Reactions to Jim

Dennis P. Tyler dptyler at
Sun Aug 13 13:26:20 MDT 1995

At the risk of losing some anonymity, I wanted to relate something my
co-workers told me before I started teaching.  Many of them said they no
longer allowed their students to write on abortion.  They said that
rather than creative papers where the students could express their own
ideas, what they got were papers that just rehearsed a lot of tired
arguments (on both sides) available in any news magazine or op-ed page.
This made sense to me, so I decided to follow their advice; hwever, I
taught an essay on abortion that I felt was a bad argument: good point,
bad rhetoric.  My students were unable to make the distinction and took
my comments more personally than I intended.  The same thing happened the
next semester.  I don't plan to teach this essay again...
	I'm not sure why this issue is so inflamatory when equally
contentious debates (free speech, gun control, death penalty, etc) are
not, at least not in Freshman English, but it is.  I think this situation
obscures the need for substantive, thoughtful debate on abortion, and I'm
not at ease about restricting my students from a topic...
	I'm bringing this up here not to suggest any sort of list
censorship (please don't read that into this post), but because it seems
this list has hit the same difficulty in regard to abortion.  Too many
posts seem to trade personal insults without adding to the debate
itself.  I've even lost track at times with what point was actually in
debate.  What I'd like to suggest instead is that we give some thought as
to why this particular issue seems to turn so personal so quickly.  I
assume that the majority of the people on this list favor a
Marxist/socialist revolution and are on this list to keep in touch with
others who share such a perspective.  Obviously, we won't agree on
everything, and again, obviously, we don't want to suggest/force people
to follow a party-line unthinkingly.  Internal debate can be fruitful and
lead to more understanding (sometimes even agreement), but some threads
of this abortion debate don't seem to be heading in a constructive
direction.  I would have to number my one previous post among those that
are at fault here...

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