Put a stop to female genital mutilation. Full stop.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

“Female genital mutilation: for the love of all humanity, how on earth is it possible for this to be happening in 2013? in the name of religion, apparently. Whichever god it is you follow, even if it is science, females have been created in that way for a reason. Who should have the right to change it? FGM in the USIn December 2012 the UN passed a resolution opposing the practice, and whilst the main practice occurs in Africa, a recent report gave official figures of 2000 girls seeking medical help in London in the past 3 years following the procedure. The appalling treatment of young girls in this way is beyond reprehension and demonstrates not a single ounce of respect for them as a human being. If would seem however that there is no recourse for these cases. Is it a too difficult subject to deal with because people are scared of offending someone because of ‘religion’? If it was down to me, whoever does this, including the mother and the father who sanction it, they should be tried for actual bodily harm, or in some horrific cases, manslaughter or murder.” Julie

africa_fgm

 

When it comes to difficult topics, female genital mutilation (FGM) comes very near the top. I did not know where to begin. I wavered. What could I possibly say when faced with such cruelty inflicted, perpetuated in part at least, by those who have been themselves submitted to the same.

This cycle of violence – seemingly endless — saddens me to the core.

For those who do not know what female genital mutilation entails:

  • the removal of all or part of the clitoris,
  • the cutting out of the surrounding labia (the outer part of the vagina)
  • the sewing up of the vagina (with a small opening left for bodily functions)

One of the key reasons for FGM being carried out is the belief that it will reduce a woman’s libido, therefore discouraging sexual activity before marriage.

Culture, religion and social norms collude in its perpetuation in some Muslim countries where the practice is prevalent. In part this is due to the high value placed on a woman’s chastity and modesty in those countries.

It beggars belief. I simply do not understand why it is necessary to mutilate a girl for her to be considered chaste and modest?

I am appalled every time another story appears in media about yet another British girl taken back to her parents’ home country to be physically and psychologically abused in this way. It has been estimated that more than 20,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year, and than 66,000 women in the UK have been submitted to the procedure.

While I do not know how this practice can be curtailed in countries where it is inscribed in culture and faith, I cannot understand how it is possible for Western governments to fail in protecting their citizens to such a degree. In the UK, the practice was outlawed in 1985, and yet there have been no prosecutions to date.

In the economic context in which we now live, with the recession seemingly endless, such issues are side-lined. This is a crime and those we put into a seat of power and give free reign to govern the minutia of our lives ought to be more proactive on this issue.

The first major inquiry into female genital mutilation was launched last month. The inquiry aims to ‘get to the truth’ about the lack of convictions three decades after FGM was made illegal in the UK. The Home Affairs Select Committee will challenge ministers and the police over inaction when it comes to charging ‘cutters’ or families who arrange the surgery. Some responsibility is being laid at the door of NHS staff, teachers and social workers for failing to do enough to curb the practice.

At an international level, the 2012 UN resolution is a step forward. However, it will only make a difference if implemented effectively in all countries, particularly those where the it is a common occurrence. So once again it comes down to a country by country approach, and lobbying for local governmental support in stopping the mutilation of girls and women.

The “cultural” argument does not stand up. Not to me. Not in this context. Not when human beings are being hurt unnecessarily. Some traditions are best left behind.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Russia’s Stance on Homosexuality

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

“Russia needs to get its act together. What the f**k? Is this the 19th century? This goes for the rest of the world, but they are the ones in vogue right now. In over half the countries in Africa, homosexuality is “illegal”. How can you make one’s sexuality illegal? Marching against Russia's Punitive Laws against HomosexualityThis is ludicrous. Some places even enforce the death penalty. Of course, this stems from religion – the plague of the world. Wake up! God is not listening to you. And if he is, he is a douche bag. Jesus is supposed to be about love. You a**hole.” Jonathon Saia

 

While I am very much in agreement with the spirit of Jonathon’s answer regarding the issue of homosexuality, being a promoter of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights myself, I think it is important to distinguish between our support for the gay community and our disagreement with the Christian position on homosexuality.

He is right to indicate that the Christian church ought to adjust its position on homosexuality, be open to change and rectify this instance of discrimination which results in appalling acts of violence and even in the death of gay people around the world by the hand of those who use religion to justify their heinous actions.

The Church could do a lot more to prevent this. But we should remember that not all Christians share the attitudes of the Church in this, as exemplified by the following: Why I Can’t Say “Love the Sinner / Hate the Sin” anymore. Many Christians are indeed as committed to equality and would want to see gay people’s rights and safety protected just as much as a non-believer would.

