Home > College, Real Life > A Marketplace of Ideas

A Marketplace of Ideas

College is supposed to be the place that you go off and have your mind opened, as all your small-town values are challenged by worldly professors who teach you the way the world really works. (You know, that world they have live in…)

And when I went off on my own University adventure, I was convinced that I wouldn’t sip the Kool-aid and become some Che-loving hippie. And, while that hasn’t happened just yet, I have been having my horizons broadened. The real catch, though? Luckily, it’s not coming from the professors, but from a student organization. No, not the College Democrats — although there is some overlap — it’s the Society of Independent Thought, a sort of newspeaky term for an informal debate club. Every two weeks, they — we — get together and shoot the shit about issues of the day.

For example, a recent meeting was on the topic of abortion. While my stance on the topic wasn’t changed, I certainly gained some clarity on the issue. Every argument I’m aware of on the topic is based one or both of two things: whether the government has the jurisdiction to regulate such things and when exactly a fetus meaningfully becomes a human. Of course, this is a simplification, but it does help to put the matter in perspective.

But last night, I sat across a conference table from five Obama supporters, with my trusty apathetic friend at my side commenting on the chewiness of the gratis cookies as I defended capitalism, unsocialized medicine, and federalism. But it really was quite fascinating. With all the reading I do in the (Conservative) blogosphere, I find I develop an ivory tower mentality that kicks me in the face when I come across people who oppose my views in real life who are not drooling idiots.

They are, however, idealists, it seems to me. I would like just as much as they to find a system where everyone in America could be happily medically insured. But from the evidence I’ve seen, no such system has been found. I would love to be wrong on this, but just wishing I were isn’t an acceptable substitute. (I actually felt this was the strongest point I made during the whole meeting. With a little help from Messrs Hobbes, Lock, and Rousseau, I turned their logical barbs aside with the point that health care is not in the social contract.)

But perhaps the best part of the meetings are the parts afterwards, when we leave the room and stand, usually, within sight of the place of our debate. But it is an unspoken rule the those discussions are left behind, and this is the time for idle chatter and bond-forging. I’m not much of one for pointless blather, but spreading the word about Audiosurf does, in the final analysis, beat getting to use phrases like “I deny your premise” and “the fallacy you are operating under is”.

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