undergraduate student.

Philosophy 101 was its usual bullshit self. The Professor was a notorious Pinko who had helped to organise various student demonstrations against Viet Nam. He had a hard on for veterans. He would single us out for little sarcasms and petty insults, he would blue pencil the living shit out of any paper we had the audacity to turn in.

I had no problem with anyone that was a anti-war protester. Still don't. A very close friend of mine who is a brilliant singer/songwriter chose to go to Canada rather than submit to the draft and I respected his choice then as I do now. I really have little problem with a person that chooses to follow the dictates of their conscience. What you have to remember though, is that I had spent the last five years in extreme circumstances, getting shot at and hit three times. What I had a problem with was not the man's politics but his pettiness. Usually his asides and snubs were done publicly for the entertainment of the young women who flocked around him and hung out in the hallways waiting for “office hours” and the like.

One afternoon we were in the lecture hall and Professor S. was up at the front grandstanding for the women again and he reached a point in the lecture where he rhetorically asked, “And what is the value of a human life?”

Without thinking I blurted “Eighty five bucks.”

He said “Who said that?”

I rose and said “I did Professor S.”

“How did you arrive at that figure?”

I replied, “That's what they charge you extra in Bangkok if you kill the girl.”

There was nothing but silence. I sat down and opened my notebook. When I looked up he was still standing there, his face blank and pale. I said:

“Please, do continue, I'm sorry I interrupted.”

Inside I was laughing my ass off.

3 Comments:

Blogger ariadne said...

Fantastic narrative--glad I found you from lurking over at Shax' Sister.

6:24 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

welcome ariadne, glad you dropped by. we are getting a pretty eclectic little menage here...i like that. stop by any time, speak up, lurk, what ever makes you happy. in the words of henry fonda's character howdy from "the rounders,"

what ever pleases you tickles me plumb to death

7:20 AM  
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5:39 AM  

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