Furthermore, we ought also remember that many gay people are themselves Christians, and whilst it is a struggle due to the inherent contradictions that their faith engenders, it must be said that they are the ones who have the power and capacity to change things from within.

I am an atheist, so for me God is an idea created by Man in his own image – an
attempt to make sense of a world that can be unsafe, fragmented and uncertain. Since human beings are flawed, then all our creations are similarly so. In making God in his own image Man has also imbued this idea with his preconceptions, not to say prejudice.

But there is also another side to this idea, one that emphasises love, collaboration, solidarity and kindness. Many Christians, indeed many people that subscribe to other faiths too, tend to subscribe to this side of the coin, and do their best to curtail the first.

We shouldn’t make a habit of throwing them into the same basket with fanatics and fundamentalists that – had they not religion as an excuse – would have found another way to perpetrate harm on others.

Jonathon’s answer gave me a lot to think about, and I hope that my contribution will be of interest to him, as well as to the other participants.

Here are some snippets of the discussion that followed:  

navigator1965 says: Jonathan, Sorry, but your submission didn’t work for me. #6 I don’t see how your general disrespect for monotheistic religion and specific disrespect for Christianity materially differs from some other person’s general disrespect for homosexuals.

cineaste says: Because if God’s message is really saying, “I do not love homosexuals” as MANY Christians are vocal to say, than he is not worthy of respect.

Dotta Raphels :  Hi there, it’s good to read your takes here. I think what this project has done is give me a birds eye view into what people want me to see of them (at the end of the day, it’s exactly what you let out that is seen or perceived as you) That said, I respect your opinions and applaud your support to fundamental rights especially in the sexual orientation department and all.
I think when attitudes of “I don’t give a damn” is thrown around too much, it really may be a sign of something deeper and frankly, being frank many times offends.
As a follower and believer in the words and doctrines of Christ, it pains me to hear you refer to “God” as a douche bag regardless of intent, The one thing this project has been is REAL and intensely discreet in respect to civility and maturity.

IMO everyone has managed to make their point without disrespecting others beliefs or opinions.
To disagree is an absolute welcome, but lets do it with class. I have enjoyed your take and I hope the project has also opened you up to new horizons in regards to diversities and humanity as a whole. Thanks for sharing.

cineaste says: I am not speaking of people of faith in general. Many people believe in God and also believe that gay people are worthy of respect and love. What I am referring to are the people who use God as an excuse to persecute LGBT people. Hopefully he is NOT listening to them because ostensibly, theoretically, God is about love. But if they are truly doing God’s bidding, if this is behavior that God truly wants, than he is an asshole.

Susan Irene Fox says: Jonathon, as someone who is as intelligent as you are (I’ve been to your blog, so I know of where I speak – btw, loved the Myra Breckenridge post), you must be able to differentiate between the characteristics God and the people who misuse His name. As you so aptly stated, “Jesus is supposed to be about love.” In this you are correct. I am proud to be Christian, to be a follower of Jesus, and we are not all like the Christians who blithely toss around hate or judgment.

I would respectfully request that you not lump us all together, and please don’t judge the God who created and loves us all by the actions of the vocal and fundamentalist extremists who presume to speak for Him or for the rest of us.

Thank you, and thanks for sharing your opinions. We all have so much to learn from one another, it would be terrific it we could be open enough to do it graciously.

 

What is your take on this issue?

You have the stage. Make your voice heard. All opinions welcome.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Black Pride

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Black-PrideLade T: “Black this, black that. We limit our competition to ourselves. If White people have awards and events for themselves only, there would be a lot of noise made but when black people do it, it’s okay and it’s Black pride.
I think it allows for mediocrity.”

http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/26/project-o-article-103-lady-t-lagos-nigeria-scheduled-for-9-26-1200/

Dear Lade,

Although I understand where you are coming from with this, the truth of the matter is that black people are still discriminated against, so positive discrimination simply attempts to redress the balance.

Is it an ideal solution? Of course not. It would be better by far if racism disappeared altogether from society, but in the interim, something has to be done to promote rights and opportunities for black people, and yes black pride too.

