Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Taken Off Guard

I was going over my Reproductive Rights notes at Starbucks today when a woman came up and asked what I was studying. I hesitated for a second deciding whether or not I should tell her specifically what I was studying or give her a more general description. The lady didn't give me a choice. When I told her I was a law student studying for finals she asked what courses I was taking. I really didn't feel like getting into it with some stranger in the middle of Starbucks when I was in a productive mood, but I was afraid that if I only listed 2 classes she'd think I was a slacker (3 is much better right???). Of course she zeroed right in on my Choice class and asked if I was taking it for any specific reason. Again, trying to avoid a political discussion I gave the most neutral answer I could think of: "I'm generally interested in the topic and it seemed relevant." Before I knew it she was asking me if I could agree that secular humanism affected judicial decisions like Roe. I just kept telling myself to smile and nod. She just assumed I supported abortion rights. I wanted to tell her that I agreed with her, but I didn't know if she was the sort of pro-lifer I wanted to associate myself with as she spouted off random studies that link abortion to cancer, started quoting doctors, and throwing out lots of big words. She was clearly ready to confront and change my liberal ideology. Even after I politely mentioned that I don't agree with abortion, she was still very confrontational. She left telling me about how tragic she thought it was that the academic community shunned conservative view points and seemed to be warning me that if I spoke up in class about what I really thought I would probably fail whether or not what I said had any academic merit.

The irony in all this is that I've been stressing about this very thing as I prepare for this final. Taking this class has been a challenge, and most days I am the only one advocating "conservative" viewpoints, but overall I have really appreciated the opportunity to study this topic through a legal lens. Now, as I create my outline and think about the various issues that come up I'm continually asking myself, "how would I answer this?" and "what does my professor want to hear?" I hope that I can achieve some sort of balance as I write my final, making clear and convincing arguments for what I know is right and true, but not forgetting my audience and how complicated this topic really is.


Amanda S. said...

That is awkward! And difficult. It is a hard issue to discuss with best friends, let alone random strangers. :-/

Good luck with your studies!

Erin said...

Dang - that lady sure believes her stuff. Way to go, Molly. I think you are in a difficult position: please the prof, but be true to yourself. There are some profs where counter-ideas don't matter at all to them, regardless of their quality - they are just "wrong." I hope yours is more open.

Leigh said...

Well done Molly Miller. This is a tough spot. I did just a simple research paper in my science class in college and had to present it. I was thinking that I was going to be stoned by the end of the presentation. I can't imagine how you feel! It's a tough place to be, but no one is more capable than you my friend. You do it with dignity and grace. :)