One of the lessons I remember most from high school was in Mr. Smith’s 10th grade English class. It was a discussion and physical lesson in which Mr. Smith would read a situation and we had to walk to one side of the class or another depending on whether we agreed or disagreed with the statement.
One question I remember clearly being left alone on one side of the room was over a double-standard. The statement in question had to do with whether or not a woman who smokes or drinks alcohol, etc. during pregnancy should be charged with a crime, a certain type of child endangerment. I was the only one who stood on the “No” side of the room.
To be clear, I’m against women doing all those things while pregnant. However, in this case, when asked my reasoning for why I thought those mothers shouldn’t be held accountable for willfully harming their child, I had a ready answer.
To paraphrase myself from memory 20 years later:
“The government says a woman has a right to choose what she does to her baby while in the womb, including killing it,” I said. “Therefore, the government punishing a woman for choosing to smoke or drink alcohol while pregnant is a double standard based on the fact that according to the same government the woman’s right to do as she pleases trumps the health or well-being of her baby.”
That I went to school in northwest Washington state, and knowing my classmates via Facebook today, it’s safe to say the majority of my class was and is of the pro-abortion mindset. I was pro-life back then but wasn’t political or really interested in life issues, so this was the first time I’d looked my contemporaries in the face and essentially called them — and any government with such laws — hypocrites.
It was a good discussion to have. Double standards are something we ought to be aware of when they’re happening, call them out and find unacceptable.
This week, a high school teacher in California held a discussion on the double standard of the anti-gun student walk-out and has since been put on administrative leave because students and parents complained about the lesson to the school.
“We had a dialogue in class about it in Thursday and Friday. And today I received the call. So I am aghast,” Rocklin High School teacher Julianne Benzel told the CBS affiliate in Sacremento.
Benzel said she did not discourage students from taking part in the walkout.
“And so I just kind of used the example, which I know it’s really controversial, but I know it was the best example I thought of at the time—a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration?” she told the television station.
“If you’re going to allow students to walk up and get out of class without penalty then you have to allow any group of students that wants to protest,” she said.
The teacher said she did not hear any backlash from students prior to being put on leave as they understood the larger point that a “double standard” was not acceptable.
Parents and students — and school administrators — need to get it together. We’re losing the ability to have honest discussions when our pet issue is involved. Benzel’s lesson was not pro-gun, anti-abortion, or anti-walk-out. She was attempting to teach these young Americans, who will soon be voting members of our civil society, about double standards.
The students in the class who complained to their parents refused to be taught a very important lesson. Not only for life but in expectations for their government and its officials.
The administration putting Benzel on leave simply encourages the students and teaches the wrong lesson that is part of why civil discourse has seemingly gone down the toilet: If you don’t like what someone is saying, you can complain and get them silenced or, at worst, run out of their livelihood.
That shouldn’t be the lesson here.