I’ve read a few interesting articles on black pride that I will share with you. I hope you enjoy them.
About UK Black Pride: http://www.ukblackpride.org.uk/about/mission and on how a new religion was born in response to oppression: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/rastafari/history/slavery.shtml

You don’t have to agree with the premises of either, but it may make for an interesting read.
Warm regards and best wishes,
Vic

deaduramilade says: I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate non-white people (for lack of a better phrase) but we take it to an unnecessary extreme and we limit ourselves. For example, no one would say Mindy Kaling is one of the funniest Indian American comedians, they’ll say she’s one of the funniest comedians. Simple.
If she limits her competition to Indian American comedians, I don’t think she’d have actualized full potential.

studentlondon3 says:  I found your answer to question 6 especially interesting. Do you think we should stick to integrated events only? Personally I think it would help promote a sense of unity rather than the segregation I know many still experience – but that’s just me.

Dotta Raphels says: Hello Lade, bawoni? ekaro or ekasan…better still Kedu? for my peeps here, it’s all “hello” in dialects of my home land.
You my dear have made me so glad! I’ve been here and gone through a hundred and two entries and patiently commented on all…then OM gives me the icing with you…sweet!

Yes, it calls for mediocrity and as I’ve said here, many do not even know what black pride is, they use it as a crutch, but that’s another topic.
I love your insights and I admire your maturity and intellect…especially from one so young.

Keep on living and aspiring dear, a clear head and vision makes for a truly open way ahead and I thank you for putting your bit in here.

lensgirl53 says: Dear Lade, I have so enjoyed your post. (…) I also side with your answer to #6…we live in a world of double standards. What kind of statement does any one race make to be so intolerant of discrimination while touting to discriminate….not good.

And for a little humour:

No HeavenLet’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

9/11 Twin Towers Conspiracy

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Amazing-Picture-of-the-World-Trade-Centre-Twin-Towers-Being-Built-in-New-York

Renegade Expressions: “I don’t believe Bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. I believe that whole incident was a big conspiracy. I don’t believe planes brought down those towers.” http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/27/project-o-article-108-renegade-expressions-jamaica-scheduled-for-9-27-1800/comment-page-1/#comment-69409

I have to admit I was somewhat perplexed by your answer. Of course, everyone has the right to an opinion and the whole point of this project is to offer a platform for people to voice their own and begin an exchange. So… starting from this premise, I would like to request a clarification.
When you say: “I don’t believe Bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. I believe that whole incident was a big conspiracy. I don’t believe planes brought down those towers.” do you mean:

1. That Bin Laden had nothing to do with the attack? (This I do not challenge. I am not aware of whether he was or not personally responsible for the attack, and now that he is dead, I suppose we will never find out for sure). However, did he not claim responsibility? For some reason I thought that he did. If he did indeed claim responsibility, on what basis should we question the truth of his admission?
2. What kind of conspiracy? Who were the conspirators? What motivated them to conspire and bring this about?

3. The planes definitely hit the towers. There is ambiguity in that third sentence, so could you please explain whether you accept that the planes hit the towers, but believe that the impact in and of itself couldn’t have brought down the towers, or do you have another explanation altogether for this?
I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to get back to me about this. I really am curious to understand your answer.

Renegade Expressions: Thanks for your comment Vic. I am going to try to answer the 3 questions you asked, my only request is that you do some research on this topic(9/11) online. You will realize that there is a lot of information out there that is contrary to what was ‘reported’:
1.Yes, I don’t believe Bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11.It was ‘reported’ that he took responsibility for the attacks. It was ‘reported’ that passports of the alleged attackers were found at ground zero. At least 2 of these attackers were later found to be alive and well in their homeland. It was ‘reported’ many years before he (bin laden) was ‘killed’ that he had kidney disease and was living off of a dialysis machine. Yet he was able to move about in those mountains and evade capture for about 10 years. My point is many things have been ‘reported’. I am not the type of person that easily believes the stuff i see/hear on the news.

2. As for the conspiracy. I won’t get into that, just do some research for yourself, you will be amazed with what you come up with. I am not telling you to believe any of the information you find but it can’t hurt to research it.

3. Yes, planes definitely hit the towers. As to what types of planes that’s another story. It may or may not be as ‘reported’. What I was saying in my original response was that the impact of the planes hitting the towers did not bring down the towers. The fire that was burning did not bring down the towers. The towers were eventually brought down by controlled demolition. Physics tells us that the fire could not have brought down those towers. Again just a little research or even information from the first responders (including firefighters) will tell you that things were not as it was ‘reported’. Whatever the TRUTH is about 9/11 there is no denying that many people lost their lives that day.

I hope my answers brought some clarity to my original responses. I really don’t wish to be even discussing this topic. I know it is a sensitive topic to a lot of people. I just responded because you asked.

HarsH ReaLiTy OM: So you don’t believe the news but believe online material written by any kid or disgruntled, bored wannabe journalist with no facts and who has never even been to new york? Interesting…

Vicbriggs’s Blog: I also struggle to understand why that is the case, especially when it comes to events that are well documented, where there is more than just the evidence of the powers that be, but also that of so many eye witnesses who have actually recorded these events for posterity. In a country where you have free press too, I very much doubt that governments have the ability to control the flow of information to that extent.
However, I do think that Renegate gave a better answer the second time around. There is some value in attempting to get to the bottom of things, even if he may be going the … don’t want to say wrong way about it, but can’t think of a better way to put it.
I have met many people who are fond of conspiracy theories. Most of the time they simply attribute to much forethought, intelligence as well as logistical power to the would-be conspirators.
What fascinates me is the reason behind this tendency to believe conspiracy theories. What gets people hooked? Is it simply the fact that it makes life more exciting? Is it that we all love a good story and the official line is simply never quite as exciting as the rumours circulating underground.
Would really love to find out.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Brokeback Mountain Whispers

Let’s Talk Opinion: in conversation with Project O

Bradley: www.howisbradley.com

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

It’s very difficult to narrow down to one, but, I feel most strongly about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights. In just the past several months a transgender teenager in Jamaica was murdered by an angry mob when he arrived at a party wearing women’s clothing; a Russian man was brutally beaten, had his clothes set on fire, his anus was slashed open and filled with bottles and his attack ended when a 20 kg stone was thrown onto his head; In Washington DC, my nation’s capital, two women attacked a drag performer, who was a gay man, by biting him on the thigh, and yanked him around by his hair while a bystander videoed the crime and encouraged the fight. I wish these were rare instances, but unfortunately as more cities and countries embrace equality rights for those who are LGBT, more acts of violence are occurring. Homosexual acts are illegal in 76 countries and there are still 5 countries in which the penalty is death.

http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/27/project-o-article-110-bradley-california-usa-scheduled-for-9-28-0600/

I feel strongly about this, and hope that the efforts of all communities will result ultimately in effective equality. The stories you shared are horrific. I simply can’t believe that this still happens in this day and age. Truly, deeply saddened that this is the case.

There was a somewhat hostile reply to one of my Project O comments in which I challenged a contributor’s use of the phrase “…even though I don’t agree with homosexuality.” Mandy, incidentally was writing this in the context of a church gathering where she spoke out on behalf of someone from the gay community, so I felt very warmed by her actions. But the phrase still irked me, so I decided to write Be happy. Be gay! in the hope that an exchange might ensue.

I didn’t get a reply from Mandy. Instead, another blogger decided to put me in my place. I gather she deemed my comment to be an attack on Christians. Well. I have to say, that even though I am an atheist, I do not make it my business to attack anyone, and – as a former Christian myself – I have sympathy with those who strive to keep their faith in an increasingly secular world. I am curious to know what you think of the exchange, particularly on the issue of homosexuality, if you would be so kind as to read it: God @TheTweetOfGod Sigh… maybe Nietzsche was right.

In support of the gay community – through what I write and through everyday personal interactions with others – I hope to promote healthier attitudes towards those whose sexual inclination differs from what is deemed to be the “norm”. My favourite haunt in London is Soho. There is nothing that I enjoy more than going on a gay-pub/bar/club-crawl with my best friend and his boyfriend. This has given me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people: gay, transgender, lesbian and bisexual. I feel grateful for the warmth with which they accepted me into their fold, and for the stories they have chosen to share with me. It’s opened my eyes to the obstacles they encounter, and gave me a better understanding of what they have to overcome in their everyday lives. Inspiring people.

This motivated me to be more vocal about difficult issues, defend the community and my own stance on gay rights whenever challenged.

Thank you for your post.  Insightful.

P.S.: On a lighter note… #BenedictCumberbatch goes Brokeback Sherlock, one for the boys.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

War! What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O.

Are all wars unjust or are some wars legitimate?

On the question of war. There is disagreement as to the legitimacy or lack thereof for the perpetration of violence of states against other states. States self-legitimate their actions through a variety of causes, which are oftentimes little more than thinly veiled excuses.

Here are some of the usual suspects:

1. Ideas: We are doing it for liberty, democracy,

2. Economic security: We can’t afford for oil supplies (or other scarce resources) to be in the hands of unfriendly governments,

3. Ethics or morality: He is an evil dictator who kills his own people,

4. Ideology – usually nationalism: We have a right to this land, it is populated by our people, they need our protection and we can only offer them security by taking over the land they populate.

5. Geopolitics – the zero sum game: We can’t allow the other Big Guy to have unchecked influence in that area for either economic, political or ideological reasons. Or: Land/Sea disputes: Historical ambiguity as to what belongs to whom, coupled with the discovery of precious resources on land or at sea can often result in war.

6. Security: We need to make a pre-emptive strike because the state in question is plotting an attack. Or: They are in our back yard so our security is under threat due to their external policy commitments. Or: Their political/ideological stance is destabilising the region which in turn is a potential threat to our security. Or: They have weapons of mass destruction. Or: They are building weapons of mass destruction. Or: They are planning to build weapons of mass destruction.

7. Politics – related to border security and economic advantage: They have elected or they have a government that is not of the right political persuasion (usually of the left, when the US would prefer a friendly and submissive right wing government or dictator), so we will attack to remove this government and institute one that would play the game by our rules.

8. Religion: God told me to. This is a holy war. (The Bushability effect) Of course, during the Middle Ages most wars were clashes between distinctive systems of belief, all vying for dominance.

9. Retaliation: They stole something of ours (oil / water supplies etc.) so we are attacking to claim back what is rightfully ours.

10. Civil Opposition: The government no longer has legitimacy, the people are against it. We are supporting the will of the people.

I cannot claim this list to be exhaustive so feel free to add to it. It is a start however.

International relations are anarchic. There is no way of policing how states act towards their neighbours or towards far away states that are deemed of interest. Before the Iraq war state sovereignty was respected in so far as states would not be threatened with war unless they ‘misbehaved’ externally. They had free reign on internal matters. The Iraq war changed that. Now no state is safe from external intervention. Syria is another example, and I am afraid there will be many more.

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This article has been written in reply to April, for Project O. Please follow the link below if you would like to read her full contribution: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/26/project-o-article-104-april-georgia-usa-scheduled-for-9-26-1800/

This is the Q&A I have focused on for this piece:

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

April @ http://momof3isnuts.wordpress.com/ replied: “Being that I grew up during the Vietnam war, and experienced the debacle of the war in Iraq, I am strongly against war. I don’t have any unique thoughts, it’s just something that I can’t comprehend.”

Dotta Raphels says: “War numbs the human spirit period! Those whose lives have been touched by war will attest to this, war is not a good thing at all; many share your feelings. Still on 6, IMO we influence events in our everyday lives without even realizing it. I can understand anyone carving out a haven to protect their hearts or beings; sometimes it’s the only way we know how to cope with many dire situations which confronts us.”

Please Note: Let’s Talk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers – so it is all about connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If a topic catches your eye and you would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if like me you happen to be a former Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl ;)

To Question Or Not To Question?

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Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

This is my reply to a fellow Project O contributor on the question of… well: questioning.

To Question Or Not To QuestionDear Nellie,
Your point was a brilliant one, and that man ought to be ashamed of trying to stunt your questioning mind.
Teachers are supposed to provide a safe environment where their students can thrive, rather than use the classroom to enlarge their own (in some cases already overblown) ego.
You made a very important point and it is worth some additional thought: “Morals are ever changing, how do we ever truly know what we think is right?”
To question is an integral part of our humanity.

Being self-reflexive, as you were in this case, is how we strive for autonomy (self-government and therefore freedom!).

And yes, our norms and values are in constant flux. There is nothing that is sacred, that is: nothing is beyond being questioned.

As history advances, we ought to always ask ourselves: Are these norms, values, moral guidelines – if you will – inscribed in our laws and institutions, are they still valid? Do they offer answers to our most important questions about society, politics, economy, culture and… [make your own addition here]?
Hope you keep questioning, whether there are tyrants around that try to stop you or not.

http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/28/project-o-article-116-nellie-moriarty-north-carolina-usa-scheduled-for-9-29-1800/comment-page-1/#comment-65653

Nellie Moriarty: http://www.lowermiddlechild.com

“My sophomore year of high school I had a teacher named Mr. Slater. He thought his teaching was open-minded but in reality he simply taught from a different viewpoint. A viewpoint that was just as narrow minded everyone else’s. So one day when in his class I had an idea that differed from his, a simple seminar turned into a ridiculous shaming proved by Mr. Slater. The worst part was that the other kids worshiped him simply because he was different. I’ll never forget my point now: Morals are ever changing, how do we ever truly know what we think is right?”